Ilasco native Paul Tretiak says his 50 years in professional baseball ‘was not work.’
“I never went to work one day — it wasn’t work.” Ilasco native Paul Tretiak, 83, enjoys reminiscing about his 50-year career in professional baseball, which began right after completion of his World War II duties in the South Pacific.
His pro ball days began as a second baseman with minor league teams, playing from 1947 to 1954 for teams including the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. Later he became a coach, scout and/or spring training coordinator for three major league teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. The final 22 years of his baseball career were with the Brewers, where Tretiak retired nearly 15 years ago after suffering an illness.
Tretiak was reared in Ilasco, the son of the late George and Susan (Bozalka) Tretiak. His three siblings are deceased, and his family includes a niece and nephew. At age 18, George Tretiak immigrated from Slovakia to Ilasco to work at the cement plant.
Paul Tretiak competed in basketball and track at Ilasco High School, where he graduated in 1944. The school had no baseball team, but he began playing American Legion ball in Hannibal when Lloyd Ragland was in charge.
Tretiak was among the first members of the new Shelbyville Wurlitzers, which was organized in 1941. At age 14, he was the youngest on the team. He was out of school at Ilasco for the team with the blessing of his principal. Tretiak explained the principal, Cleo White, said “I would get an education playing ball.”
Additional members of the Shelbyville Wurlitzers, which won their championship, were Steve Melaga, Lloyd Ragland, Bill Hammond, Ernie Robinson, Marty Arnold, Burger Hayes, Dizzy McPike, Charley Seifert, Charles Graff, Harry Pestell, (unknown) Stoneking, Hank Conley, Charles Fox, Les Fusselman and Bob Volm. Tommy Churchwell was bat boy.
For more details, see the Saturday, March 27, 2010 edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post