Dutch Elbers

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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: St. Paul Stroh’s Gatsby’s Tournament features life in the fast land

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

BOB MOORE, left, and TOM RUBBELKE of the 1987 St. Paul Stroh’s Gatsby’s team as they prepare for the Stroh’s Gatsby’s Invitational, organized by manager Jim Rubbelke. Several of the nation’s top-ten ranked teams participated including Penn Corp, Sioux City, Iowa; Farm Tavern, Madison, Wisc.; Teleconnect, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and All-Car, Antigo, Wisc.

By Perry Coonce / Minnesota Sports Federation State Commissioner
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Aug. 2, 1987

ST. PAUL, Minn. – World class fastpitch talent will be on display today at St. Paul’s Dunning Complex for the Stroh’s Gatsby’s Invitational.

The quantity of men’s fastpitch teams in Minnesota has diminished in recent years, but the quality hasn’t, according to tournament organizer Jim Rubbelke.

“We have some of the finest players in the world in Minnesota and are only hurt by the lack of pitchers, and the fact that very few are being developed,” said Rubbelke.

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Al DeWall the greatest pitcher of Minnesota’s Golden Age

Friday, January 6th, 2017

ST. PAUL ALL-AMERICAN BAR won the 1976 ISC World Tournament with pitcher Al DeWall leading the way with five victories. DeWall, pictured in the last row, third from left, was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher. Courtesy Photo

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The decades of the 1950s through the 1980s are considered the Golden Age of Minnesota men’s Fastpitch.

The Golden Age saw many outstanding teams rise to power such as St. Paul’s Belmont Club, New Bar and Clover Club, Mankato Happy Chef, St. James James Gang, Duluth and Scandia.

But none rose to power like St. Paul’s Whitaker Buick (1962 – 1973) and All-American Bar (1976 – 1986). Basically the same roster, just a change of sponsorship.

Between the two teams they appeared in 14 ISC World Tournaments and several ASA Major National Tournaments. In 1976 All-American Bar won the world tournament, beating the Lakewood, Calif. Jets twice, 5-2 and 6-0, to take the title.

    STARS A PLENTY

“It was unbelievable playing for Whitaker Buick,” said Mike Payton, the team’s centerfielder in the 1960s and 70s. “Back then you didn’t play a qualifier and go to the nationals like now. You had to win six or seven games (state and regional playoffs) and it was single elimination.”

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Ball family supports Dad’s goal in West St. Paul Tournament

Friday, July 27th, 2012

“Wayne’s tournament is great. It’s the best. He knows how to run a tournament fantastically.” – Dave Vandenbosch, manager, Gallagher’s Bar

WEST ST. PAUL, MN – Forty-two down and eight to go.

For 42 years, 73-year-old Wayne Ball has kept the West St. Paul Invitational Men’s Fastpitch Tournament rolling along. Year-after-year without a miss.

Though he’s at an age when most fastpitch folks have long since retired, Ball has no plans on deserting his baby. His creation. His passion. Besides, he’s set a goal that he’s determined to meet.

“I have to go at least eight more years,” he said. “I’ve got to get to 50 years.”

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