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Seniors love for basketball strong as ever

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Bill Pittman plays much younger than his 76 years.

YUCAIPA, Calif. – The high, leaping jump shot? The fast break? Not so high, and not so fast anymore.

Their physical skills may have faded over the years, but what remains as strong as ever is their love for the game. And the men who play senior basketball at the Yucaipa Community Center, and the Loma Linda University Drayson Center still have plenty of that.

Their ages range from 50, such as Wallace Frisbey, the youngster of the group, to Bill Pittman, who plays much younger than his 76 years.

The seniors – numbering from 12 to 20 – get together from about noon to 1:30 three days a week to play the game they can’t seem to let go. They play hard and they play to win. But as far as in-your-face defense and win at all costs, that’s a no-no. Their game has become much more social than when they were youngsters tearing up the hardcourt.

“Our camaraderie is great,” said Pittman, who is a deadeye from about the 18-feet range. “I’ve been playing with these guys for about five years, and we’re all friends. But before joining the group, Pittman hadn’t played for about 40 years.

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Ducks Unlimited brings back fond memories of “R” and Dottie Hughes

Monday, November 5th, 2012

NEW ULM, MN – My wife pointed at the kitchen table and said, “Michelle is selling some things on eBay and she found a couple of your things in the garage.”

I looked at the kitchen table and on it was a Ducks Unlimited Jim Beam Whiskey decanter that our daughter was about to sell on eBay.

“I can’t sell that,” I said rather indignantly. “R. Hughes gave that to me as a Christmas present in 1975. He’d turn over in his grave if he heard I’d sold it.”

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Thanking Roger Nelson for a fastpitch career

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

WANAMINGO, MN – Yesterday, I found an old friend that I lost touch with 45 years ago. Roger Nelson. Every week I visit the website of my hometown newspaper the News Record, searching for the latest news in Wanamingo, Minn. Sadly, that’s where I found Roger.

Roger was my first fastpitch softball manager. He launched me on my way to a 34–year pitching career. Roger took a chance on me when I was 15 years old. He started a team of high school kids with a few older guys mixed in. That very first year in 1965 we were awful. My pitching was awful.

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A push through the door became a love of libraries

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The Zumbrota Carnegie Library built in 1908.

YUCAIPA, CA – When I was about 9 or 10 in the late 1950s, my mother started taking me every Saturday morning to Zumbrota’s (Minn) Carnegie Library. Actually, she forced me to go. I hated that old library. And I hated reading.

But my mother insisted that her eldest son, who failed second grade because he fell way behind in reading, was going to become – at the very least – a passable reader.

So off to the library we would trudge on Saturdays.

I had a choice, either I could choose a book to read during the coming week, or she would do it for me.

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“We Play It Fast” selling fast, place your order now

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Front cover, Stew Sabiston of the Winnipeg Bullets pitching in the 2010 NAFA World Series. Back cover top, Trent Rubley; middle, Shane Alder and Chase Turner.

YUCAIPA, CA – I received my order of 150 books entitled “We Play It Fast” and I’m ready to ship to those who may be interested.

This is going to be a “one time, limited edition book” so if you want one, you should order before the supply runs out.


• Size, 8 ½ x 11. Soft cover.
• 76 stories – including features on some of the sports’ great players: Zack, Sorenson, White, Peterson…
• 208 photos. Many never printed or seen before!
• About half NAFA and ISC related stories.
• Stories extend from my early writing to present day, from 2010 NAFA World Series “A” division level to the ISC level of play.
• Several stories from contributing writers such as Milt Stark, Kyle Beane, Marc Gillis, Glen Cook, Joe Avila, Bill Hillhouse, Brian Groehler…
• Book’s writing style: documentary and memoir.


• In U.S. $23; Canada $27; New Zealand $35. (Other countries, price to be determined based on shipping charges).


• Only 135 to be sold! So this may become a ‘limited edition’ book.
• I’ve set aside books for those who have said they want to buy one – such as the contributing writers. (If you’ve changed your mind, please let me know.)
• If there’s a demand, I can have more books printed, but must place a minimum order of 100 books.


