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Top sports stories 2009, No. 5: Two baseball men inducted into the Hall

Red Wing's Dan Plein (right) congratulates fellow Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame of Fame inductee Tom Gwaltney, of Lake City, Sept. 19 at the ceremony in St. Cloud.

It was fitting that Dan Plein and Tom Gwaltney were both members of the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame's 2009 induction class. Gwaltney modeled the Lake City baseball program after the program in Red Wing that Plein has helped maintain.

"Red Wing was what dad wanted to ... copy," said Tom's son, Gary. "The thing is that he didn't have a board or have a lot of funding. It was just himself and that was his goal. He fell in love with the way Red Wing ran their baseball."

Gwaltney spent more than 30 years cultivating baseball in Lake City as a VFW, Legion and town team coach. He organized the Lake City Serpents, a men's amateur team, in 1989. He has been the Serpents' manager and benefactor ever since.

Plein has coached since 1978. He has been a part of more than 500 town team baseball victories with the Red Wing Aces. He managed the Red Wing Scarlets for two years, managed the Aces from 1990-98 and has been the Aces' bench coach since 2000.

Plein was the fifth man from Red Wing inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Gwaltney, who was diagnosed in February with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease, is living with his son, Scott, in Reads Landing, Minn., because he now requires round-the-clock care.

"His spirits are pretty good, all things considered," Scott said. "We still sit and watch all kinds of sports together."

Scott plans to bring his father to all the Rochester Community and Technical College baseball games again this spring. Scott is a Yellowjackets assistant coach and his son, Brett, is a sophomore on the team.

Scott also said he expects the Serpents to play again this summer.