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Ranweiler inducted into Tribune's Hall of Fame

Bring on the left-hander.

The late Henry "Lefty" Ranweiler was the overwhelming choice to become the 20th member of the Tribune Sports Hall of Fame.

Ranweiler was a former sports editor at the Tribune from 1958-74, as well as a minor league baseball player, an umpire, a referee and a coach. He succumbed to cancer at age 52 in 1974. So popular was Ranweiler, that during a benefit and recognition night to help raise money to alleviate medical costs during his battle with cancer, then-Governor Wendell Anderson proclaimed June 13, 1973, as Lefty Ranweiler Day throughout Minnesota.

Ranweiler received 17 of the 23 first-place votes cast and amassed 197 points. Only one ballot was not returned. A finalist had to receive 138 votes to qualify for induction.

Former Danube coach and athletic director Rod Black was second with 71 points. Former Minnesota Gopher and all-Big Ten tackle Norm Sixta of Willmar was third with 62 points.

Ranweiler's well-known column called Portside Slants covered material on high school, college and pro athletes. And along with his officiating basketball and football, as well as umpiring baseball games, Ranweiler was perhaps the most widely recognized figure in west central Minnesota during the 1960s and early 70s. He also was head baseball coach at Willmar Community College (now Ridgewater College) from 1966-73 and guided the Warriors to five straight Region 13 titles.

Ranweiler also played semi-pro baseball in 1949 in Bird Island and in Olivia in 1951, then for the Willmar Rails' Class AA amateur state champions in 1952. He was in the Merchant Marines from 1941-45 and then was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1946 and spent two seasons in the minor leagues.

Because of his work with high school football, Ranweiler was inducted into the Minnesota State High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1966, the same year as legendary St. John's University football coach John Gagliardi.

This was the first year that Ranweiler was a finalist for the Hall of Fame. He and former Tribune sports editor Herb Hengstler have their names attributed to our annual Hengstler-Ranweiler Award for outstanding male and female high school athletes from the area.

Voting was done by one representative in each of the 21 school districts in our coverage area, plus five Tribune employees. Voters include current and former coaches, athletic directors, principals and sports enthusiasts.

Ranweiler's plaque will hang with the other 19 inductees in the Tribune's front hallway.