The ‘Angel’ in the outfield
“He loved to play baseball.” So what better memorial to Donnie Schuelke that a vivid reminder at K. P. Kompelien Field than a pair of wings with his “now retired”, No. 11 on a baseball in the middle.
The seniors of the Minneota baseball team unveiled a memorial on Friday between games of an American Legion doubleheader, and tears began to well in the eyes of many of the onlookers. What those in attendance witnessed was the dedication of large “winged” memorial in honor of Donnie Schuelke IV, a recent Minneota graduate that was killed in a one-vehicle accident recently. Schuelke's number “11” jersey was also retired by the team.
Three of his game-worn high school jerseys were presented to each of his younger triplet brothers Logan, Josh and Carter.
To add to the ceremony, the fans trooped out to centerfield to view the memorial and hear words from Coach Keven Larson. The memorial is a nearly 4’ x 8’ set of angel wings beautifully designed and painted white on 3/4-inch plywood by high school and American Legion Coach Larson.
Between the wings is a baseball with “DONNIE” and the number “11” emblazoned in blue on it.
“I just felt like we needed to do something to remember what Donnie meant to the team and the community,” said Larson.
“I don't want to take credit for it, though. I didn't make the decision myself. I talked with the players on the team about it to see what they thought.” The dedication ceremony was held between games against Dawson-Boyd, where Donnie's father by the same name went to school.
Larson and J.D. Pesch, the latter the assistant high school baseball coach and Junior Legion team coach, spoke briefly before the wings were unveiled. “I've always been interested in working with wood,” said Larson, who has been the high school coach for 19 years and the Legion coach for 16 years.
Donnie meant a lot to a lot of people, so we decided to memorialize his number.” The death of Schuelke shook the entire community, as well as surrounding communities that knew him from various events he was involved in such as FFA, 4-H, Robotics and sporting events.
In the second game of the twinbill, both teams donned the same-colored blue t-shirts, with “#Fly High Donnie” across the front. The shirts, along with wristbands, are being sold with the proceeds going to the Schuelke family.
Schuelke's parents, Donnie III and Julie, as well as his three brothers, were on hand for the ceremony. “I talked with the family last week and asked them if it would be okay to do something like this,” said Larson.
“They approved, and it was nice to see them here for the dedication.” Minneota had won the first game 2-0, behind stalwart pitching from Thomas Hennen.
Then, after the ceremony, they came back and delivered a 9-4 knockout punch to Dawson to conclude a doubleheader sweep.