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A Look Back In Time: Happy Chef in Mankato for sale, full of fastpitch softball memories

Friday, September 1st, 2017

The late Leroy Jolstad was a pitching mainstay for Mankato Happy Chef men’s fastpitch team.

By Patrick Reusse / August 23, 2015
StarTribune

MANKATO – The Happy Chef restaurant and adjoining property are for sale. It’s the original and surviving restaurant from a collection of 63 that were once operated in the Midwest by the Fredrick brothers.

“We’re still in business,” said Tom Fredrick, 81. “We’re going to stay in business.”

Mention Happy Chef and many people think of the towering, round Happy Chef figure that stood in front of numerous restaurants — and remains smiling today next to Hwy. 169 as you enter Mankato.

Mention Happy Chef to others and they think of something else near extinction: men’s fastpitch softball.

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Men’s Fastpitch Softball returns to Pipestone

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Scarlett’s of Sioux Falls, So. Dak., won the 2017 Pipestone Men’s Fastpitch Tournament. Photo / The Pipestone County Star

“You need pitching, though. You have to develop the pitchers, that’s the biggest thing. You can get the players, but you have to have the pitching to go along with the rest.” – Pipestone Parks & Recreation Director, and fastpitch player Robert Petersen

By KEVIN KYLE
Pipestone County Star
July 19, 2017

PIPESTONE, Minn. – Men’s fast pitch softball made a brief return to town Saturday and Sunday, as a pair of clubs from Minnesota and two teams from South Dakota squared off in a tournament at Harmon Park in Pipestone.

For most of the younger spectators, the Pipestone Fastpitch Softball Tournament offered a first glimpse of men competing in a sport that Pipestone Area High School has been so successful playing the last 15 years.
Many of their parents, however, recall the heyday of the sport in town in the 1980s and early 90s.

“We haven’t had this here for a long time,” said Pipestone Parks & Recreation Director Robert Petersen, who also plays with the Hennagar’s Plumbing & Heating team out of Lake Crystal. “We used to have a 16-team league here called the Tri-County League, and we had teams from Pipestone, Holland, Woodstock, Ruthton, Leota and Edgerton… played two nights a week. Each town would have a tournament on a weekend, but now it’s really a dying sport around here.”

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Hennager fastpitch softball team is Minnesota state champions

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Fastpitch Softball Team of Lake Crystal, Minn., is the 2017 Class B Men’s Fastpitch State Champion. Members include, back row, from left: Coach Blake Meshke, Lake Crystal; Derek Meshke, Volga, S.D.; Jace Holm, Fargo, N.D.; Dan Pawelk, Northfield, Minn.; Josh Schroeder, Lake Crystal; and Robert Petersen, Pipestone, Minn. Front row, from left, is: Chris Bambeneck, Minneapolis; Brent Meshke, Lake Crystal; Spencer Yackel, Rochester, Minn.; Jake Dalton, Lake Crystal; Blaid Friedrichs, Lake Crystal; and Brandon Friedrichs, Lake Crystal. Photo By Sheryl Doering Meshke

LAKE CRYSTAL, Minn. – The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Fastpitch Softball Team of Lake Crystal, Minn., is the 2017 Class B Men’s Fastpitch State Champion. The team posted a 4-0 record this weekend at Sand Creek Fields, Coon Rapids, Minn.

The “Plumbers” won the opening round, 8-7, defeating Striker’s Lanes of Baldwin, Wis. Jace Holm, Fargo, N.D., secured the win, relieving Brent Meshke, Lake Crystal, in the third inning. Holm struck out nine batters and, at the plate, hit a three-run homerun. Meshke was 2-3 at the plate.

Next up was the Odin, Minn., fastpitch team. In a heated battle with a longtime rival, the Plumbers won 4-3. Holm started the game and pitched until the third inning. With the game tied 3-3, Meshke was called to the circle and earned the win.

