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Memories of 1970s Mankato State Men’s Intramural Fastpitch League

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016


1998 St. Paul Oldtimers Fastpitch Hall of Fame Inductees
Front row, from left, Gene Berglund, Jerry O’Connor Jr., George “Buzz” Connor, Jack Clemens, Kathleen Gallagher Schmidt. Back row, from left, Russell Hansen, Norm Thurmer, Whitey Schaffer, Randy Walker, Dan Gallagher and Pat Gallagher.

MANKATO, Minn. – In the fall of 1972, I enrolled at Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota (since changed to Minnesota State University).

I didn’t know at the time, but I was about to meet and compete against some of the best young fastpitch pitching talent in the state and upper midwest.

Starting their college educational journey with me at the time were Craig Brown, Bob Chicos, Dave Cummings and Randy Walker. We were all in our early 20s and very passionate about our chosen sport.

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Timeless St. Paul team makes first appearance in NAFA World Series

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013


ST. PAUL, MINN – Matt Fitzenberger has played for Morelli’s Fastpitch for about 15 years. But he’s just a youngster when it comes to the storied history of this St. Paul team, and the countless numbers of players who have come long before him and worn the Morelli’s uniform.

Morelli’s Market in St. Paul has been sponsoring a men’s fastpitch team for over 40 years.

A baseball player fresh out of college, Fitzenberger was asked by Jim Morelli to play for his team. He accepted and has never left.

“A lot of original team members got into the game because of Jim,” said Fitzenberger, 30, who is the player / manager of the team.

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NAFA ball clubs pulling into Des Moines for start of A-Division World Series

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Forty of the best NAFA A division teams in North America will battle for the World Series championship, Thursday through Sunday.

DES MOINES & URBANDALE, IOWA – I’ve got my camera lenses all clean and shiny, my Nikon camera batteries all charged, and I’m at the starting line ready for a NAFA umpire to say, “let’s play ball!”

For tomorrow starts the four-day run (Aug. 15-18) of the 40-team, NAFA A World Series at the Greater Des Moines and Walker-Johnston softball complexes in Des Moines and Urbandale.

Why should shooting the A division be any different than the A-Major, AA, or the AA-Major that finished on Sunday, you ask?

In one word, “action.”

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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

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.


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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