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For the Olson’s and Duluth, a thriving time of men’s fastpitch

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

1988 ASA NATIONAL CHAMPION DULUTH STEWART TAYLOR PRINTING. Top from left: Dick Olson Manager, Jim Olson, Randy Hill, Mike Thomas, Brian Langeland, Corey Thomas, Paul Friesen, Brad Emanuel and Tom Olson. Bottom from left: Jerry Strange, Mike Morrissey, Bill Olson, Clay Kerr and Casey Frank. Team helper Mitch. Courtesy Photo

DULUTH, Minn. – Once upon a time a man could stand in the center of Minnesota and point to the east, west, north or south and as surely as the sun rises and sets, men’s fastpitch was being played in most cities and small towns of the state’s 87 counties.

That was the thriving times of the 1960s to 1980s.

Owatonna, St Paul, Minneapolis and Mankato? Booming. Winona and Rochester? Hot beds.

Scandia, Hastings, Red Wing, Lake Crystal, Wanamingo, St. James and Geneva? Teeming with teams, leagues and tournaments.

And up in the northern reaches of the state snuggled up to the western shore of Lake Superior, the game in Duluth was at its peak. That was back when Bill Olson started playing in 1973, barely a teenager.

“I started at 13 at Ordean Jr. High School,” said Olson, 56. “That was when they had fastpitch in the junior high schools. There were a lot of good teams in my era.”

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ASA/USA Men’s Softball Tournament Gives Players A Fair Shake

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016


“It was awesome, I was blown away by the youth of the pitchers. I believe we had 20 of the 28 pitchers below 30 years of age, and several under 25 including two 19 year olds, and 22 and 23 year olds. I’m really impressed…” – Denny Bruckert, USA Softball Men’s National Team Head Coach

OKLAHOMA CITY – Selecting players for the USA Softball Men’s National Team from the hundreds playing fastpitch from coast-to-coast, isn’t the easiest of tasks.

And a vital part of that task is making sure that talented athletes get a fair shot at being seen and evaluated.

National Team Head Coach Denny Bruckert and his coaching staff pondered this question: How, when and where could the organization gather together as many players as possible for an evaluation?

“The coaching staff, Gregg Leather, Greg Hicks, Nick McCurry and myself thought about how we could indentify and evaluate players,” said Bruckert, who was appointed USA national team head coach in 2013. “Warren Jones (ASA/USA Softball President) brought it up this year to get it going. This is the best idea I’ve been involved with.”

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Midland gearing up for ASA boys’ national championships and ISF World Championship

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015


MIDLAND, Mich. – Midland has long played host to championship tournaments in men and boys’ fastpitch softball. As recently as 2010 and 2012, Midland hosted the International Softball Congress (ISC) World Tournament.

And once again – led by the Midland Explorers Booster Club – the city will roll out the welcome mat, July 30 to Aug. 2, when three Amateur Softball Association (ASA) national championships will be held at Emerson Park for the boys, the young men’s age 23-under, and the Masters 40-older divisions.

“All the divisions promise to be very competitive,” said David Lach of the booster club, who also serves as the tournament director in a press release. “We wanted to provide ‘fastpitch dads’ an opportunity to spend a long weekend playing adjacent to their sons in a national championship.”

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Seattle Pay ‘N Pak men’s fastpitch softball reunion

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Courtesy of Jimmy Moore and Mark Crawford

  • What: Pay ‘N Pak softball
  • When: Saturday, July 25
  • Where: Tulalip Resort Casino, Tulalip, WA
  • Cost: $30 Per Person
  • The Seattle Pay ‘N Pak men’s fastpitch team is having a reunion, but the event is also open to players from other teams that Pay ‘N Pak competed against, said Jimmy Moore, who pitched for the team.

    “I am hoping to see friends from teams that played against us, whether local or not,” Moore said. “It would be great to see a carload or two of guys from Portland, Longview, Olympia, Yakima, Boise, Lynden, Mount Vernon, Victoria, Vancouver or Bremerton.”

    Moore adds that fans and family are also welcome. The banquet room at Tulalip Resort Casino can only hold about 100 people, so if you want to attend, please let Moore and Crawford know.


