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A Step Back In Time: Mark Rako Joins Elite Company In Fastpitch Hall of Fame

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Mark “Vinnie” Rako poses with legendary U.S. Olympic softball player Dot Richardson during the University of Dubuque’s spring trip to Florida in March, 2013


Platteville pitcher to join SW Wisocnsin Fast Pitch Hall of Fame

By Jason Nihles
sports@theplattevillejournal.com
SWNEWS4u.com
POSTED June 5, 2013 2:27 p.m.

BOSCOBEL, Wisc. – Mark Rako’s fast-pitch softball career began 41 years ago as a 14-year-old boy on the old field in Arthur.

Over the course of a career that spanned five decades “Vinnie”, as he was better known by teammates and opponents alike, developed into one of the best pitchers in the area.

“I don’t think some people even know my real name,” Rako joked.

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A Step Back In Time: Jason Hanson’s home run ends Green Bay All-Car’s drive

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

All-Car teammates huddle around pitcher Michael White after he tumbled to the ground in the bottom of the seventh inning with an injured leg. White was unable to return and All-Car went on to lose to the Tampa Bay Smokers, 4-2, in the 1996 ISC World Tournament championship game. Photo By BOB OTTO

Tampa Bay claims title with dramatic 4-2 victory in 1996 ISC World Tournament

By Sharon Raboin / Green Bay Press-Gazette
Monday, August 19, 1996

KIMBERLY, Wisc. – Michael White of All-Car of Green Bay crumbled to the ground after pitching to Jason Hanson.

White groaned and grabbed his left leg while his teammates rushed to his side.

The crowd of about 5,000 became silent at Sunset Park.

It was the bottom of the seventh inning Sunday afternoon in the championship of the International Softball Congress World Tournament. All-Car and the Tampa Bay Smokers were tied 2-2

After a couple of minutes, White was helped to his feet. He desperately wanted to continue. He tested his injured leg.

“I just couldn’t,” White said. “There was pain shooting up my leg. I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. There was no way I could push it.”

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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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Ultimate competitor Dan Nessler twice a Hall of Famer

Sunday, December 11th, 2016
DAN NESSLER of Happy Chef covers second base during the 1995 ISC World Tournament in which Happy Chef finished fifth. Nessler was selected an All-World player four times and was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2009. Photo By BOB OTTO

DAN NESSLER of Happy Chef covers second base during the 1995 ISC World Tournament in which Happy Chef finished fifth. Nessler was selected an All-World player four times and was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2009. Photo By BOB OTTO

MANKATO, Minn. – With a grunt and a leap, the pitcher hurls the softball from 46 feet, causing the violently spinning missile to jump or plunge a foot just before crossing home plate and slamming into the catcher’s mitt at 85 miles per hour.

The degree of difficulty of hitting such a frustratingly elusive projectile?

Nearly impossible for batsmen of modest ability. But for the very best, an improbability they handle with great aplomb.

Mark Sorenson was one of the best, as was Bill Boyer, Shawn Rychcik and Colin Abbott. This esteemed class also includes Dan Nessler of Mankato, Minnesota.

Nessler was a magician with the bat from the left-side batters box. He played small-ball as well as anyone, said pitcher Pete Sandman, a teammate with Nessler on the world championship Penn Corp teams of Sioux City, Iowa.

“Dan was a great hitter,” said Sandman, who pitched for Penn Corp and later National Health Care Discount (NHCD) from 1981 to 1991. “He was smart, could slap, drag bunt, hit balls to left, center or right. He was gifted with the bat.”

    ACCLAIMED PLAYER AND LEADER

With the likes of Sandman, Nessler, Sorenson and Boyer leading a stable of stars, Penn Corp / NHCD won four (1988, ’89, ’91, ’92) International Softball Congress World Tournament championships. During that reign, Nessler made ISC All-World twice.

Interspersed in those Penn Corp years, Nessler also played for Happy Chef of Mankato, helping the team finish fifth in the 1995 ISC World Tournament, and claiming the ASA Class A National Championship the same year.

During the Happy Chef years, Nessler earned two ISC All-World honors (1985, 1992), along with being selected ASA Second-Team, All-American.

Nessler took over as player / manager in 1992. A post he held for 10 years. He was a leader and an example to the younger players, said former infielder Scott Christensen, a three-time ISC All-World player with Happy Chef.

“He was always thinking about game situations and our strengths and what the other team might do,” said Christensen. “He was a very intelligent player who could anticipate and be in the right place to make a play. You can’t teach that. He could adapt (at bat) and bunt or hit the other way.”

DAN NESSLER played in 16 ISC World Tournaments. In the four world tournaments in which he was selected All-World, he batted .407 with 15 runs and nine RBI. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1995 ISC World Tournament

DAN NESSLER played in 16 ISC World Tournaments. In the four world tournaments in which he was selected All-World, he batted .407 with 15 runs and nine RBI. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1995 ISC World Tournament

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Toronto Gators long glorious run comes to an end with ISC Legends Championship

Monday, August 29th, 2016
BIG BAD GATOR - First baseman Dave Hoffman hit a three-run home run to lead the Toronto Gators Masters to an 8-1 victory over the Midland Explorers Legends to claim the ISC Legends Tournament, at Green Valley Sports Complex, Sat. Aug. 20. Photo By BOB OTTO

BIG BAD GATOR – First baseman Dave Hoffman hit a three-run home run to lead the Toronto Gators Masters to an 8-1 victory over the Midland Explorers Legends to claim the ISC Legends Tournament, at Green Valley Sports Complex, Sat. Aug. 20. Photo By BOB OTTO

MOLINE, IL – Though older, grayer and a step slower, the Toronto Gators Masters still flashed some of the skills that led to ISC World Tournament championships in their much younger years of 1993 and 1995.

