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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 Men’s Fastpitch League Hosts Reunion To Remember The Good Times

    Tuesday, August 21st, 2018


    PAUL HARRINGTON, who coaches the Farmington High School girls’ softball team and directed the men’s city league, shows former Farmington High school pitcher Ashley Betzold how to throw the rise ball. Ashley’s father, Daren Betzold, was a top pitcher in the Farmington league for 25 years (1976 – 2001). Contributed photo.

    FARMINGTON, Minn. – For 54 years (1958-2011) men’s fastpitch softball was played in Farmington. The list of teams and sponsors, players, managers and umpires would as the saying goes, “stretch for an arm’s length.”

    Though the historic Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League and Bobber Men’s Fastpitch Tournament are no more, that doesn’t mean they’re forgotten. And on Aug. 26, a reunion will be held to reminisce about those great times at the Castle Rock & Roll Bar & Grill in Castle Rock.

    Of those 54 years, Paul Harrington directed the Farmington league 37 years (1975-2011). He was just 19 when he took the reins after the league director suddenly resigned in the middle of the season.

    The league and tournament evolved over the years to become two of the strongest entities in Minnesota fastpitch history.

    League teams claimed state championships in 1992 and ’99, along with Castle Rock and Morelli’s of St. Paul who are believed to have also won titles, while playing the league season in Farmington.

    “Breaking the door down and winning a state championship in 1992 is a big memory for me,” said Harrington. “But knowing our league teams were always in the mix afterwards with other state championships and high finishes, and giving our league respect and recognition was very fulfilling as a league director.”

    Click to continue reading “Farmington Men’s Fastpitch League Hosts Reunion To Remember The Good Times”

    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.

    POOL A / ISC RANKING

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

    POOL B / ISC RANKING

    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.

    SATURDAY SCHEDULE AT THE VILLAGE STADIUM

    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

    SATURDAY AT PIONEER PARK

    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

    SUNDAY PLAYOFFS AT THE VILLAGE STADIUM

    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
    cgdiethert@gmail.com

    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.

      A PITCHER IS BORN

    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.’”

    Click to continue reading “Hard throwing Stu Morrison inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame”

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

    Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

    hof_logo2

    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.

    Explosive Fargo Bombers Take Hollywood Sports Complex Men’s Fastpitch Tournament

    Sunday, July 10th, 2016

    BombersMVPsMeshke.3lr Jace Holm, left, was selected the Most Valuable Player and Brent Meshke was named to the All-Tournament team for helping the Fargo Bombers win the Hollywood Sports Complex Men’s Fastpitch Tournament, June 9-10. Photo 2015 NAFA World Series / By Sheryl Meshke, Lake Crystal, Minn.

    Courtesy of Mike Groch / Rice Lake Orangemen

    WATERTOWN, Minn. – The Fargo Bombers went 6-0 to claim the Hollywood Sports Complex Men’s Fastpitch Tournament. The Bombers defeated Minnesota Computers, Rice Lake Orangemen and Lens Auto in pool play Saturday. Then on Sunday in the single elimination playoffs, Fargo beat Dawson, Rice Lake and Odin to claim the championship.

      THE MVP
  • Most Valuable Player, Jace Holm, Fargo Bombers
    • ALL-TOURNEY
  • Brian Waldvogel, Minnesota Computers
  • Joe Ganther, Len’s Auto
  • Nick Leach, Len’s Auto
  • John Hohenstein, Odin, Minn.
  • Brent Meshke, Odin, Minn.
  • Dan Gallagher, PBI
  • Jerry Ball, PBI
  • Mike Groch, Rice Lake, Wisc.
  • Bryce Ducharme, Rice Lake, Wisc.
  • Brent Rohlik, RFG
  • Chad Feikema, RFG
  • Justin Jager, Dawson
  • Great weekend and hats off to the staff at the Hollywood Sports Complex for putting on a great tournament atmosphere and dealing with the puddles of water on the fields Sunday. Saturday was perfect but the fields got poured on saturday night and sunday morning.

    Mike Groch
    White Glove Cleaning
    651-768-0020
    www.wgcleaning.com