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Dutch Elbers helped drive St. Paul to fastpitch greatness

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Ben Maloney, left, Ed Mathias, and Dutch Elbers hold the 1963 ASA Northern Regional Tournament championship trophy.

(Sadly Dutch Elbers passed away on April 5, 2018. See obituary in which condolences and tributes are welcome)

Dutch Elbers served the International Softball Congress for over 20 years in several capacities, including the organization’s president. In 1988, he was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1995 ISC World Tournament

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Strong armed, with a lanky athletic build, Dries (Dutch) Elbers mostly likely could have stared at baseball, but fortunately for fastpitch softball, he never got the chance.

“My dad played baseball, but he steered me into softball,” said Elbers. “I have never played a game of baseball in my life.”

Elbers, who grew up in Steen in southwestern Minnesota, began playing fastpitch in the 4-H League in 1945 as a 15-year-old. It wasn’t long, though, that he graduated from the boys’ league into the Steen men’s league.

Steen might have been small in numbers with its 185 citizens, but they and the farm families surrounding the little village located 25 miles east of Sioux Falls, kept the six team-league healthy with numbers and talent.

“As kids, we wanted to get a uniform and play with the big boys,” Elbers said. Soon enough Elbers would be playing with the ‘big boys’ of fastpitch – worldwide.

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A Step Back In Time: John Ernster, Unknown to celebrity in 5 years

Monday, January 16th, 2017

GREEN TERRACE ASA ALL-AMERICANS, from left, pitcher John Ernster; third baseman Doug Sauer; catcher Loren Benz, and first baseman Dick Teubner.

Green Terrace of Winona became the first Minnesota team to play in the inaugural ASA Class A Men’s Fastpitch National Tournament in 1975, taking second place with an 8-2 record. In 1988, Stewart Taylor of Duluth won the national title followed by Happy Chef of Mankato in 1995.

By BRUCE CLOSWAY / Sports Writer
Winona Daily News
(originally printed Sept. 3, 1975)

WINONA, Minn. – If anyone is considering doing a biographical study of a sports personality from in or around Winona, John Ernster has certainly qualified himself as a worthy subject.

And if choosing an appropriate title becomes a problem, how about, “You’ve Come A Long Way, John,” or “From Obscurity to National Acclaim In Five-Short Years.”

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