Tagged: Waterloo

New Columbia and Waterloo Sports photos

New Columbia and Waterloo High School sports photos have been added to my website.

Check them out at smugmug.com

Search Mark Hodapp

There are football, tennis, soccer and volleyball games shots from the last few days.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions on how to order the photos.



Tears from the Heart

After years of hard work, I’m proud to announce my book is officially on the market at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.

Tears from the Heart will undoubtedly make you look at your life differently.

The book features over 35 inspiring stories and just a few of the photos I have taken over the years.

The book is available in hardback, soft back and e-book formats.

Below you will find the back cover copy as well as the introduction.

I look forward to hearing from you.



As a newspaper reporter, Mark Hodapp wrote his share of sad stories. But unlike some who deal with death and heartbreak on a regular basis, Hodapp never could forget many of the stories or the people behind the stories.
After being away from the newspaper business for a few years, Mark decided to revisit some of those stories and add a few others.
The product of that effort is a book, “Tears from the Heart,” he recently self-published.
Mark said stories involving children provided the real impetus for the book.
“I think after seeing some of these kids, I had to do something,” he said.
With stories from grieving parents and photos accompanied by poetry, the book is especially meant to help those who have lost a loved one, Mark said.
“The book is mostly for people who are grieving or who have grieved,” he said.
The book is dedicated to his father, who died in 2003, and to “all the parents who have lost a child.”
Organized as a series of stories and poems, the book deals primarily with grief and loss. Much of it is inspirational in tone, such as the following from a woman whose son had died of sickle cell anemia:
“I have never felt this way before.
“I feel a sort of loneliness, but it’s a happy loneliness.
“It’s a weird feeling, but I know Andre is all right, and he’s out of pain.”
Some of the stories come from Mark’s experience as a reporter. He worked for the Suburban Journals in Illinois from 1994-1998 and for The Messenger, a Catholic newspaper in Belleville, for three years after that. He is currently the sports editor for The Republic-Times in Waterloo, Ill.
But others come from his personal experience and chance encounters, he said.
Much of the poetry is original, which Mark said he writes out of personal feelings.
“If something catches my fancy, I just go with it,” he said. “It’s just following what you feel.”
The death of his father and his wife’s miscarriage were part of the inspiration for the book. Writing about those incidents helped him cope with them, Mark  said.
But new experiences-including chance encounters with people who have experienced recent loss-also have provided new material for the book.
“I keep finding people I want to put in,” he said.
Harry Weiner
There is a principle in grief counseling that states “In telling the story the healing
takes place.” The book entitled Tears from the Heart  provides a
springboard in which the healing can begin. Death brings grief which is a response
to loss. The whole person, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally reacts to
this loss. If the loss is not addressed appropriately, it often times goes underground
and can cause further pain. God created the human person to deal with loss, which
is a part of the human condition, by giving the human person the ability to share his
tears and his story. This work, which is a collage of stories that covers the whole
spectrum of ages from the child to the senior citizen, provides the reader an opportunity to tap into his or her own story which can lead to healing.
The season of grief, which each person experiences differently, can last for a year or more. The various seasonal photos selected in this work takes this grief reality into account. Important to the grief process is the healing role of faith which the author brings to the forefront by his use of photos and grief story selections.
No matter what stage of loss the individual may be in, Tears From The Heart could assist someone who is in the process and has faced it before. It allows them to go through the valley of tears and sadness and rise to the mountain top of hope and joy.
Reverend Monsignor Kenneth Steffen, DMin, JCL, PH, KHS

Cal Neeman reflects on his big league career

By Mark Hodapp

For years, Cal Neeman was the man behind a catcher’s mask.  

The long-time Cahokia, Ill. resident disappeared from major league baseball in 1963 and was gone, but not forgotten.

“I don’t do much now,” he says. “I am right now in Florida, enjoying the nice sunshine.”

At 83 years old, Neeman is as energetic as many men half his age.  

He still enjoys playing golf, and traveling with his wife of 58 years, Maryann. 

“I am not a scratch golfer,” he says and laughs. “I never was. I didn’t even have a handicap last year. The last time I had a handicap, it was a 14.”

Neeman now lives in Lake St. Louis, Mo. He recently had his right knee replaced.

“I’m down here (in Florida) trying to recoup,” he says.

