By STEVE KRAH
The folks of LaPorte, Indiana and beyond got a chance to say “thank you” in the summer of 2016 when a sign was placed at the corner of 10th and I streets.
Ken Schreiber Way salutes the trailblazing baseball coach lived on that four-block stretch of street while building the baseball showplace — which became known as Schreiber Field — in front of it.
From 1960 until stepping down early during the 1998 season, Schreiber won 1,010 games and lost just 217 and gained the respect of thousands — not only in Indiana — but around the baseball world.
The man was elected to 13 sporting halls of fame, including one established by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association. He was a founding member of that group back in 1971.
That was four years after his Slicers reigned as state championships in the very first Indiana High School Athletic Association tournament.
Besides 1967, the boys and orange and black would finish atop the Indiana baseball heap six more times on Schreib’s watch and he had to go to his other hand to place all the size 10 1/2 rings.
Schreib was tough. Just ask his wife Judy, who he married in 1960, any of his six children — Eric, Kim, Doug, Dan, Mark and Keith — or anyone who played for and coached with or against him.
But he was also generous. If he thought it would be good for high school baseball, he would be more than generous with his time and resources. He was meticulous in his record-keeping.
All the details and photos came in handy when Slicer Baseball, A Cut Above: A history of LaPorte Baseball was being produced.
This writer made about 100 trips to LaPorte and talked to 150 people tied to Slicer baseball in 2016 for the volume published by Regional Radio Sports Network/Indiana Football Digest/Prime Time Publications.
But the most memorable visits were with the coach, often with his trusty dog Scooter at his feet. He remembered decades-old details like they had just happened.
He recalled growing up on the south side of Chicago, right about where center field at Guaranteed Rate Field now stands and was always a dyed-in-the-wool White Sox rooter.
He fondly talked about his adopted home of Michigan City (he graduated from Elston High School in 1953 and Valparaiso University in 1958) and why he stayed in LaPorte even when he got offers to coach in college.
Loyalty and a sense of community meant something to Kenneth William Schreiber.
That’s why LaPorte and the baseball community and at large is going to miss Schreib, who died Friday, Sept. 8 at 83.
The word legend gets thrown around pretty liberally these days. But this guy was just that. He was truly one of a kind.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Ken Schreiber addresses the crowd during a LaPorte Legends Game on July 2, 2016, the day the city dedicated Ken Schreiber Way. Behind the Hall of Famer are long-time assistant Bob Schellinger, former player, coach and current head coach Scott Upp, wife Judy Schreiber and former player and long-time assistant Dave Reed. (Steve Krah Photo)