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Sunday, June 9, 2013

John DeWitt (Inducted 2013)

By Tom Hintgen

John DeWitt. PHOTO PROVIDED

John DeWitt Biography from the 2013 Hall of Fame Induction.

John DeWitt, an outfielder with the 1950 Fergus Falls Red Sox state champion baseball team, has been named as one of five inductees into the Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony, open to the public, will take place at 4:00pm, Saturday, July 27, at the American Legion. A social hour will take place from 3:00 to 4:00pm.

           
The other inductees for 2013 are Michelle Danielson Berger, Greg Buckmeier, Eric Ecker and Joe Gervais.

           
DeWitt will join three other Red Sox players who already are in the Chamber’s Hall of Fame. They include retirees Harley Oyloe and Roland Harlow and the late Duane Baglien. The team batboy, George Sawyer, became an outstanding athlete and coach and also is in the Chamber’s Sports Hall of Fame.

           
A permanent display, with names and photos, is in place in the front lobby of Kennedy Secondary School in Fergus Falls. Visitors are welcome to see the display during regular school office hours.

           
The Fergus Falls Red Sox town baseball team was in an era which many historians refer to as the golden age of Minnesota amateur baseball. Those were the years, after World War II, from 1945 to 1960. This era is chronicled in a book titled “Town Ball.”

           
Remaining members of the 1950 Fergus Falls Red Sox team plan to hold a mini-reunion the last weekend in July, when the Chamber Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held.


DeWitt lettered in three different sports while attending Texas A&M.  This outstanding athlete played baseball, basketball and track for the Aggies from 1949 to 1952.


Among his achievements are: SWC champion, 440-yard dash, 1952; SWC champion, mile relay, 1952; SWC track team champions, 1952; member of the 1951 College World Series baseball team; SWC baseball co-champions, 1951; All-SWC, baseball, outfield, 1951 and SWC tri-champions (NCAA tournament), basketball, 1951.


He also was a Red Cross swimming instructor at Pebble Lake and worked for the Fergus Falls city park department.

     
DeWitt and his wife, Lynn, have been married for 56 years. They have four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren.

     
“One set of triplets are now four years old,” said DeWitt.

     
He looks back on a military career that included U.S. Air Force service from August 1952 to August 1954. He served as a First Lt.

     
DeWitt holds a civil engineering degree from Texas A&M.

     
His pro baseball career included 1955 play in Class B at Harlingen, Texas, part of the Big State League. He was a freshman basketball coach for Texas A&M in 1955, 1956 and 1957. “One season we had five consecutive overtime games,” he said.

     
His brother, Bill, was a starting guard for Baylor, in 1948. His team played Kentucky for the national collegiate basketball title, with Kentucky winning by 58 to 42.

     
“It was great to win the Minnesota state baseball AA title for Fergus Falls in 1950,” said DeWitt. “We lost to Austin in 1949 and came back to win a year later. I always had special memories of my time spent in Fergus Falls, and enjoyed the baseball reunions back in Minnesota.”

     
He said people always were gracious, even inviting Red Sox team members to Sunday dinner. DeWitt also enjoyed the beauty of Fergus Falls and the lakes of Otter Tail County.

 

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