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Stepping Back In Time: Hicks brothers Ted and Al remain on top of fastpitch world

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

THE HICKS BROTHERS, Ted, left, and Al, are recognized internationally for their softball talents, especially hitting. TED is considered one of the country’s best right-handed hitters on the Decatur (IL) ADM nationally ranked team, while Al is ‘Mr. Consistency’ for Missouri power Walnut-Woods of St, Joseph. Constitution-Tribune Photo by Bob Carter

By BOB CARTER / The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune Sports Editor
July 31, 1984

CHILLICOTHE, MO – The Mary Jane Hicks family held its typical fun-loving summer reunion at the Tomahawk homestead Sunday afternoon.

Like many reunions before, fastpitch softball was the talk of the day.

But this time, there was special emphasis placed on the upcoming ASA National Fastpitch Softball Tournament scheduled to open at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph on Friday, Sept. 7.

Mary Jane’s three sons, will hold another reunion on the national softball turf, but this time, they’ll be playing on opposing teams.

AL HICKS
Al, at a ripe age of 44, is Mr. Handy Man on the St. Joseph Walnut-Woods team, the tournament’s host team.

Al, called “Papa” by his teammates, will be used in his familiar role as the team’s designated hitter.

The popular St. Joseph police officer, who has played for five different St. Joseph softball teams, knocked the cover off the ball last season, batting a sizzling .400. This season, Al is batting a respectable .300.

Although gradually losing his foot speed, Al hasn’t lost his tough at the plate, ranking among the best Walnut-Woods has to offer.

“I still see the ball good and I make contact,” Hicks said. “That’s the key to hitting.”

How many playing years are left? Hicks isn’t sure, but he’s not ready to hang up the cleats yet.

“I love the game,” he said. “As long as I can contribute and someone wants me, I’ll continue to play. I’ve been playing ball ever since I took up walking. It’s been an important part of my life.”

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ASA Meet May Top the World

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

TY STOFFLET pitched for several national championship teams, including 1979 York (Pa.) Barbells. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1991 ASA Masters National Championship

By Bob McGinn / Green Bay Press-Gazette
Aug. 14, 1979

GREEN BAY, Wisc. – The ISC World Tournament. The fastpitch softball faithful in the Fox Valley speak of it in almost reverential tones.

It conjures up images, always, of a week or two on the West Coast, in places like Sun City, Ariz., Long Beach, or even Bakersfield, Calif., where this summer’s version of the International Softball Congress’s national tournament is scheduled to begin Friday.

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Pitching great Dwayne Kamphuis returns to center stage

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

DWAYNE KAMPHUIS shows that he still packs the muscle at this past Saturday’s pitching exhibition at the Grandview Church of the Nazarene. Kamphuis talked about his time playing softball and briefly about how religion helped save him during his bout with alcoholism. Photo By Michael Kantian / Daily Sun News

Daily Sun News
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Courtesy of Mark Seward

GRANDVIEW, Wash. – There was a time when many followers of men’s fastpitch softball made the argument that Dwayne Kamphuis had the deadliest arm in the country. Many fans argued Kamphuis’ arm was better than that of legendary softball pitcher Eddie “The King” Feigner.

Regardless of who comes out on top of the argument, make no mistake, Kamphuis was one of the greatest to ever pick up a softball.

Kamphuis, who lives in Grandview, put on a pitching display this past Saturday morning at the Grandview Church of the Nazarene.

Kamphuis, 67, provided some history on softball. He said softball started being played in Chicago in the late 1800s.

Kamphuis said he started pitching in 1945. His family didn’t have much money so he would use palmigranites growing on nearby trees with which to practice.

He started playing ball in California at a young age. At the age of 16, Kamphuis was inducted into the Junior Softball Hall of Fame.

In 1957, Kamphuis was inducted into the military service.

“It was during my time in the service I learned to throw this softball,” he said while palming a ball.

