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Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League Hosts Reunion To Remember The Good Times

Saturday, May 26th, 2018


PAUL HARRINGTON, who coaches the Farmington High School girls’ softball team and directed the men’s city league, shows former Farmington High school pitcher Ashley Betzold how to throw the rise ball. Ashley’s father, Daren Betzold, was a top pitcher in the Farmington league for 25 years (1976 – 2001). Contributed photo.

FARMINGTON, Minn. – For 54 years (1958-2011) men’s fastpitch softball was played in Farmington. The list of teams and sponsors, players, managers and umpires would as the saying goes, “stretch for an arm’s length.”

Though the historic Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League and Bobber Men’s Fastpitch Tournament are no more, that doesn’t mean they’re forgotten. And on Aug. 26, a reunion will be held to reminisce about those great times at the Castle Rock & Roll Bar & Grill in Castle Rock.

Of those 54 years, Paul Harrington directed the Farmington league 37 years (1975-2011). He was just 19 when he took the reins after the league director suddenly resigned in the middle of the season.

The league and tournament evolved over the years to become two of the strongest entities in Minnesota fastpitch history.

League teams claimed state championships in 1992 and ’99, along with Castle Rock and Morelli’s of St. Paul who are believed to have also won titles, while playing the league season in Farmington.

“Breaking the door down and winning a state championship in 1992 is a big memory for me,” said Harrington. “But knowing our league teams were always in the mix afterwards with other state championships and high finishes, and giving our league respect and recognition was very fulfilling as a league director.”

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Boys’ Fastpitch Softball Fun Days In Michigan!

Friday, April 20th, 2018

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. – Gary Compau and volunteers are offering an opportunity for boys between the ages of 8 to 18 from Frankenmuth, Saginaw, Midland, Flint, Birch Run, and Reese to learn more about and play the game of fastpitch softball. So they’ve organized a Fun Days that will run from Sundays in April and May.

Fun Days organizer, Gary Compau of Frankenmuth, realizes that to revive and expand the game, young players need to be brought into the game.

“It’s up to us,” he said. “We can make this a success.”

    THE DETAILS
  • All boys, 8 to 18, are invited from inexperienced to experienced
  • Experienced fastpitch past and present players will be there offering tips on catching, fielding, and hitting
  • Veteran pitchers will be helping and advising players who want to learn how to pitch
  • The Fun Days are FREE and will not interfere with Little League or baseball
  • Balls and bats will be provided
    • THE FUN!
  • Teams will be formed and games will be played
    • WHERE
  • The two ball fields at Frankenmuth St. Lorenz Lutheran School. One field for the younger players and one for the older. (We request that an adult accompany the young players)
    • WHEN

    April 22-May 20, and May 6, starting at 4 p.m.

      CONTACT INFORMATION

    Gary Compau at 989-262-8452; Email is tawasgary@att.net

    “This is not tryouts,” said Compau. “Come out and enjoy the experience. We will provide the fun. Just come out and enjoy it and see where it goes.”

    Dutch Elbers helped drive St. Paul to fastpitch greatness

    Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

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

    (Sadly Dutch Elbers passed away on April 5, 2018. See obituary in which condolences and tributes are welcome)

    Dutch Elbers served the International Softball Congress for over 20 years in several capacities, including the organization’s president. In 1988, he was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1995 ISC World Tournament

    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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    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.

    Click to continue reading “A Look Back In Time: Happy Chef in Mankato for sale, full of fastpitch softball memories”

    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.