Wisconsin ASA Hall of Fame

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A Step Back In Time: Mark Rako Joins Elite Company In Fastpitch Hall of Fame

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Mark “Vinnie” Rako poses with legendary U.S. Olympic softball player Dot Richardson during the University of Dubuque’s spring trip to Florida in March, 2013

Platteville pitcher to join SW Wisocnsin Fast Pitch Hall of Fame

By Jason Nihles
POSTED June 5, 2013 2:27 p.m.

BOSCOBEL, Wisc. – Mark Rako’s fast-pitch softball career began 41 years ago as a 14-year-old boy on the old field in Arthur.

Over the course of a career that spanned five decades “Vinnie”, as he was better known by teammates and opponents alike, developed into one of the best pitchers in the area.

“I don’t think some people even know my real name,” Rako joked.

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A Step Back In Time: Bud Werner MVP of 1956 Wisconsin State Fastpitch Softball Tournament

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Outstanding players of the 1956 Wisconsin Amateur Softball State Tournament sponsored by Oshkosh Club 13, receive individual awards from Killian Spanbauer, right, tourney director. From left, are Jim Chambers, Racine, Outstanding Manager; Steve Firtko, Racine, Outstanding Player; Norm Joecks, Appleton, for the Outstanding Play; and Bud Werner, Appleton, Outstanding Pitcher, and Spanbauer. Photo By The Oshkosh Northwestern Newspaper

OSHKOSH, Wisc. – Bud Werner, pitching for Appleton Ponds, hurled 21 innings in two games Saturday night and was named the Outstanding Pitcher of the 1956 Wisconsin Amateur Softball Tournament.

The tournament, which drew the state’s ten leading teams, was held from Wednesday to Sunday at South Side Field in Oshkosh.

Werner was selected as the leading pitcher for his 3-1 record. One of the top pitchers in the Fox River Valley area, Werner hurled Appleton to a 14-inning, 4-3 victory over Kenosha earlier Sunday night in the semifinals.

The Racine Raiders swept through four games unbeaten to capture the Wisconsin Amateur Softball Championship in the state tournament held in Oshkosh from last Wednesday to Sunday night. The champions (kneeling from left) are Dave Monson; Bob Welsh; Jim Kimberlain; Tony De Lorenzo; Jerry Heidenreich and Mike Corona. Standing from left are Bob Seitz; George Lorentsen; Dick Welsh; Russ Niebauer; Roger Aceto; Steve Firtko (tourney Most Valuable Player); Harry Erickson; John McCabe and Mgr. Jim Chambers; who was selected the Most Outstanding Manager. The bat boy is Robert Paulsen. Photo By the Oshkosh Northwestern Newspaper.

Werner’s lone loss, a 2-0 setback, came in the championship game to the Racine Raiders. Racine finished 4-0, all by shutouts. The Raiders have lost only two games the entire season and advance to regional play next weekend.

Those two losses were to College Corner of Indiana in the Oshkosh Optimist Club’s invitational tournament.

Two Racine and two Appleton players were awarded individual awards.

Appleton infielder Norm Joecks was awarded the Most Outstanding Play for turning in the fielding gem of the tournament when he converted a hard-hit line drive into a double play in that 14-inning marathon with Kenosha.

The honor of being the Most Valuable Player went to Steve Firtko of Racine. Firtko led Racine’s drive to the championship with a home run and a double in the finale.

  • Firtko was inducted into the Wisconsin Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1993.
  • Jim Chambers, Racine’s manager and great pitcher was named the tourney’s outstanding manager.

    A Step Back In Time: Titles Easier Than Sponsors for Otto’s Liquor

    Friday, January 20th, 2017

    JERRY FANGMANN of Otto’s Bar (1966) delivers a pitch in city fastpitch league action. Fangmann has been with the team during the championship run and has already thrown a no-hitter. Staff Photo / Minneapolis Star

    Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
    July 23, 1966

    MINNEAPOLIS – The record will show that for the past four years a different entry has won the Minneapolis Park Board Fastpitch softball championship.

    A different entry, yes. But a different team, no.

    The team, currently playing under the name of Otto’s, has held a monopoly on city fastpitch honors since 1962. Since that year they have triumphed 162 times, lost 20, for a winning percentage of 9-of-10.

    With sponsor, however, they haven’t even batted .500.

    “Since 1962,” says the team’s shortstop Laurie Balzer, “we’ve had three sponsors and played more-or-less on our own the other two years.”

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    The Stuhrs, a brotherly band of Wisconsin fastpitch stars

    Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

    HOLMEN, WI – In 1971 Bruce Stuhr laced up his spikes, grabbed his glove and trotted on to a fastpitch softball field. Little did he know that he had just paved a dusty path for his younger brothers to follow. Four younger Stuhrs have since trailed after their older brother.

    After Bruce came David, then Larry and Allen, and finally Dan. They were a versatile bunch that could fill every spot on the field.

    “Bruce and Larry played all six infield spots,” said Dan, 46, the youngest. “(And) I played all nine positions at one time or another.”

    Dan added that Larry (2003) and Bruce (1997) were inducted into the Wisconsin ASA Hall of Fame. Bruce, 59, is retired, but in 1979 he was selected the ASA Great Lakes Regional Most Valuable Player for his .833 batting average (15-for-18), an honor he repeated in 1980.

    Larry, 56, and still playing part time, has an abundance of accolades, too. An outstanding third baseman, he played on 11 state championship teams, and was an ASA All-American in Class A, Age 40-Over, and 45-Over. He hit 270 home runs with 1,300 RBIs, and twice was the Great Lakes ASA Class A Most Valuable Player.

    “Larry was known for his clutch hitting and phenomenal defense,” Dan said. “He is regarded as probably the best defensive third baseman that most people ever saw.”

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