Collecting two hits each were Jake Dalton, Lake Crystal; Holm; and Josh Schroeder, Lake Crystal. Brandon Friedrichs, Lake Crystal, hit a solo home run in the sixth inning. Defensive plays by Schroeder and Blaid Friedrichs, Lake Crystal, in the bottom of the seventh inning, were key to the victory.

In game three of the championship run, the Plumbers defeated Minnesota Computers of West St. Paul, 1-0. Meshke got the win on the mound, striking out five and giving up two hits. Dalton collected two hits in the contest.

In the championship game, the Plumbers defeated Minnesota Computers, 3-2, who worked their way through the losers’ bracket. Meshke took the win with two strikeouts, giving up five hits. Schroeder was 2-3 at the plate; and Holm had a two-run homerun.

This is the second time in three years that the Plumbers have earned the state title. The team will now travel to Fargo for the North American Fastpitch Assoc. (NAFA) AA World Series, Aug. 18-20. In the opening game, the team will face ECL Bronx of New York.

A Step Back In Time…Softball’s ‘Old Man River’ Still Rolling

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

“Then I grab the microphone and say, ‘St. Paul is one place I’m never gonna lose a game.’ And in five years they never did beat me.” – Red Anderson

By MURRAY OLDERMAN
Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
July 13, 1951

MINNEAPOLIS – When it comes to softball, Red Anderson’s one guy who can afford to scoff.

“You shoulda seen the way we did it in the good old days.”

He not only did it in the “good old days,” but he’s doing it now. Folks wandering out around Parade Grounds 1 tonight can catch 42-year-old Red still fooling batters as he serves them up for the Sathers against the Teamsters in Park National League Softball.

That’s the same carrot-top whose softball goes back 27 years…when four and five thousand fans used to flock to the Parade Grounds to see him strut his stuff…when the baseball Millers and Ted Williams attracted an estimated 15,000 to the Parade Grounds for a softball duel against Anderson and gang.

Clyde McCullough’s catching for Kansas City then,” recalls Red, “and before the game he comes to me and says, “whatever you do, I want you to be sure and strike out that big basher.’

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Olheiser drives Ostrander to victory in Tin Cup Challenge Men’s ISC Fastpitch Tournament

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Eight top-ranked teams will battle for the THE TIN CUP CLASSIC Men’s Fastpitch Tournament at The Village Sports Bar At The Stadium, St. Paul, Minn., July 28-30. Courtesy Photo / Christopher Diethert

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. – With two chuckers locked in a pitcher’s duel, someone had to step up and crack through four innings of a scoreboard showing nothing but goose eggs.

Fredrico Olheiser, batting No. 3 in the order, did just that.

In the bottom of the fifth with Patrick Brackley aboard by way of a walk, Olheiser blasted a triple driving in Brackley for the only run of the game, as the Ostrander (MN) Norsemen pulled out a 1-0 victory over the Rice Lake Orangemen of Wisconsin in the opening game of the Tim Cup Challenge, Friday night, at the Village Sports Bar At The Stadium ball diamonds in White Bear Lake.

The lone run broke up the duel between the Orangemen’s Nicolas Seibenlist (0-1), and Norsemen’s Sisco Sabate (1-0). Both pitchers allowed just three hits each, while Seibenlist struck out 12 and Sabate 11.

The Orangemen threatened in the third and fourth innings with runners on third base, but Sabate came away unscathed with an inning-ending groundout and strikeout.

JAMO’S 2, TIN CUP 1

Jamo’s used three pitchers, and got a game-winning hit from Jason Shouick to upset the ISC’s No. 13 ranked Tin Cup in the second featured game Friday night.

MICHAEL JAMIESON started for Jamo’s as the St. Paul ball club defeated Tin Cup, 2-1, in the opening game of the Tin Cup Challenge men’s fastpitch tournament, Friday night, at the The Village Sports Bar At The Stadium in White Bear Lake, Minn. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2013 NAFA World Series

Michael Jamison hurled three innings, then gave way to Marek Maly and Joel Goodall, who each finished up with two innings apiece to best the strong outing of Tin Cup’s Joel Cooley (0-1) who went the distance, firing a four-hitter.

