When Jack Kroehnke was hitting home runs as all-conference catcher at Highlands University, he was aiming for stores on Bridge Street. He played in the 50s when all home games were played at Lopez Park, now the campus of West Last Vegas High School
A 1953 graduate of NMHU, Kroehnke will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday when coach Steve Jones opens fall practice with annual alumni game at Harold Brandt Field. The highly successful coach is starting his 16th season at the helm of Highlands University baseball program. The contest is scheduled for noon as part of the annual Homecoming celebration.
Kroehnke was a two-time All-Frontier Conference catcher and played on the Frontier Conference championship teams in 1952 and 1953. He hit over the .400 mark and was credited with 30 homeruns.
Early in his career he worked for both the Las Vegas Optic and KFUN radio. He worked for a variety of state newspapers and in 1962 became the first public information officer of the brand new NASA White Sands Test Facility. He later moved to the Houston Manned Spacecraft Center. It was there that he did some work for the NASA Art Program and had a piece in a Smithsonian exhibit.
Kroehnke was named a NMHU distinguished alumnus in 1988.