Reminiscing about one of California’s revered fastpitch ballparks: Mayfair Park in Lakewood

Written by Bob on January 17th, 2017

MAYFAIR PARK, once the home of the Lakewood Jets, played host to many of the elite men’s fastpitch teams in the country. If it could talk, oh the stories it would tell. Photo By BOB OTTO

LAKEWOOD, Calif. – For at least three decades, Mayfair Park was hallowed ground for men’s fastpitch. It ranked at the top of Southern California ball diamonds along with Joe Rodgers Field in Long Beach as two venues where the best teams in the sport battled for league and tournament supremacy.

Though long past its time in hosting men’s fastpitch games, Mayfair evokes many fond memories for the players that once played there.

“I pitched in 1976 for the Camarillo Kings. George Kinder was the manager. I wasn’t there long, but I did all of the pitching while I was there. Jackie Newman was our other pitcher, but he didn’t pitch a game. I did beat the Lakewood Jets two games on a sunny Sunday afternoon (at Mayfair) a few weeks into the season of the Western Softball Congress. Hice Stiles sat out the second game that afternoon. I think he hurt himself swinging at my change-up. I also pitched a pre-season game in Lakewood, after driving from Illinois. I got a room after midnight and was woken up early in the morning to pitch a game in Lakewood. We won about 8-3…,”

Doug Noble

“Played here many times. Once hit three home runs in a men’s fastpitch rec league here. Park is still immaculate. I live 10 minutes from it,” – Fred Hanker

“I played many, many times there. I remember a play there by Dennis Stilwell (pitcher), my teammate from Phoenix who fielded a bunt off Bobby Vandeburg’s team near third base and threw it behind his back to first to get a speedster. Saved the game. Great Yard….some good times there and some tough ones…,”
Paul Rubin

“It’s been a while since I played there. The Western Softball congress has been done for 20 years. – Mark Bennett

“I played there 1986 with Albuquerque. I’m not sure, but the (Lancaster, Calif.) Chameleons were in the tournament. I’m thinking they played out of Lakewood that year,” – Rex Giberson

“That’s Mayfair Park home of the Lakewood Jets. I played many games there and at Joe Rodgers park. Roy Burlison, The Western Softball Congress league was the toughest league I ever played in, lots of great talent in that league. And UCLA also hosted an NCAA regional there,”
Thomas C. Mclauchlin

CIF championships were held there for years…I won a couple and coached a couple,” – Tracy Compton Davis

“Tuck Bedford Jackie Newman, Pete Carlson, K.G. Fincher, Buck Brown, Jim Cheeseman, Ted Brown, Don Sarno, Art Bungee, McGinnis and several others… Las Vegas hAd the weakest pitching but strongest hitting,”

Roy Burlison

“Simon pitched and moved the team to Lakewood and kind of replaced the Jets. I came back with The King and His Court in 2000 against the Long Beach Nighthawks on Eddie’s (Feigner) birthday, Rosie Black and nine former court members played. An amazing night somewhere on tape. That was when fastball was King – Rich Hoppe

“I was fortunate to have a try out there. I was 19 years old . Greg / Brian Harper and I were in the outfield. I was in center he was in left. Fond memories. My first ISC World Tournament was in 1971 in Tulsa. I was fresh out of high school and played with La Tapatia Tamale Kings from El Paso. That was where I met legendary Red Mears, Don Sarno, etc. I closed my eyes and hit a grand slam off K.G. Fischer. I didn’t know who he was at the time. We finished second in the ISC World Tournament that year. That meant we were there all week and the rest is history. I got hooked on fastpitch softball. Great memories,” – Frank Del Toro

“Mayfair Park was our home field with Lanny Rupp and the Lakewood Jets from 1988-’94. Also the Lakewood Brewers from 1985-’87. Good times,”

Kenny Schwartz

“Very cool park. Our Arizona teams loved playing there. Note: I didn’t say winning there, but we got in a few,” – Steve Betts

 

Las Vegas Road Trip X features 36 Teams from Canada, Mexico and the United States

Written by Bob on January 17th, 2017

LAS VEGAS – The 10th Annual Las Vegas Road Trip men’s fastpitch tournament will be held April 7-9 with a maximum of 36 teams divided into three NAFA divisions: AA/AA-Major, A-Major, and A.

