Wisconsin State Baseball League Announces Hall of Fame Class of ‘18

The five will be inducted at the annual Wisconsin State League Awards Dinner at Sheboygan’s Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center on Saturday, Jan. 26.

The Wisconsin State Baseball League settled on three catchers and two pitchers for induction into its Hall of Fame.

Selected was the Kenosha Kings Brother Battery of pitcher Randy and catcher Billy Johnson, Oshkosh Giants catcher Brian Neveau, Sheboygan catcher Clay Schwartz, and Green Bay Blue Ribbons pitcher Paul Wilmet.

The five will be inducted at the annual Wisconsin State League Awards Dinner at Sheboygan’s Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Billy Johnson joined the Kings in 2004 after an outstanding career at Tremper High School and with the Kenosha American Legion Team where he was selected to play in the state all-star game. He went on to play at UW-Whitewater where he was a starting infielder in his sophomore and junior seasons. He was switched to catcher in his senior year, made the first all-Conference and all-region teams and helped Whitewater to a third-place finish in the D3 world series. He signed with the Brewers in 2009.

Johnson played with the Kings from 2004-2014 and hit .321 in 217 games. He was selected to the all-league team in 2008, ’09 and ’12. He had seven .300 or better seasons and put together a string of .355, .338, .339 and .403 seasons between 2007 and 2011. He was named to the all-league team three times.

His .321 average ranks him 18th among players with 700 or more plate appearances.

“I really enjoyed competing in every game.  There was always good baseball being played in the league and being able to go out and compete with my teammates was very special.  The best memory I have of the Wisconsin State League is calling games and catching my bother. He was one of the most talented pitchers I have ever had the opportunity to catch,“ Johnson said.

Randy Johnson is one of only three pitchers to be named the league’s Most Valuable Pitcher three times. (Sheboygan’s Michael Casper was selected three times and Janesville’s Tom Klawitter seven times.)  Johnson won the award in 2007, 2011 and 2012 and was picked to the all-league team four times.

Johnson led the league in earned run average twice, 0.60 in 2008 and 1.71 in 2011.   He finished with a career 2.68 earned run average, 5th best in the history of the league among pitchers with 300 or more innings pitched.  He also led the league in wins twice, innings pitched twice and in strikeouts in 2012.

In his first year with the Kings he went 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA and helped the club to a co-championship.

He was a Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-Star in high school and went on to UW-Whitewater where he helped the team win the D3 National Championship in 2005 and finish third in 2008.  He played for the Gary South Shore Railcats in the Northern League and the Southern Illinois Miners in the Frontier League.

“I have many memories of big games, but the best game I was a part of was a 10-inning, 1-0 loss to Lombard.  The first hit I gave up in the game was with 2-outs in the top of the 10th.  It was a fantastic game and to have my brother behind the plate and my parents watching from the stands is a memory I will never forget,” he said.

Brian Neveau played only five years in the league, 1986-1990, but they were incredible seasons.  His career batting average was a robust .393 which ranks him fourth all-time among players with 500 or more appearances. Only Lombard’s Greg Iavarone (.414), Tom Zoch who finished his career at Marshfield (.401) and Mark Rohde of Horicon (.398) top the Oshkosh catcher on that chart.

His five seasons that began in 1986 were an amazing .317, .427, .448, .348 and .382.

He set the record for hits with 60 in 1988 and 30 years later that record still stands. He and teammate Chris Delarwelle were the key players that year and led Oshkosh to its only league championship.  It was a remarkable season for Neveau who had 10 doubles and eight home runs and accounted for 70 runs with 40 scored and 30 driven in.

Neveau played for Harlan Quant at Oshkosh North High School where he was a 4-year varsity letterman and an all-state player his senior year. He played four years of Legion ball for coach Jim White and then went on to play at the University of South Alabama for three years gaining first-team recognition in the Sun Belt Conference, ranked 15th in the country at one point in the season and a near qualifier for the College World Series.

After his baseball career, Neveau played fast pitch softball for many years and was part of two ISC World Championship teams and was named All-World numerous times. He was selected to play for Team USA in the Pan American games and helped the team to a silver medal.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for the Wisconsin State League Hall of Fame. Many of my college teammates played in various collegian leagues around the country and I felt very fortunate to have a competitive league right here in our backyard. The talent of my teammates and opponents made playing in the league a competitive and enjoyable experience. In addition to great competition, I developed many lifelong friendships,” Neveau said.

Clay Schwartz was behind the plate for 11 (1995-2005) seasons for the Sheboygan A’s, was a key performer on their 1997 and 2000 championship teams and was instrumental in the successes of Sheboygan’s Michael Casper and Tom Eckhardt, two of the league’s top pitchers. Known for his propensity to get hit by pitches, Schwartz set an NCAA record in HBP at UW-Milwaukee where he was an all-Horizon Conference player.

Schwartz was an all-conference player at St. Mary Springs in Fond du Lac before going on to UWM.

He compiled a .280 career batting average over 11 seasons and 1,180 plate appearances.  His .280 average ranks 13th among players with 1,100 or more plate appearances. While he hit .350 in 2002, his best season was the A’s championship season of 1997 when he hit .327 with nine doubles, a triple, and nine home runs, driving in 27 runs.

His real value to the club, though, was behind the plate. He did not commit an error in 2001 and 2002 handling 323 chances in that time. He had a powerful arm and was in double figures in assists for eight straight seasons until he hurt that arm.

“I am very honored to be elected into the State League Hall of Fame. The caliber of talent that has passed through the league over the years is second to none. To play with and against Hall of Famers is something you can’t forget,” Schwartz said.

“I remember some slugfests with Janesville and some very competitive games we had with Lombard. There may have been some heated moments, but that is what playing against the best does to competitive athletics,” he said.

Paul Wilmet was a key performer in the heyday of the Green Bay Blue Ribbons and came back nearly a decade later and was a key performer again.

He compiled an 11-2 record with the Ribbons before leaving for pro ball and came back eight years later and went on to post a 15-6 mark.

He led the league in earned run average in 1980, .00 in 21⅔ innings, and again in 1998, 2.74 in 62⅓.  Although he had a league-best 4-0 record in 1980, 1998 was his best season. He racked up a 7-1 record that year, completing five of nine starts, and was named the league’s most valuable pitcher.

He helped Green Bay to championships in 1979 through 1981, 1995 and 1998.

Wilmet is currently managing the Green Bay Storm in the Northeastern Wisconsin League.

The Wisconsin State League is one of the premier semi-professional/amateur baseball leagues in the mid-west. In operation since 1970, the Wisconsin State League is a highly competitive league which features many of the mid-west's top current and former collegiate athletes, as well as many former professional baseball players. Keep up to date on everything happening in the Wisconsin State League by following the league online on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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