Minnesota men’s fastpitch

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Remembering Mike Solz, Minnesota men’s fastpitch icon

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

MIKE SOLZ manages Danny’s Northeast men’s fastpitch team and he’s also the president of the Park Classic Men’s Fastpitch League. Minneapolis Star Photo by Russell Bull / July 17, 1965

Minneapolis Star Staff Writer

The Star Salutes: Softball Pilot Loop Prexy

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Being a manager of a team in the league of which he is president doesn’t seem unusual at all to a veteran of 35 years of Minneapolis men’s fastpitch softball.

Saluted by the Minneapolis Star today, MIKE SOLZ is manager of Danny’s Northeast team and president of the Park Classic Men’s Fastpitch League.

And for good reason.

“At a meeting last spring with Park Board officials, I agreed to the job to help keep the league going and even try to expand it at fields in south and northeast Minneapolis,” said Solz.

Of about 500 softball teams in Minneapolis, 88 per cent of them are in the slowpitch category, the rest in Solz’ type of league.

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Some of the greatest in Minnesota fastpitch history to receive the sport’s highest honor

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Meet the 2018 Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame class: Of these 19 slowpitch, modified and fastpitch inductees, 13 starred in the fastpitch game as either players, umpires, managers and coaches, promoters, sponsors, administrators, or in some cases, were involved in every facet of the game. Photo courtesy of Perry Coonce / Executive Director of the Minnesota Softball Federation

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. – Some like the late Walter Nelson were great fastpitch pitchers in leading their teams to state and regional championships. Others like Tom Niederkorn, Bill Olson and Dan Lee could belt the riser, drop and change-up as well as any hitter to ever step into the batter’s box.

And still others, made their mark in the sport in nearly every conceivable way possible. Including Jim Langowski and Jack Norman, who first excelled as players and then remained in the sport for years volunteering, managing, promoting and serving in any capacity needed in continuing the great legacy of Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball.

For the following 13 men, whose time in the game stretches as far back as six and seven decades, they will receive the highest honor possible in Minnesota softball lore: induction into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame during a ceremony banquet at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center, Nov. 2nd, under the direction of the Minnesota Sports Federation.

    Meet The Outstanding 2018 Hall of Fame Fastpitch Class
  • Wayne Dahl, player, from Dawson
  • Gary “Meatball” Holtz, player, Hutchinson
  • Dick Erickson, player, Dawson
  • Dan Huisman, player, Ellsworth
  • Charlie Johnson, umpire / meritorious service, Detroit Lakes & Hitterdahl
  • Jim Langowski, player, manager, promoter, meritorious service, Winona
  • Dan Lee, player, Dawson
  • Dick McNally, player, St. Charles & Ridgeway
  • *Walter Nelson, player, Hastings & St. Paul
  • Tom “Weed” Niederkorn, player, Hastings & St. Paul
  • Jack Norman, volunteer, organizer, meritorious service, Mankato & Lake Crystal
  • Bill Olson, player, Duluth
  • Jim Prestholdt, player, sponsor, manager, meritorious service, Dawson
  • Many superlatives were spoken about the inductees, including this accolade from Wayne Dahl and Ken Club, who led the nomination of Jim Prestholdt.

    “In his career as a pitcher, Jim won over 450 games,” said Dahl. “(He) was always organizing fastpitch leagues, teams and games at his own time and expense! He started a four-team league in Dawson (pop. 1,600). He would implore players to participate, and they would. Jim raised $20,000 in a week for a new concessions stand at Prestholdt Fields in Dawson…Jim also coached and mentored many developing players in the local league, particularly pitchers.”

    And this from Stan Knopick, who nominated Jim Langowski, who starred as a pitcher for 15 years in Minnesota and five in Northern California.

    “Jim was a great pitcher and fine hitter,” said Knopick. “But Jim was very active off the softball field also. He arranged tournaments, started the Winona Softball Association and was a manager for over 15 years in Minnesota and five in California. Jim organized tournaments, hired the umpires, took care of the media work, selected volunteers to help at games and tournaments, helped prepare the fields, and used his knowledge to mentor young softball players, both boys and girls.”

    And the tributes for the others are just as inspiring.

    Farmington (MN) Men’s Fastpitch Reunion Sunday

    Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

    CASTLE ROCK, Minn. – The Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League flourished for 54 years (1958-2011) in the town of Farmington, along with the popular Bobber Tournament, also held in Farmington that drew teams from Minnesota and neighboring states.

    The league and tournament are no more, but the memories live on in the hearts and minds of those who played and were fans, and will be shared in a grand reunion, Sunday, Aug. 26 at the Castle Rock & Roll Bar and Grill in Castle Rock.

