March 10, 2019 – West Bend, WI – When the Seefeldt name is mentioned in Baseball circles, people automatically think of Ivan and Vic Seefeldt.
Ivan, the oldest by one year, was a catcher while Vic was an outfielder and also played 1st and 2nd base. They were born and raised in Tigerton, Wisconsin which is northwest of Clintonville. They attended Split Rock elementary school, Tigerton Middle School and Tigerton High School. They both played baseball and basketball (most of the years on the same team at the same time). Ivan and Vic came about their athleticism from their dad, who was also named Vic. He played baseball for the Tigerton semi-pro team and was a pitcher and infielder. At that time Tigerton had a very good team which won many tournaments. Vic, Sr., won awards as Best pitcher and Best Hitter in the league and was offered a contract to sign with the Chicago Cubs. However, his wife was pregnant with Ivan at the time and they had a farm to run so he did not sign with the Cubs.
It was Little League in the summer of middle school years for Ivan and Vic and then high school ball. Vic played second base in high school and was a guard on the high school basketball team. He attended UW-Stevens Point in 1960-61 and played second base on the college team. He left college in 1961, moved to West Bend and went to work for Amity Leather Products Co. He had an aunt that worked there and she recommended that he apply for a quality control job there. He played for the Tigerton semi-pro team in 1962 and then joined the West Bend Lithia Land O’ Lakes team in 1963 as a second baseman.
He played with legendary players such as Willie Mueller, Sr., Ilo Rauscher, Mark Meyer, Jim Cahoon, Chuck Schroeder, Tom Fischer, Sr., Tim Zettel, and Don Gumm was the manager. Vic was one of the younger players on the team when he joined and gives credit to the older players for helping him to fit in and giving him advice about playing in the Land O’Lakes league. Ivan also joined the Lithias and was the catcher for many years. His strength was as a defensive player and whereas he hit well it was always Vic that had the power on offense. Vic was among the leading hitters for average and was known as King of the Home Run Hitters during his career.
Vic’s baseball career was interrupted in 1964 when he was drafted into the US Army where he served for two years (1964-1966). He spent a year of duty in Vietnam serving as a lab technician in an Army hospital in Saigon which is where many of the wounded were brought for treatment. He was responsible for the Blood Bank at the hospital and saw many of the mass wounded as they arrived at the hospital when he delivered the blood to the emergency area.
He worked 7 days a week/12 hours per day as the number of wounded was very high and blood supplies were urgently needed. This was a stress filled time for everyone who worked at the hospital.
When he was not in the lab, Vic was responsible for guiding celebrities (such as Bob Hope, Wayne Newton, Hugh O’Brien and USO tour groups, sport celebrities (Willie Davis, Johnny Unitas), and visiting dignitaries and politicians through the hospital to visit the patients. Vic remembers that his wife Carol received a phone call from Wayne Newton after Wayne had returned to the states.
He told Carol that he had visited with Vic and that Vic was doing well and was looking forward to returning home to her soon. As a side note, when Vic was 16 years old he was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds. He had to use a pillow on the driver’s seat to take his driving test. When he left the US Army at 24 years old he stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 175 pounds.
When Vic returned to the States in July of 1966 he arrived at Seattle Washington. He and Carol were married there in August of 1966 and spent their honeymoon driving back to Wisconsin. He returned to work at Amity and the following summer (1967) he rejoined the Lithia team and began his brilliant career with that team. He became known as a long home run hitter and a very good defensive center fielder. He did not know the exact number of home runs he hit during his career but a review of the files of the West Bend News at the History Center indicate that he averaged about 10 to 15 home runs per season. In round numbers he believes it would be about 125. He made the All Star team in most of the years he played (1967 thru 1979) and his overall batting average was near .350. In a review of the West Bend News for 1967 thru 1969 and many other years, Vic was always among the leading hitters in the league at the end of the season. At the end of July in 1968 he was batting .352, but with games of 3 for 5 (Saukville) and 4 for 5 (Cedarburg) in August, he raised his average to .375 for the year.
