The Ban Johnson Baseball League will induct elite former teams into its Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the BJ90 Celebration on Aug. 28 at Shoal Creek Golf Course.
All alumni of KC’s summer collegiate baseball league are invited to participate in the BJ90 festivities, which will pay tribute to the 90th anniversary season of the Ban Johnson League and all previous years since the league was founded in 1927.
The day’s activities start with a 7 a.m. registration, followed by an 8 a.m. golf tournament (shotgun start), lunch, and a program from 1-3 p.m. for golfers and non-golfers alike. Proceeds from the BJ90 event will benefit the Ban Johnson League.
The Ban Johnson League’s current hall of fame membership includes 41 individuals, including 15 Major League Baseball alumni, community leaders Ewing and Muriel Kauffman and Crosby Kemper, and the Kansas City Royals organization, which has played host to the BJ All-Star Game since 1969.
This is the first time that entire teams will be inducted.
“We picked teams that have won two or more consecutive league titles since 1946,” Ban Johnson League president Nancy Milgram said. “We think the accomplishments of these 10 multi-champion teams deserve recognition.
“In addition, we embraced the idea of including more people in the hall of fame. There were some great players on these teams and they are the engine that has enabled the league to thrive for so many seasons.”
Teams that will be honored at the BJ90 Celebration are Milgram Food Stores (1951-52), Katz Drug Company (1955-56), Feld Chevrolet (1961-62-63), Western Auto (1966-67-68), Butternut Bread (1973-74-75), Boyle’s Famous Corned Beef (1976-77-78), Milgram Mustangs (1985-86), UMB Bank (1987-88-89-90), and two BJ Raiders squads (1997-98 and 2002-03-04-05).
Among the former players on the newest hall of fame teams scheduled for induction are Gary Patton, who played on the 1976 Boyle’s title team, and Jason Spalitto, a member of all four UMB Bank champion squads from 1987-90.
Patton, a Winnetonka High School graduate and 1977 graduate of William Jewell College, said he was one of a handful of players who played for Boyle’s and a William Jewell team that advanced to the NAIA World Series. He was voted Ban Johnson MVP in 1976 and recalled hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the city championship, when the BJ champion would play the Casey Stengel League champion for city bragging rights.
“It was actually kind of funny because the pitcher for the Casey Stengel champion was a good friend of mine,” Patton said. “We’d gone to grade school, junior high and high school together. It was sure a thrill to see it go over the fence.
“I was so excited running around the bases that I missed second base. I had to go back and touch second. People even today still ask me about that home run sometimes.”
Spalitto started his Ban Johnson League career at age 17 and remembers that every season UMB Bank’s roster would change a little bit. He said there was a core of five or six players, but added that every season it was about making new friends and quickly figuring out how to win with some new acquaintances.
“We were very resilient at times,” said Spalitto, a graduate of Blue Valley North and 1993 graduate of Kansas State. “We never really gave up.”
Spalitto was resilient himself. He played five positions for UMB — center field, left field, right field, first base and ...
“My last year in the BJ league, Kansas State needed some help catching, so I used the summer league to learn how to catch,” Spalitto said “That was fun, learning a brand new position.”
David Cone, Rick Sutcliffe, Frank White and Roger Twibell will serve as honorary co-chairs of the BJ90 Celebration. Any alumni who wish to participate in the BJ90 Celebration at Shoal Creek in Kansas City are asked to contact the league by Aug. 1. For more information, call (913) 383-7765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.