The Stuhrs, a brotherly band of Wisconsin fastpitch stars

Written by Bob on July 3rd, 2013

HOLMEN, WI – In 1971 Bruce Stuhr laced up his spikes, grabbed his glove and trotted on to a fastpitch softball field. Little did he know that he had just paved a dusty path for his younger brothers to follow. Four younger Stuhrs have since trailed after their older brother.

After Bruce came David, then Larry and Allen, and finally Dan. They were a versatile bunch that could fill every spot on the field.

“Bruce and Larry played all six infield spots,” said Dan, 46, the youngest. “(And) I played all nine positions at one time or another.”

Dan added that Larry (2003) and Bruce (1997) were inducted into the Wisconsin ASA Hall of Fame. Bruce, 59, is retired, but in 1979 he was selected the ASA Great Lakes Regional Most Valuable Player for his .833 batting average (15-for-18), an honor he repeated in 1980.

Larry, 56, and still playing part time, has an abundance of accolades, too. An outstanding third baseman, he played on 11 state championship teams, and was an ASA All-American in Class A, Age 40-Over, and 45-Over. He hit 270 home runs with 1,300 RBIs, and twice was the Great Lakes ASA Class A Most Valuable Player.

“Larry was known for his clutch hitting and phenomenal defense,” Dan said. “He is regarded as probably the best defensive third baseman that most people ever saw.”

Over the years the brothers have played for several good Wisconsin ball clubs – Snappers and Freddie’s bars, Critzman Auto Body, Freddie’s and Millis Transfer, Weiner’s Bar …

And there were a few years when Larry, Allan, 52, and Dan played together for the 51 Classics of Portage in the late 1990s (in the ISC World Tournament), Dan said, adding that Allan was good with the glove, but could swing the bat, too.

“He was a feared hitter,” Dan said, “who hit for power and hit everything hard.”

The brothers have played for some of Wisconsin’s finest ball clubs, but one stands above the rest: Wilber Lime of Galesville. Bruce, Larry, Allan and Dan all have played for Wilber. But Dan, primarily a first baseman, is the lone remaining brother, and he’s enjoying a good year.

In the Rice Lake Invitational (June 14-16), he powered Wilber to the championship by hammering a seventh-inning home run that gave Wilber a 7-5 victory over the Rice Lake Orangemen; earning Dan the Most Valuable Player.

But he pushes aside the spotlight instead saying that Wilber Lime is a special team, sponsored by special people: The late Merna and Elmer Wilber (both NAFA Hall of Fame members), and their daughter Arlene, who sponsors the team since her parents passed away.

And there’s also a special manager: John “Sporty” Salsman, who was devoted to the team, its players and their families.

“He started it,” Dan said of the 92-year-old Salsman who was inducted into the Wisconsin ASA Hall of Fame in 1988, and the NAFA Hall of Fame in 2009. “Without him there is no Wilber softball team. Everyone who played for him and Elmer and Merna, and now their daughter Arlene loves them.”

Wilber Lime started in 1974, and over 250 ball players have worn the Wilber uniform. The ball club has an envious record, finishing in the top-10 in several NAFA and ASA national tournaments. Including winning a NAFA AA World Series championship in 2004, where Dan and Allan both made the All-World first team.

“Seeing Sporty smile all night after we won was priceless,” Dan said. “Being able to play with so many great players and great guys is something I’ll never forget.”

During those 34 years with Wilber, the Stuhr brothers have been penciled in the lineup. But now the younger generation has joined them. In 2006, 23-year-old Matt – Larry’s son, came aboard.

Much in the same mold as his dad, Matt pitches and plays practically anywhere. When he’s not in the circle, he’s in the outfield, or scooping up ground balls at third.

“He’s left-handed and very fast,” Dan said of his nephew, who is also a NAFA All-World selection, earning the honor after pitching Sand Prairie Construction (WI) to second place in the 2010 NAFA 23-Under Division World Series.

However, Matt isn’t the only Stuhr son following dad into the sport. David’s son, Shane, 28, has played, and Bruce’s son, Zack, 21, will most likely play after his football career at the University of Wisconsin River Falls is over, Dan said.

The Stuhr brothers have reaped much fastpitch success in their 43 years. They’ve won championships and collected individual honors, galore. But for Dan, all the titles and all the honors take backseat to what he treasurers most.

“My best memory for me is getting to play all those years with my brothers,” he said.

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. kevin says:

    Always know what you are going to get when you play Wilbur Lime. Good hitting, good fielding and a pitcher who can throw the ball well. Have played them many times and it is always a battle.

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