Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame missing some great players

Written by Bob on October 9th, 2014

Jolstad.Leroy.3web The great LeRoy Jolstad was inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame in 2008.

YUCAIPA, Calif. – I searched three times and still couldn’t find Walt Nelson or Tom Niederkorn’s name anywhere on the hallowed list.

A list that includes some of the greatest men’s players and contributors in the history of Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball.

The Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame.

The 2014 Hall of Fame induction takes place Nov. 1 at the Rochester International Event Center.

But Nelson’s accomplishments in the pitching circle, or Niederkorn’s greatness in the field won’t be recognized at the event. To me, that’s a shame.

This right-handed pitcher led Loesch’s Bar of Hastings to the 1965 ASA Class A state championship. He was Loesch’s mainstay and one of the state’s greatest Class A pitchers of the 1950s and ‘60s. And catching him in many of his greatest games was Niederkorn. And when he wasn’t catching, you could put him anywhere in the infield or outfield and he would shine there as well.

“Walt Nelson and Loesch’s were really rolling back then,” said Dick Taylor of Farmington, who played and managed against Loesch’s and is a Minnesota Hall of Fame member. “They were big in (ASA) Class A for a long time. It was tough to get by them in the state tournament. Walt had that great down ball that he’d throw in the dirt that was hard to lay off.”

The 2014 Hall of Fame class numbers 20.

I’ve seen and played against a few of the outstanding pitchers on this list: Dave Bakke, Ron Bergstrom, Bruce Blank, Ken Hagen and Gary Watland.

All of them were tough pitchers back in the 1960s through the late 80s, early 90s. Congratulations guys. You are very deserving to be included with such all-time greats as (1988) Al DeWall, (’87) Dutch Elbers, (2010) Dick Bjur, (’84) Wayne Erickson, (’12) Dick Hudson, (’04) Marlin Johnson, (’01) Charlie Engler, (’82) Johnny Vollmer, (’08) LeRoy Jolstad, (’96) Dale Root, (’04) Jeff Nessler…

But if you chuckers ever matched risers, drops and change-ups with Nelson, surely you would agree: “Why has Nellie not been inducted into the Hall of Fame?”

And while I’m on my high horse, I’m going to include a few others worthy of consideration.

What about Jerry Flanagan, Billy Menke, Trevor Nau, Jay Ness, and Dan Nessler?

Those five from Mankato, Fairmont and St. James were as talented as most of the top ball players in the entire country – let alone Minnesota. All five played at the ASA Class A, ASA Open and ISC level. Maybe my old eyes missed them on the Hall of Fame list (1982-2012), but I couldn’t find them.

And there’s also Bob Thurmes, Bob Chicos, Randy Walker, and Craig Brown.

All great pitchers who won prestigious tournaments and leagues, state and regional championships, and / or played at the national level.

Brown pitched for St. James and Mankato’s great teams of the 1970s-’80s against such national powerhouses as St. Paul All-American Bar, Aurora Home Savings and the Clearwater, Florida Bombers – and he beat them all at one time or another.

And he hasn’t been inducted?

I realize the Hall of Fame selection committee has a difficult task of selecting the cream of the crop. But come on. The players I have mentioned just can’t be overlooked. They are as deserving as any in the 2014 class.

And many of you Minnesota fastpitch fans probably agree.

It’s too late to start an induction campaign for this go around that occurs every two years.

But you Minnesotan’s that agree with me should consider nominating one or more of the players I’ve mentioned.

Starting with Walt Nelson and Tom Niederkorn.

Minn. Softball Hall of Fame Nomination Form

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. ROBERT THURMES says:

    WALT NELSON WAS A GREAT PITCHER IN MINNESOTA . I PITCHED WITH WALT AT THE END OF HIS CAREER BUT WATCHED EVERY GAME HE THREW . BEATING WHITAKER BUICK , 7UP , PETER’S MEATS ,ETC. HE REALLY DESERVES THIS HONOR. THERE ARE ALOT OF FORMER team pkayers I THINK WOULD BE DESERVING OF THIS HONOR LIKEDAVE AND DON AMY TOM SAWNSON , TOM ‘ weed “NIEAKORN sure the spelling not right on that. I looked up to walt and he gave me a chance to pitch along side of him at a very young age. go WALT NELSON TO THE SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME !

  2. Bob says:

    Hi Bob, great input. I remember Niederkorn, and believe I also played against the Swansons. Played in Red Wing, if I remember right.

  3. BOB THURMES says:

    TOM “WEED” NIEDERKORN PLAYED ON LOESCH TEAM FOR YEARS ALSO WENT WITH WITAKER BUICK AT THE END. HE COULD DO IT ALL JUST A TWIN TO DANNY OCONNOR WHO HE PLAYED WITH.WENT TO NATIONAL TOURNAMENT IN FLORIDA WITH WHITAKER. GREAT PLAYER JUST LIKE WALT NELSON

  4. Bob says:

    I pitched against him while he was playing for Loesch’s. I also heard that he did some pitching, but never saw him pitch. I also remember my catcher, Larry Erickson, on the R&R Bar team of Hampton telling me to be pitch him very carefully. I consider myself fortunate to have played in the era of the 1960s to 90s.

Leave a Comment