But one of those hits would come back to beat him.

In the bottom of the sixth with the game deadlocked at 1-1, Shouick whacked a Cooley offering for a triple, driving in Goodall, who singled, for the game winner in Jamo’s 2-1 victory.

Jamo’s took the early lead in the bottom of the first on Maly’s RBI single, only to see Tin Cup knot the score in the second when the Marchio’s – son Dominic and father Dave batting five and six in the order – teamed up to force the tie.

Dominic Marchio peppered Jamison for a triple and David Marchio got just enough of the bat on the ball to force a ground ball to second base that allowed Dominic to cross home plate safely.

Tin Cup collected five hits, one each from Yusef Davis, Matias Minigutti, Sam Nieman, Dominic Marchio and Gonzalo Masmu.

Jamo’s four hits came from Maly, Goodall, Shouick and Michael Marrero.

Goodall (1-0) picked up the win, allowing one hit, no runs, with four strikeouts over the final two innings. Maly, the middle reliever, went two innings, didn’t allow any hits and struck out one. Jamison allowed just one earned run on four hits with three strikeouts.

  • For tournament statistics and play-by-play, click on: Al’s Fastball and Gary Baughman Statistics.
  • A Step Back In Time: Johnny Vollmer in Farewell at Softball Park

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    The late, great JOHNNY VOLLMER is considered one of Minnesota’s all-time great fastpitch softball pitchers. He is shown here in 1942 just before he was inducted into the army. Vollmer was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame in 1982. Minneapolis Star Photo / May 4, 1942

    By JOHN HARVEY
    The Minneapolis Star
    May 4, 1942

    (I remember as a kid in the early 1960s listening to the ‘old timers’ talking about Minnesota’s great pitchers, and Johnny Vollmer was one of their favorite subjects.)

    MINNEAPOLIS – Johnny Vollmer, with his old batterymate, Shorty Mathes behind the plate, says goodbye for a while to Minneapolis softball fans tonight at Parade Stadium when his Fort Snelling soldiers play the Grain Belts (brewery) in the unofficial opening of the 1942 season.

    Vollmer, the great snapball artist, was inducted at Snelling along with Mathes, last week.

    The game is booked for 8:30 p.m. and will go on despite slightly chilly weather. Pregame ceremonies involving a Fort Snelling Color Guard and bugler will begin at 7:45 p.m.

    Opposing Vollmer on the Grain Belt mound is Ed Kronfeld, who last year hurled the Rothschild’s to the National Division championship. Proceeds go to the Fort Snelling athletic fund. ­

    Johnny Vollmer returned from his military service and reestablished himself as one of Minnesota’s all-time great fastpitch pitchers (slingshot style) and was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame in 1982, along with his catcher, Shorty Mathes.

    Minnesota Men’s Fastpitch Pitcher Classification List

    Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

    Kevin Kammueller of Eagle Pack was a workhorse in the 2016 International Softball Congress (ISC) Legends tourament pitching five games and finishing 4-1 to earn All-Tournament honors. Kammueller is rated a Class B pitcher for 2017 according to the Minnesota Sports Federation. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2016 ISC Legends Tournament

    SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Sports Federation rates men’s fastpitc pitchers according to their ability from D to B skill levels. The MSF has no pitchers rated at the Class A or Open level.

    Click to check out the Minnesota Fastpitch Pitcher Classification List

      MSF MEN’S FASTPITCH STATE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
  • Class B & D, Aug. 4-6, Coon Rapids, Minn.
  • Class C, Aug. 11-13, North Mankato, Minn.
  • Modified Pitch, Aug. 26-27, Hollywood / New Germany, Minn.
  • Check out SCIFl website for up-to-date bracket results

    Saturday, April 8th, 2017

    LAS VEGAS – So. Calif. Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL) President, Jesse Ortiz, who is also the tournament director for the Las Vegas Road Trip X tournament, is up-dating the the NAFA A, A-Major, and AA / AA-Major brackets as quickly as possible on the SCIFL website.