    Jimmy Moore
    Mark Crawford

    USA Men’s National Fastpitch Softball Team to compete in Pan Am qualifier in Argentina

    Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
    2014 United States men's national fast pitch softball team.

    2014 United States men’s national fast pitch softball team.

    PARANA, ARGENTINA – From Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, Nine of the best men’s fastpitch softball teams in the world will compete in the IX Pan American Games in Parana, Argentina. Team USA is among them and opens play on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. against Mexico.

    To follow Team USA’s results and stats, visit: USA Men’s fastpitch Softball Results


  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Mexico
  • Venezuela
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • Guatemala
  • Don’t miss Amigos sixth annual men’s fastpitch tournament

    Thursday, October 9th, 2014


    Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame missing some great players

    Thursday, October 9th, 2014

    Jolstad.Leroy.3web The great LeRoy Jolstad was inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame in 2008.

    YUCAIPA, Calif. – I searched three times and still couldn’t find Walt Nelson or Tom Niederkorn’s name anywhere on the hallowed list.

    A list that includes some of the greatest men’s players and contributors in the history of Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball.

    The Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame.

    The 2014 Hall of Fame induction takes place Nov. 1 at the Rochester International Event Center.

    But Nelson’s accomplishments in the pitching circle, or Niederkorn’s greatness in the field won’t be recognized at the event. To me, that’s a shame.

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    ASA Boys’ National Tournament opens in St. Joe

    Thursday, July 31st, 2014


    ST. JOSEPH, MO – The ASA Age 16-under Boys National Championship opens Friday and runs through Saturday, Aug. 1-2, at Heritage Park in St. Joseph, Missouri.

    Three teams will compete for the championship with the title game scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

  • Northwest Royals, Winston, MO, Coach Eric Lewis
  • Northwest Implement, Conception Junction, MO, Coach Tim Jermain
  • Key City Juniors, Key City, Minn., Coach Brian Swanson

    12:30 p.m. Manager’s Meeting
    2 p.m. NW Royals vs NW Implement
    4 p.m. Key City Juniors vs NW Implement
    6 p.m. NW Royals vs Key City Juniors


    9 a.m. #2 seed vs #3 seed
    10:30 a.m. championship game

    St. Joseph Tournament Director-Chuck Kempf
    UIC-Jack Walker

    Long Lost Fastpitch Friends Reunite

    Thursday, June 12th, 2014


    YUCAIPA, Calif. – Reuniting with old friends is such a wonderful feeling. 1995 marks the last time I had seen or heard from Craig Brown. And shortly after the 2000 ISC World Tournament in St. Joseph, MO, Merle Brendeland fell off my radar as well.

    But thankfully we three have revived our friendship through a phone call from Craig, and my email to Merle a few years a go.

    I found out that a lot had changed in their lives. Not all pleasant. Both had divorced. Both had lost extremely successful careers when the economy tanked, and so on.

    But both have bounced back in fine fashion, which hales the toughness of their backbone.

    Craig, now remarried, is semi-retired and living in Florida, and Merle is back to his roots, farming in Iowa.

    As for fastpitch, Craig is one of the best pitchers in Minnesota history, and maybe the state’s best lefthander all-time. And Merle – like myself – was of average ability, but loves the game like I do.

    More importantly, both men are my two best friends.

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    St. Paul fastpitch great Jim Rubbelke looks back on the good times

    Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

    “During warm ups, the umpire gave DeWall the ball. It was a DeBeer day ball. It was like handing Al an ice-cold beer. You knew he was going to have a good night.” – St. Paul manager Jim Rubbelke on Al DeWall pitching against the Long Beach Nitehawks in the opening game of the 1976 ISC World Tournament.

    ST. PAUL, Minn. – A smile spreads across Jim Rubbelke’s face when he looks back upon his years in the fastpitch game.

    Now, 63, and retired from fastpitch since 1990, Rubbelke’s received some of the highest honors in the sport: He managed for 19 years, and led a team to an ISC World Championship in 1976. He played for 13 years and was an ASA All American.

    He’s a member of the St. Paul and Minnesota Softball Hall of Fames. And he’s about to enter another.

    In August he joins the greatest of the greats when he gets inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame during the 2003 ISC World Tournament in Kimberly, Wisconsin. Rubbelke recently agreed to a Question and Answer session looking back upon his 32-years in fastpitch softball.

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