  • Be sure to attend and share your memories in what promises to be a great time.
  • A Step Back In Time: Johnny Vollmer in Farewell at Softball Park

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    The late, great JOHNNY VOLLMER is considered one of Minnesota’s all-time great fastpitch softball pitchers. He is shown here in 1942 just before he was inducted into the army. Vollmer was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame in 1982. Minneapolis Star Photo / May 4, 1942

    The Minneapolis Star
    May 4, 1942

    (I remember as a kid in the early 1960s listening to the ‘old timers’ talking about Minnesota’s great pitchers, and Johnny Vollmer was one of their favorite subjects.)

    MINNEAPOLIS – Johnny Vollmer, with his old batterymate, Shorty Mathes behind the plate, says goodbye for a while to Minneapolis softball fans tonight at Parade Stadium when his Fort Snelling soldiers play the Grain Belts (brewery) in the unofficial opening of the 1942 season.

    Vollmer, the great snapball artist, was inducted at Snelling along with Mathes, last week.

    The game is booked for 8:30 p.m. and will go on despite slightly chilly weather. Pregame ceremonies involving a Fort Snelling Color Guard and bugler will begin at 7:45 p.m.

    Opposing Vollmer on the Grain Belt mound is Ed Kronfeld, who last year hurled the Rothschild’s to the National Division championship. Proceeds go to the Fort Snelling athletic fund. ­

    Johnny Vollmer returned from his military service and reestablished himself as one of Minnesota’s all-time great fastpitch pitchers (slingshot style) and was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame in 1982, along with his catcher, Shorty Mathes.

    Top Ranked Teams Battle For Tin Cup Challenge Championship

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

    Eight International Softball Congress (ISC) top-rated teams will battle for the THE TIN CUP CLASSIC Men’s Fastpitch Tournament at The Village Sports Bar At The Stadium, White Bear Lake, Minn., July 28-30. Courtesy Photo / Christopher Diethert

    By Christopher Diethert
    Tin Cup Fastpitch

    ST. PAUL, Minn. – The field is set and eight of the finest men’s fastpitch teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and North Dakota will battle in the Tin Cup Men’s Challenge Fastpitch Tournament at The Village Sports Bar At The Stadium in White Bear Lake, Minn. July 28-30.

    The tournament features a full slate of games Friday night and Saturday in pool play format with the playoffs on Sunday. Five of the eight teams are ranked in the top-20 by the International Softball Congress.


    No. 6 / Circle Tap Dukes, Denmark, Wisc.
    No. 15 / Ostrander Norsemen Fastpitch, Ostrander, Minn.
    Topeka Toros, Kansas
    Rice Lake Orangemen, Wis.


    No. 8 / Bloomington Stix, Bloomington, Ill.
    No. 11 / Kegel Black Knights, Fargo, No. Dak.
    No. 13 / Tin Cup, St. Paul, Minn.
    Jamo’s Fastpitch, St. Paul, Minn.

    The tournament opens Friday night with two games on tap. At 7 p.m., Ostrander Norsemen square off against the Rice Lake Orangemen, and in the nightcap, host Tin Cup battles Jamo’s at 9 p.m.


    9 a.m. – Circle Tap Dukes vs. Rice Lake
    11 a.m. – Circle Tap Dukes vs. Ostrander Norsemen
    1 p.m. – Topeka Toros vs. Ostrander Norsemen
    3 p.m. – Topeka Toros vs. Rice Lake Orangemen
    5 p.m. – Tin Cup vs. Kegel Black Knights
    ** 7 p.m. – Ceremony for 1976 All-American Bar (1976 ISC World Tournament Champions)
    7:30 p.m. – Tin Cup vs. Bloomington Stix
    9:30 p.m. – Circle Tap Dukes vs. Topeka Toros


    11 a.m. – Jamo’s Fastpitch vs. Kegel Black Knights
    1 p.m. – Bloomington Stix vs. Kegel Black Knights
    3 p.m. – Bloomington Stix vs. Jamo’s Fastpitch


    10 a.m. – A1 vs. B2
    12 p.m. – A2 vs. B1
    2 p.m. – Championship

    ** Tie breakers decides by head-to-head and runs allowed **

    Contact Information

    Christopher Diethert

    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.


    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.’”

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    Getting the great “Nellie” into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame.

    Tuesday, November 1st, 2016


    HASTINGS, Minn. – When I was 17 years old in 1967, I pitched against one of Minnesota’s all-time best pitchers, Walt “Nellie” Nelson of Hastings, Minn. Nellie pitched Loesch’s Bar of Hastings to back-to-back state championships in 1964 and ’65; a second place in ’62, and fourth in ’66. (See related story: Remembering my idol, Walt “Nellie” Nelson

    When my good friend Craig Brown was nominated and subquently inducted into the Hall of Fame, Oct. 29, I thought: surely Nellie must have been inducted. But in searching through the Minnesota Sports Federation Hall of Fame records, I found he was not.