And all three slots are about full.

“As of right now, I have 35 teams who have expressed interest in participating in the tournament,” said tournament director Jesse Ortiz. “Three have paid their complete entry fee and several coaches have said their payment has been sent.”

The A-Major and A are full, with but ONE slot available in the AA/AA-Major. But there is a waiting list, so managers act quickly to get added if a team drops out of the tournament, encourages Ortiz.

“Teams still interested in participating can email me,” Ortiz said, “so they can be added to the waiting list.” (email Ortiz at: info@scifastpitch.com)

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A Step Back In Time: John Ernster, Unknown to celebrity in 5 years

Written by Bob on January 16th, 2017

GREEN TERRACE ASA ALL-AMERICANS, from left, pitcher John Ernster; third baseman Doug Sauer; catcher Loren Benz, and first baseman Dick Teubner.

Green Terrace of Winona became the first Minnesota team to play in the inaugural ASA Class A Men’s Fastpitch National Tournament in 1975, taking second place with an 8-2 record. In 1988, Stewart Taylor of Duluth won the national title followed by Happy Chef of Mankato in 1995.

By BRUCE CLOSWAY / Sports Writer
Winona Daily News
(originally printed Sept. 3, 1975)

WINONA, Minn. – If anyone is considering doing a biographical study of a sports personality from in or around Winona, John Ernster has certainly qualified himself as a worthy subject.

And if choosing an appropriate title becomes a problem, how about, “You’ve Come A Long Way, John,” or “From Obscurity to National Acclaim In Five-Short Years.”

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International Men’s Softball (fastpitch) Challenge Cup In New Zealand

Written by Bob on January 13th, 2017

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST!

ALBANY, NEW ZEALAND – International Men’s Softball is back at AWF Sports Stadium. Five days of world class softball including the top-three ranked teams in the world. New Zealand (1), Japan (2), Argentina (3), Australia (5), Czech Republic (8), Samoa (12).

  • Click to Support our New Zealand Black Sox
    • CHALLENGE CUP CONTENDERS / RANKINGS
      #1 New Zealand

    International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship, Gold Medal: 1976, 1984, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2013.
    Competed in the last nine World Championship finals.
    ISF World Championship Under 19 Boys, Gold Medal: 1985, 1989.

      #2 Japan

    ISF World Championship, Silver Medal: 2000.
    ISF World Championship Under 19 Boys, Gold Medal: 1981, 2016.

      #3 Argentina

    ISF World Championship Under 19 Boys, Gold Medal: 2012, 2014.

      #5 Australia

    ISF World Championship, Gold Medal: 2009.
    ISF World Championship Under 19 Boys, Gold Medal: 1997, 2001, 2005, 2008.

      #8 Czech Republic

    European Championship, Gold Medal: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016.

      #12 Samoa

    ISF World Championship, competed in 2004, 2013.

    (#) World Baseball Softball Confederation World Ranking

     

    Step Back In Time: The San Bernardino Stars (1979-1986)

    Written by Bob on January 12th, 2017

    MAC TANGAROA of New Zealand delivers a pitch for the San Bernardino Stars during the 1986 Cinco de Mayo Invitational Fastpitch Softball Tournament at Encanto Park in San Bernardino. LARRY ROSE / The SUN

    SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – It’s 1981 and three San Bernardino fastpitch leaders, Joe Baca, Andy Najar and Ted Dominguez, decided to take a local team and throw them in the ring with some of the nation’s best fastpitch teams that played in the Western Softball Congress.

    The WSC featured such powerhouse ball clubs as the Long Beach Nitehawks, ten-time International Softball Congress World Tournament champions. Along with the Lakewood Jets, Oceanside, Camarillo, Burbank, Vista, California Don’s, and Athletes In Action.

    But the San Bernardino Stars were no patsies. They had been around since 1979 and were one of Southern California’s stronger teams.

      STRONG LINEUP

    But in joining the powerful WSC, Baca, the Stars general manager and catcher, upgraded the roster by adding brothers Harry and Rick Munoz, Frank Fraire, Mike Turnbull, Frank Jimenez, Alex Reid, Mike Mendoza, Pat Dominguez, Dave Henry, Nick Medrano, along with Dominguez and Najar. That roster proved solid with the gloves and potent with the bats.

