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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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Norman gives back for the love of the game

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

LAKE CRYSTAL, MINNESOTA – A bum knee forced Jack Norman from behind home plate, but it didn’t force the former fastpitch softball catcher out of the game.

Instead it launched a whole new career.

The 58-year-old Norman began playing fastpitch softball as a 10-year-old in 4-H. And at 17 he was matching his skills against veteran players in the New Ulm League. Then for the next 35 years he plied his trade in the sport he says he loved the moment he began playing as a kid.

And the sport he still loves today.

But in 2003 it all came to an end. Though his mind said, “go,” his bad knee said, “no.”

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