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

Written by Bob on 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.”

The team was first known as Cloggy’s but lost that sponsor after one season although they won the park board fastpitch title. In 1963 they were “The Unknowns”, again winning the crown. Title No. 3 came while the team was called the “Question Marks”).

And last year they found a benefactor in Brenner’s, but lost that sponsor after they won their fourth straight crown.

This season they played for a month without support before Balzer heard that Otto’s Liquor was interested in taking on a team.

“I was shocked to hear that someone was actually looking for a team to sponsor,” says Balzer.

Balzer believes that the difficulty in finding and keeping a sponsor lies with the development and popularity of slowpitch.

“Everyone plays that game nowadays,” says the former South high athlete who attended Augsburg for two years, playing football, basketball and baseball. “Slowpitch is a hitters’ game and that means plenty of action. Fastpitch is often – though not always – a pitcher’s game. Personally, I think it’s more of a challenge.”

Balzer and his teammates currently play in two fastpitch leagues – the park board’s and a new Twin City Metropolitan League, featuring teams from Minneapolis, St. Paul and Hastings.

Otto’s leads each loop with identical 7-1 records.

“I hope that we can hold onto both leads and win a couple more titles this year,” says Balzer. “But most of all I hope we can hold onto our sponsors.”

Wisconsin ASA Hall of Fame, 1991

  • Pitched from 1957 to 1988.
  • Appeared in 16 ASA Major Class Regionals from 1963-1978, three Major Class State tournaments, 10 Class A Regional and State tournaments.
  • Member of the 1988 ASA Class B State Champion Pitch’s Lounge.
  • Member of 1963 Cloggy’s, 1964 Questions Marks, 1965 Brenner’s Pub, 1966 American Trailer, 1967 Otto’s Liquors; all were Minneapolis, MN ASA Metro championship teams.
  • Won more than 900 games with 40 no-hitters and over 200 shutouts.
  • 3 Comments so far ↓

    1. Bill Gaines says:

      Did Jerry Fangman play for Columbia MO EARLY IN HIS Playing days?? If so I was his mgr

    2. Bill Gaines says:

      Did Jerry Fangman play for Columbia MO in early playing days?? If. So I was his mgr.

    3. Bob says:

      Hi Bill, I’ve been told that Jerry was originally from Missouri, and now may be living in Sun City, Arizona. He had a tremendous career culminating with induction into the Wisconsin Hall of Fame. He also pitched in Minnesota winning league, tournament championships, and finished his career with over 900 wins. Pretty fair chucker, I’d say. If I find his phone number, I’ll let you know.

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