February 23, 2020

NEM Baseball League to celebrate its past, honor inductees


OMER — The Northeastern Michigan Baseball League will hold its annual reunion Sunday, July 21, and induct new honorees into the hall of fame.

The NEM League was formed in 1916 and was active until 1986. A total of 52 teams and thousands of players from Saginaw/Midland to Alpena participated over the 70 years, with as many as three divisions, 19 teams and 350-400 players, coaches and umpires in some years.

Each year at the reunion, former players, umpires or officials from the NEM are elected into the NEM Hall of Fame and inducted the following year. This year’s honorees from the Northern Division are Bill Sageman, John Unkovich and Duane Hall. The honorees from the Southern Division are Bob Escamilla, Art Shoultes and Keith Sivier. Posthumous honorees are Elmer Erickson and Less Keeley. Special posthumous honors will be given to the eight Pavelka brothers — Steve, Frank, Joe, Tony, John, Tom, Mike and Andy — who all played on the Standish team over many years.

Guest speakers at the event will include former Detroit Tigers pitcher and 1984 World Series team member Dave Rozema, and that team’s trainer, Pio DiSalvo.

There is probably not a person raised in Northern Michigan who doesn’t have a connection to the NEM in one way or another. It could have been as a former player, umpire, family member, friend or perhaps a spectator who loved the game of baseball. For many years, it was the most popular form of entertainment in Northeastern Michigan, dating back to when many teams rode the trains to Bentley, Gladwin, Pinconning, Standish, West Branch, East Tawas and Tawas City in the early 1920s.

The reunion will take place at the Arenac County Historical Society Museum in Omer. The museum has hundreds of photographs dating back to the early 1900s, along with uniforms from more than half of the teams, old programs, score books, newspaper articles, equipment and other baseball memorabilia.

The reunion banquet and induction begins at 1 p.m., but attendees are invited to come early to check out all the vintage baseball memorabilia in the museum, which opens at 11 a.m.

If anyone would like to purchase tickets to the reunion or would like to donate any items to the NEM Museum, contact Bob Pelton by mail at 227 Dean Rd., Sterling, MI 48659, or call him at 989-846-9644 (daytime) or 989-654-3641 (evening).

Tickets are $18 for adults, $9 for children 8-12 and no charge for children 7 and younger. This year’s banquet menu will consist of honey-fried chicken, meatballs and noodles in a mushroom sauce, polish sausage and kraut, potato salad, green beans, coleslaw, dessert and beverages.


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