The Candy Kid: La Crosse's Own Ed Konetchy

Posted by Anita on September 25, 2023

(written by Anita Taylor Doering, Archives Staff)


 A postcard of first baseman Edward John Konetchy in his St. Louis Cardinal uniform, 1908

Known by various nicknames, Edward John Konetchy was born in La Crosse in 1885 and as a young man worked for the Funke Candy Company earning one of his monikers as “The Candy Kid,” but he was best known in the major leagues as “Koney.” The manager of the La Crosse team, members of the newly formed Wisconsin State League, was former major leaguer E. P. “Pink” Hawley. He is credited with pulling Koney from the outfield and sending him to cover first base.


Photo dates from either 1905 or 1906 La Crosse Tribune 21 July 1938


In 1907 St. Louis manager John McCloskey plucked Koney from this semi-professional team in La Crosse and persuaded him to join the Cardinals baseball team mid-year, an impressive leap into the major leagues. The La Crosse team was gifted $1,000 from the Cardinals for giving up Koney.


La Crosse Tribune 27 June 1907


It was reported that Koney’s earnings from playing baseball went from making $105 a month in La Crosse to $275 a month in the big leagues. Koney was an excellent first baseman and had a solid hitting average. La Crosse fans adored him so much that he was presented with $150 diamond ring the night of his last game at the old League Park.


Portrait of Edward John Konetchy circa 1916-1918 taken by Boston photographer Horner


Konetchy remained with St. Louis until 1913. He led the Cardinals in hits each year from 1909-1912. At that time, he garnered $6,000 a season when he was lured away by the Pittsburgh Pirates team for one season at $6,500. He jumped to the Pittsburgh Rebels, a Federal League team in 1915, then played for the Boston Braves 1916-1918. Koney was part of the Brooklyn Robins from 1919-1921, and the Philadelphia Phillies also in 1921 where he played his last major league game. He then played in the Texas League for Fort Worth from 1922-1927 and settled in Fort Worth with his wife Aubrey after retirement.


La Crosse Tribune 30 August 1940

Koney also did some coaching – first in the minor leagues but he did come back to La Crosse to coach the La Crosse Blackhawks team in 1940 that went on to win the league title.

Konetchy was honored posthumously in 1962 with an enshrinement ceremony into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame (WAHF) as the 37th inductee. Sponsored by the G. Heileman Brewing Company, the presentation award was the first to take place outside of Milwaukee. The banquet was held at the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium in La Crosse and kicked off the beginning of the second annual Oktoberfest the evening of Oct. 3, 1962.


Photo of banquet attendees at the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium - taken by Herman Rick, 3 October 1962


There is no doubt that local baseball and softball historian William “Boober” Parizek was the force behind Konetchy’s nomination. During the enshrinement ceremony, the chairman of the WAHF, Joseph J. Krueger, remarked that Konetchy was on the ballot eight times before becoming the 37th inductee. And after each of the seven unsuccessful elections, Boober chastised the WAHF for snubbing Konetchy. Ken Blanchard, sports editor of the La Crosse Tribune who was general chairman of the enshrinement ceremonies, was also on the WAHF and likely also got an earful from Parizek after past election results were posted.


Seated at one of the head tables is William “Boober” Parizek to whom the arrow is pointing – photo taken by Herman Rick, 3 October 1962



Ken Blanchard, sports editor of the La Crosse Tribune and the evening’s general chairman of the enshrinement festivities – photo taken by Herman Rick, 3 October 1962



Wisconsin Hall of Fame chairman, Joseph J. Krueger addresses the audience during the program portion of the enshrinement ceremonies – photo taken by Herman Rick, 3 October 1962


Konetchy’s greatest accomplishments on the ball field are described in a letter to the editor of the La Crosse Tribune that Boober penned October 9, 1962, summarizing the events and significance of the evening.

Besides an outstanding athletic record of accomplishments, according to Krueger the selection committee was also looking for outstanding Wisconsin athletes who were models for young people not just in sports but in life. Koney fit that requirement beautifully.

The evening’s festivities were captured on reel-to-reel tape by the Special Events staff of radio station WLCX to send to Konetchy’s widow Aubrey in St. Louis who was unable to attend the ceremony, but it may have also been broadcast over the radio as well. Somehow, Parizek wound up with a copy and after Parizek’s death, it was gifted to the La Crosse Public Library Archives along with a copy of the banquet photos taken by Herman Rick and a program and a carbon copy of Parizek’s letter to the editor. These materials form part of the William J. Parizek Papers, 1887-2006.

Read more about Parizek “Mr. Baseball”. It was Parizek’s dream to write a history of La Crosse or at least the history of local baseball and softball during his lifetime, but it did not happen. However, he was a frequent writer of letters to the editor if someone on the Tribune staff omitted something about a La Crosse player to set the record straight.