Memories of 1970s Mankato State Men’s Intramural Fastpitch League

Written by Bob on July 12th, 2016

1998-StPaulHofF.1lr

1998 St. Paul Oldtimers Fastpitch Hall of Fame Inductees
Front row, from left, Gene Berglund, Jerry O’Connor Jr., George “Buzz” Connor, Jack Clemens, Kathleen Gallagher Schmidt. Back row, from left, Russell Hansen, Norm Thurmer, Whitey Schaffer, Randy Walker, Dan Gallagher and Pat Gallagher.

MANKATO, Minn. – In the fall of 1972, I enrolled at Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota (since changed to Minnesota State University).

I didn’t know at the time, but I was about to meet and compete against some of the best young fastpitch pitching talent in the state and upper midwest.

Starting their college educational journey with me at the time were Craig Brown, Bob Chicos, Dave Cummings and Randy Walker. We were all in our early 20s and very passionate about our chosen sport.

During the cold Winter months, we could all be found practicing our pitching in the MSU field house. In fact I met Brown on my first trip to the field house while jogging around the track.

I heard this “whap! whap!” of a softball pounding into a glove. I looked, and over in the far corner was Brown throwing to a catcher. And he could be found there day after day until it was warm enough to move outside.

I introduced myself and that chance meeting began a friendship that lasts today. We call each other at least once every three weeks to chat and share memories, of which many are about fastpitch. It usually begins, “do you remember…”

At the time, MSU had a competitive men’s intramural fastpitch league with talented fastpitch players from several states on the rosters.

“That was probably the best fastpitch league in the state,” said Brown, while we reminisced during one of our calls. “There were some good pitchers in that league. Dale Root (Minnesota and Iowa open-level pitcher) pitched in it when he was there.”

At the time, Randy Walker was a horse length ahead of us as a pitcher, in my opinion. He had a great rise ball and threw the ball very hard. And he hit the ball pretty well too.

Once when playing against each other in the intramural league, I threw Walker a rise ball eye-ball high. He swung from the heels and belted a home run that went 300 or so feet down the left-field line. One of the longest ever hit off me (And for sure, I’ve given up my share of home runs).

Walker, Brown, Chicos and I went on to win ISC, ASA and SCMAF state and regional championships in Minnesota and California. In fact, Walker pitched Morelli’s Fastpitch of St. Paul to the 2012 Minnesota Sports Federation, CLass C State Championship and he was 63 years old at the time. Amazing. In 1998, Walker was inducted into the St. Paul Fastpitch Hall of Fame.

When I look back on my fastpitch playing days, that intramural league was one of the really fun times, competing with and becoming friends with four of the best pitchers in Minnesota fastpitch history.

Thanks for the great times guys, thanks for the memories.

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