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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.

    Circle Tap Tournament underway in Denmark, Wisconsin

    Saturday, July 8th, 2017

    DENMARK, Wisc. – The big-time tournament in the little town of Denmark is underway.

    Minnesota Computers close season strong at NAFA World Series

    Thursday, August 25th, 2016

    Mn Computers Collage.llr Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden of St. Paul / Minneapolis turned around a sluggish season with an exceptional perforance at the 2016 NAFA A-Division World Series at Caswell Park in North Mankato, to finish second in the 50-team tournament with a 6-2 record. Courtesy Photo / Matt Fitzenberger

    ST. PAUL / Minneapolis – If manager Richard Quigley were to grade his ball club for the regular season, he’d probably hand out a big red F. But in post-season play, he would surely have to swap it for a big shiny A+. Maybe even hand out some gold stars.

    The Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden men’s fastpitch team plodded through the regular season with a so-so record. They finished fourth in the 12-team Dunning League at 6-4-2.

    And in tournament play, they took third at Milltown, Wisconsin (3-2), and had a dismal weekend at the Hollywood tournament, going 0-4.

    It’s the kind of results that will have opponents thinking we’ll crush these patsies. But pity the team with this thought in the post-season.

    For MN Computers woke from its slumber to have an outstanding NAFA A-Division World Series at North Mankato, Aug. 19-21, at Caswell Park.

      CATCH FIRE AT WORLD SERIES

    MN Computers fashioned a 6-2 record to finish runner-up to the Buzzards of Taft, California, who claimed the 24th Annual A-Division Championship with a 7-1 record in the 50-team tournament.

    Quigley is as puzzled as anyone about how his team can suddenly turn mediocrity into excellence, like flipping a light switch from off to on.

    “We’re a veteran team that was horrible until state (tournament) and NAFA World Series,” said Quigley. “But both seasons (2015, 2016) at the end were huge successes.”

    Click to continue reading “Minnesota Computers close season strong at NAFA World Series”

    West St. Paul men’s fastpitch league thriving in Minnesota

    Monday, July 30th, 2012


    An overview of the West St. Paul Sports Center where 12 men’s teams are still able to play fastpitch softball.

    WEST ST. PAUL, MN – Give us a place to play during the week.

    That’s a plea that many men’s fastpitch players and teams champion throughout the U.S. But finding a city league that offers weeknight games has become difficult throughout the U.S. as the men’s game has fallen off over the past two decades.

    But not so in West St. Paul.

    The city that borders the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis has offered a city league, well, as long as any of the current crop of players can remember. And this year is no exception.

    The West St. Paul League has 12 teams competing – from the “A” classified Minnesota Angels (ISC and ASA Major team) to several “B” and “C” ranked teams.

    During the course of the season, which runs from April to August, the teams crossover and play each other.

    Scott Emerson plays for the Blvd team, a C-team managed by Mike Fink. He’s a Wisconsin native who has played in his share of leagues. He likes what West St. Paul has to offer.

    “The WSP is a 12 team league that is split up into two divisions,” he said. “There’s six B and higher teams and six C teams. I have played in Wisconsin and Minnesota and I would say this is the most competitive league I have played in. All of the teams are tough.”

    Click to continue reading “West St. Paul men’s fastpitch league thriving in Minnesota”

    Twin Cities fastpitch scene could use more Buzz Connors

    Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

    …One girl told me, ‘if he plays slowpitch, I’m going to leave him.’” –George Connor

    By BOB OTTO
    botto3@verizon.net

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    ST. PAUL, MINN – A dead arm was the best thing that ever happened to George “Buzz” Connor’s ball playing career.

    Back in 1969, the then 36-year-old Connor’s baseball pitching arm went dead. He had nothing left overhand. The solution? Start whipping the ball underhand.

    “My arm just went dead pitching baseball,” said Connor. “My catcher Hap Holmgren said, ‘you’re going to start throwing softball.’”

    Click to continue reading “Twin Cities fastpitch scene could use more Buzz Connors”