Kernels to Induct Five Into Their Hall of Fame
Five individuals have been selected for induction into the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. They are Mike Trout, Chris Sabo, Verna Nance, Ron Gonder and Tom Barbee.
Mike Trout played for the Kernels during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He was the first round pick of the LA Angels (25th overall) in the 2009 First Year Player Draft out of Millville, NJ, and was named American League Rookie of the Year in 2012. He played 81 games for the Kernels in 2010, batting .364 with six home runs and 39 RBI and stole 45 bases in 54 chances.
Chris Sabo played for the Cedar Rapids Reds in 1983. He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1983 draft out of the University of Michigan and went on play nine seasons in the Majors with Cincinnati, Baltimore, St. Louis and the Chicago White Sox. In 77 games for Cedar Rapids, he hit .274 with 12 HR and 37 RBI. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1988, won a World Series with Cincinnati in 1990 and was selected to three NL All-Star Teams (1988, 1990 and 1991). He finished his MLB career with a .268 batting average with 116 HR and 426 RBI in 911 Major League games.
Verna Nance is the wife of long-time board member Bob Nance, and is known to several former Cedar Rapids baseball players as ‘The Cake Lady’ or ‘Ma Nance.' She started the practice of baking a cake for a player’s birthday in 1963 as a way to make the players feel more at home in Cedar Rapids, away from their friends and family. A long-time supporter of professional baseball in Cedar Rapids, she did things to help the players become accustomed to living away from home in anera before Host Families and Booster Clubs. Verna and Bob still live in the Cedar Rapids area and have three children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Ron Gonder, known as ‘The Big Shoe,' was the play-by-play voice of the University of Iowa football and basketball on WMT AM 600 from 1969 to 1999. He was a member of the Cedar Rapids Ball Club’s Board of Directors until the mid-1990’s and was inducted into the Iowa Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 1997. He and his wife, Pat, live in Cedar Rapids.
Tom Barbee is a member of the Cedar Rapids Ball Club’s Executive Board and served as Board President from 2006 until 2010. The Kernels won the MWL and national John H. Johnson Award in 2008 as the top organization in Minor League Baseball during his term. Tom is President of the Kernels Foundation and helped oversee the building of Veterans Memorial Stadium in 2002. He and his wife, Joretta, reside in Coralville and have three children.
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