Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball

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Great players spur Hastings Loesch’s Bar to championship run in the 1960s

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Loesch’s Bar of Hastings, Minnesota won two state championships during the 1960s, along with numerous tournaments. Team members holding the tournament trophies they won are from left, Jim Schnieder (deceased), Walt Nelson ( deceased), Clayt McNamara, Dave Amy ( deceased), Pat Orman, unknown player, Dick Bacon, Curt Thalburg, Don Amy, Gene Hageman, Larry McNamara, Dave Bacon and Tom Niederkorn. Bat boys, Kirk Van Guilder, left, and Tom Schneider. Missing are manager Red Van Guilder (deceased) and Tom Swanson. Photo Courtesy of Steve Nelson.

HASTINGS, Minn. – It takes talent to make a fastpitch team great, and back in the 1960s Hastings was brimming with it.

Located 25 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, small town Hastings (pop. 8,000 in 1960) produced outstanding players such as twins Don and Dave Amy; brothers Jack and Tom Swanson, Curt Thalberg, Gary Kordosky, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Niederkorn and Walt Nelson.

They put Hastings on the ‘fastpitch’ map by winning big games and big tournaments throughout the state.

But the biggest prize was winning the Amateur Softball Association state tournament. And in 1961, 1964 and 1965, Hastings teams brought home the championship trophy, along with finishing runner-up twice, 1962 and 1966.

However, one Hastings team stood out: Loesch’s Bar which won the 1964 and 1965 titles and finished runner-up in 1966.

    NELSON MANS THE RUBBER

As the team’s catcher, Gene Hageman marveled how good the team was – from its solid hitting, 1-through-9 lineup, to its defense and pitching. Though each player filled a vital role, Walt Nelson – the ace of the pitching staff – was the integral cog that made winning championships possible.

“Walt had grit,” said Hageman. “No one was going to beat him. I would set the glove and he would hit it. His best pitch was his drop ball. In some tournaments, we played up to seven games and Walt would pitch most of them. He could throw all day.”

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Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden takes Men’s Class C State Fastpitch Championship

Sunday, August 9th, 2015
Minnesota Computers won the MSF Men's Class C State Championship at Caswell Park in No. Mankato, MN, Sunday, Aug. 9. Courtesy Photo

Minnesota Computers won the MSF Men’s Class C State Championship at Caswell Park in No. Mankato, MN, Sunday, Aug. 9. Courtesy Photo

NORTH MANKATO, Minn – Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden of St. Paul won the Minnesota Sports Federation (MSF) Men’s Class C State Championship, Sunday afternoon at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

Minnesota Computers / Coasters went 6-1 in the 18-team double elimination tournament, and defeated Axle Grill of St. Cloud, 12-2, in the championship.

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RFG survives Fireplace to take 35th Annual Chopper’s Hollywood Tournament

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

lammersGreg.59web Greg ‘Chopper’ Lammers in action at the 2013 NAFA World Series in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo By BOB OTTO

HOLLYWOOD SPORTS COMPLEX, WATERTOWN, Minn. – Wisconsin native Scott Emerson pitched all three games to lead the RFG of St. Paul, Minn. to the championship of the 35th Annual Chopper’s Hollywood Tournament at the Hollywood Sports Complex near Watertown, July 12-13.

But the title game wasn’t easy, as it took eight innings before RFG could defeat Fireside Specialties, 5-4, to take the title.

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The Twin Cities and Minnesota fastpitch scene

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010


The Jordan Realty men’s fastpitch softball team of the Minnesota Twin Cities area has won NAFA Masters Over-40 championships and ASA Masters state tournaments.
Submitted Photo

ST. PAUL and MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Kevin Kammueller’s loyalty lies with Jordan Realty and the Minnesota Angels men’s fastpitch softball teams. But when his ball clubs have the weekend off, the right-hander’s phone starts ringing.

“On any given weekend, I can be found playing with any team that needs a pitcher,” said the 44-year-old Kammueller, who began playing fastpitch in his mid-20s. “One of the many jokes about me is that I have a hat from every team in the state.”

And with all those tournaments and all those games, Kammueller has forged an impressive pitching resume.

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Paul Harrington keeps the Farmington Men’s League running

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010


Older and younger players alike have been playing in the Farmington Men’s League for over 50 years.
Photos By BOB OTTO / Summer of 2006
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“…I’ll keep running the league as long as there are teams that want to play.” – Paul Harrington

FARMINGTON, MINNESOTA – The emergency call went out for a league director and Paul Harrington said, “I’ll do it.”

Back in 1975 the director of the Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League up and quit in the middle of the season. And if someone didn’t take over, the league would surely fold.

And Harrington wasn’t about to let that happen. But here’s the catch: He was just 19 years old at the time. Just a year removed from his high school graduation. Now 35 years later, he’s still running the league with no plans to step down.

After all, the Farmington league has a hallowed history to uphold. It’s been around for over 50 years.

“It’s one of the older leagues in the state,” said Harrington. “It was the only game in town at one time. There wasn’t any town team baseball or slowpitch.”

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Jim Rubbelke put Minnesota on the fastpitch map

Thursday, March 25th, 2010


St. Paul All American Bar entered the 1976 ISC World Tournament in Long Beach, Calif. for the very first time, and won the only World Tournament in Minnesota men’s fastpitch history with a double-knockout of the Lakewood, Calif. Jets. But if not for manager, Jim Rubbelke, it never would have happened. Rubbelke pictured third from right, second row in St. Paul team photo.

“We came ready to play for Jim. We were dedicated to him, reluctant to let him down…” – Jerry O’Conner, 1976 ISC World Tournament Most Valuable Player

By BOB OTTO
First printed July 3, 2003
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ST. PAUL, MN – For Jim Rubbelke the memory remains crystal clear. Shiny new Buicks lined up with ball players behind the wheel ready to begin another long distance softball road trip.

From St. Paul the motorcade wound its way to the softball diamonds of the Clearwater, Florida Bombers, Aurora, Illinois Sealmasters, and ASA National Tournaments.

Those memorable road trips ended 40-some years a go. But August of 2003, Rubbelke made one final road trip – right into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame in Kimberly, Wisconsin, where he took his place among the greatest in men’s fastpitch softball history.

The 71-year-old Rubbelke along with Johnny Appell, Bill Boyer, and Mark Smith, comprised the 2003 class of ISC Hall of Famers. Rubbelke was inducted in the Managers category. In the 63-year history of the ISC, only 12 managers have been so honored.

TWO-CAREER MAN

Rubbelke really has two chapters in his 32-year fastpitch career. In chapter one (1957-1970), he played the hardnosed third baseman and lead off batter. His St. Paul clubs included the Clover Softball Club, 7-Up Softball Club, and Whitaker Buick.

In 1964 he was lured away by the Raybestos Cardinals of Stratford, Conn. where he spent the next four years earning ASA All American honors.

“He could run like a deer, good bunter, good defense,” said Mike Payton who played with and for Rubbelke from 1961 to 1975. “He had amazing power for a little guy. He would bunt and run during the season, but somehow he hit the long ball in the (ASA Regional Playoffs). There was seldom a regional where he didn’t hit a home run.”

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