    So, I contacted the Hastings Star Gazette newspaper to run a brief asking anyone connected with that team to contact me. Low and behold, Steve Nelson, Nellie’s son called me. He had some sad news, though. His father passed away in 2003 at the age of 72.

    But on the bright side, we are on a mission to get Nellie inducted into the MSF Hall of Fame in the next round of induction in 2018. Fortunately, some of the Losche’s guys he played with are still with us: Tom Niederkorn, Tom Swanson, Gene Hageman, and Don Amy, among others.

    So, they are going to help piece together a resume of Nellie’s career.

    What I’m asking is, if any of you Minnesota fastpitch players on this group played in the era of the early 1960s to 1972 when Walt Nelson retired, and you remember playing with or against him, and can furnish information of a particular game or tournament or league in which you recall his skill, please contact me. Email: botto3@verizon.net.

    Unfortunately, career records are not kept for many players, so it will take recalling “memories” of Nellie for a chance to get him inducted. We’ve got two years to get this done, but as we sadly know, we are losing more and more of us older guys as the years pass by. And then, of course, the history of a player or team is lost forever.

    That’s why I’m stressing the urgency to do this as quickly as possible. Thank you.

    Follow The 2016 NAFA World Series Team Results, Stats And More

    Friday, August 12th, 2016
    Cory Wertz fires a pitch during the A1 Rockies game with the BC A's. Photo By BOB OTTO

    Cory Wertz, who will be pitching for the Beaumont (CA) Coyotes in the 2016 NAFA World Series, fires a pitch during the A1 Rockies game with the BC A’s in a So. Calif. Independent Fastpitch League game. Photo By BOB OTTO

    NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – The NAFA World Series has over 90 teams playing for division championships at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Aug. 11-21, in what promises to be a most competitive event with teams competing from throught the United States and Canada.


  • 23-Under Pool Bracket
  • Statistics For All Divisions
  • Weather and rain information: 888-852-1115
  • NAFA A-Major Division World Series underway

    Friday, August 12th, 2016

    NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – A heavy overnight rain at Caswell Park couldn’t stop the start of the 2016 NAFA World Series, A-Major Division on Thursday.

    The fields were in great playing condition for the 20 teams competing in the tournament that continues through Sunday with the championship scheduled for noon.


  • Sawdust City (WI) 7, Northwest Braves 2
    WP Grady Wold, 67 mph; LP Bill Carson 69; Brett Klozuski 60; Shayne Arndt 66
  • Elanco Blackhawks 12, Strikers Lanes (WI) 9
    WP Dave Stokes 67; Todd Smoker 70; LP Dan Ducharme 62; Larry Cushman 59
  • Boise RiverDogs (ID) 9, Hustle Hogs (IL) 6
    WP Shane Alder 69; LP Fabio Silvestre 70
  • Wizards of Oz (KS) 9, Blues Fastpitch (MI) 5
    WP Ray Foster 64; LP Ryan Nichols 68
  • RM Kurtz (PA) 7, Young Thunder (MO) 0
    WP Derek Martin 68; LP Craig Lewis 59
  • Weezer Fastpitch (KS) 4, Bowen Fastpitch 1
    WP Joe McCall 63; LP Nick Siebenlist 71
  • K-Club (WA) 2, Omaha Primetime 1
    WP Dave Drotzman 70; LP Lane Bender 68
  • For bracket results, visit A-Major World Series

    Freeport State Bank Claims Minnesota Men’s Fastpitch State Championship

    Sunday, August 7th, 2016

    Freeport State Bank.1lr

    Freeport State Bank from front row left to right, Dan Toenyan, Kevin Welle, Mike Mayers, Travis Atkinson and Craig Timp. Back row from left, Adam Moorman, Tyler Thomes, Cody Imdieke, Joe Hennen, Jonathan Linn and Glen Van Drehle.

    NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – No words are sweeter music to a fastpitch team, or so difficult to earn as the right to proudly proclaim: “We are state champions!”

    Freeport State Bank gained that right with a hard-fought 6-5 victory over Corvuso Meats / Heimy’s Place of New Germany in the Minnesota Sports Federation Class D Men’s State Tournament.

    State Bank rolled through the tournament’s nine-team field to finish with a 5-1 record at Caswell Park in North Mankato on July 31.

    “I have been playing in the state tournament for 15 years, and our pitcher (Joe Hennen) has been going for probably 20 years and we’ve never won,” said co-manager and outfielder Craig Timp. “This is so awesome.”

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