Joe Shere is spending most of his spare time this summer on the golf course.
Up until last summer, that would have been unheard of. For the previous 30-some years, the Janesville native spent his summers on the grass and sand of baseball diamonds, not fairways and traps.
But elbow surgery two years ago put an end to his baseball-playing days. Now, Shere is reaping the rewards of his diamond accomplishments.
The latest honor is being named to the 2018 UW-Whitewater Athletic Hall of Fame induction class. Shere and six others will be inducted Oct. 20.
Shere said the phone call informing him of his honor put a smile on his face.
“It was special for me, but it’s special for my family and my parents,” Shere said of Larry and Debra Shere during a phone interview Friday night. “They were the ones spending the time, taking me all over the country, playing ball as a kid. I want to say my Dad never missed one of my college baseball games.”
Joe gave his dad plenty to cheer about.
Joe originally went to UW-Platteville after he graduated from Craig. He changed his major, however, and transferred to Whitewater. There, he majored in finance.
The Warhawks’ baseball program was just turning the corner under head coach Jim Miller.
Present UW-Whitewater head coach John Vodenlich was an assistant coach when Shere arrived.
“Joe was instrumental in helping our program move to a higher level,” Vodenlich said Friday. “His work ethic and competiveness were unparalleled.”
Shere earned All-WIAC and all-region honors three times in his collegiate career.
The Warhawks unseated UW-Oshkosh as kings of the WIAC baseball. Shere helped the Warhawks win back-to-back WIAC championships in 2001 and 2002. He was the Warhawks’ Most Valuable Player in 2000.
“I think we were the first Whitewater team to ever sweep Oshkosh in a four-game series,” Shere said.
He still ranks among the top 10 in UW-Whitewater history in doubles (40), stolen bases (51) and hits (187).
He also pitched for the Warhawks, which doubled his practice load.
“I look back, and I don’t necessary think I was the most talented player,” Shere said. “But it’s easy to work hard when you love the game. I was practicing with the pitchers and the infielders two separate times of the day.”
All that work didn’t take away from his academics. He was a four-time member of the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll.
His finance major has led him to his current position of vice president of commercial banking for Wisconsin River Bank’s branch in Janesville.
He continued playing baseball after graduating from Whitewater.
His success in the Wisconsin State League while playing for the Janesville Aces earned him a spot in the WSL Hall of Fame in 2014.
He then played for the Milton Junction Pub Raptors in the Rock River League until two years ago.
“He was without a doubt the best player in the Rock River League for about five years running in his mid-30s,” said Doug Welch, manager of the Raptors.
Shere turns 39 in January. Doctors told him to quit baseball after he had surgery on his right elbow.
He and his wife Carrie (Davis), have 4-year-old twins—son Easton and daughter Averie—and a 2-year-old son, Brodie.
The two boys are taking up where there father left off.
“They like to play every day,” Joe said. “Easton has this thing now where we have a fence in our backyard. He hits the ball over the fence and he says, ‘Get out of here, ball.’”
Joe’s younger brother, Josh, also was an outstanding player at Craig and then at UW-Oshkosh. Josh, 34, is recovering from back surgery, but likely will be part of the Raptors when he is fully recovered.
Joe has to settle for scampering around golf courses.
“It’s a lot more difficult,” Joe said of his new summer sport. “I think I could pick up a baseball bat and still hit. This golf game, I haven’t figured it out yet.”