Duluth men’s fastpitch

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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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Hard throwing Stu Morrison inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
STUART MORRISON of Cloquet, Minn. pitched his way into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame by winning two state championships, one regional title and winning over 450 games with over 4,500 strikeouts in an 19 year career from 1963 to 1981. Courtesy Photo

STUART MORRISON of Cloquet, Minn. pitched his way into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame by winning two state championships, one regional title and winning over 450 games with over 4,500 strikeouts in an 19 year career from 1963 to 1981. Courtesy Photo

CLOQUET, Minn. – Softball backstops measure upwards of 20 feet high and wide. Even at those dimensions, corralling Stuart Morrison’s pitches often proved futile.

“When I first started pitching in 1963 there wasn’t a backstop in Minnesota that could hold me,” said Morrison with a laugh. “I didn’t know where the ball was going to go.”

Morrison started playing fastpitch as a sophomore in high school, only because he got cut from his high school baseball team. The Scanlon fire department invited him and several other young players to give fastpitch a try. Morrison did and was hooked.

    A PITCHER IS BORN

Although a good hitter, Morrison was intrigued by what he saw happening in the circle.

    “There was a good fastpitch league in Cloquet at the time,” he said. “I saw Craig Pollard pitching and I thought, ‘if he can do that, I’m going to give it a try.’”

Click to continue reading “Hard throwing Stu Morrison inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame”