Setbacks can’t keep Lon Andersen off the fastpitch field

Written by Bob on August 8th, 2017

Long-time South Dakota fastpitch sponsor, manager and player will be inducted into the North America Fastpitch Association Hall of Fame during the NAFA World Series in Fargo, North Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, So. Dak. – It takes mental and physical toughness and a deep desire to continue pursuing a sporting passion when your body hurts and your doctor orders, “give it up.”

Lon Andersen has battled cancer that nearly claimed his life, he’s undergone two hip replacements, he was in a coma for four days. Yet despite these debilitating setbacks that would sideline those of a weaker constitution, Anderson stubbornly refuses to give up fastpitch softball.

“My doctor told me it’s time to quit,” said the 62-year-old Andersen. “I can’t play basketball anymore, but I’ve kept on playing fastpitch against his advice.”

GIFTED ATHLETE

Andersen grew up in a fastpitch family. His dad Leo and uncle played for teams in the Hurley area. When he was just six he started tagging along to league and tournament games.

Fastpitch quickly burst from ember to flame, but it wasn’t his only athletic passion. He also excelled in baseball, basketball and football, spurred on by his dad and mother Velma who both had a love for sports.

“My parents loved athletics and I would play every day with my cousin Greg Hansen,” Andersen said. “He was a great athlete and older than me. I really looked up to him. Every day my mother would drop me off at his farm when she went to work and we played baseball, basketball, football and fastpitch.”

FASTPITCH TOPS LIST

And though he scorched the net in hoops, starred on the gridiron in high school and college, and loved fastpitch’s first cousin baseball, when all was said and done, fastpitch took center stage.

He’s moved around the infield, playing catcher and shortstop, but has finally has settled in at first base in his twilight years.

Andersen’s skills caught the attention of Sioux Falls fastpitch icon, Cam Lind, who persuaded Andersen to move to Sioux Falls in 1982 and play a higher level of fastpitch.

“He got me into big-time ball and I got all jacked up about the game,” Andersen said.

His fastpitch journey led him to the Sioux Falls Sox, helping the ball club win the NAFA World Series AA Division in 2007. And before that, he was named to the 1997 AAA All-World team, followed in 1999 by first-team All-World honors in the A Division. In the 1990s, he also played for the state’s powerful Sioux Falls Chiefs.

STARTS HIS OWN BALL CLUB

But during that time, he had a yearning to build his own ball club. In 2000, Andersen started Scarlett’s Fastpitch. He pretty much does it all, sponsoring, managing and playing. Five years later he was rewarded with the NAFA A-Major Division crown.

“When we won the A-Major that was so satisfying after getting so close before,” he said. “We had such a bunch of great guys that I played with for so many years.”

HALL OF FAME ENSHRINEMENT

For his many years playing, sponsoring and managing, and bringing his ball clubs to NAFA World Series, Andersen will receive the highest honor the game can offer back – NAFA Hall of Fame membership.

Andersen will be enshrined during the 2017 NAFA World Series in Fargo on Thursday, August 17.

“I am just thrilled,” he said. “It’s such a great honor to be selected to the NAFA Hall of Fame. I was blown away when I was told. I feel very grateful for this honor.”

Andersen says it wouldn’t be possible without his teammates that helped his ball clubs win championships, or finish among the top teams in NAFA World Series play. Many of them will be on hand when he receives his Hall of Fame plaque and jacket. Including his long-time friend and teammate Mike Timmerman.

“This honor is so well deserved,” Timmerman said. “In Sioux Falls he’s one of those responsible for keeping fastpitch going. As an athlete, he was at the top of the list in his day. He’s well respected and a great representative for South Dakota going into the Hall of Fame.”

NAFA Hall of Fame pitcher Rick Lang is another long-time teammate who will welcome Andersen in the hallowed Hall.

Lang recalls Andersen’s toughness: the time he took a vicious line drive shot off his shin bone while playing first base. And the time he broke his little finger playing basketball.

“He still has a scar from that line drive, and he’s still got that crooked ‘pinky’ from basketball,” Lang said. “He was one hell of an athlete, one hell of a basketball player even at his later age.”

As for Andersen’s Hall of Fame enshrinement, Lang said, “He was a great player, a great teammate who has a passion for the game in all phases as a player, manager and sponsor. He’s definitely deserving of this honor.”

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Cam Lind says:

    I saw Lon when he was just a kid playing for a pretty good Mitchell team, and he just kept ripping the ball whenever we played them. I told him you are as good as anybody we have, come on over to Sioux Falls and play for us.
    I feel he was a better hitter at 40 than he was at 25. I told him my secret theory on hitting, swing really hard everytime just in case you hit it.
    He NEVER failed to get in his hacks that is for sure. Congratulations LA, you are very deserving. Cam Lind

  2. Bob says:

    I have that problem with spell check too, Cam. But got it corrected. Thank you for your input, much appreciated.

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