OMER – The annual Northeastern Michigan Baseball League (N.E.M.) reunion will take place this Sunday, July 21, in the N.E.M. Museum located at the Arenac County Historical Society Museum in Omer.
The banquet and induction of this year’s Hall of Fame honorees will commence at 1 p.m., but attendees are invited to arrive early and check out the vintage baseball memorabilia in the museum, which opens at 11 a.m.
According to N.E.M. representative Bob Pelton, the museum contains hundreds of photographs, dating back to the early 1900s, along with old programs, score books and newspaper articles, uniforms, equipment and more.
Pelton notes that the 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.
Guest speakers at the event will be former Detroit Tigers pitcher – and member of the 1984 World Series team – Dave Rozema, along with the team’s longtime trainer, Pio DiSalvo.
Tickets to the reunion cost $18 for adults and $9 for children ages 8-12. There is no charge for attendees 7 and younger.
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets or donating items to the N.E.M. Museum may contact Pelton at 989-846-9644 (daytime), or 989-654-3641 (evening).
“The N.E.M. League was formed in 1916 and was active until 1986,” Pelton states. “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.”
He advised that each year during the reunion, former players, umpires or officials from the organization are elected into the N.E.M. Hall of Fame and inducted the following year.
The 2019 honorees from the Northern Division are Bill Sageman, John Unkovich and Duane Hall. Southern Division honorees are Bob Escamilla, Art Shoultes and Keith Sivier. Posthumous honorees are Elmer Erickson and Less Keeley. Special posthumous honors will also be given to the eight Pavelka brothers – Steve, Frank, Joe, Tony, John, Tom, Mike and Andy – who all played for many years in the N.E.M.
“There is probably not a person raised in Northern Michigan that doesn’t have a connection to the N.E.M. 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,” Pelton says.
“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 and the Tawas’s in the early 20s, and has touched many lives from all walks of life,” he added.