KEWAUNEE, Wis. (WFRV) – A local fastpitch softball legend threw out the first pitch on Friday at Haney Park in the City of Kewaunee to commemorate his legacy.
Reiny Hlinak grew up playing fastpitch softball in the sixties when the league began in Kewaunee, he was unofficially the man in charge of taking care of the field at Haney Park.
While being a great pitcher himself, Hlinak played in many areas in northeast Wisconsin such as Luxemburg, Green Bay, and Denmark where he would dominate the fastpitch softball leagues.
“I grew up at a baseball field while my father was playing,” said Sharon Steel, Hlinak’s daughter. “He coached little league in Tisch Mills, he coached high school fastpitch in Kewaunee, he ran the athletic club for my school.”
He and his buddy Paul Wotachek, another fastpitch softball player, would play in leagues all around Kewaunee and Manitowoc County, including the league in Tisch Mills for the Manitowoc County Legion.
A short time after their playing days, Wotachek was offered the position to coach the Kewaunee softball program and there was only one man right for the assistant coaching job, Reiny Hlinak.
The fastpitch softball star was glued to Haney Park, always making sure the field was ready for practice and games. The Kewaunee softball program played at Haney Park for a short time before getting a new field built by the high school.
After transitioning to the new field, Hlinak made sure it was in tip-top shape for the girls. The Kewaunee native did a lot for the community and throwing out the first pitch was a staple of his legacy in Kewaunee and Manitowoc County.
“It’s wonderful. We have a family reunion here. Kewaunee is a small community of 2,000 people so everybody knows everybody and everybody is out here celebrating,” said Steel.
A major league reception for a longtime legend in Kewaunee County.