Kansas Baseball HOF announces 2016 Class of Inductees

Kevin Hooper (Wichita Wingnuts)
Kevin Hooper (Wichita Wingnuts)

WICHITA, Kansas (KSNW) – The Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame announces the following 7 baseball figures, have been elected into the 2016 Class of The Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame.

Johnny Damon – Born at Fort Riley to an Army staff sergeant father and Thai mother, Johnny was the nation’s top high school prospect when drafted by Kansas City. In his final minor league season he hit .343 for the Wichita Wranglers. He played 18 years for seven big league teams, including the Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Indians, as well as the Thai National Team. He was in two all-star games, led the American League in stolen bases in 2000 and played on two World Series championship teams.

Kevin Hooper – Originally from Lawrence, Kevin led WSU in hitting with a .402 average in 1999 then went on to play with Detroit in parts of two seasons. In 2008, he joined the fledgling Wichita Wingnuts where he batted .373. In seven years as the team’s manager, he won 422 games while losing 270. In 2014 he led the team to a remarkable 73 wins in just 100 games. He is also 2005 Shocker HOF inductee.

Adam La Roche – A high school all-American at Fort Scott, Adam played for six major league teams including the Braves, Pirates, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Nationals and White Sox. But he may be best remembered for walking away from a $13 million contract with the White Sox because the team restricted the time he could have his 14-year-old son in the clubhouse. Winner of both a gold glove and silver slugger award, he played while suffering from ADHD. Off the field he has been extremely giving with many charities.

Ray Mueller – A native of Pittsburg and cousin of infielder Don Gutteridge, Ray played 14 seasons in the major leagues and set the National League record by catching 233 consecutive games, earning the title “Iron Man” in doing so. Playing in Boston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and New York, he was an all-star in 1944. Like many players his age, he lost a season to military service during World War II. He died at age 82 in 1994.

Bob Rives – Entering the Hall as a contributor, Bob has become one of the leading baseball historian and writer in the state of Kansas. He authored the book, Baseball in Wichita, and has written for several national publications about Kansas baseball players. Among biographies he has produced for the Society of American Baseball Research are three concerning Kansas Baseball HOF members: Archie McKain, Darryl Spencer and Joe Wilhoit. He has also served as a long-time Board of Director for the Kansas Baseball HOF.

Steve Ruud – As of his induction, Steve is a construction company executive. Plus, he is the majority owner of the Wichita Wingnuts and a key figure in helping keep professional baseball alive in Kansas. He is one of six who joined Horn Chen to bring a minor league team to Wichita and has since purchased a majority interest in the ‘Nuts. As a baseball player, he pitched for 13 years in the NBC tournament.

Joe Slobko – One of the winningest junior college coaches in Kansas history, Joe was at Garden City Community College for 22 years where he won 819 games while losing only 397. He also taught psychology. His best known player is now one of baseball’s most successful executives, Dayton Moore of the Kansas City Royals. Joe is a 1955 graduate of Soroco High School.

Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame web site: wichitahof.com

INDUCTION CEREMONY:

WHEN: Saturday, January 28, 2017

TIME: 12:00 noon

WHERE: Distillery 244, 244 N. Mosley in Old Town, Wichita, KS

COST: $20 which includes a buffet lunch. Make reservations in advance by calling (316) 264-5222.
Or mail check for reservations to: Wichita Sports Hall of Fame, 4700 E. Central, Wichita, KS 67208