Neeman was born in Valmeyer, Ill. on Feb. 18, 1929. He remembers moving to Waterloo, Ill. when he was in the first grade. His family later moved to East St. Louis, Ill. after his dad got a “good job” with Monsanto. They later  relocated to  Maplewood, Ill. (better known as Cahokia today), where he lived most of his teenage life and had a newspaper delivery route.

Neeman graduated from Dupo High School in 1947, and is still widely considered as one of the school’s most gifted athletes in baseball and basketball. 

He helped Dupo win the regional basketball title during his senior year.

Neeman was later signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Yankees out of Illinois Wesleyan University, where he also played basketball, before the 1949 season. 

The Yankees organization assigned  him to the Joplin Miners of the Class C Western Association, where he spent both the 1949 and ‘50 seasons.

Neeman hit .292 for the Miners in 95 games to win the pennant in 1950 with help from Mickey Mantle.

“Everyone who saw Mantle play knew he could run faster and hit the ball farther than anyone on the field,” Neeman recalls. 

Neeman was drafted by the U.S. military and  served during the Korean Conflict, returning in time for the 1953 season.

He served with the Army’s 105th Field Artillery Battalion, spending about a year in Korea.

After being discharged from the Army, he met his wife while playing with the Binghamton Triplets. The Triplets were a minor league baseball team in Binghamton, New York, affiliated with the New York Yankees.

Neeman spent four seasons in the minor leagues, with his best year coming in 1955 when he caught 122 games and hit .294 with the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association.

In 1956,  he played  with the AAA Richmond Virginians and also the AAA Denver Bears.

On Dec. 3, 1956, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs from the  New York Yankees in the Rule V Draft. “That shocked me,” he says. “I could hardly believe it.”

It was the break Neeman needed as  the Yankees were well stocked at catcher with Yogi Berra and a number of young catchers in their system, including Elston Howard, Ralph Houk and Johnny Blanchard.

Neeman jumped right in and became the Cubs’ first string catcher as a rookie in 1957, hitting .257 with 10 home runs in 122 games.

He fondly recalls getting his first big league hit off Milwaukee Braves star Warren Spahn on April 16, 1957, at Wrigley Field.

He remembers getting his first home run  a week later off of Milwaukee hurler Lew Burdette in the 10th inning on April 23, 1957, at County Stadium in  Milwaukee.    

The game ended with Milwaukee Hall of Famer Hank Aaron hitting a line drive caught by Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, killing a Milwaukee scoring rally. 

He split the Cubs catching duties in 1958 with Sammy Taylor.

“In those days, if you didn’t hit close to .300, a second division team was looking for ways to improve their team,” he says. “On a pennant winner or contender, that was a different story.”

A solid receiver, Neeman would be with the Cubs until he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Tony Taylor for Ed Bouchee and Don Cardwell on May 13, 1960.

While with Philadelphia, he  became close friends with the late Robin Roberts. The former Phillies pitching great was born in Springfield, Ill., the son of an immigrant Welsh coal miner. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

“He could throw the ball where the hitters could never hit it,” Neeman recalls.

He spent a day with Roberts last spring shortly before his death on May  6, 2010. He was 83.

“That was a sad day,” Neeman says.  “He was one of those good men we lost.”

Neeman’s game started to tail off  and the 33-year-old catcher was passed along to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1962 and he would finish off his big league career in the American League with the Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators in 1963.

Neeman finished with a .988 fielding percentage and a .224 batting average. He had 30 home runs while appearing in 376 games.

After baseball and during the offseason, Neeman worked as a railroad switchman. 

Neeman later worked as a salesman with the Nystrom Company, selling school supplies.


Former big league pitcher in exclusive club

The Koenigsmark family, from left front row, are, Minnie, Jacob, Dorothea, Alyda and Amanda.
Back row: Alois, Conrad, Morris, Robert and Willis. Willis later pitched with the St. Louis Cardinals
in 1919.

By Mark Hodapp

Perhaps one of the rarest

feats has been accomplished by

only a handful of pitchers in

Major League Baseball. Former

Waterloo, Ill. native, the late Willis

Koenigsmark, was one of them.

Their ERAs are INF, also

known as “infinity.”

Koenigsmark is one of 13

big league pitchers who each

appeared in only one Major

League game in his career, gave

up at least one run but never

recorded an out, according to

David Smith at Project Retrosheet.

Surely it must have been

frustrating for Koenigsmark to

have earned a big league cup of

coffee, but never to have

achieved what every pitcher desires

most — an out.

