5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ferdi Nelissen says:

    Bob, great article, sometimes as a young player you don’t realize who you have played against. I was very fortunate as a young player to play against the James Gang twice. Both times in Fargo ND at the Holmes Classic which back then had no less than 24 teams with at least a dozen of then capable of winning it. In 1981 we lost to the James Gang and finished I believe 4th. I remember losing to a lefty that year with the Portage Dodgers, which I am now assuming was Craig Brown. As a young 21 year old I remember thinking why can’t we hit this guy. We had big 6’8″ Brian Pallister and it was a pitchers duel we lost 2-1. In 1983 I was playing for the Winnipeg Internationals and I was fortunate enough to play on a team that was capable of finishing top 4 at our Nationals. We had Cliff Bishop and Pallister toeing up and I was playing in the middle of a lineup with great players like Grant Skinner and Ron Gustafson. All 4 are Softball Manitoba Hall of Famers and two Softball Canada. As a young player in the middle of this lineup I remember playing the James Gang again at the Holmes Classic and squeaking out a 3-2 win I believe. This time we came out on top and went on to finish 2nd losing in the final to Penn Corp. Those tournaments made you better. I remember the James Gang having what I thought were great uniforms.Plus a catcher who always sprinted to cover first on every play with no one on base. If the ball went to the outfield they tried to go behind a runner rounding first. They were a fun team to play and watch. They were a team that made you better by playing them. Over the years I played the Mankato Teams much more as we started heading south to Penn Corp tournaments and I eventually played for the Minot A’s and we faced them quite a bit. As you mentioned in your article they also had great teams and pitching. Awesome Memories. I agree with Craig if only we could do it again, I am just glad I was able to do it in the hey day of the sport against players like Graig and teams like the James Gang and Mankato.

  2. Bob says:

    I remember him well, great battles against a great guy, true competitor – From Dennis Delorit, Facebook friend and 2014 ISC Hall of Fame member.

    Comment from Glen Moreland, a Facebook buddy:

    Great article Bob Otto…every young pitcher should read this….it shows the value of having a real good off speed pitch ….also shows how much you have to practisce it to develop a good one and have the confidence to use it….it captures the essence of what a pitcher should be, a competitor who keeps he team in every game and gives them a chance to win…….Nice that Craig could stay local and still develop such a fine reputation in fastball!…would have loved to watch him pitch.

  3. Tim says:

    You don’t see this anymore, man there were a lot of great pitchers and players back then. Now if I go to a tourney and I see one guy throw hard I wonder where he came from.

  4. Bob says:

    Agreed Tim. I’m usually wondering if he’s a Kiwi, Aussie or South American.

  5. Bob says:

    Great memory Ferdi, and yes that would have been Craig the lefty you faced. I always said if I had to pick a pitcher on guts alone to pitch the “big game,” he would be my choice. He was fearless, and if he didn’t get the start in the big game, he was wondering why. He never hid from a battle or was afraid of any team.

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