    But winning fastpitch requires stalwart pitching, and the Stars had that in veterans Dave Gray, Barry Roberts, Jim Knott and Jim Stupin.

    “Our team has the attitude that we can step on the field and compete against anyone,” Baca said in a San Bernardino SUN newspaper story. “We don’t rely on one player to pull our team. Man-for-man, some teams have better ball players than we do, but they aren’t a better unit.”

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    Al DeWall the greatest pitcher of Minnesota’s Golden Age

    Written by Bob on January 6th, 2017

    ST. PAUL ALL-AMERICAN BAR won the 1976 ISC World Tournament with pitcher Al DeWall leading the way with five victories. DeWall, pictured in the last row, third from left, was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher. Courtesy Photo

    ST. PAUL, Minn. – The decades of the 1950s through the 1980s are considered the Golden Age of Minnesota men’s Fastpitch.

    The Golden Age saw many outstanding teams rise to power such as St. Paul’s Belmont Club, New Bar and Clover Club, Mankato Happy Chef, St. James James Gang, Duluth and Scandia.

    But none rose to power like St. Paul’s Whitaker Buick (1962 – 1973) and All-American Bar (1976 – 1986). Basically the same roster, just a change of sponsorship.

    Between the two teams they appeared in 14 ISC World Tournaments and several ASA Major National Tournaments. In 1976 All-American Bar won the world tournament, beating the Lakewood, Calif. Jets twice, 5-2 and 6-0, to take the title.

      STARS A PLENTY

    “It was unbelievable playing for Whitaker Buick,” said Mike Payton, the team’s centerfielder in the 1960s and 70s. “Back then you didn’t play a qualifier and go to the nationals like now. You had to win six or seven games (state and regional playoffs) and it was single elimination.”

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    Bob Thurmes Relives Memories of Loesch’s Bar and Its Roster of Fastpitch Stars

    Written by Bob on January 6th, 2017

    BOB THURMES circa 1970s when Thurmes played for The King and His Court that featured fabled pitcher Eddie Feigner, who barnstomed throughout the world for 55 years, before he died Feb. 9, 2007. Thurmes played for the four-man team in 1971 and again 1974-’75. Bob Thurmes / Courtesy Photo

    HASTINGS, Minn. – Bob Thurmes’ fastpitch travels have taken him far during a career that started as a teenager in the early 1960s and lasted until 1980. He played for such legendary teams as the Clearwater, Florida, Bombers – 10-time Amateur Softball Association national champions.

    And he played for the fabled King and His Court, one of the great barnstorming softball teams that featured the incomparable pitcher Eddie Feigner, who much like the Harlam Globetrotters thrilled fans with his skill and showmanship that included pitching behind his back, through his legs and even blindfolded.

    No doubt, Thurmes once pitched and played for some great fastpitch teams.

    But Thurmes, who grew up in Hastings, also pitched for Loesch’s Bar, the hometown team that won two Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Class A state championships in 1964 and ’65, along with second, third and fourth place finishes during the ball club’s reign from the early 1960s into the 1970s, when the team disbanded.

    NELSON AND LOESCH’S PUT HASTINGS ON FASTPITCH MAP

    Loesch’s featured primarily local talent. However, the team came into prominence when talented pitcher, Walt Nelson, moved to Hastings from Ohio in 1962.

    Nelson’s prowess soon made an impact in the Minnesota state fastpitch tournament.

    The powerful right-hander led the Hastings American Legion to runner-up in the 1962 state tournament, and in 1964 and 1965, he hurled Loesch’s Bar to back-to-back titles. Thurmes got a close-up look at Nelson in his formative years.

    “Walt Nelson was one of my fastpitch heroes,” said Thurmes. “I grew up across the street from Wilson Park and I would watch Loesch’s Bar play for years and beat the best teams from the Twin Cities (such as) Whitaker Buick and Al DeWall, 7-Up, and Peter’s Meats from Eau Claire.”

    Thurmes briefly teamed-up with Nelson to form one of the stronger pitching staffs in the state: a young, up-and-coming star, along with a proven veteran in his prime.