    THE DIRECT LINKS

    A Bracket
    A-Major Bracket
    AA / AA-Major Bracket

    TWO BIG GAMES Saturday feature Minnesota’s Marchio Sausage Co. vs. So. California’s J & B Painting in a AA-AA/Major semifinal takes place at Sunset Park (Field 11) at 1:15 p.m., followed by the Northeast Naturals taking on TJ Fastpitch of Mexico at 3 p.m.

    Come out to Sunset Park and Warm Springs Park softball fields to watch some top-caliber men’s fastpitch played by ball clubs from Mexico, Canada and the United States.

    Remembering Peters Packers of Eau Claire, one of Wisconsin’s best in the 1960s

    Monday, February 13th, 2017

    1963 PETERS PACKERS won the Wisconsin State Championship with its roster, front row from left, Don Lee, Ron Buckli, Larry Bergh, Ted Lahner, Jim Peuse, John Schaaf and DeBug Johnson. Back row, left, equipment manager Merrill Semingson, manager Duke Severson, Jim Bollinger Harv Tomter, Jon Wensel, Gene Golden, Al Mitchell, Coach Jim Warden, Don Amundson, Bobo Johnson. Missing is Tex Brooks. Photo Green Bay Press-Gazette / Sat. Aug. 24, 1963

    AUSTIN, Minn. – Peters Packers tries for a fourth straight championship in the fifth annual 1965 Midwest Invitational Softball Tournament Saturday and Sunday at Austin, Minn.

    Peters faces Loesch’s Bar of Hastings, Minn., in its opening game Saturday at 9:30 a.m. In all, there are 32 teams entered from five states. The tournament is considered one of the finest in the Midwest. Peters won the previous three titles, defeating Scandia in the finals last year.

    Peters, 21-8 for the season, will count on the slants of Gary Watland, Al Mitchell and Tex Brooks. Manager Diz Kronenberg is back at the helm.

      TOP TEAMS ENTERED

    Some of the other top teams include: Scandia, Austin Moose, Sioux Falls, S.D. Truckers, Ft. Dodge, Iowa Hormel and Minneapolis King of Clubs.

    Catcher Don Amundson will miss the tournament due to an injury, but leads the team with 8 home runs, and 21 RBI.

    JON WENSEL has taken over the club’s batting lead, rapping .359 on 23 hits in 64 trips. Fred Golden is second with a .353 average and five home runs.

    BROOKS, unbeaten in five games, has an 0.23 ERA to lead the pitchers, while notching two, two-hitters. Watland, 9-5, has a 0.83 ERA with 140 strikeouts in 93 inning. He has thrown a no-hitter, one-hitter, and two-hitter. Mitchell is 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 76 innings.

    A Step Back In Time: Root and Lunz lead Mankato Players Lounge to Winona softball title

    Monday, February 13th, 2017

    Winona Daily News
    June 28, 1971

    WINONA, Minn. – Players Lounge jumped on a faltering Carl Aegler for four home runs and coasted to a 9-1 triumph over Club Midway of Fountain City in Sunday’s title game of the 1971 Winona Invitational Softball Tournament.

    Aegler, starting his fifth game in sweltering heat, was greeted by Mankato’s Gary Lunz, who belted a homer deep over the left-field fence in the first inning. Then after a single by Les Dittrich, Jerry Flanagan clouted another round-tripper over the deepest part of the centerfield to make it 3-0.

    DALE ROOT, picked up the win after earlier shutting out Ronnie’s Bar of Ettrick, Wisc., 5-0, in the quarterfinals earlier in the afternoon. He apparently was at full strength throughout the championship tilt.

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