With the lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions, the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Battleford has confirmed they will finally be able to proceed with its 36th annual induction on Aug. 21. Among the inductees is Neil Urlacher:Neil Urlacher was born April 20, 1937 in Macklin, the youngest of 15 children. The family made their home on the family farm near Denzil. Sports was a significant part of the Urlacher family. Urlacher played baseball, hockey, volleyball and curling in school.
In 1955 he attended St. Thomas College in North Battleford, where he played baseball, hockey and football. In 1959 Urlacher moved to Neilburg where he played baseball with the Neilburg Monarchs in the North Saskatchewan Baseball League. Here he met and married Doris Wagner. They had four children, Cindy, Darwin, Regan and Carson.
Urlacher played a total 16 seasons from 1960 until he retired in 1976, with the Neilburg Monarchs. During this time, Urlacher’s passion was baseball. He played in the outfield and was a sure glove on the defensive side, but dominated as a batter. After his 16-year career with the Monarchs, he ended with an impressive .325 batting average, having led in many offensive categories during that time. In 1960 he tied first with Art Stone for most home runs during the season.
In 1961, when the Monarchs won the title, Urlacher finished amongst the leaders with a .356 batting average.
In 1962, his batting average was .344 and he was the individual standout winning the slugging championship with a .667 slugging percentage. He also led the league with 62 total bases, seven home runs, 32 RBIs and tied with John Ford and Ken Nelson for the most base hits at 32.
In 1963, Urlacher led the regular league season with 27 runs, 66 total bases, eight home runs and 23 RBIs, tied for first with 33 hits alongside Jim Wiley. Urlacher was an all-star game player in 1963.
In 1964 he led the league with 14 doubles. Opposing teams began to recognize Urlacher’s hitting abilities and started pitching around him. Urlacher was, again, an all-star player, helping win the game by belting a home run.
In 1965 and 1966 Urlacher showed his patience at the plate by leading the league with 27 walks. In 1965 Urlacher was called upon as a replacement player by the Unity Cardinals in their series final against the North Battleford Beavers. Unity won 7-4 with Urlacher hitting a grand slam in the fourth inning.
In 1969 Urlacher placed second in the batting race, finishing the year with a .372 batting average behind Rich Householder with an average of .403. In 1970 he tied for second in the league with 10 doubles. Over the course of the 1960s, Urlacher racked up 19 stolen bases.
With a strong arm in the field, speed running bases and being a powerful hitter, Neil Urlacher was a great baseball player!
After retiring from competitive baseball, Urlacher decided to give back to the community by coaching his son in the minor hockey leagues then later the senior league teams. Urlacher felt home runs and goals were the fun part of the game but the true aspect of sport is the people and the friendships made over the years.
Urlacher now resides in Okotoks, Alta.