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Great players spur Hastings Loesch’s Bar to championship run in the 1960s

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Loesch’s Bar of Hastings, Minnesota won two state championships during the 1960s, along with numerous tournaments. Team members holding the tournament trophies they won are from left, Jim Schnieder (deceased), Walt Nelson ( deceased), Clayt McNamara, Dave Amy ( deceased), Pat Orman, unknown player, Dick Bacon, Curt Thalburg, Don Amy, Gene Hageman, Larry McNamara, Dave Bacon and Tom Niederkorn. Bat boys, Kirk Van Guilder, left, and Tom Schneider. Missing are manager Red Van Guilder (deceased) and Tom Swanson. Photo Courtesy of Steve Nelson.

HASTINGS, Minn. – It takes talent to make a fastpitch team great, and back in the 1960s Hastings was brimming with it.

Located 25 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, small town Hastings (pop. 8,000 in 1960) produced outstanding players such as twins Don and Dave Amy; brothers Jack and Tom Swanson, Curt Thalberg, Gary Kordosky, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Niederkorn and Walt Nelson.

They put Hastings on the ‘fastpitch’ map by winning big games and big tournaments throughout the state.

But the biggest prize was winning the Amateur Softball Association state tournament. And in 1961, 1964 and 1965, Hastings teams brought home the championship trophy, along with finishing runner-up twice, 1962 and 1966.

However, one Hastings team stood out: Loesch’s Bar which won the 1964 and 1965 titles and finished runner-up in 1966.

    NELSON MANS THE RUBBER

As the team’s catcher, Gene Hageman marveled how good the team was – from its solid hitting, 1-through-9 lineup, to its defense and pitching. Though each player filled a vital role, Walt Nelson – the ace of the pitching staff – was the integral cog that made winning championships possible.

“Walt had grit,” said Hageman. “No one was going to beat him. I would set the glove and he would hit it. His best pitch was his drop ball. In some tournaments, we played up to seven games and Walt would pitch most of them. He could throw all day.”

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Don’t Miss USA Men’s National Invitational Fastpitch Tournament

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

A Step Back In Time: Fresno Rockbusters Fall To Clearwater Bombers In ASA Major National Tournament

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

The Clearwater Bombers’ pitching staff of Eddie King, left, Joe Lynch, Weldon Haney and Bob Quinn. King and Haney pitched for the Bombers in the 1964 ASA Major National Tournament in Sunnyvale, Calif.


Fresno Bee / Sept. 22, 1964

SUNNYVALE, Calif. – The Fresno Rockbusters (70-14) are headed home after bowing out of their first Amateur Softball Association National Tournament in Sunnyvale after dropping a 2-0 decision to the defending champion Clearwater, FL, Bombers.

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USA Softball selects Men’s National Team Coaching Pool for 2017-2020

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT
Codi Warren
Managing Director of Communications
E: cwarren@usasoftball.com
P: (405) 425-3431

OKLAHOMA CITY – USA Softball, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced today 19 coaches who have been selected to the 2017-2020 USA Softball Men’s National Team Coaching Pool.

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Dutch Elbers helped drive St. Paul to fastpitch greatness

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Ben Maloney, left, Ed Mathias, and Dutch Elbers hold the 1963 ASA Northern Regional Tournament championship trophy.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Strong armed, with a lanky athletic build, Dries (Dutch) Elbers mostly likely could have stared at baseball, but fortunately for fastpitch softball, he never got the chance.

“My dad played baseball, but he steered me into softball,” said Elbers. “I have never played a game of baseball in my life.”

Elbers, who grew up in Steen in southwestern Minnesota, began playing fastpitch in the 4-H League in 1945 as a 15-year-old. It wasn’t long, though, that he graduated from the boys’ league into the Steen men’s league.

Steen might have been small in numbers with its 185 citizens, but they and the farm families surrounding the little village located 25 miles east of Sioux Falls, kept the six team-league healthy with numbers and talent.

“As kids, we wanted to get a uniform and play with the big boys,” Elbers said. Soon enough Elbers would be playing with the ‘big boys’ of fastpitch – worldwide.

