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Larry Gessler

#42  Larry "Kiddo" Gessler

Position:  P, 3B

Bats/Throws:  R/R


Years with the Millers:  2000 - 2003

Baseball Background:    Baseball, along with basketball, were the sports Larry came to enjoy and love the most while growing up in northwestern Indiana.  Being just 60 miles from Chicago, where his dad grew up, everyone from this farming community seem to follow the four major professional sports from there.  Not to mention all the major colleges in the area being televised plus the local high schools, most of ones recreational activities were watching, supporting and/or being directly involved in some sport that required a the use of a ball.

Although basketball at that time of Larry's life was his first love, baseball followed a very close second.  This is probably due to the fact that his dad had a passion for baseball which he earned playing in the sandlots of Chicago as a catcher.  He developed his skills to the point that he was offered try-outs with the White Sox, which was a dream come true for him because he was a big Sox fan, and then later with the Reds.  The offer from the Reds came after serving in the Korean War, where as, due to where he was stationed, was able to continue to play ball.  The opposition was some very good South Korean teams.

The try-outs ended up being just that, try-outs.  But through every level of play, he gained invaluable ways of learning the right way to play the game and he kindly passed that onto his sons.  Besides, being a catcher, he gained first hand knowledge on the proper technique and mechanics a pitcher needed and how to incorporate that with a pitchers own style to get the most out of his abilities.  

Larry loved to pitch and his dad worked with him whenever Larry wanted to throw, starting at a very young age.   The first opportunity to apply all that practice competitively was in little league when Larry was 11.  He seemed to have learned well as he and the team did pretty well over the next few summers.

In the summer of 1970, when Larry was 14, did not get the opportunity to play baseball.  The small township school he attended only had a high school team.  That year his folks made the decision to move to Minnesota, which was something they had wanted to do for a some time.  That move into the Lino Lakes area put them in the Forest Lake school district.  As a freshman, Larry did well enough at both basketball and baseball to play varsity for both as a sophomore. 

Besides pitching and doing some catching, Larry showed to have a feel for playing infield and started as a second baseman/shortstop.  Stan Peterson was the head coach and seemed to have learned the game from the same sandlot as Larry's dad.  He really knew the game and was a great coach.  His teams always seemed pretty good and they did real well during Larry's 3 years.

Larry went to Anoka-Ramsey Community College after high school.  Continued as a 2 sport athlete with basketball and baseball.  Dan Drexler was their baseball coach who also had a fair idea about the game although he had a quite loud way of expressing it.  Larry continued to do some pitching but mainly played middle infield.  He managed a very respectable batting average and became a solid infielder.  The team was not that strong but they were competitive enough to be in almost every game.

After college,  baseball took a back seat to life for a few years only playing off and on in the Eastern Minnie and Riverview leagues until moving to Jordan in 1983.  Larry tried to get involved with the Jordan town team only to find they didn't seem too interested in someone they did not know.  Played a year in the Park National, then took a few years off and played just some softball. 

In 1988, the Chaska town team was looking for additional players and that was when he got back into baseball to stay.

That's the summer Larry found out about the Chaska Diamonds of the Federal League.  That was a 30 and over league at that time and they were looking for some players also (what a surprise).  Larry stayed with the Diamonds through the 96 season and then joined the Saints the following year.

In the fall of 1994 was the first time Larry played in the Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, Florida with a team out of Chicago.  He did most of the pitching for that team the week of the 30 and over tournament.  Although the team struggled, Larry's pitching caught the eye of another player who happened to have a connection in the Twins organization.  That connection got him a pitching try-out with the Twins in Minnesota that winter and 3 other teams in Florida in February when major league baseball was in the midst of a strike and the owners where planning on playing the 95 season with replacement players. 

The 3 teams were the White Sox (Larry's dad was even more excited with this invite), the Expos (they gave him a second tryout as the first went very well) and the Royals (who asked him to stay on at their Haines City spring training facility and workout with other invited players).  Pitched in a few spring games and did well enough to stay with the team until the regular players agreed to come back in late March.  Needless to say, this was the most nerve racking but, at the same time, exciting time of Larry's baseball life.

In November of 2003, Larry played in his tenth consecutive Roy Hobbs World Series.  Sense that first year when he was only eligible to play in the 30 and over group, has participated in both the 30's and 40's.  This year he played all three weeks, mostly with players and teams he originally organized over the past 7 series.