Remembering Mike Solz, Minnesota men’s fastpitch icon

Written by Bob on February 27th, 2019

MIKE SOLZ manages Danny’s Northeast men’s fastpitch team and he’s also the president of the Park Classic Men’s Fastpitch League. Minneapolis Star Photo by Russell Bull / July 17, 1965

By JOE HENNESSY
Minneapolis Star Staff Writer

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Being a manager of a team in the league of which he is president doesn’t seem unusual at all to a veteran of 35 years of Minneapolis men’s fastpitch softball.

Saluted by the Minneapolis Star today, MIKE SOLZ is manager of Danny’s Northeast team and president of the Park Classic Men’s Fastpitch League.

And for good reason.

“At a meeting last spring with Park Board officials, I agreed to the job to help keep the league going and even try to expand it at fields in south and northeast Minneapolis,” said Solz.

Of about 500 softball teams in Minneapolis, 88 per cent of them are in the slowpitch category, the rest in Solz’ type of league.

EINAR NELSON, Park Board softball director, said the slowpitch game has been growing by leaps and bounds over the nation. Fastpitch has been declining.

Basic difference is that fastpitch is played with nine men, instead of ten, and a different and hard to master pitching style is used.

“The slowpitch is just tossed in to the batter with premium on batting and fielding,” Nelson said.

But Solz isn’t one to surrender the future of the faster-paced game to the slower brand.

“We were not going to give up the ship on fastpitch softball,” Solz said. “We have a lot of younger players coming in now. CHARLEY HAYS is our pitcher and he’s a veteran of a dozen years, but there are a lot of players under 30.”

The Solz family was credited by Nelson as being largely responsible for keeping the fastpitch game alive.

My brother Art and I started playing when the late CHET ROAN first organized the sport at Logan Park. That became the real hotbed of the sport in Minneapolis,” Solz said. “My younger brothers Don and Rog, also played. They still help me coach the Northeast team and Art is umpire in chief in this area. My son, Mike, Jr., is still playing for me and Eddie did until he left for the service.”

Solz played until eight years ago, but has concentrated on managing since.

“When I got past 40, I started getting too much kidding,” he said.

Being president of the league and with a brother as chief-of-umpires has nothing to do with his confidence about winning another champioship to add to a string of past penants.

“We’ll just do that on our merit,” he said.

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