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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 TOURNEY
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.

1956 WISCONSIN SOFTBALL CHAMPIONS
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.

    Bill Hopeman put Hingham, Wisc. on the fastpitch map

    Thursday, May 18th, 2017

    Since the late 1930s, hundreds of softball players have played fastpitch at the Hingham ballfields. Courtesy Photo

    “I have skipped class reunions and some marriages because of ball. It was probably wrong, but nothing was more important than playing ball. I just loved the game.” – Bill Hopeman

    HINGHAM, Wisc. – When he was six years old, Bill Hopeman got his first taste of fastpitch softball on Hingham’s grade school playground.

    Swinging a bat, catching and throwing a softball soon became a passion. His favorite position?

    “Anywhere they would let me play,” said Hopeman, who was younger than many of the school kids back in the early 1950s. “But mostly I played third base, shortstop and some first base.”

    But over the ensuing years, “let me play,” became a plea of sorts to “please pitch for us,” as Hopeman switched from infielder to pitcher. An outstanding one at that – who many claim the best to hurl a softball in the Hingham fastpitch league.

    Click to continue reading “Bill Hopeman put Hingham, Wisc. on the fastpitch map”