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Some of the greatest in Minnesota fastpitch history to receive the sport’s highest honor

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Meet the 2018 Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame class: Of these 19 slowpitch, modified and fastpitch inductees, 13 starred in the fastpitch game as either players, umpires, managers and coaches, promoters, sponsors, administrators, or in some cases, were involved in every facet of the game. Photo courtesy of Perry Coonce / Executive Director of the Minnesota Softball Federation

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. – Some like the late Walter Nelson were great fastpitch pitchers in leading their teams to state and regional championships. Others like Tom Niederkorn, Bill Olson and Dan Lee could belt the riser, drop and change-up as well as any hitter to ever step into the batter’s box.

And still others, made their mark in the sport in nearly every conceivable way possible. Including Jim Langowski and Jack Norman, who first excelled as players and then remained in the sport for years volunteering, managing, promoting and serving in any capacity needed in continuing the great legacy of Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball.

For the following 13 men, whose time in the game stretches as far back as six and seven decades, they will receive the highest honor possible in Minnesota softball lore: induction into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame during a ceremony banquet at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center, Nov. 2nd, under the direction of the Minnesota Sports Federation.

    Meet The Outstanding 2018 Hall of Fame Fastpitch Class
  • Wayne Dahl, player, from Dawson
  • Gary “Meatball” Holtz, player, Hutchinson
  • Dick Erickson, player, Dawson
  • Dan Huisman, player, Ellsworth
  • Charlie Johnson, umpire / meritorious service, Detroit Lakes & Hitterdahl
  • Jim Langowski, player, manager, promoter, meritorious service, Winona
  • Dan Lee, player, Dawson
  • Dick McNally, player, St. Charles & Ridgeway
  • *Walter Nelson, player, Hastings & St. Paul
  • Tom “Weed” Niederkorn, player, Hastings & St. Paul
  • Jack Norman, volunteer, organizer, meritorious service, Mankato & Lake Crystal
  • Bill Olson, player, Duluth
  • Jim Prestholdt, player, sponsor, manager, meritorious service, Dawson
  • Many superlatives were spoken about the inductees, including this accolade from Wayne Dahl and Ken Club, who led the nomination of Jim Prestholdt.

    “In his career as a pitcher, Jim won over 450 games,” said Dahl. “(He) was always organizing fastpitch leagues, teams and games at his own time and expense! He started a four-team league in Dawson (pop. 1,600). He would implore players to participate, and they would. Jim raised $20,000 in a week for a new concessions stand at Prestholdt Fields in Dawson…Jim also coached and mentored many developing players in the local league, particularly pitchers.”

    And this from Stan Knopick, who nominated Jim Langowski, who starred as a pitcher for 15 years in Minnesota and five in Northern California.

    “Jim was a great pitcher and fine hitter,” said Knopick. “But Jim was very active off the softball field also. He arranged tournaments, started the Winona Softball Association and was a manager for over 15 years in Minnesota and five in California. Jim organized tournaments, hired the umpires, took care of the media work, selected volunteers to help at games and tournaments, helped prepare the fields, and used his knowledge to mentor young softball players, both boys and girls.”

    And the tributes for the others are just as inspiring.

    Minnesota Fastpitch History: When the ‘World Championship’ came to Parade Stadium

    Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

    In the 1958 ASA Men’s Major Fastpitch National Championship at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis, TOM NICHOLS of Toledo, left, WILL BRADY, Miami, JOHN SPRING, Stratford, and ROY STEPHENSON, Long Island display their prowess as pitchers in the national championship. SPRING went on to pitch Stratford to the championship over Lake Charles, La. Minneapolis Tribune Photo By Paul Siegel

    Minneapolis hosted the ASA Men’s Major National Championships at Parade Stadium in 1954 and 1958. Here’s some brief information about the teams and players who made the 1958 championship special in the state’s fastpitch history.

    Cloquet upsets Farmington 2-1 on Three Hits
    By AUGIE KARCHER / Minneapolis Tribune Sports Writer
    Sep 16, 1958

    MINNEAPOLIS – Northwest Paper of Cloquet, Minnesota’s ASA Northern Regional champion, shocked favored Farmington, New Mexico, 2-1, in one of the tightest games of the day.

    BOBO JOHNSON set the Builders down on two hits, one of them a 250-foot home run by Gehrig Garrison in the first inning. The only other hit was in the sixth, but fine defensive work prevented what could have been the tying score.

    Cloquet didn’t get a man on base until the fourth, which LES SALO opened with an infield hit. He was sacrificed to second and scored on JIM ARNTSON’S single to left. Arntson took second on an error and scored on a blooper to center by Dave Holmes.

    Farmington…100 000 0—1 2 3
    Cloquet………..000 200 x—2 3 1
    Bill Lingle and M.T. Autry; Bobo Johnson and Herb Huard

    ***Cloquet was eventually eliminated by Stratford, Conn., 8-2, who went on to win the the championship over Lake Charles, La.***

    “JUNK’ NETS ONE-HITTER

    A drop pitch that “didn’t drop” cost CHUCK HAYS a no-hitter Tuesday when Minneapolis Soo Line nipped St. Louis 3-0 in the World Softball tournament. St. Louis shortstop Chuck Stiebel got the only hit – a sharp single to center in the fifth.

