August 1, 2021

Berthold “Pete” Husting Honored with Memorial

September 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

On June 21 2009, a monument in honor of former baseball player Bert “Pete” Husting was unveiled in his hometown of Mayville, Wisconsin. The monument may be viewed at the Limestone School Museum in Mayville, Wisconsin, which at one time was the school where the young Pete Husting attended. Directly across the street from the museum, the house still stands where Pete spent his growing up years.

After the family moved from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Pete was born in Mayville on March 6, 1878. He graduated from Mayville High School and played baseball for the local team prior to attending college at the U.W. Madison. At Madison, Pete played baseball, football and received his law degree.

In 1900, Husting began his major league career with Pittsburgh, by playing in two games for the Pirates.

The following season of 1901, he was back in the Badger state. The American League was in its inaugural season, and Milwaukee had a team named the Brewers. His record of 9 wins and 15 losses was not as bad as it may first appear, considering the team was in last place, 35.5 games behind the league champion White Sox. Husting’s name also appears on a monument unveiled at Miller Park in June of 2009. This monument tells about the A.L. forming in Milwaukee, and highlights the five Wisconsin natives that were on that team, which includes Husting. Many of the Husting family attended the unveiling of this marker as well.

Milwaukee lost the Brewers to St. Louis after one season, and in 1902 Husting briefly joined Boston of the American League for one game, before joining Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s. Joining Hall of Fame pitchers Rube Waddell and Eddie Plank in the A’s rotation, Pete excelled and put up a 14 win and 5 loss season. The A’s won the American League Championship. There was not a World Series in 1902; it was one year prior to its beginning.

Pete walked away from baseball to be with his family and practice law. His friendship with Connie Mack lasted throughout his life.

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At the dedication and unveiling of his monument, Husting family members traveled from as far as California to attend the event. Museum President Don Bauer and David Stalker put up an exhibit for Pete Husting in the Limestone Museum, in the Rock River Baseball League Hall of Fame room. Stalker was available before and after the dedication to answer questions regarding Husting.

For the dedication, Don Bauer was the master of ceremonies. The Mayville mayor Tracy Heron, followed by Mayville Historian Bill Lee, and great granddaughter of Husting, Sandra Perpich, spoke at the ceremony. It concluded with an unveiling of the memorial from various family members.

Sandra’s speech as follows:

Thank you, Mr. David Stalker, and all who have dedicated themselves to recognizing Wisconsin’s professional baseball players. Without your commitment and effort, we would not have gathered here today to commemorate my great-grandfather Berthold Juneau Husting, a legendary pitching son of Mayville.

My father, Peter Husting Wackman, told me about his Grandpa Pete when we lived in Pittsburgh. I was small, but I recall my father’s pride as he first related information about his grandpa’s pitching career with the Philadelphia Athletics under the fabled Connie Mack. From time to time, we visited my father’s mother, Suzanne Husting Wackman; and over the years, she supplemented my limited awareness of her father, “Pete” Husting. For example, he would cut her meat at the dinner table. He had a glass eye. He liked to start his evening meal with dessert, enjoying the best first. (This sounded like a fine idea to me, although appealing to Great-grandpa Pete’s memory never worked in our kitchen.)

Grandma Sue loved baseball. After our family moved to Wisconsin, I found her many times watching games on television, happy to chat about the teams’ performances, their players, and their histories. It took awhile for me to realize that this abiding passion came from her father and his love for the game. Family lore tells us that “Bert” Husting, as he was known during his time in the majors, loved the sport. Connie Mack reportedly favored intelligent young players who played with determination and verve, and he appears to have liked and respected my great-grandfather. Grandma Sue often spoke about her father’s relationship with Mr. Mack, how they had remained close for decades after an injury resulted in her father’s departure from the Athletics. The seventy roses Mr. Mack sent Great-grandma Agnes on her husband’s death certainly suggest a longstanding friendship between the two men.

Although I never met my Great-grandpa Pete, I think his involvement with baseball has percolated through the generations of our family. My father played catch with his grandpa when he would stay in Mayville during the summer, and I played catch with my father. In time, of course, I played catch with my own children, too. I captained a softball team or two when young (though I preferred second base to pitching), and assorted boy cousins and nephews have played scholastic, collegiate and summer league baseball. My sons played for several years, and one of them even umpired for a few summers. Great-grandpa Pete’s descendants often exhibit quickness and resolve and fierce competitiveness, a bright intelligence, and persistence in the face of challenges, all traits which served Bert/Pete well from 1900-1902.

