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Stepping Back In Time: Walt Nelson Hurls No-Hit Masterpiece For Sandusky’s Stroh’s Beer

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

WALT NELSON pitched for outstanding teams in Minnesota from 1961 to 1972, and in Ohio from the early 1950s until 1961 when he moved to Hastings, Minnesota. Courtesy Photo / Steve Nelson

The Sandusky Register / Sandusky, Ohio
July 31 1958

Stroh’s Ace Faces 21 Batters

NORWALK, Ohio – Walt Nelson grabbed the spotlight in the opening night of the Fifth District Amateur Softball Association tournament here Wednesday night at McQuan Park by tossing a glittering no-hitter.

Nelson faced 21 batters as Sandusky Stroh’s Beer handcuffed the defending champion Fremont Schick’s, 5-0, after the Tiffin Spartans downed Lorain United Polish Club, 4-3.

The big right-hander struck out 15 and didn’t issue any bases on balls in hurling his masterpiece, although two runners reached base. Nelson hit one and the other reached base on an error, but both were cut down trying to steal in the second inning by catcher Walt Nicholson.

Second baseman Carl Michels saved Nelson’s no-hitter in the sixth inning with a sparkling play in which he went behind the base to haul in a sharp grounder and threw the man out.

Nelson made sure of the next batters himself by striking out the last four he faced.

Stroh’s scored once in the first and third innings on a passed ball and an error, adding three in the fifth with Dan Majoy and Nelson rapping out back-to-back singles to open the inning.

Stroh’s collected six singles off the servings of Curt Bowser and reliever Jack Kaiser, with Nelson getting two of them.

    Stroh’s Hurler Walt Nelson Selected Most Valuable Player

The Sandusky Register
Wed. Oct. 28, 1959

NORWALK, Ohio – Walt Nelson was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Norwalk Softball League Tuesday night at the Norwalk Softball Association’s annual banquet.

The Sandusky Stroh’s Beer pitcher received 137 votes, the highest ever polled. Gordon Schaechterle of Brooker Brothers, placed second with 109.

    Stroh’s Hurt Erie Lumber’s Title Plans

The Sandusky Register
Wed. Aug. 14, 1957

Walt Nelson a one-man gang

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Walt Nelson was the fly in the ointment for Erie County Lumber in Sandusky Softball League action Tuesday night at Battery Park as Stroh’s Beer copped a 6-3 decision.

NELSON HURLED a four-hitter at the Lumbermen and drove in three runs with a double and single as Stroh’s dashed the Lumbermen’s hopes of a SSL title.

The loss dropped Erie one game back of the Rockets and only one more game to go with the Rockets and Erie Lumber squaring off Sunday night a 7 o’clock.

Stroh’s jumped on losing pitcher Dan Renz for two runs in the second inning. Don Stellrecht led off with a single and scored on Nelson’s double; Nelson later scored on an infield out.

Stroh’s added four more in the third frame with Stellrecht and Nelson each driving in a pair of markers with singles.

ERIE LUMBER narrowed the margin in the fourth as Bob Peters whacked out a round-tripper after Paul Nemitz had walked.

Erie threatened in the sixth inning by loading the bases before Nelson retired the last man on a strikeout.

Nelson struck out six for the third-place teams, while Renz gave up five hits and struck out three.

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.


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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A Step Back In Time: ‘Expatriate’ Tolzin stops Jets as St. Paul wins 1976 ISC crown

Monday, January 30th, 2017

ST. PAUL ALL-AMERICAN BAR won the 1976 ISC World Tournament held in Long Beach, Calif. St. Paul became the first and only Minnesota team to win an ISC World Tournament title. Photo / Courtesy ISC Guide Bood

Staff writer / Long Beach Press-Telegram
Aug. 1976

LONG BEACH, Calif. – A year ago Darwin Tolzin was the pride of the Lakewood Jets’ pitching staff and on his way to stardom.

His all-American (All-World) recognition came early Monday morning, but in an ironic turn of events. The Jets were the victims.

At the close of last season, the 35-year-old right-hander was transferred to Minnesota by the National Weather Service. He had to accept the move or lose a promotion.

Just coming of age as a pitcher – he started when he was 29 – Tolzin hooked up with St. Paul and was the No. 2 pitcher when the team qualified to play in the International Softball Congress World Tournament at Blair Field in Long Beach.

