Talented speedster selected to NAFA Hall of Fame

Written by Bob on July 8th, 2013

“He has pinpoint accuracy with his slap bunts and has the speed to match. He has taught me to always be one play ahead of what is happening in the outfield.” – Lacey A’s Pat Sagdal on teammate Darin Michael, Hall of Fame inductee.

OLYMPIA, WA – In 1981, a 14-year-old boy raced on to a softball diamond as a fill-in for his dad’s fastpitch team. Now 33 years later, Darin Michael’s talent and speed have carried him to the highest of honors.

In August, Michael will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during the World Series in Des Moines, Iowa. He joins just 32 players who have been inducted since NAFA’s founding in 1993.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to the NAFA Hall of Fame,” said the 45-year-old Michael. “Fastpitch has been a way of life for me and I am truly blessed to still compete at the level I do.”

Michael plays the outfield and bats leadoff for the Lacey A’s (WA), a NAFA AA-Major ball club. Remember now, he’s 45. An age when most players are past their prime in running down and diving for line drives.

But time has treated Michael kindly. His skills have remained in tact, says his manager Pat Bucknell, who has known Michael most of his life. Bucknell cites Michael’s ability: a switch-hitting slapper who can also drive the ball from the right side; an outfielder with a strong arm.

But one skill stands out – speed.

“We played in this tournament in Yakima (WA) where Darin went 14-for-18 and the ball never got out of the infield,” Bucknell said, adding that Michael was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “Slapping and punching from the left side, they can’t get him out.

“When he was younger, he used to steal second base standing up. We would put the steal and bunt on, and if we got the bunt down, he would often score.”

And there’s Michael’s arm.

“He’s got a cannon for an arm that (base runners) don’t run on,” he said, adding that Michael also excelled in football, baseball and basketball. “At 6-foot-1, he could dunk the basketball with both hands.”

Looking back over his career, Michael has gathered some great memories. Making a tournament all-star team with his dad, Ken Michael, and playing his first full season, while his dad was playing his final season are special.

He also looks back on the 1993 season and one special game. Michael played for Seafirst of Seattle for that one season, and at the Perth Shootout (Canada), Seafirst faced a legendary pitcher.

“We defeated the Toronto Gators and Darren Zack,” he said. “Any time you come out on top facing Darren Zack in his prime is something to remember…”

Michael has a warehouse full of memories, and there’s surely more to come. He’s not thinking of retiring, but he did make one concession this season to someone younger and faster.

“Centerfield and leadoff batter has been my primary positions throughout my career,” he said. “But I reached a milestone this year, relinquishing my centerfield duties to teammate Pat Sagdal, who is the fastest man I have ever played ball with. This is the first time in my career that I have not been the fastest guy on my team.”

Sagdal appreciates the gesture, saying he has learned much from his veteran teammate, who has amazing precision in the left-side batter’s box.

“He has pinpoint accuracy with his slap bunts and has the speed to match,” said Sagdal. “He has taught me to always be one play ahead of what is happening in the outfield. At 45 years old, I can only hope to have a quarter of that speed. Darin is someone that I’ve aspired to mold my game after.

“I am so happy for Darin (being selected to the Hall of Fame). There isn’t a more deserving person and his stats would confirm that.”

The Lacey A’s are returning to the 2013 NAFA World Series in Des Moines. The A’s won the AA title last year and Michael was selected to the All-World team. His fourth such honor. And in 2002, Michael was selected to the NAFA AAA-Division “10-Year Anniversary Team.” One of only 15 players so honored.

But that’s not quite all.

Michael also helped the Seattle Cal-State Builders win the 2012 NAFA 40-Over Masters championship, while earning Masters’ All-World. His second such honor. Dave Carlton sponsors and manages the Builders. He lauds Michael’s speed, his prowess in centerfield, and when he steps into the left-side batters box – despite his age- he’s awfully tough to get out.

“Even over 40 years old he has the speed of a rookie,” Carlton said. “His slaps and bunts really make him an elite fastball player, especially in a time where more and more people seem to rely on the long ball. He is honestly one of the fastest men I have ever seen play. His induction to the NAFA Hall of Fame is well deserved.”

So his spot on the anniversary team and those six All-World honors earned Michael his special place in the Hall of Fame. Of which, Bucknell heartily agrees.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “Darin’s one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever been around.”

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. kevin says:

    Congratulations old man. About time…lol

  2. pat sagdal says:

    Congrats buddy….couldn’t happen to a better guy!

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