Morris Hoosier Bats Farm Bridges The Arc Strack and Van Til


Thursday, January 5, 2012 • POSTED BY:  Dave Sutkowski, Hammond Chiefs President

On Wednesday, December 28, the Hammond Chiefs Baseball Club, along with Nancy and Jerry Klaja, presented graduating Chiefs player Elliott Bajda with the 2011 Tony Klaja Memorial Scholarship Award. The award was presented at the Chiefs annual holiday banquet at Bridges Scoreboard.

The award is presented to an 18 year old Chief player who has been a member of the Hammond Chiefs baseball program for at least three years. The award is based on a player demonstrating achievement through commitment, dedication, and desire during his time in the Chiefs program.

Tony Klaja played for the Chiefs program during the summers of 1995 and 96. Tony was a left-handed pitcher from Hobart High School. Tony suffered from asthma throughout his playing days, yet he never let his condition effect his dedication, desire, and commitment on the baseball field. Tony demonstrated this desire to achieve during his 17 year old season by pitching a 1-0 ten inning shutout to beat Omaha, Nebraska in the 1996 Babe Ruth World Series at Dare County North Carolina. This would be the last game that Tony would ever pitch.

In December of 1996, just days before the annual Chiefs holiday banquet, Tony suffered a fatal asthma attack while hunting not far from his home. He was by himself when he passed.

In memory of Tony, his parents, Nancy and Jerry Klaja, along with other family members, presented 1997 Chief player Anthony Hofer, of Calumet High School, with the first annual Tony Klaja Memorial Scholarship award. Thanks to the Klaja family, 15 years later, the award is still presented today.

Along with the Klaja family, the Sammon family has now joined them in donating to this annual scholarship award.

On behalf of the Hammond Chiefs Baseball Club, we sincerely thank the Klaja and Sammon families for making this years award possible.

Congratulations to Elliott Bajda of Whiting High School as this years award winner and as the 15th recipient of the Tony Klaja Memorial Scholarship Award.