St. Joseph men’s fastpitch

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Remembering softball’s glory days in St. Joseph

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

ST. JOSEPH, MO – Nice summer and fall evenings stir up memories for many St. Joseph residents of the days when fastpitch softball was king in the city.

On summer evenings during its heyday from the 1950s through the 1980s, places like Walnut Park and Drake Field were packed with fans locally and from abroad.

They came out to see their local fastpitch stars: Tim Reynolds, Herb “Rumpy” Lucas, Charlie Pusateri, Gilbert “Jeep” Kirby and Bill McKinney.

Teams were sponsored by businesses like the Morris Plan, Polsky Motors and Walnut Products.

Ed Christgen remembered when his father, Ken, got the whole family involved in the sport. It was in 1966 when car dealer David Polsky asked his father to sponsor a team.

“We started then with just one team, and by the early ’70s our family or our company was sponsoring seven teams,” Christgen said.

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Stepping Back In Time: Hicks brothers Ted and Al remain on top of fastpitch world

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

THE HICKS BROTHERS, Ted, left, and Al, are recognized internationally for their softball talents, especially hitting. TED is considered one of the country’s best right-handed hitters on the Decatur (IL) ADM nationally ranked team, while Al is ‘Mr. Consistency’ for Missouri power Walnut-Woods of St, Joseph. Constitution-Tribune Photo by Bob Carter

By BOB CARTER / The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune Sports Editor
July 31, 1984

CHILLICOTHE, MO – The Mary Jane Hicks family held its typical fun-loving summer reunion at the Tomahawk homestead Sunday afternoon.

Like many reunions before, fastpitch softball was the talk of the day.

But this time, there was special emphasis placed on the upcoming ASA National Fastpitch Softball Tournament scheduled to open at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph on Friday, Sept. 7.

Mary Jane’s three sons, will hold another reunion on the national softball turf, but this time, they’ll be playing on opposing teams.

AL HICKS
Al, at a ripe age of 44, is Mr. Handy Man on the St. Joseph Walnut-Woods team, the tournament’s host team.

Al, called “Papa” by his teammates, will be used in his familiar role as the team’s designated hitter.

The popular St. Joseph police officer, who has played for five different St. Joseph softball teams, knocked the cover off the ball last season, batting a sizzling .400. This season, Al is batting a respectable .300.

Although gradually losing his foot speed, Al hasn’t lost his tough at the plate, ranking among the best Walnut-Woods has to offer.

“I still see the ball good and I make contact,” Hicks said. “That’s the key to hitting.”

How many playing years are left? Hicks isn’t sure, but he’s not ready to hang up the cleats yet.

“I love the game,” he said. “As long as I can contribute and someone wants me, I’ll continue to play. I’ve been playing ball ever since I took up walking. It’s been an important part of my life.”

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Step Back In Time To 2000 ISC World Tournament

Monday, February 15th, 2016
2000 ISC Hall of Fame members from left, Dick Thompson, Gary Dobereiner, and Dick Zuccato. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2000 ISC World Tournament

2000 ISC Hall of Fame members from left, Dick Thompson, Gary Dobereiner, and Dick Zuccato. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2000 ISC World Tournament

YUCAIPA, Calif. – While editing photos this morning from the 2000 ISC World Tournament in St. Joseph, MO, I discovered a negative of Dick Thompson, left, Gary Dobereiner, middle, and Dick Zuccato.

All three gentlemen were celebrating their induction into the 2000 ISC Hall of Fame class during opening ceremonies at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph.

Thompson was a multi-talented athlete who excelled in basketball, baseball, football and track & field, and of course fastpitch, in which he played the infield and pitched. Both Dobereiner and Zuccato were ISC All-World catchers.

You can read about their exploits on the ISC website at: ISC Hall of Fame

John Younger defines longevity in men’s fastpitch

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

From a left-hander, I never saw a rise ball move away from a right-handed batter like (Ty Stofflet’s). It wasn’t logical, but he could do that. Stofflet didn’t give you good pitches to hit. He was always on the corners…” – John Younger

ST. JOSEPH, MO – A 10-year fastpitch career is nice. It’s solid. Hit the 20 or 30-year mark, exceptional. But 40 years and climbing, now that’s superb.

Enter John Younger of St. Joseph, Missouri. The 64-year-old has been plying his trade on ball diamonds throughout the ‘show me’ state and the U.S. for 42 years.

And he has no plans on quitting.

He shrugs off praise for his longevity since starting his career in 1970, only saying, “I still enjoy it.”

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