New Columbia and Waterloo High School sports photos have been added to my website.
Check them out at smugmug.com
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.