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ISC makes second recruitment video available for College & High School baseball coaches

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

ISC Press Release
January 23, 2017

FINDLAY, Ohio – The International Softball Congress continues its outreach to university, college and high school baseball coaches across the United States with a second recruiting video to attract new players into men’s fastpitch softball.

The new video is now available on the ISC website at www.iscfastpitch.com as well as on the ISC Facebook page www.facebook.com/isc.fastpitch.

“As stated in the video, it’s a great tool, but it needs to be shared with as many baseball coaches and players as possible so that we can get new players into the game,” says Larry Fisher, ISC Executive Director. “We encourage all men’s teams to reach out to their local colleges and high schools and spread the word – there’s a significant pool of talent there and we need to tap into it to bring young players into our game.”

“By our unofficial count, there’s nearly 1,300 men’s fastpitch softball teams across North America, so there’s an opportunity out there for those that want to play,” says Fisher.

Tapping into the baseball past of several players on the highly-ranked New York Gremlins team, the video features several top players as well as USA Softball President Warren Jones, who speaks about the opportunities for younger players to be identified for the U.S.A. U19 junior men’s national team.

“We want to let these young kids know that there’s another game out there that they can play,” says Jones.

MATT PALAZZO (Des Moines, Iowa) is a USA National Team player and a fixture in the ISC World Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

Among the Gremlins, Matt Palazzo talks about the quick pace of play, the ability for one hit to be a big difference in the game and the success he’s had in recruiting athletes in the Des Moines, Iowa area to take up the game.

“Once they try it, just like myself, they fall in love with the game and its pace,” says Palazzo, who played baseball at Iowa State University and, in addition to the Gremlins, stars on the U.S.A. men’s national team and has twice been named the U.S. Male Fastpitch Player of the Year

Aimed at high school and college seniors, the video commentary notes that men’s fastpitch softball offers baseball players the opportunity to utilize all of the skills they’ve developed over a lifetime of playing, and will give them the chance to create 20+ years of new memories.

“I’ve been able to travel around the world and see the best in the world … and it’s been a great challenge and a good experience,” says Nick Mullins, who played baseball at the University of Pittsburgh, and plays for the Gremlins as well as Team U.S.A. “For all of the young kids out there who are playing baseball or just finished playing baseball, [fastpitch softball] is definitely a good game, so get out here and let’s see what you’ve got!”

International stars Zenon Winters and Bryan Abrey also talk about the opportunities and experiences they’ve enjoyed.

Abrey, who is a member of the defending World Champion Canadian men’s national team, played junior college baseball in California before transferring to an NAIA school in Idaho. Abrey talks about the speed of the game and the adjustments that baseball players will need to make.

Winters notes that he’s been playing fastpitch softball for 27 years, starting as a six-year-old in his native Australia, and has been able to travel the world because of the game and highlights the opportunity for American players to do the same thing.

“We think that if baseball players give fastpitch softball a chance, we’re confident that they’re going to fall in love with the game just like Matt Palazzo talks about,” said Larry Fisher, ISC Executive Director.

For more information on the ISC and men’s fastpitch softball, see the ISC website at
www.iscfastpitch.com.

Larry Fisher
ISC Executive Director
iscfastpitch@gmail.com

For the future of USA men’s fastpitch, it’s all about pitching

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

ALAN COLGLAZIER pitched Aurora, IL, Home Savings to the ISC World Tournament championship in 1980. He is but one of four USA born pitchers to win an ISC World Tournament Championship game between 1980 and 1991. Photo By BOB OTTO

NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand is the mecca of men’s fasptich softball. To argue otherwise is just plain nonsense. The results prove the Kiwi’s dominance in fastpitch worldwide.

The Black Sox, the country’s national team, leads the International Softball Federation (now the World Baseball Softball Confederation) world championships with 12 gold, silver and bronze medals since the event started in 1966.

And in the past six championships (1996 to 2015) the Black Sox have taken four-of-six golds and two silvers.

Canada comes a close second with 11 total medals, and did claim the latest world championship in 2015, by pounding the Kiwi’s, 10-5, in the final.

    THIRD NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Bringing up the third spot with nine medals is the United States. Nine sounds like a respectable number, right?

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