Battling a field of 12 of the best 50-older masters teams from the U.S. and Canada, the Gators defeated the Midland, Mich. Legends, 8-1, to claim the ISC Legends Tournament Championship at Green Valley Sports Complex, Saturday.

Several of the Gators Masters starred on the 1993 and 1995 championship squads, including Darren Zack, Ray Tilley, Terry Challis, Rod Wetherell, Dave Hoffman and Adam Smith.

    BIG GUY HOMERS

The Gators jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning on Dave Hoffman’s three-run home run off Midland’s Peter Finn. Frank Perez and John Kemp opened the inning with walks to set up Hoffman’s home run, his second of the tournament.

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Pitcher Jerry Ralfs reminisces about the good times in fastpitch

Friday, August 19th, 2016
Jerry Ralfs, one the greatest pitchers in the history of men's fastpitch was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2004. Photo By BOB OTTO

Jerry Ralfs, one the greatest pitchers in the history of men’s fastpitch was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2004. Photo By BOB OTTO

MOLINE, IL – Jerry Ralfs gazed out on the ball diamond as pitchers Sean Cleary of the Toronto Gators and New York Gremlins Andrew Kirkpatrick battled each other pitch-for-pitch in the 2017 ISC World Tournament.

Seeing their intensity, their talent, their will to win, brought back memories of the bygone days when he too was locked in intense battle with some of the games greatest teams and pitchers of the 1950s through 1995 when he finally retired.

Ralfs, an ISC Hall of Fame pitcher (2004), battled against and defeated some of the greatest pitchers ever to step on the ball diamond: There’s Dick Brubaker, Don Sarno, Art Bunge, Ralph Salazar, Ed Klecker, and perhaps the greatest of all-time – Ty Stofflet.

The two left-handers tangled several times. In 1969, Ralfs pitched Rock Island Sportshop to second place in the ISC World Tournament, and put together outstanding marks with a 5-2 record and 79 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings.

In that tournament, he beat the defending champion Long Beach, Calif. Nitehawks twice. Both shutouts.

But his two loses? To Stofflet. But by the slightest of margins possible in the sport, both 1-0 setbacks.

But a smile comes to his face when he remembers when he did get the best of Stofflet.

“It was in 1971 in Springfield (Missouri) and we beat Stofflet,” said Ralfs, now 80 years old, but looking 15 years younger. “I even got a bloop single to win the game.”

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Six new members inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
Todd Martin was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the 2016 ISC World Tournament. The right-handed pitcher won three ISC World Tournament championships (1996, 1998, 2008), and was a member of four Canadian Senior Men's championship teams.

Todd Martin was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the 2016 ISC World Tournament. The right-handed pitcher won three ISC World Tournament championships (1996, 1998, 2008), and was a member of four Canadian Senior Men’s championship teams. Photo By BOB OTTO / 1998 ISC World Tournament

MOLINE, IL – During ceremonies at the ISC World Tournament, six outstanding individuals were inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame.

  • Tom Boyd, umpire, New Tripoli, PA
  • Daniel D. Dolan Family, sponsor, Aurora, IL
  • Thomas Makea, outfielder, New Zealand
  • Jarrad Martin, first base, outfielder, pitcher, New Zealand
  • Todd Martin, pitcher, Ontario, CA
  • Robert “Chubb” Tangaroa, New Zealand
  • To read their Hall of Fame biographies, visit: alsfastball / ISC Hall of Fame Class of 2016

    Adam Folkard reaches new milestone in ISC World Tournament career

    Sunday, August 9th, 2015

    2015ISCprogramfolkard.1lr Adam Folkard of the Hill United Chiefs won his 30th ISC World Tournament game to move up to 14th on the ISC’s all-time winningest pitchers list.

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It certainly wasn’t Adam Folkard’s most challenging moment in his fastball career, but his 12-0 victory over the Shakespeare Falcons in the ISC World Tournament on Sunday moves the hard-throwing right-hander from Australia higher on the all-time wins list in world tournament history.

    Folkard – pitching for the two-time defending champion Hill United Chiefs of Ontario, Canada – won his 30th game to reach No. 14 on the ISC’s all-time winningest pitchers’ list; tied with K.G. Fincher, Alan Colglazier and Terry Luster.

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    Fond memories of The Fastpitch Softball News Bulletin

    Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

    YUCAIPA, CA – In the 1970s I began subscribing to a monthly magazine called The Fastpitch Softball News Bulletin published by the late Ray Anderson (inducted into the International Softball Congress (ISC) Hall of Fame in 1993).

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    Leo “Lefty” Bartos and Art Gillis, none better for men’s fast pitch

    Monday, January 5th, 2015
    Leo "Lefty" Bartos, left, and Art Gillis were two of men's fastpitch softball's greatest contributors. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2000 ISC World Tournament Hall of Fame ceremony

    Leo “Lefty” Bartos, left, and Art Gillis were two of men’s fastpitch softball’s greatest contributors. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2000 ISC World Tournament Hall of Fame ceremony

    SAGINAW, Mich. – Two of Michigan’s and the world’s all-time great men’s fast pitch promoters were Leo “Lefty” Bartos, who was inducted into the International Softball Congress (ISC) Hall of Fame in 2000, and presented by his good friend Art Gillis during ceremonies at the 2000 ISC World Tournament in St. Joseph, MO.

    Gillis followed Bartos into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2006.

    Both men have since passed away; Bartos in 2012 and Gillis on Dec. 30. But their incredible work ethic on behalf of fastpitch will long live on as some of the greatest contributions ever made in the history of the sport.