Former McAlester Rocket dies in Nebraska Monday
Many people in McAlester have never heard of Vern Hoscheit. However, if you lived here in the 1950s, he was considered as an icon among baseball fans and progressive civic leaders.
The long-time veteran coach and player passed to his reward on Monday in Pierce, Nebraska. He was born in Brunswick, Neb. on April 11, 1922. His career in baseball covered much more than his time in McAlester.
He came to the city for the 1948 season. The Rockets had one season under their belt in the Sooner State League that was formed in 1947. McAlester for many years led the league in attendance and Hoscheits years as the player/manager were no exception.
Hoscheit spent four seasons in McAlester, 1948-51. During that time his teams won 332 games while losing 225, a winning percentage of .600. They won regular season championships in 1948 and 1950, while capturing the playoff titles in 1950 and 1951. His best year as a player was in 1951, when he batted .354, with 11 homeruns and 109 RBIs.
He originally signed with the New York Yankees as a catcher in 1941. He spent a dozen years in their farm system, including the four at McAlester. He missed three seasons because of World War II, but returned and played in the Minor Leagues until 1955.
While he was at McAlester many people befriended him. One of his special friends was Bill Edwards, who said, "He loved to coon and quail, and was a crack shot."
The city of McAlester had great regard for him. An example of that was when he was presented a new car for his outstanding season with the Rockets in 1948.
Hoscheit was especially close to the Crowl family in his days at McAlester. Up and coming businessman in those days, Tom Crowl, was very familiar with the manager and some of his antics.
"He was very outgoing," said Crowl. "He liked to laugh a lot and got along very well with his players."
However, Crowl related that he definitely was in charge and had control of his players. Crowl took some trips with the team on the bus and remembered an evening when the team lost at Seminole due to poor play.
"The team was joking around after the game on the bus and Hoscheit let them know in no under certain terms that losing was not a fun event. He let them know that there would be silence on the bus when the team lost."
Crowl said that Hoscheit was so enamored with the city that he and his wife lived in the city during the off season on South Street.
Not only was 1951 his best season as a player, but arguably his best at McAlester as a manager. The team captured the Sooner State title, which vaulted his career as a player and especially as a manager.
When he left McAlester he moved on to Joplin, Mo., before taking the general manager job at Quincy, Ill., from 1955-56. He spent one year, 1957, in the same position at Peoria, Ill., before moving to Greenboro, N.C. for the 1958 and 1959 campaigns. Hoscheit then became president of the Three-I League in 1960.
He joined the Baltimore Orioles as a scout and minor league coordinator from 1962-67, then as a coach for the 1968 season. The veteran then switched over to the Oakland As and was a coach from 1969-74, earning World Series rings in the final three campaigns.
He coached for the California Angels in 1976 and joined the Mets organization with the Gulf Coast League as a manager in 1983. He eventually joined the Big League team and served as a bullpen coach when the Mets won the World Series in 1986. He changed jobs in 1988, becoming a minor league catching instructor in 1988.
In his retirement, he moved back to his native Nebraska and coached American Legion teams for many years in Plainview. A son, Billy Ray Hoscheit, and daughters Sherri Ann Huigens and Cathy Jean Brodhaugen survive him. Funeral services were scheduled for Saturday in Creighton, Neb.