    “I threw a lot of junk,” said Hays, “never have been a really fast pitcher.”

    SOFTBALL WORLD TOURNAMENT FIRST-ROUND

    Houston, Texas, 2, Cairo, Ga., 0
    Stratford Conn., 2, Miami, Fla. 0
    Seattle, Wash., 8, San Gabriel, Calif., 2
    Long Island, N.Y., 3, Toledo, Ohio, 0
    Washington, D.C., 6, Casper, Wyo. 0
    Cloquet, Minn., 2, Farmington, N.M., 1
    Lake Charles, La., 1, Montreal, 0
    Aurora, Ill., 4, Clearwater, Fla., 0
    Air Force 6, Washington, D.C., 0
    Winnipeg 19, British Columbia 8

    TODAY’S SCHEDULE / WORLD SOFTBALL

      PARADE ONE

    Noon – San Gabriel (0-1) vs. Casper, Wyo. (0-1); 1:30 – Sacramento (0-1) vs Farmington, N.M. (0-1); 3 p.m. – Vancouver, Canada (0-1) vs. Washington D.C. (0-1); 7:30 p.m. – Houston (1-0) vs. Long Island (2-0); 9 p.m. – Stratford, Conn. (1-0) vs. Cloquet, Minn. (1-0).

      PARADE TWO

    Noon – Minneapolis Soo Line (0-1) vs. St. Louis (0-1); 1:30 p.m. – Toledo (0-1) vs. Miami, Fla. (0-1); 3 p.m. – Cairo, Ga. (1-1) vs. Montreal (0-1); 7:30 p.m. – Lake Charles (2-0) vs. U.S. Air Force (1-0); Aurora, Ill. (1-0) vs. Seattle (1-0)

    Sprucing up Pierce Field to revitalize Aurora fastpitch league

    Sunday, May 27th, 2018


    AURORA, Ill
    . – It’s old, it’s got an odd-ball configured outfield, and frankly, many a modern-era ball player would most likely prefer newer digs.

    But not Kyle Pittman.

    He has a fondness for 88-year-old Pierce Field in Aurora. Understandably so. The 27-year-old outfielder grew up learning the fastpitch softball game at Pierce. He’s played league games there since his introduction to the sport at 15.

    And he gets to pitch to his heart’s desire in the Pierce Field city league. Not so much with the open-level Dolan & Murphy Shamrocks traveling squad where he primarily patrols the outfield.

    But he does admit that Pierce has its peculiarities. Most notably, an outfield fence that starts out normal enough at 245-feet in left-field, but then begins angling out to 261’ in dead center, before cutting sharply back in to 196’ in right.

    Odd dimensions, certainly, but none-the-less, Pittman loves the old park with its aging wooden bleachers behind home plate; and being tucked snugly in a residential and industrial area of Aurora only adds to its homeyness.

    “Just about every ballpark you play in now everywhere is in a ‘cookie-cuter’ style complex with three to four fields,” said Pittman. “While those places are nice, I love being able to play in this old park a couple times a week.”

    Click to continue reading “Sprucing up Pierce Field to revitalize Aurora fastpitch league”

    Tony Aresco earns NAFA Hall of Fame honor

    Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

    Father Tony Aresco and son Anthony, 21, will bring a men’s team and an age 23-under team to the 2017 NAFA World Series in Fargo, No. Dak. Aug. 9-20. A highlight of the trip will be Tony Aresco’s induction into the NAFA Hall of Fame. Courtesy Photo By Tony Aresco

    STONEHAM, Mass. – Some give a little, some give a fair share, and a few give a lot to men’s fastpitch softball.

    And then there’s Tony Aresco. You’ve heard of the 110-percenters? Well, Tony leaves them in his dust.

    For over 30 years his contributions to the game – and to the North American Fastpitch Association in particular – are remarkable.

    Aresco of Stoneham, Massachusetts, plays, manages, sponsors, recruits, teaches, promotes…You get the idea: he’s a man of many hats, many talents.

    NAFA LOYAL, NAFA WINNER

    He’s been bringing teams to the NAFA World Series for 11 years. In that time, he’s won championships at nearly every level – Masters, 21-Under, and an assortment of other men’s divisional championships – six in all.

    With his Boston-area ball club, the Sea Dogs, Aresco has been selected Most Valuable Player once and All-World five teams, his most recent in the 2016 A World Series. This at the age of 51. As a catcher.

    No doubt he has earned the respect and the admiration of all who have ever played with or against him. And what he has accomplished with NAFA is now being rewarded.

    THE HALLOWED HALL

    Aresco will receive the highest honor the game can offer back – a beautiful plaque and jacket – and membership in one of the sport’s most exclusive clubs: The NAFA Hall of Fame.

    Aresco will be inducted during ceremonies in Fargo at the World Series.

