Walt Nelson

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Stepping Back In Time: Walt Nelson Hurls No-Hit Masterpiece For Sandusky’s Stroh’s Beer

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

WALT NELSON pitched for outstanding teams in Minnesota from 1961 to 1972, and in Ohio from the early 1950s until 1961 when he moved to Hastings, Minnesota. Courtesy Photo / Steve Nelson

The Sandusky Register / Sandusky, Ohio
July 31 1958

Stroh’s Ace Faces 21 Batters

NORWALK, Ohio – Walt Nelson grabbed the spotlight in the opening night of the Fifth District Amateur Softball Association tournament here Wednesday night at McQuan Park by tossing a glittering no-hitter.

Nelson faced 21 batters as Sandusky Stroh’s Beer handcuffed the defending champion Fremont Schick’s, 5-0, after the Tiffin Spartans downed Lorain United Polish Club, 4-3.

The big right-hander struck out 15 and didn’t issue any bases on balls in hurling his masterpiece, although two runners reached base. Nelson hit one and the other reached base on an error, but both were cut down trying to steal in the second inning by catcher Walt Nicholson.

Second baseman Carl Michels saved Nelson’s no-hitter in the sixth inning with a sparkling play in which he went behind the base to haul in a sharp grounder and threw the man out.

Nelson made sure of the next batters himself by striking out the last four he faced.

Stroh’s scored once in the first and third innings on a passed ball and an error, adding three in the fifth with Dan Majoy and Nelson rapping out back-to-back singles to open the inning.

Stroh’s collected six singles off the servings of Curt Bowser and reliever Jack Kaiser, with Nelson getting two of them.

    Stroh’s Hurler Walt Nelson Selected Most Valuable Player

The Sandusky Register
Wed. Oct. 28, 1959

NORWALK, Ohio – Walt Nelson was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Norwalk Softball League Tuesday night at the Norwalk Softball Association’s annual banquet.

The Sandusky Stroh’s Beer pitcher received 137 votes, the highest ever polled. Gordon Schaechterle of Brooker Brothers, placed second with 109.

    Stroh’s Hurt Erie Lumber’s Title Plans

The Sandusky Register
Wed. Aug. 14, 1957

Walt Nelson a one-man gang

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Walt Nelson was the fly in the ointment for Erie County Lumber in Sandusky Softball League action Tuesday night at Battery Park as Stroh’s Beer copped a 6-3 decision.

NELSON HURLED a four-hitter at the Lumbermen and drove in three runs with a double and single as Stroh’s dashed the Lumbermen’s hopes of a SSL title.

The loss dropped Erie one game back of the Rockets and only one more game to go with the Rockets and Erie Lumber squaring off Sunday night a 7 o’clock.

Stroh’s jumped on losing pitcher Dan Renz for two runs in the second inning. Don Stellrecht led off with a single and scored on Nelson’s double; Nelson later scored on an infield out.

Stroh’s added four more in the third frame with Stellrecht and Nelson each driving in a pair of markers with singles.

ERIE LUMBER narrowed the margin in the fourth as Bob Peters whacked out a round-tripper after Paul Nemitz had walked.

Erie threatened in the sixth inning by loading the bases before Nelson retired the last man on a strikeout.

Nelson struck out six for the third-place teams, while Renz gave up five hits and struck out three.

Great players spur Hastings Loesch’s Bar to championship run in the 1960s

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Loesch’s Bar of Hastings, Minnesota won two state championships during the 1960s, along with numerous tournaments. Team members holding the tournament trophies they won are from left, Jim Schnieder (deceased), Walt Nelson ( deceased), Clayt McNamara, Dave Amy ( deceased), Pat Orman, unknown player, Dick Bacon, Curt Thalburg, Don Amy, Gene Hageman, Larry McNamara, Dave Bacon and Tom Niederkorn. Bat boys, Kirk Van Guilder, left, and Tom Schneider. Missing are manager Red Van Guilder (deceased) and Tom Swanson. Photo Courtesy of Steve Nelson.

HASTINGS, Minn. – It takes talent to make a fastpitch team great, and back in the 1960s Hastings was brimming with it.

Located 25 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, small town Hastings (pop. 8,000 in 1960) produced outstanding players such as twins Don and Dave Amy; brothers Jack and Tom Swanson, Curt Thalberg, Gary Kordosky, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Niederkorn and Walt Nelson.

