Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League Hosts Reunion To Remember The Good Times

Written by Bob on January 27th, 2019

PAUL HARRINGTON, who coaches the Farmington High School girls’ softball team and directed the men’s city league, shows former Farmington High school pitcher Ashley Betzold how to throw the rise ball. Ashley’s father, Daren Betzold, was a top pitcher in the Farmington league for 25 years (1976 – 2001). Contributed photo.

FARMINGTON, Minn. – For 54 years (1958-2011) men’s fastpitch softball was played in Farmington. The list of teams and sponsors, players, managers and umpires would as the saying goes, “stretch for an arm’s length.”

Though the historic Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League and Bobber Men’s Fastpitch Tournament are no more, that doesn’t mean they’re forgotten. And on Aug. 26, a reunion will be held to reminisce about those great times at the Castle Rock & Roll Bar & Grill in Castle Rock.

Of those 54 years, Paul Harrington directed the Farmington league 37 years (1975-2011). He was just 19 when he took the reins after the league director suddenly resigned in the middle of the season.

The league and tournament evolved over the years to become two of the strongest entities in Minnesota fastpitch history.

League teams claimed state championships in 1992 and ’99, along with Castle Rock and Morelli’s of St. Paul who are believed to have also won titles, while playing the league season in Farmington.

“Breaking the door down and winning a state championship in 1992 is a big memory for me,” said Harrington. “But knowing our league teams were always in the mix afterwards with other state championships and high finishes, and giving our league respect and recognition was very fulfilling as a league director.”

As for Harrington’s reminiscing, he remembers the Kath Brothers team from the Owatonna area as a huge rival at invitational tournaments.

“The Kath Brothers came to our Bobber Tourney several times,” said Harrington. “I remember in the St. Charles tourney in the early 1980s, we finished the championship game against them at 2 a.m. on a Monday morning all over a $40 dispute. It really was “Midnight Madness!” (On a sad note, Harrington said that Jeff Kath passed away January, 2018.)

Harrington, a Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame member (2012), said the Aug. 26 reunion will also include a “legends / old timers” game if enough interest is shown. If so, the game will be played in Farmington at noon. Then at 2 p.m., the party moves to the Castle Rock & Roll in Castle Rock, a small village located seven miles south of Farmington.

The Castle Rock team has been sponsored by the bar (and its various owners) for over 50 years and is still fielding a team, led by manager Ken Schonning. Former league players interested in playing in the Legends / Old Timers game, please contact Schonning at 651-755-1021.

“We are hoping for a big turnout,” said Harrington. “There was over 50 years of home runs, errors, strikeouts, beers, bad calls, arguments and stories. So we have a lot of history to talk about and celebrate. We want (attendees) to bring pictures and memorabilia they may have.”

    2005 Farmington League Photos / By BOB OTTO

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