    “It’s an unbelievable feeling to be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame,” said Aresco, who is also a Massachusetts ASA Hall of Famer. “There’s a lot of great players and managers in the Hall of Fame and now to be included with them is an amazing feeling. I attribute a lot of this to my players. Without them I wouldn’t get this recognition. They are reason we are successful.”

    Click to continue reading “Tony Aresco earns NAFA Hall of Fame honor”

    A Step Back In Time: Best Field Yet in 1960 ISC World Tournament

    Monday, July 24th, 2017

    Joe Rodgers was the founder, owner, manager and shortstop of the Long Beach Nitehawks. During his managerial tenure, he led the Nitehawks to seven ISC World Tournament championships. Rodgers also served as an ISC Vice President from 1952 to 1967. He was inducted into the ISC Hall o f Fame in 1970. But Rodgers’ impact was even deeper than that in Long Beach: He was actually the original owner of the land where the Nitehawks softball field (since named Joe Rodgers Stadium) was put together, and he donated it to the city to ensure kids would continue to have the opportunity to play the sport that he loved. Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram Photo, Aug. 27, 1960

    (Joe Rodgers’ column appeared Aug. 27, 1960 in the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram on the eve of the ISC World Tournament being held in Long Beach. The Nitehawks’ manager writes about his team, his players and the competition in the 21st ISC World Tournament.)

    By JOE RODGERS
    Manager, Long Beach Nitehawks
    Aug. 27, 1960

    LONG BEACH, Calif. – With the ISC World Softball Tournament starting tonight, (sports reporter) Hank Hollingworth graciously offered me the opportunity to write his column and devote it to my favorite sport – fastpitch softball.

    And any of my friends know there is very little else I really care about. Softball is a great game and we here in Long Beach see the finest softball in the world.

    It seems strange to me that people who have never seen softball say that they don’t like it because the pitchers are too good and there is not enough hitting. These same people I see at the Dodgers’ games saying they enjoy seeing a good pitching duel.

    Anyone who has ever seen my Nitehawks first baseman Larry Silvas, outfielder Lucky Humiston or Second baseman Cleo Goyette can never say we win by pitching alone. Those boys swing from the heels like the best baseball players.

    Click to continue reading “A Step Back In Time: Best Field Yet in 1960 ISC World Tournament”

    Minnesota Men’s Fastpitch Pitcher Classification List

    Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

    Kevin Kammueller of Eagle Pack was a workhorse in the 2016 International Softball Congress (ISC) Legends tourament pitching five games and finishing 4-1 to earn All-Tournament honors. Kammueller is rated a Class B pitcher for 2017 according to the Minnesota Sports Federation. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2016 ISC Legends Tournament

    SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Sports Federation rates men’s fastpitc pitchers according to their ability from D to B skill levels. The MSF has no pitchers rated at the Class A or Open level.

    Click to check out the Minnesota Fastpitch Pitcher Classification List

      MSF MEN’S FASTPITCH STATE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
  • Class B & D, Aug. 4-6, Coon Rapids, Minn.
  • Class C, Aug. 11-13, North Mankato, Minn.
  • Modified Pitch, Aug. 26-27, Hollywood / New Germany, Minn.
  • Hill United Chiefs perfect in Peter Hallman Memorial Tournament

    Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

    Justin Schofield (circa 2012), helped Hill United Chiefs win the Peter Hallman tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

    ST. CLEMENTS, ON, Canada – Check out the game-by-game results of the Peter Hallman Memorial Men’s Fastpitch Tournament provided by Gary Baughman and Al Doran of Al’s Fastball.

    TOURNAMENT SCORES AND STATISTICS

    Bowen (Ill) Fastpitch takes title at Black Gold Fastpitch Softball Classic

    Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

    Bowen Fastpitch manager Rocco Ramsey celebrates after his team pulled out a 7-6 walk-off win over Rude Pac of So. Calif. in the semifinals of the 2014 NAFA A-Division World Series Photo By BOB OTTO

    By MATT BENZ
    Black Gold Fastpitch

    NEW HAVEN, MO – For the third time in the last four years Black Gold finished second in their own men’s fastpitch softball tournament, held June 24-25 at New Haven City Park in New Haven, Missouri.

    Bowen Fastpitch of Bowen, Illinois was led by pitcher and leadoff hitter Julian Fernandez who pitched 19 scoreless innings to lead his ball club to the title.

    Click to continue reading “Bowen (Ill) Fastpitch takes title at Black Gold Fastpitch Softball Classic”

    Men’s fastpitch teams heading to San Francisco Bay Area for top-flight tournament

    Friday, June 16th, 2017

  • For more details, contact tournament committee members Fred Williams, Ricky Sivilla, and Marcus Tan.
  • Watch USA Men’s National Softball Team live At the Rodney Fox Memorial Tournament

    Friday, May 19th, 2017

    STEVENS, Penn. – The USA Softball national team is playing in the 12 Annual Rodney Fox Memorial Tournament, May 19-21.

  • Team USA kicks off the weekend against PA Power Saturday at 9 a.m. (ET).
  • Watch the action via live streaming at: Team USA Live

    TOURNAMENT CONTACT

    Justin Zimmerman
    717-271-8641
    jzimmerman16@yahoo.com