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Land O' Lakes Baseball History

Lannon Contributor Barney Joecks

from the collection of Sussex Village Historian Fred H. Keller

Barney Joecks a volunteer groundskeeper is an honored man in the Village of Lannon. He died at age 50 in 1962 and 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of his death and also the anniversary of the village and the Land O'Lakes baseball team naming the lighted baseball park Joeck Memorial Field.

Bernard "Barney" Joecks Jr. was born in the Town of Lisbon in 1912. The Joecks family has been an important part of Lannon and a Town Line Road family since the 1800s. Herman Joecks Blacksmith shop was located at the downtown apex from the turn of the century onward today being Joecks Service Station.

The large Joecks family has 30 plots in Sunnyside Cemetery and others are buried in area cemeteries. Barney's parents, Bernhard Joecks Sr. (1870-1964) and his mother Ida, (1868-1940

Baseball has been popular in Lannon for many years. The community organized tournaments, successful leagues and held many exhibitions over the years. After 1922, with the founding of the Land O'Lakes league by Martin Weber of Merton Lannon came aboard with good records. However in 1949 they finally won their league and went on to take the league grand championship.

Some time around pre-World War II, a nonplayer, Barney Joecks, came forward as a "volunteer" to take care of the harrowing, dragging and leveling of the infield of the Lannon baseball team. When he died, the obituary stated, "Joecks was the groundskeeper and official scorer for the Lannon ball team for more than 25 years."

In time, Lannon with Joecks as the grounds and official scorekeeper had some great success winning in his lifetime grand championships in 1949, '53, '54, '55, '56, '58 and '61. The team continued after his death winning 16 championships in 62 years it has been in existence. In the process, Lannon attained the designation of "Baseball Capitol of Waukesha County." There is an actual Waukesha County Historical Society marker at the park that notes this designation and Barney Joecks' name as well.

A former star baseball player, Jim Smith, 84, now living in retirement in Lannon said of Joecks, "Barney Joecks seemed to enjoy his work on the Lannon diamond. There was only one speed for Barney. He would be going as fast as he just had to do it right, and fine finish the grooming of the field with an F-8 (small) tractor. He always had the field in great shape.

The guys were always thanking him for doing such a good job. He had it set in his thinking that it was his job to level the basepaths and the rest of the infield."

Smith added, "He had a leveling drag and he wanted to get something to 'plank' the field (smooth it). He got some planks somewhere in Lannon and put together and planked the field to just the perfect finish level as a table."

Joecks untimely death caused by an auto accident brought the community together in his memory. They decided that the baseball field he loved so much and labored on for so long be named after him. On an August Friday night when the league had an all-star game, Lannon Village President Richard Torstenson, Menomonee Falls president Horace Trenary, Lannon LOL team manager Schupe DeCristofaro, Lannon Butina-Zimdars VFW color guard, and the team along with founder Martin Weber and eastern division director Joe Long shared comments and honors to Barney and dedicated the field in his name.

Today there is a two-sided sign with the name on it plus two brass plates attesting to the honor bestowed. Ten years after he died Barney Joecks was inducted to the Land O'Lakes Baseball Hall of Fame.

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