• Payable (U.S. $$) to:
Bob Otto
35147 Cedar Ave.
Yucaipa, CA 92399


Bob, received my copy of the book. Thanks so much. I love the book even though it doesn’t have color on the inside… MS

I received my copy in the mail today, a “must have” for fastpitch fans. I am honored to have the story I wrote about Dave Blackburn, “Game Changer” included as the second to last chapter in the book. Get yours before that headline says “Sold Out” (it’s a limited edition at this point) – JF

I got the book and it is fantastic. I will be reading it cover to cover. – DM

…I thought it was pretty good reading and flowed very well. There is a wide variety of topics regarding some current and some older time players. It is truly a coffee table book – MB

It looks great, congratulations, I know the work that goes into something like that – KB

Bob, great book. Great history and information. Lots of good photos… a lot of some friends – Rico Garcia, Todd Kensler, Hector Garcia Guillen, Tony N Denise Trujillo Mancha, Joe Hineline and more. Good stories from the old days and good info on today’s young players… – MC

Please send a copy of your book. Your interest in the game has been rewarding for many. Thank you – JB

Bob got the book, awesome, made me remember what a great game this is and what a great time I was lucky enough to play it in. It made me sad at times and made me almost smell the wet grass of a early morning game and the excitement of the competition. – GA

Bob, always enjoy reading your articles. Hope to read them for many more years. – AC

Great book! – ML

Got the copy of We Play It Fast last week. Was rushed for time, so I picked it up for a minute to flip through some pages … and ended up reading about half of the book. Great read, and I will recommend it to others. – Cheers, DM,

New book hails the heroes of fastpitch softball

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Pitcher Matt Stur, just 20 years old, helped his Star Prairie Construction team of Strobel, Wisc. finish second in the age 23-Under Division of the 2010 North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) World Series to Waseda University of Tokyo, Japan. Stur is one of the young men who have found fastpitch softball a great sport to play.
(Contributed photo by Bob Otto)

Just For Fun column
By RUSSELL INGOLD / Editor, Fontana Herald News

FONTANA, CA – All over the United States, and particularly here in Fontana, fastpitch softball is enjoyed by multitudes of young girls, some of whom continue to participate in the sport as adults.

That’s great for the girls and the women. But what about the boys and the men?

Well, that’s a different story…

Continue Reading

Babysitting the canine grandkids

Friday, October 14th, 2011

ROSEBURG, OR – My son Brian and his wife Jenn have three beautiful “kids” – Bella, Millie and Sebastian.

When they left for a week’s vacation, they asked me to babysit.

Now you might think a 63-year-old man – make that grandpa – would have his hands full with three youngsters. All by himself.

But with these three, as long as they have their treats and daily walks they’re just fine.

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Hemet Valley Chronicle, we shall miss you

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

THE FIRST VALLEY CHRONICLE STAFF, MAY 2001: Jim Fredericks, president and publisher front. Front row from left, Lisa Sotelo, Ann Knickerbocker, Phoebe Ames, Londa Baeza and Donna Harrington. Second row from left, Kim Nichols, Phyliss Harte, Brenda Maher, Lynn Webb, Konnie Sloan and Craig Shultz. Back row from left, Louis Amestoy, Daniel Contreras, Gayle Hilpert, John Fredericks and Amado Gonzalez. The first edition was published on May 16, 2001. (From the original staff, Kim Nichols, advertising and Danny Contreras, design / composing supervisor, worked all ten years for the Valley Chronicle.)

HEMET, CA – Most people have vivid recall when some catastrophic event has happened. I was in Mrs. Pretzer’s eighth grade English class when she tearfully announced that President Kennedy had been shot.

And when the twin towers of the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground in the 9 / 11 terrorist attacks, I was returning from a photo assignment and walking into the newsroom of the Hemet Valley Chronicle newspaper.

Sept. 7, 2011 also sticks in my mind.

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Cursed camera envy

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Photos of the Summit (boys) SkyHawks and Rialto girl’s basketball teams that both won Southern California Regional Division II championships. Fontana and Rialto are neighboring cities that have strong basketball programs.
Photos By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, CA – Last Saturday I photographed the Fontana Summit boy’s basketball game against the Lincoln Hornets of San Diego for the Southern California Division II championship at the USC Galen Center.

I came away with what we in photojournalism call, “camera envy.” Actually, by the time the game ended, I had a raging case of it.

I sidled in and sat down amongst six other photographers along the baseline of the Summit basket. It was like I was driving a Chevy Impala (a very nice car) and had pulled into a parking lot in Beverly Hills full of Lexus, Mercedes, BMW’s, and even a Lamborghini or two.

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Veggie sticker shock

Friday, March 18th, 2011

My garden’s tilled and my seeds bought. And once again after 53 years I’m a gardner.

YUCAIPA, CA – My wife does the grocery shopping, but occasionally I make a trip to the supermarket for a few things. Yesterday was one such trip. What a shock when I ventured into the produce section.

Tomatoes, $2.99 a pound, broccoli, $1.99 a pound, green leaf lettuce, $1.99 a bunch, cucumbers $1.49 each – EACH!, carrots, 99-cents a pound (what a bargain!), and dandelion greens $1.99 a pound.

(Every summer I poison these troublesome yellow sprouting weeds when they take over my lawn. And now they sell for $1.99 a pound?)

With those prices, I settled on the carrots. I also realized it was time for me to plant a garden. And gardening is not my favorite springtime activity.

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