The Farm Tavern’s Rod Peterson, he’s a good farmer

Written by Bob on September 14th, 2011

Rod Peterson, sponsor and manager of the Farm Tavern men’s fastpitch team.
By BOB OTTO / 1999 ISC World Tournament

MADISON, WI – Rod Peterson sponsored and managed the Farm Tavern men’s fastpitch softball team from 1975 to 2008. He didn’t saddle his ballplayers with a long list of rules – primarily just one: Be a team player.

Players who could abide by that simple rule received the ultimate compliment from Peterson, who farms 800 acres of corn and soybeans near Madison: that of, “he’s a good farmer.”

“If we had a bad apple, we got rid of him,” Peterson said. “Guys had to fit in. Our personalities all flowed together. We had quite a few players who were good farmers.”

Those good farmers won several national championships for Peterson. Including three International Softball Congress (ISC) World Tournament titles in 1997, ’99 and 2007.

From 1996 to 2008, The Farm finished among the top four in 12 of 13 ISC World Tournaments. Peterson’s Farm also won three Amateur Softball Association (ASA) national titles, along with six runner-up finishes.

For his contributions to the ISC, Peterson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. And in ceremonies later this year, he along with Brian Martie, a former Farm Tavern star, will be inducted into the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame.

For six years, Canadian pitcher Todd Martin toed the rubber for Peterson. He says he stayed with the Farm because of Peterson and the kind of man he is.

Todd Martin, left, and Colin Abbott were two of the finest players to wear the Farm Tavern uniform.

“Rod is one of my favorite people that I’ve ever met on this earth,” Martin said. “He has the biggest heart in the game. It’s because of Rod that I kept coming back. You wanted to win for him and not embarrass the uniform. He had a great bunch (of players). You had to fit the mold and be ‘farm material.’”

Todd Budke (2012 ISC Hall of Fame inductee) played several years for the Farm. He says Peterson was a fantastic sponsor, a player’s manager, and outstanding field leader.

“Rod expected you to be ready to play,” Budke said. “It was all about team. The Farm was a group of guys that got along and played well together. He put up with little nonsense. You wanted to play for him. A handshake was his word. He was the best.”

Peterson celebrates his birthday today (Sept. 14) but he wouldn’t reveal his age. Martin (chuckling) said in all his years with the Farm it was the one thing Peterson stayed mum about.

Let’s learn more about Peterson and the great legacy of the Farm Tavern.

Q: Your retired from fastpitch after the 2008 season. How’s that gone?
A: I had to stay away that first year. It’s much better this year than last. I miss it less now. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to give-up.

Q: I understand you had offers to stay in the game. Tell us about that.
A: I had calls to come and manage other teams, but I turned them all down. If I was going to manage, I might as well have kept my team.

Rod Peterson managing during 1999 ISC World Tournament

Q: Some great players have worn the Farm uniform. Who were some of the best?
A: Brian Martie was as good a clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen. The bigger the situation, the better he got. Brian didn’t get the recognition he deserved. He’s the most underrated ball player I had. He was one of the main reasons we won in ’97 (ISC World Tournament). He got big hits. He was an awesome hitter and typical farmer.

Q: Other farm material that stands out?
A: Martie rates right up there with (Todd) Budke, (Jody) Hennigar, (Colin) Abbott and Paul Rosebush. If Rosebush doesn’t get in the (ISC) Hall of Fame there’s no justice.

Brian Martie races to first base, trying to beat out an infield hit during the 1999 ISC World Tournament

Q: And pitchers?
A: Paul Algar in 1999 pitched us all the way to the title after Todd (Martin) was hurt with a groan injury. In ’97 Hennigar was a good pitcher – as good as anybody. And in 2007, Korrey Gareau was as good as any pitcher on the planet.

Korrey Gareau pitched the Farm Tavern to the 2007 ISC World Tournament title and was named the Outstanding Pitcher. He’s seen here pitching for Victoria in the 1997 ISC World Tournament in Victoria, BC.

Q: What about Wisconsin talent?
A: Lefty, Bob Moore could throw hard, had as good a change up as anybody, and he had good location. Moore kept himself in excellent condition and could pitch (game after game.) Ray Keller pitched for me from 1970 to ’75. He came to Madison from Rock Island (Illinois). He threw hard, had all the pitches and good location.

Q: You got your start in 1966. What was fastpitch like in Wisconsin in its heyday?
A: There were four or five big tournaments in Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison…now there’s nobody (open level teams) to play in Wisconsin. I was in the game at the right time.

The Farm pig is an iconic symbol of the great Farm Tavern team.

Q: And Madison, was it a hot spot for fastpitch?
A: Back in the 1970s there were over 400 teams in Madison. In the ‘70s we had an eight-team league, one of the best, and we’d get 1,800 people watching the games on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The games were covered by the local sportswriters and after the games, the players came into the bar every night except Friday when they left for tournaments.

Q: All those ISC and ASA championship trophies, are they displayed at your Farm Tavern bar?
A: No. I keep them at the house. I had some trophies stolen at the bar. I had blankets for the ISC ’97 and ’99 championships made up and hanging on the wall at the bar. They say, World Champions and the year with the Farm Tavern on top. People come in and always ask about them.

Q: What would you like to be remembered for in fastpitch?
A: That I always kept my word. If I told you I was going to play in Iceland, I’d be there. And that I never got tossed out of a game. If the umpire hollered, I shut right up.

A happy Rod Peterson being interviewed after winning the 1997 ISC World Tournament title.

Q: Happy birthday Rod. How old are you today?
A: After a long pause, he says, “66.” And if you believe that… (I can just hear Todd Martin laughing and saying, “I told you so.”)

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. ROY STOUT says:


  2. Larry "SARGE" Wendel says:

    Happy Birthday Rod, many years ago when you won the title in Sioux, City. We from the Quad Cities had shared a army helmet full of alchol with you at Wanda’s when she was located down by the old stock yards. Have a super birthday. If i am right i think that was the name of the bar, to old to remember that far back.

  3. Sparky Clark says:

    Great article about a great man. Congrats Rod.

    The Sioux City bar is called Rhonda’s. By the way, Rhonda is now running for a City Council seat.

    Sparky in Omaha

  4. Bob says:

    Thanks for clarifying and good luck to Rhonda for city council.

  5. Denny Fuller says:

    We had a team in Prairie du Chien Wis. Rod would come to Prairie tourneys and is a first class guy! Next time in Madison, I’ll stop at the Farm!

  6. Mike Piechnik says:

    After playing for Rod Peterson from 1985-1989, I can sincerely say I can agree with all the positive comments made regarding the man, and the sponsor he was. He put me on the softball map!! He taught me a lot of things in my time spent with him, things that still shape my decisions to this day. Working alongside him, at his house, farms,cottage or wherever I was able to glean a lot of wisdom from him, as well as his dad. ( I miss that guy) Best wishes always to you Rod for giving so much to so many:). Mike Piechnik

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