211 Iowans have played Major League Baseball in the history of the game. They include Nate Kellogg from Dorchester and John Dittmer from Elkader.
Historian John Liepa is interested in all of them. Liepa visited Decorah Thursday night to display his baseball memorabilia collection and to discuss the history of the game.
He says his favorite baseball players are Roberto Clemente, who was so devoted to humanitarianism that he put it before the game, and Lou Gehrig, who combined baseball skills and business sense.
But Liepa has a special spot for baseball cards and other memorabilia of the Iowans who have played major league baseball. He started collecting baseball cards as a kid in Des Moines, spending money he earned from his paper route at Wesler's Drug Store. When he got older, collecting sets of baseball cards "got boring" for him, so he began to specialize.
But one baseball card eludes Liepa--a card of JL Wilkinson from Algona, Iowa, who managed the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League, even though he was white.
Even so, Liepa's collection of Iowa baseball memorabilia might be the most extensive in the state--he even has a postcard of an early Decorah city baseball team.