With the Polecats back in town, hopefully to stay, and with Rick Habeck back in town, for the weekend, last Wednesday provided the perfect opportunity to honor one of the biggest names in Polecat history.
Friends and family gathered at the ballpark July 16 as Habeck was inducted into the North Star League Hall of Fame. He became the 120th member in the HOF of the North Star League, one of numerous town team baseball leagues in Minnesota.
After a short ceremony, watched by family, friends and Polecat fans proceeding Monticello’s game against Albertville, Habeck talked to the Monticello Times about what the induction meant to him.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I didn’t expect it.”
But a quick look at his career stats shows that plenty of people probably saw it coming.
Habeck, a former Monticello High School baseball player, played town team baseball for 21 years, splitting his time between St. Michael, Monticello, Maple Lake and Albertville.
Over the course of his career, he was a .300 hitter (.305, to be exact) and proved to be an apt fielder, according to the North Star League induction speech.
But where he really made his career was on the pitching mound.
Habeck won 40 games over the course of his career, throwing a whopping 800 innings. He was considered by man to be an iron man on the mound.
“I was blessed with an arm that never got sore,” said Habeck, pointing to that, and his love of the game, as the biggest reasons for his success in baseball.
Habeck recorded a career earned run average (ERA) of just under 5, but had several seasons where it was much lower. In both 1998 and 2000, he was named the Most Valuable Pitcher in the league, and in 2000 he was the ERA champion with a mark of 3.15.
Habeck said he was thankful to his teammates and friends who made the game enjoyable, as well as those who got him involved with town team baseball. He also mentioned Brian Larson, or “Bookie, a statistician for the NSL and also the guy to present Habeck with his HOF plaque.
“Guys like Bookie, that keep these stats, it’s amazing their dedication has been so strong,” he said.
The same could be said about Habeck. Following his 21 year career of town team baseball, he started the Monticello Ol’ Cats, an off chute of the Polecats for older players. He continued to pitch and play for them until moving to Las Vegas recently. He said that while he isn’t playing in Vegas yet, he has a team that he is interested in joining. His next season of baseball will be his 43rd.
“I just love the game,” said Habeck.
On Wednesday, it gave him some well-deserved love right back.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]