No. 2 became No. 1 Sunday night and Monday morning as Tolzin shut out his former teammates in a doubleheader to give St. Paul its first-ever ISC title, achieved the hard way by winning four games in a 24-hour span.

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A Step Back In Time: Remembering Minneapolis pitcher Paul Moreen

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

PAUL MOREEN was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 1962 Minneapolis Classic Fastpitch Softball League. He pitched Cloggy’s to the title.

MINNEAPOLIS – From the 1950s through 1960s, pitcher Paul Moreen was one of the dominate hurlers in Minneapolis and St. Paul men’s fastpitch.

Pitching for Cloggy’s, Moreen was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 1962 Classic Fastpitch Softball League. Leroy Hardeman, sporting a robust .357 batting average, won the batting title.

Moreen, along with Chuck Hays, Joe Perzel and Wayne Erickson were dominate pitchers in Minnesota during that era, often leading their teams to city, state and regional championships.


Paul Moreen, MVP
Joe Perzel
Wayne Erickson

Lou White
Joe Frisco

John Slopek, first base
Ron Pearson, second base
Leroy Harden, third base, batting champion
Darryl Crossman, shortstop
Laurie Balzer, utility infielder

Dick Cullen, centerfield
Dave Spencer, left field
Al Knaus, right field
Ernie Dickson, utility outfielder

Mike Solz

Salute to Ostrander Fastpitch, one of the lone survivors of Minnesota men’s fastpitch

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

MARK MOHAR of Ostrander Fastpitch pitching in the 2014 North American Fastpitch Association World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO

OSTRANDER, Minn.- While hundreds of men’s fastpitch teams have disappeared, little Ostrander, Minnesota (pop. 256) keeps churning out a ball club year-after-year, at least 51 years.

Newspaper records show Ostrander played in the 1965 ASA Class A State Tournament.

  • And on April 7-9, Ostrander will be playing in the 10th Annual 2017 Las Vegas Road Trip.
  • How many teams are still playing today besides Ostrander from this Minneapolis Star clipping of state tournament scores dated Sunday, Sept. 4, 1966? You tell me.

      1965 ASA Class A

    Ostrander 4, Elk River 2
    Osseo 7, Elenco 0
    Hutchinson 4, Harris 2
    Silver Lake 7, Conger 6
    Wakefield 14, Alexandria 3
    Mid-Central 7, Cerro Gordo 0
    Chisholm 2, Lucan 0
    Grand Rapids 5, St. James 3
    Aurora-Hoyt Lakes 8, Worthington 0
    Canby 2, Silver Bay 1
    Lake Lillian 9, Waconia 7
    Swakopee 3, Missota 2
    Ostrander 8, Silver Lake 2
    Osseo 9, Lake Benton 0
    Hutchinson 5, Lakefield 3

      1965 ASA Class AA (Major-Open)

    Scandia 4, Columbia Heights 0
    Faribault 4, Robbinsdale 2 (10 innings)
    Coon Rapids 6, Red Wing 0
    Willmar 1, Rochester 0
    Winona 12, Albert Lea 0
    Virginia 2, Mankato 1
    Owatonna 5, New Ulm 2
    Rural Ramsey 15, West Hennepin 4
    Scandia 4, Austin 3 (8innings)
    Faribault 3, Hibbing 2
    Duluth 6, Coon Rapids 0

    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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    A Step Back In Time: St. Paul Stroh’s Gatsby’s Tournament features life in the fast land

    Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

    BOB MOORE, left, and TOM RUBBELKE of the 1987 St. Paul Stroh’s Gatsby’s team as they prepare for the Stroh’s Gatsby’s Invitational, organized by manager Jim Rubbelke. Several of the nation’s top-ten ranked teams participated including Penn Corp, Sioux City, Iowa; Farm Tavern, Madison, Wisc.; Teleconnect, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and All-Car, Antigo, Wisc.

    By Perry Coonce / Minnesota Sports Federation State Commissioner
    Minneapolis Star Tribune
    Aug. 2, 1987

    ST. PAUL, Minn. – World class fastpitch talent will be on display today at St. Paul’s Dunning Complex for the Stroh’s Gatsby’s Invitational.

