Janesville Craig star Kas continues to hit with power
In October, Kas turns 48 years old, but the talented kid who played third base for Craig High’s 1983 and 1984 Division 1 state champion baseball teams still finds his way to the playing field.
Kas socked three home runs for Milton Junction Pub in a Rock River League game against Farmington two weeks ago. Kas, an electrician, flashes an electric smile recounting his three-homer performance.
“The wind was blowing out,” Kas said with a laugh. “The first one, I just got a fastball, and I turned on it. It was pretty high, and the wind kind of caught it.
“The second one, it was another fastball, first pitch, and I turned on it. That one was more of a line drive. The third one, I knew I wasn’t going to get another fastball, so I knew I was going to get a breaking pitch, and I got a curve first pitch and hit that one out, too. I got lucky, I guess.’’
Kas had never hit three home runs in a game in his 30-plus years of baseball. He said it was quite a rush.
“Yeah, it was,” Kas said. “I told somebody on the bench (after his second home run), ‘I hit two in a game before but never three. I’ve got one more at-bat, so let’s see what happens.’ ”
Manager Doug Welch said Kas’ three round-trippers inspired the Raptors.
“When we jumped into the Rock River League three years ago, Jon was one of our older guys who wasn’t in over his head,” Welch said. “Watching him hit three homers in a game was a big thing for the whole team.”
Baseball came to Kas early.
“I started playing with my brothers, Jeff and Greg,” Kas said. “They were eight and nine years older than me, so they always had guys around. I was always playing with older guys as early as 5.’’
Kas climbed the rungs from playing baseball in church parking lots with his brothers to the Parkland Peanuts at Craig High’s diamonds to Janesville Youth Baseball and on to Babe Ruth, senior Babe Ruth, Legion and back-to-back state championship seasons at Craig.
Kas smiled as he recalled the glory of winning two straight state high school championships—a feat not likely to be repeated soon.
“Those days were fun,” Kas said, “Ever since we were 13, we had the same bunch of guys. We knew each other, and we all hung around together, and it made it easy.’’
Kas said the success started in Babe Ruth.
“Roy Coyle was our 13-year-old tournament team coach,” Kas said. “We hosted the Ohio Valley and we won that, and the 15-year-old tournament team went to the regional in Lexington, Ky., and we won three games, lost two and finished second.”
Kas and his teammates rolled on to win the 1983 American Legion state championship.
Kas kept stepping up to the plate. His resume includes a semester at the University of Wisconsin, a severe knee injury from a motorcycle accident, playing in Delavan, 10 years of softball, two seasons in the Milton Senior League, the Janesville Aces in 1995 and 1996, the Madison Adult Baseball League, and Milton Junction Pub the past three seasons.
Kas said his knee gives him a little trouble, and he reaches for the Advil on Monday mornings after playing two games on the weekend, but baseball remains fun.
“You don’t run like you used to, so that’s why you’ve got to hit the long ball,” Kas said. “I don’t steal bases anymore. That’s for sure.’’