Koenigsmark’s debut

On Sept. 10, 1919, St. Louis

Cardinals manager Branch

Rickey brought in right-hander

Koenigsmark to pitch against

the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Koenigsmark faced only

three Dodgers batters without

recording an out in his first and

only big league game.

Two of the batters scored,

giving Koenigsmark the dreaded


Koenigsmark never pitched

in another big league game after


He later made his living selling

seed corn in Waterloo, Ill., recalled

his niece Jean Stogner,

who still lives in Waterloo.

A World War I veteran, Koenigsmark

died July 1, 1972.

He was buried at Waterloo

City Cemetery.

Local baseball historian Rich

Fisher recalled meeting Koenigsmark

a couple weeks after

Fisher was discharged from the

service in 1967. He remembers

Koenigsmark asking him if

he’d be interested in starting

another baseball team in Waterloo

to compete in the Mon-Clair


“He didn’t care how good or

bad of a team it was,” Fisher

said. “He just wanted to have

another team to compete against

another guy in town.”

That other guy was Waterloo

Millers manager Vern Moehrs.

Fisher told Koenigsmark

he’d need a couple of days to

think about it.

But he said he never heard

from Koenigsmark again.

Koenigsmark’s legacy

The Koenigsmark family has

a deep heritage and legacy in


Willis was the grandson of

Thomas Koenigsmark, who

died Jan. 14, 1911, in Waterloo.

Thomas Koenigsmark for more

than a quarter of a century devoted

his energies to advancing

the interests of Waterloo.

A self-made man, Thomas

Koenigsmark came to the United

States as a poor immigrant

boy, without money or friends.

In time, he became a power

in the commercial world and

the organizer and promoter of

vast industries which made Waterloo

an important milling center.

Thomas Koenigsmark was

born at Merklin, Bohemia, and

as a youth heard of the wonderful

fortunes to be made in the


When he was 13 years old,

he succeeded in accumulating

enough money to pay his passage

to New Orleans.

Thomas Koenigsmark made

the journey alone and arrived in

that city when it was in the grip

of a yellow fever epidemic.

“My mother (Alyda Koenigsmark)

said he came to the

United States with 50 cents in

his pocket and a violin,” Stogner


In 1855, Thomas Koenigsmark

moved to St. Louis, but

subsequently settled at Columbia,Ill.,

where he was first employed

as a clerk in Beaird’s


Later, Thomas Koenigsmark

followed the trade of tailor for a

short time, and worked in the

brick business for another short

period, owning a yard where the

Columbia, Ill. depot once stood prior

to the building of the Mobile

and Ohio Railroad.

In 1863, Thomas Koenigsmark

entered the mercantile

field as the proprietor of a store,

and successfully conducted it

until he purchased Gardner Mill

in Columbia. When the Chouteau

and Edwards Mill, in Waterloo,

was completely destroyed

by fire in 1884, the citizens

of this city asked him to

build a new mill, and this he did

in 1886, erecting the Koenigsmark


Thomas Koenigsmark was

progressive in all things, and

was a firm believer in using the

most modern machinery and


During the 36 years that he

was engaged in milling, he saw

many changes in milling methods,

and was ever abreast of the


While Thomas Koenigsmark’s

business career kept his

time well occupied, he found

leisure to enjoy those pleasures

that made his home life beautiful.

He was a great lover of music, the violin being his favorite

instrument, and in his younger

days showed considerable talent

as a performer.

Successful himself, Thomas

Koenigsmark enjoyed the success

of others, and was ever

ready to lend a helping hand to

those in need of assistance.

Thomas Koenigsmark retired

in 1899 and moved to St.

Louis, where he later died.

When Thomas Koenigsmark

retired, he signed over the mills

to his sons, John and Jacob


Willis was the youngest of

Jacob and Dorothea Koenigsmark’s

eight children. The other

children were Minnie, Alyda,

Amanda, Alois Conrad, Morris

and Robert.

John Koenigsmark was the

grandfather of Virginia Sweet,

who still lives in Waterloo.

It’s not known how Willis

got his start in baseball.

“But I have been told he was

the athlete in his family,” Stogner


It’s also not known what

happened to Thomas Koenigsmark’s

violin after it was sold in

a family auction in 1989.

But Stogner was able to find

and acquire the violin’s case

several years ago.