Premiere men’s fastpitch leads to Boys of Summer tournament in Denmark, Wisc.

Written by Bob on May 6th, 2014

whitten.sean.1web Canadian pitcher Sean Whitten of the New York Gremlins will be one of the top pitchers in the 2014 Boys of Summer tournament in Denmark, Wisc., July 11-13. Photo By BOB OTTO

“Last year was the first time the Gremlins attended the Boys Of Summer and we loved the atmosphere and fans at Circle Tap.” – New York Gremlins Field Manager Gregg Leather.

DENMARK, Wisc. – In 1967, John Miller bought the Circle Tap Bar in Denmark, Wisc. An avid fastpitch player, Miller decided to build a ball diamond next to the bar. Because as he said in a previous interview, “the only way I could get on a team was to build a ball diamond at Circle Tap.”

Miller said this partly in jest. But truth told, by building that ball diamond, Miller set into motion one of the most prestigious men’s fastpitch locations in all of North America.

Over the years, many of the best teams in the sport have traveled to Denmark (Pop. 2,100, and located about 20 miles south of Green Bay) to play at Circle Tap and on its ball field, now graced as “John Miller Field.”

    TOURNAMENT HOT SPOT

So Miller had his bar. He had his ball field. What else to do? Bring in the teams.

With the help of his good friend Don Kane, Miller (2012 ISC Hall of Fame member) started hosting tournaments in 1970 known as the Knights of Columbus. It had a great run for nearly 20 years, then disappeared briefly, and in 2001, reemerged as the Boys of Summer.

Now in its 14th year, the Boys of Summer tournament has become one of the most recognized and most competitive in North America.

    DERRICKS CONTINUES CIRCLE TAP TRADITION

And as with Miller and Kane’s commitment to the sport, another man stepped forward to perpetuate their efforts: Darren Derricks.

A former player, who later became a sponsor, Derricks bought the Circle Tap Bar from Miller in the mid-1980s. Top teams came under his and Miller’s sponsorship – most notably the Denmark Dukes and the Circle Tap Dukes, with the Circle Tap team still active.

And since 2001, Derricks along with Dean Kane, nephew of the late Don Kane, along with committed volunteers, has continued hosting the Boys of Summer.

“Darren has been going strong for 20 years and he is hungry to keep this great sport going,” said Chad Huebner, field manager of the Circle Tap Dukes.

    WHO’S WHO OF GREAT TEAMS

Many of the sports greatest teams have played in the tournament. With many going on to win ISC World Tournaments, ASA national championships, and NAFA World Series.

“Darren resurrected it in 2001,” said Dean Kane, who also serves as general manager of Circle Tap. “We reached sixteen teams in the mid-2000s, all ranked in the top 25 (ISC rankings).”

Some of those teams include a few of Wisconsin’s all-time greatest: such as the Green Bay All-Car Roadrunners (1994 ISC champions), County Materials of Marathon (2005 and 2006 ISC champs), and the Farm Tavern of Madison that won the ISC World Tournament in 1997, 1999 and 2007.

But other top-ranked clubs have come from every direction on the globe, including Broken Bow (Neb.), Broken Bow Patsy’s (Neb.), The Bar, Minnesota Angels, 51 Classics, Eau Claire Merchants, Saskatoon Diamondbacks.

    2014 CLASS TOP SHELF

And this year on July 11-13, ten top teams will once again make the Boys of Summer tournament of premiere class.

“I think it will be even competition,” says Kane of a formidable field including:

  • Sooke Loggers of BC, Canada
  • Kegel Black Knights and West Fargo Knights of North Dakota
  • Dolan & Murphy Shamrocks and Bloomington Stix from Illinois
  • Great Lakes Mariners of Marshall, Mich.
  • Wisconsin’s Bar Buzz and Circle Tap Dukes
  • Topeka Toros, Topeka, Kansas
  • New York Gremlins
    • DEFENDING GREMLINS RETURN

    The New York Gremlins return for a second time as the defending champions, and also finished fourth in the 2013 ISC World Tournament.

    “Last year was the first time the Gremlins attended the Boys Of Summer and we loved the atmosphere and fans at Circle Tap,” said field manager Gregg Leather. “Most of our players had been there before, but it was a first for me personally, and I knew we would be back.

    “We play most of our season on the east coast or Ontario, so it is a nice change to play at the Boys of Summer and see teams we usually run into at the ASA nationals of the ISC World Tournament,” Leather continued.

      TOUGH RETURNING TOROS

    The Topeka Toros played in the 2013 tournament, finishing fifth. The Toros return, said Manager Josh White, with a competitive club including pitchers, Ben Watts, 20, and veteran Tony Buckley, both New Zealand natives.

    “This tournament is definitely one of the strongest, if not the strongest we will attend in 2014,” White said. “For us to compete, we will need to throw strikes and play error free defense. And on offense, put balls in play and use our team speed to move runners, take extra bases, and try to wreak havoc on the opposition’s defense.”

      WHITTEN, KIRKPATRICK AND MORE

    The teams are great. The pitchers are of high profile, such as Gremlins’ Sean Whitten of Canada and Australian Andrew Kirkpatrick. Walloping the pitch offerings include New Zealanders Rhys Casley, Tyson Byrne, Wayne Laulu, also wearing the Gremlins’ colors.

    And many more of equal talent fill the lineups of the other clubs.

    “Sooke and Kegel are very strong ISC teams,” Kane said. “The Toros had a good season last year and the Mariners are a very strong all-American (all U.S. players) team.”

      FASTPITCH FAN FAVORITE

    So, with such a cast of teams and talent, it’s little wonder that fans turnout in big numbers.

    “The fans not only pack the place coming from Denmark and the Green Bay area, but from all parts of Wisconsin,” Huebner said. “They thirst for guys pitching hard; hitters raking the ball, and fielders making plays with their gloves where triples go to die.”

    Kane adds that T.V. stations along with the Green Bay Press Gazette have been supportive in promoting the tournament, which goes a long way to filling the stands come championship game time.

    “We always have very strong crowds and the finals is standing room only,” he said.

    2 Comments so far ↓

    1. matt chambers says:

      with tony buckley in the 4 hole…the toros could be a sleeper…

    2. Jerry "Chips" Davidsavor says:

      Looking forward to watching the great players and teams compete in this years’ tourney! See you there!
      Long Live Men’s Fast Pitch!

    Leave a Comment