    STAR STUDDED ROSTER

    “I was a senior in high school when they took a look at me,” Thurmes said. “I was young and the first tournament I pitched for them in was in Rochester. Walt and I were the pitchers and in my first game, I went up against last year’s champs and we won 2-1 in 15 innings. The Amy brothers (Don and Dave) had at least six double plays. They were really great players.”

    Thurmes also got the nod when Loesch’s had to face Mankato, rated in the top-three of Minnesota elite teams with Dale Root in the circle, one of the up and coming young pitchers in the Midwest.

    “(The manager) asked Walt about me pitching and Walt said, ‘let the kid pitch,’” Thurmes said. “I went five innings and it was 0-0, but Root hit a two-run home run off me.”

    Thurmes says Loesch’s was loaded with talented ball players back in the 1960s, including the likes catcher Kurt Johnson, Don and Dave Amy, Kurt Thalburg, Jim Beattie, Pat Orman, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Swanson and Tom Niederkorn.

    “Niederkorn was a great player and ended up with Whitaker Buick,” Thurmes said, “and Swanson, a shortstop, was one of the best.”

     

    2017 Jack Grafmeier Men’s Fastpitch Tournament At Sunset Park In Kimberly

    Written by Bob on January 5th, 2017

    Sunset Park in Kimberly, Wisconsin has hosted several ISC World Tournaments, and still today is a popular venue for men’s fastpitch softball. June 2-4 it will be the host field for the Jack Grafmeier Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1996 ISC World Tournament

    KIMBERLY, Wisc. – The 2017 Jack Grafmeier Tournament will be held June 2-4 at legendary Sunset Park, Kimberly, WI. Entry fee is $300. Format could vary depending on the number of teams that enter. We had a very competitive field last year and are hoping to again this year.

    Confirmed Teams
    The Bar Buzz
    Stoneyard
    Dekalb Hustlehogs

    Interested Teams Contact
    Justin Colombo
    920-585-0179
    Bossdj32@yahoo.com

    Hotel Info
    In order for teams to get the $99 rate, they need to call the Hilton Garden Inn at (920) 730-1900 and mention “Jack Grafmeier Tournament.”

    I would recommend teams make their reservations as soon as they register for the tournament, as this hotel is pretty popular with wedding guests and other sports teams. Below is a link to their website in case teams want more details on the hotel.

    Hilton Garden Inn

     

    Alders Continue Long Tradition of Boise Men’s Fastpitch League

    Written by Bob on January 4th, 2017

    GREG ALDER was inducted into the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) Hall of Fame in 2014 for his many years contributing and giving back to the game. Alder was one of the best pitchers in the country, and after retiring he continues to help revitalize men’s fast pitch in Boise. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2014 NAFA World Series

    BOISE, Idaho – If you ask Greg Alder why he works so tirelessly to keep the Treasure Valley Men’s Fastpitch League going, he says that when he was youngster of 15, there were veterans who helped him get started, so now it’s his turn to give back.

    But the 65-year-old Alder admits it’s a battle to keep the game alive in Boise – in which the Treasure Valley Men’s Fastpitch League has been in existence for over 50 years, dating back to when his grandfather, Orin Alder, ran the league.

    Now it’s Greg and his son Shane’s turn at the wheel. They plan for league play to start the first week of June through July. Though it’s down a little, there will be a league, says Greg Alder.

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    2017 DC Outlaw 12-Team Invitational In Elkhart, Indiana

    Written by Bob on January 4th, 2017

    By Matt Miller
    574-250-6767

    ELKHART, Ind. – A 12-team men’s fastpitch tournament is being held at Riverview Softball Park in Elkhart, June 23-25.

    Riverview offers four fields and will host the 2017 ASA Open East National Tournament.

    TOURNAMENT DETAILS

  • $400 entry fee
  • Four-game guarantee
  • Format: Pool play with two division winners
  • Up to 12 teams (first 12 to commit)
  • Open to B-C caliber pitching, and A-rated pitchers must be cleared by Matt Miller.
  • Hotels close to the park (within 5-10 minutes)
  • “Several teams have committed already so get your spot early,” said Matt Miller. “We are specifically looking for Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ontario (3hrs
    from Windsor) teams.”

    Matt Miller
    574-250-6767
    DC Outlaws

     
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