    The quantity of men’s fastpitch teams in Minnesota has diminished in recent years, but the quality hasn’t, according to tournament organizer Jim Rubbelke.

    “We have some of the finest players in the world in Minnesota and are only hurt by the lack of pitchers, and the fact that very few are being developed,” said Rubbelke.

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    A Step Back In Time: Scandia honors local Fastpitch Hall of Famer Wayne Erickson

    Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

    SOFTBALL CHAMPS – Scandia, Minn. defeated River Falls, Wisc. 8-6, in nine innings Sunday night, July 24, 1967, at Eau Claire’s Carson Park to win the first Open Softball Tournament. Members of the championship team were front row, left to right: Choc Junker, Tom Thompson, Barney Barnholdt, Jim Lindberg, Wayne Erickson and Joe Junker. Back row, George Lindgren, Dean Carlson, Dennis Lofboom, Greg Benson, Phil Anderson, Manager Don Seguin, and Dan Jacobson. Staff Photo / Eau Claire Leader

    SCANDIA, Minn. – For the thousands of batters who faced Wayne Erickson, it was most-often a frustrating and fruitless endeavor. But his teammates? They loved him. After all Erickson was a huge factor in helping Scandia win four state men’s fastpitch championships.

    And for Erickson’s great exploits for Scandia fastpitch, the city renamed its softball field (simply called “Scandia lighted ball field”) to Wayne Erickson Memorial Ball Park, in 2011.

    Erickson is the only Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame (1984) member to come from Scandia.

    In his youth, Erickson played baseball, but at age 16 he began pitching fastpitch for Scandia, and continued throwing for his hometown team for the next twenty years.


    Those attending the dedication remembered Wayne for his perfection of the art of pitching that helped take the Scandia team to four ASA Class A state championships in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968.

    “I’m one of four ball players from Scandia that got to play with and against Wayne Erickson in his prime,” Doniver Ahlm said. “Before playing with Wayne I played against him. I had the opportunity to strike out against every type of pitch he threw.”

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    A Step Back In Time: Titles Easier Than Sponsors for Otto’s Liquor

    Friday, January 20th, 2017

    JERRY FANGMANN of Otto’s Bar (1966) delivers a pitch in city fastpitch league action. Fangmann has been with the team during the championship run and has already thrown a no-hitter. Staff Photo / Minneapolis Star

    Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
    July 23, 1966

    MINNEAPOLIS – The record will show that for the past four years a different entry has won the Minneapolis Park Board Fastpitch softball championship.

    A different entry, yes. But a different team, no.

    The team, currently playing under the name of Otto’s, has held a monopoly on city fastpitch honors since 1962. Since that year they have triumphed 162 times, lost 20, for a winning percentage of 9-of-10.

    With sponsor, however, they haven’t even batted .500.

    “Since 1962,” says the team’s shortstop Laurie Balzer, “we’ve had three sponsors and played more-or-less on our own the other two years.”

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    Bouley and Davis learning fastpitch the New Zealand way

    Thursday, January 19th, 2017

    TYLER BOULEY, left, and YUSEF DAVIS are playing fastpitch in New Zealand with the goal to improve their games for the upcoming 2017 North American fastpitch season. Courtesy Photo

    NEW ZEALAND – It’s the off season for North American fastpitch and for most players, they’ve switched uniforms for a winter sport like basketball or hockey. Or they’re pumping iron at a fitness center muscling-up for the coming season.

    Hitting, pitching, fielding? Not for a few months yet.

    But not so for Yusef Davis and Tyler Bouley. These two young and budding stars – Davis, 22, and Bouley, 21 – shunned taking the winter off and instead boarded a plane for New Zealand.

    All with the purpose of improving and pushing themselves to reach new heights in the sport they profess to love. As the saying goes, “to be the best you can be.”

    Fastpitch is a pitcher’s game. Talented ones typically dominate hitters. So where better to improve one’s hitting than in pitching-rich New Zealand.


    Bouley got a good feel for just how good these Kiwi hurlers are almost as soon as he landed.

    “It has really helped my game because you don’t have to travel to (face) a quality pitcher,” said Bouley, who plays for Northcote Softball Club. “Every premiere team has a pitcher that either has competed at the (International Softball Congress World Tournament) or is capable of competing at the ISC. Two of the best I’ve faced so far are Bailey Hoani and Josh Pettett.”

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