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Reliving Memories of one of fastpitch softball’s greatest pitchers

Monday, May 15th, 2017

WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE
Roy Burlison of the St. Louis Browns flies through the air before delivering a pitch to the plate in last night’s (June 16, 1973) professional softball game at Koch Park. Burlison tossed his third straight shutout, whipping the Philadelphia Patriots, 8-0. St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photo By W. Thomas Stewart

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. –Roy Burlison was one of the greatest fastpitch pitchers the sport has ever known. When his 27-year playing career came to an end in 1992, he had won over 770 games against the best teams in the world.

In 1997 he was inducted into the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame for an arm’s length of accomplishments: nine times competing in the ASA national tournament; twice selected Most Valuable Pitcher, and twice leading his teams to runner-up in the national championship.

Burlison was also renowned as a coach, teaching hundreds of girls how to play the game the right way. But sadly on May 11, Burlison, 71, passed away (see Roller Homes obituary).

His fastpitch legacy will live on, however, in the girls he coached, and with the players he both played with and against in his long and distinguished career.

Let’s relive some of Burlison’s prowess with a stroll down memory lane…

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Devotion to men’s fastpitch ushers Bob Chapel into the NAFA Hall of Fame

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

“I just keep going because I love it.” – Bob Chapel

chapel.nafa.web
Bob Chapel puts the radar gun on the pitchers at the 2010 NAFA World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF – When it comes to job security, Bob Chapel knows he’s safe. Knows that few, if any, will rush forward eager to take his place running men’s fastpitch tournaments in northern and central California.

Since 1982, the 69-year-old has been a tournament director. Starting in March, Chapel’s weekends are spent on softball fields in Bakersfield, Stockton, Sonora or Reno running tournaments. Over 150 and climbing, he figures, in those 31 years.

Back in 1982 when he directed his very first tournament – an ASA event – 32 teams were entered. It wasn’t all that difficult finding teams since the sport was booming in California’s central valley. The scene has changed over the years with far fewer teams playing the sport.

But that doesn’t stop him from fighting to keep the sport alive in his part of the country. Why does he carry on when so many of his generation have left fastpitch in the rearview mirror?

“I do it because I love doing it,” said Chapel, who splits time between homes in Bakersfield and Billings, Montana. “The guys keep asking me back. And who is going to take over if I step away?”

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St. Paul fastpitch great Jim Rubbelke looks back on the good times

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

“During warm ups, the umpire gave DeWall the ball. It was a DeBeer day ball. It was like handing Al an ice-cold beer. You knew he was going to have a good night.” – St. Paul manager Jim Rubbelke on Al DeWall pitching against the Long Beach Nitehawks in the opening game of the 1976 ISC World Tournament.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A smile spreads across Jim Rubbelke’s face when he looks back upon his years in the fastpitch game.

Now, 63, and retired from fastpitch since 1990, Rubbelke’s received some of the highest honors in the sport: He managed for 19 years, and led a team to an ISC World Championship in 1976. He played for 13 years and was an ASA All American.

He’s a member of the St. Paul and Minnesota Softball Hall of Fames. And he’s about to enter another.

In August he joins the greatest of the greats when he gets inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame during the 2003 ISC World Tournament in Kimberly, Wisconsin. Rubbelke recently agreed to a Question and Answer session looking back upon his 32-years in fastpitch softball.

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