Three to be inducted into Zeeland Sports Hall of Fame - June 2, 2008

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

by Kristin Churchill


Zeeland native Bernie Raterink played football at Central Michigan University in 1954 and 1955.


Three area sports standouts will be inducted into the Zeeland Historical Society's Sports Hall of Fame on Friday.


Local legends Bob Hoover, Bernie Raterink, and Doug Wabeke will become a part of history when they're inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame during a banquet beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Howard Miller Community Center, 14 S. Church St.


The Historical Society created the Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and holds bi-annual inductions. A Historical Society committee, led by Chuck Berghorst, chose this year's inductees.


Hoover, 87, is a longtime Zeeland teacher and baseball coach. He played sports in high school and went on to attend Central Michigan University before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. He worked for General Motors before signing a teaching contract with Zeeland Public Schools in 1950.


A junior high school science teacher, Hoover began coaching high school baseball in the early 1950s and coached former Major League baseball pitcher Jim Kaat. He also coached junior high school basketball and junior varsity football during his years with Zeeland. An all-sports plaque awarded to an outstanding athlete each year at Creekside Middle School bears Hoover's name.


He also was active in the city's summer recreation programs, the youth center once located behind Bunte's Pharmacy downtown, Saturday morning basketball, and Little League.


Hoover retired in the late 1970s. He and his wife, Patsy, have two sons, Scott and Gary, and five grandchildren.


Scott Hoover described his dad's induction into the Hall of Fame a great honor. "He's well deserving of it," he said. "He spent hours and hours in teaching and athletics."


Raterink, 75, played football for Zeeland High School in the late 1940s and early 1950s and then for Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. He played for the Spartans from 1951 to 1952 and was a part of the national championship team in 1952. Following a knee injury, Raterink dropped out of MSU and then enrolled at CMU, playing football there in 1954 and 1955. He also has been inducted into CMU's Sports Hall of Fame.


After college, Raterink began teaching and coaching in Whitehall and then moved onto teaching and coaching in Charlotte. In Charlotte he earned a master's degree and became a high school counselor. He served as a counselor at Central High School and then Lee High School in Wyoming. He went on to become an administrator at Lee High School, retiring about 20 years ago. 


Raterink and his wife, Esther, split their time between Hudsonville and Florida. They have a son, Michael.


"I'm certainly honored to be in the Hall of Fame," he said.


Wabeke played baseball, basketball, and football for the Chix. He then went on to play baseball for Central Michigan University and the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A team. He coached at Grand Rapids Community College, winning 15 consecutive Michigan Community College Athletic Association and five National Junior College Athletic Association championships. He currently serves as the college's co-athletic director.


The first inductees to the Hall of Fame included Kaat, Dwight "Whitey" Wyngarden, a mainstay of the Zeeland High School's football and basketball teams, and Don Cook, former basketball player and semiprofessional men's basketball team owner.


Tickets to the banquet are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available at the Zeeland Chamber of Commerce, 149 Main Ave.