Our family tells this story about Great-grandpa Pete’s exit from the big leagues: he had injured his pitching arm, and riding on trains from town to town aggravated the injury or impeded its healing. His sweetheart, the glamorous Agnes Sternberger form Bangor, Wisconsin, finally issued an ultimatum. “If we’re going to get married,” she said, “you’d better quit baseball and go to law school!” He did as she said. My Aunt Wendy and Uncle Dan speak of the Grandpa Pete they knew, a gruff old guy with a bad cough; but I like to picture the lithe and steely young baseball player, a dark-haired, dark-eyed fellow who looks straight into the camera, his face staring down through time and his self peering out at us over a century later. This young man exudes self-assurance, his confidence based on his success in his sport. He wears a serious expression, and he looks toward the future.

My great-grandparents took a train trip for their honeymoon, a farewell tour along the baseball circuit. As they journeyed, I wonder whether they ever discussed Pete’s departure from baseball. Could they have foreseen the family gathered here today for this purpose? Surely they retained an interest in the sport. After all, for many years, they rode the train down to Chicago whenever Mr. Mack’s teams played there. They even called their youngest child “Connie,” and she always told people her folks had named her for Connie Mack. I doubt, however, that Pete and Agnes could have anticipated one of my favorite Great-grandpa-Pete-related memories.

Some twelve years ago, I found myself in Rochester, Minnesota, one rainy weekend for a soccer tournament. My boys played in different divisions on sodden fields all over town. At one point, during their only break in common, I took them to Barnes & Noble to get inside for a bit. Dan hurried to the fantasy section, while Karl (Juneau) and I headed for sports. Karl loved baseball. He could hardly wait for soccer season to end so he could get onto a ball diamond. Karl plucked from the shelf a compendium of baseball statistics, a big encyclopedia of facts and dates and more information than I ever knew existed. “Hey, Karl,” I said. “Let’s look up your great-great-grandfather. He was a professional pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in the early nineteen hundreds.”

Karl’s eyes got big, and his jaw dropped. He looked incredulous to learn that he came from a baseball player—How?? Who?? We figured out how to use the book’s apparatus and found “Bert” Husting’s columns. Steaming in the store’s warmth, we sat in the aisle and pored through the stats, slipping through time to glimpse that lithe and steely young man. We could almost see his piercing stare as he read the catcher’s signal, nodded slightly, bent forward on his left leg, rocked back onto his right foot, and then fired a fast pitch straight to the mitt.

I suspect that Great-grandpa Pete’s standard of excellence followed him from baseball into his career as a lawyer. After all, FDR recognized his ability and expertise and made him a U.S. Attorney. A man of integrity concerned about communal well-being, Pete served his town and his family to good purpose, too. His work to designate Horican Marsh as a public land demonstrates that concern. Still, I prefer to picture him on a summer’s evening down at the ballpark. Crickets sing, and fireflies flash. Perhaps the scent of new-mown grass tickles his nose. As his team takes the field, my great-grandpa strides to the mound and faces the batter. With fierce determination, he winds up and pitches. “Strike!” the umpire calls. Whether boy, or youth, or young man, or even old guy, Pete snags the ball thrown back by the catcher. He tosses it lightly into the air and smiles, ready for his next pitch.

The monument reads:

This memorial is dedicated to the life of Berthold “Pete” Husting.
Born in Mayville, WI. March 6, 1878 to Jean Pierre and Mary Magdalene Husting. After graduating from Mayville High School, Pete received his law degree at U.W. Madison. As a pitcher, he made his major league debut with Pittsburgh on August 16, 1900. In 1901 he joined the Milwaukee Brewers during the inaugural season of the American league. After playing one game for Boston in 1902, he joined the Philadelphia Athletics and recorded 14 wins and 5 losses., helping them win the American League Championship. His manager Connie Mack, became a lifelong friend. Pete practiced law in Fond du Lac, WI from 1902-1915, then returned to Mayville and practiced law until 1948. He was U.S. District attorney for the Wisconsin Eastern District, from 1933-1944.

Donated in June of 2009 by

Husting Family, David J. Stalker, Archie Monuments, Mike Kurutz, Mayville Sports Inc., Mayville Mallards & Mayville American Legion Post 69 Baseball Teams.

Pete Husting is the eighth player recognized in David Stalker’s series of monuments and plaques, of players and teams from the Deadball Era.

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