By Joel “Doc” Kunz
Sometimes a friendship is forged in a way that it has the ability to go beyond what was ever imagined. I can say that about my friend Hunz. I knew he was my true friend years ago when he came up to me at Atlantis Bowl in Waukesha and helped me get through a great deal of anger brought on by my divorce. He managed what was a very good softball team that played in Waukesha and traveled to quite a few tournaments around the area. A team that accomplished league and city championships, we were one of the teams you didn’t want to see across the field from you. During the period when I just became a single father, some of the team mates were tired of the highly competitive person I was on the diamond. He challenged me to settle down, and told me that no matter what anybody else said, I was still his pitcher. He went to bat for me and it paid off in a team that had 32 wins and 1 loss one season. We scored over 600 runs, giving up under 100. Unfortunately, that loss came in the Waukesha City Tournament, which kept us out of the class A Championship round. We ended up as Class C Champs, run ruling every team in the bracket. We also won quite a few weekend tournaments, including some that played “unlimited arc”.
Hunz also played on my Pewaukee and New Berlin softball teams and usually on every fall ball team. I met him when I was umpiring out in Mukwanago in the 1/4 barrel league. That’s right, losing team paid for a 1/4 barrel of beer at the winning teams bar. Hunz was in left field and led off. He was one of the fastest people I’d ever seen from home to first. Imagine a 5 foot 9 inch Kenny Rodgers busting ass down the first base line. I can’t count how many times he’d tell me; “Watch the look on the 3rd baseman’s face when he can’t throw me out”. Or, ” I’m going to hit a 3 hopper at the short stop, he’s going to be pissed when I’m safe by two steps”. He’d wink, smile, sometimes chuckle and ALWAYS do it. If the fielders cheated up to try and take it away, he would just stoke it over their head and in front of the outfielder. We became instant friends. Our twisted senses of humor kept us both smiling and his ability to keep me focused made me a better player. As he grew older, he was often my catcher, especially in places like Montello, but my favorite recollection is of a game in Pewaukee. Hunz made a a fantastic running basket catch on a sinking line drive to right. His patented under hand flip back to the infield made it look like the play was routine to him. The next week we were in the outfield during batting practice, when he came up to me and showed me the large, purple bruise smack dab in the middle of his chest. You could see the stitch marks from the ball perfectly. It was hilarious. He asked me not to tell anyone, but I couldn’t control the laughter. Seat cushions were offered as protection and we went on to beat one of the better teams in the league handily that night.