They put Hastings on the ‘fastpitch’ map by winning big games and big tournaments throughout the state.

But the biggest prize was winning the Amateur Softball Association state tournament. And in 1961, 1964 and 1965, Hastings teams brought home the championship trophy, along with finishing runner-up twice, 1962 and 1966.

However, one Hastings team stood out: Loesch’s Bar which won the 1964 and 1965 titles and finished runner-up in 1966.

    NELSON MANS THE RUBBER

As the team’s catcher, Gene Hageman marveled how good the team was – from its solid hitting, 1-through-9 lineup, to its defense and pitching. Though each player filled a vital role, Walt Nelson – the ace of the pitching staff – was the integral cog that made winning championships possible.

“Walt had grit,” said Hageman. “No one was going to beat him. I would set the glove and he would hit it. His best pitch was his drop ball. In some tournaments, we played up to seven games and Walt would pitch most of them. He could throw all day.”

Click to continue reading “Great players spur Hastings Loesch’s Bar to championship run in the 1960s”

Bob Thurmes Relives Memories of Loesch’s Bar and Its Roster of Fastpitch Stars

Friday, January 6th, 2017

BOB THURMES circa 1970s when Thurmes played for The King and His Court that featured fabled pitcher Eddie Feigner, who barnstomed throughout the world for 55 years, before he died Feb. 9, 2007. Thurmes played for the four-man team in 1971 and again 1974-’75. Bob Thurmes / Courtesy Photo

HASTINGS, Minn. – Bob Thurmes’ fastpitch travels have taken him far during a career that started as a teenager in the early 1960s and lasted until 1980. He played for such legendary teams as the Clearwater, Florida, Bombers – 10-time Amateur Softball Association national champions.

And he played for the fabled King and His Court, one of the great barnstorming softball teams that featured the incomparable pitcher Eddie Feigner, who much like the Harlam Globetrotters thrilled fans with his skill and showmanship that included pitching behind his back, through his legs and even blindfolded.

No doubt, Thurmes once pitched and played for some great fastpitch teams.

But Thurmes, who grew up in Hastings, also pitched for Loesch’s Bar, the hometown team that won two Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Class A state championships in 1964 and ’65, along with second, third and fourth place finishes during the ball club’s reign from the early 1960s into the 1970s, when the team disbanded.

NELSON AND LOESCH’S PUT HASTINGS ON FASTPITCH MAP

Loesch’s featured primarily local talent. However, the team came into prominence when talented pitcher, Walt Nelson, moved to Hastings from Ohio in 1962.

Nelson’s prowess soon made an impact in the Minnesota state fastpitch tournament.

The powerful right-hander led the Hastings American Legion to runner-up in the 1962 state tournament, and in 1964 and 1965, he hurled Loesch’s Bar to back-to-back titles. Thurmes got a close-up look at Nelson in his formative years.

“Walt Nelson was one of my fastpitch heroes,” said Thurmes. “I grew up across the street from Wilson Park and I would watch Loesch’s Bar play for years and beat the best teams from the Twin Cities (such as) Whitaker Buick and Al DeWall, 7-Up, and Peter’s Meats from Eau Claire.”

Thurmes briefly teamed-up with Nelson to form one of the stronger pitching staffs in the state: a young, up-and-coming star, along with a proven veteran in his prime.

STAR STUDDED ROSTER

“I was a senior in high school when they took a look at me,” Thurmes said. “I was young and the first tournament I pitched for them in was in Rochester. Walt and I were the pitchers and in my first game, I went up against last year’s champs and we won 2-1 in 15 innings. The Amy brothers (Don and Dave) had at least six double plays. They were really great players.”

Thurmes also got the nod when Loesch’s had to face Mankato, rated in the top-three of Minnesota elite teams with Dale Root in the circle, one of the up and coming young pitchers in the Midwest.

“(The manager) asked Walt about me pitching and Walt said, ‘let the kid pitch,’” Thurmes said. “I went five innings and it was 0-0, but Root hit a two-run home run off me.”

Thurmes says Loesch’s was loaded with talented ball players back in the 1960s, including the likes catcher Kurt Johnson, Don and Dave Amy, Kurt Thalburg, Jim Beattie, Pat Orman, Larry McNamara, Gene Hageman, Tom Swanson and Tom Niederkorn.

“Niederkorn was a great player and ended up with Whitaker Buick,” Thurmes said, “and Swanson, a shortstop, was one of the best.”

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

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

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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.