In 1969 the District Tournament was held in West Bend. The Lithias won three games in a four day span and won the last game with a home run by Tom Fischer and a game winning double by Vic to advance to the State Tournament. Vic and Tom were named to the All Tourney team for the District. The Lithias were unsuccessful at the State Tournament but were proud to have been able to get there.
When George Bamberger was the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, Vic arranged for George and Willie Mueller (who was in the Brewers organization as a pitcher during that time) to come to Amity Leather in West Bend to sign autographs and have pictures taken with the employees. It turned out to be a great event with the employees wearing Brewer apparel and meeting George and Willie. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Vic’s favorite memory of playing in the Land O’ Lakes and Tri County Leagues was a game at Horicon played on June 18, 1968. In his first 4 at bats, he hit 4 home runs. His 4th home run was close to the foul line so he waited at home plate to see if it went as a home run or a foul ball. When the umpire yelled fair ball Vic then started his turn around the bases. On his 5th at bat he was hit in the back by a pitched ball. His 6th at bat was a double and his 7th at bat was a single. He had 6 hits in 6 official times at bat and 8 runs driven in. Mark Meyer and Bob Giambetti also hit home runs and the Lithias won 15 to 7. One of his longest home runs was in a Land O’ Lakes game at Belgium (they did not have a home run fence) where he hit the ball way over the left fielder’s head who was still running after it when Vic was crossing home plate. Vic often went 2 for 4, or 3 for 4 in a game. In the opening game of the 1979 season Vic went 4 for 4 with 2 doubles against Barton. In another game with Saukville he also went 4 for 4 with a home run and double.
Vic moved from the outfield to 1st base in his later baseball career and became one of the best defensive players in the game. He served as a mentor to the younger players that came to play with the Lithias after high school and during their college years. He remembered how he was helped when he joined the Lithias in 1963. He served as manager of the Lithias in 1978 and 1979. He coached his daughters in the Little League program for one year where they were the only girls on the team. He could not convince them to continue playing beyond that one year.
Vic’s career with the Lithias started in 1963 and then restarted in 1967 and continued to 1979, or a total of 14 years.
In November of 1979 he and his family moved to Ft. Worth, Texas where Vic accepted a job as the Quality Control manager for Justin Boot Company, a position he held for 25 years. He said he moved because there was no snow and the job opportunity was too good to pass up. He retired from Justin in 2005. While in Texas he played softball for over 10 years (1980 to 1990) and then took up golf which he still plays weekly along with racquetball.
Vic and his wife Carol had two daughters. Rene has two sons and lives about 10 minutes from Vic in Texas. Both of her sons are continuing the Seefeldt baseball tradition and both are or have been pitchers. The youngest son is currently a pitcher for the Odessa Premium Basin College where he recently pitched six innings in a game and gave up only one earned run. Their daughter Laurie is a Registered Nurse in Palm Springs, California. Vic’s wife Carol passed away in February of 1997.
As with all West Bend baseball players, Vic really loved the game and loved playing it. He was a hard competitor but also liked to have fun while at the diamond. He knew it was only a game.
He indicated that the things he remembers most about his baseball years was the activities with all of the players after the game, the excitement of each close game, the commoradare where each player worked with the other player and the team itself. He also remembers the players’ wives running the concession stand and being at the home games and many of the away games. It was a family activity.
He also pointed to the 4 home run game in Horicon as being his favorite even though he had multiple home run games in his career.
Don Gumm, Vic’s manager for many years with the Lithias, says that Vic was “an old-time type of ball player who hit the ball hard, truly enjoyed the game, and always had his mind on the game when he was in the field.
He also indicated that Vic was well respected and well liked in the Baseball community. Vic was an excellent player and a team leader. He is well deserving of the honor of being in the West Bend Baseball Association Wall of Fame.