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USSSA Update - Welcome to the Dudley
By Gerry Turnberg
Central Division Vice President
On behalf of Minnesota’s USSSA and the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association, I want to welcome all players and fans to Brooklyn Center’s Dudley/Budweiser/Easton Major NIT. It is hard to believe that this is the 31st year that the world’s best softball players have invaded the Gopher State. I am fortunate enough to have been involved in all 31 tourneys in various capacities. I look forward to this event with great anticipation each year, not only for the quality of softball that is displayed, but also for the opportunity to renew old friendships. There are many memories of past tourneys, but what I cherish most are the lasting relationships this tourney has created with friends from all over the country.
For those of you who are not familiar with our program, we are very proud of the fact that Minnesota ranked first nationally in team registrations during the 2012 campaign. We registered over 5,600 teams. We also led the country in umpire registrations last year! We sent over 150 teams to National, and World tournaments last fall and we are very proud of the fact that H. Auto from LeSueur captured the Mixed “C” world title.
This past February, a crowd of over 300 gathered at Brooklyn Center’s Crown Plaza to honor our newest inductees into our State Hall of Fame – Chaun DeMars, Marty Hanft, Duke Johnson, Jennifer McGuinness, Jim Proulx, Mike Ross, Jerry Ruegemer, Randy Sonnenfeld, Steve Swanson and Deb Tix.
All indications reveal that Minnesota’s USSSA will continue to grow and prosper in the years to come. Our No. 1 priority is to give you, the participant, a quality program that you can enjoy.
Let’s give a warm Minnesota welcome to Rick Robertson USSSA’s National Umpire-In-Chief. Rick was appointed Umpire-In-Chief in 1999 and has served in that capacity since that time. This is the eighth year he has traveled across the country for Nationwide Conference USSSA tournaments. Rick is responsible for bracketing, scheduling umpires and their travel, checking bats, tournament directing when needed and serving as Umpire-In-Chief of the conference tournaments. Robertson has also been the Umpire-In-Chief for the Men’s A World and Men’s Major World Series since 1999. Rick was inducted into the USSSA National Hall of Fame in 1996 and resides in Kissimmee, Fla., with his fiancée Anna.
Once again, some of the country’s finest will be calling balls and strikes at this Dudley. Let’s meet these dedicated individuals:
Jerry Marinelli – Jerry enjoys retirement from the Post Office after 36 years of employment. He has retired from umpiring but continues to be our State Umpire in Chief the past eight years. Jerry umpired the 2000 and 2004 Men’s Major World Series in Florida. In 2002, he was inducted into the USSSA Minnesota Hall of Fame. In 2009, Jerry received the USSSA National Spark Plug of the Year Award. He is married and has two children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His hobbies include golfing and being around softball.
Mike Fluegge – Mike is a 22-year retired U.S. Air Force veteran and is currently an independent insurance agent /broker for Eagle Insurance Center. He’s been a USSSA Official since 1999 and this is his eighth Dudley. Mike is also the Minnesota USSSA State Deputy Umpire in Chief. In 2007, he umpired the Men’s Major World Series, the Men’s “A” and “B” World Series, and the Conference USSSA Championships in Florida. He’s officiated many other World, National, Regional, and State Tournaments in his career. Mike has two sons, Kevin (26) and Nicholas (24), and a daughter, Skyler (14). He enjoys hunting, fishing, riding his Harley Davidson Road King Classic and spending good quality time with his parents, Ron and Mavis, and the rest of his family.
Dave Robinson – Dave is a high school and college football and basketball official. He played in the first seven Dudleys. Dave worked in the 1997 Men’s Major World Series in Daytona Beach. This is his 23rd year umpiring in the Classic! Dave is also a member of our USSSA Minnesota Hall of Fame.
Ken Girard – This will be Ken’s 20th Dudley Classic. Ken has been umpiring and refereeing for 30-plus years. During those 30 years Ken has worked for Joe Ericksen in Brooklyn Center Park and Rec. He umpired the 2012 Men’s Class “C” World Tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and numerous state and national tournaments, including two Class B and two Over 35 World Series. Ken has also been a member of the Minnesota State High School League for 14 years doing basketball, football, baseball and broomball. Ken’s hobbies include deer hunting, fishing and most anything outdoors.
Dana Erickson – This is Dana’s 28th year as an umpire and his 19th Dudley. He has been married to Leileni for 29 years. In 2012, Dana, umpired the Men’s Class “C” World Tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He has worked numerous NIT’s and State Tournaments. Dana enjoys playing poker and spending time with his wife. He also has worked for Center Point Energy for 35 years.
Erick Norby – Erick is an Assistant Principal at Plymouth Middle School for the Robbinsdale Area Schools. He’s umpired since 1995. Erick umpired the Men’s “B” and Men’s “D” National Tournament in the championship game. From 2001-08 he was the umpire in chief for New Hope. This is Erick’s 13th year umpiring the Dudley. He has two wonderful children, Marissa (17) and Reese (13).
Rick Alexander– This is Rick’s 11th consecutive year in the Dudley. This is his 28th season as a USSSA umpire. He has been the umpire in Chief in New Hope, Minn., for four years. Rick has umpired many National and World tournaments, including the 2003 Men’s Master’s, 2004 “C” World and the 2006 “D” World tournaments. Rick is a Senior Account Management Representative with Prudential Financial. He has been married to his lovely wife, Breanna, for 12 years and has a daughter, Virginia Lynn (2). Rick is also very active in the community and is a board member of his local Lions Club. They reside in Monticello, Minn.
Mike Ellenz – Mike is the owner of Premier Construction Services and has umpired 32 NCAA baseball and fastpitch national championships. He has also worked State, National and World USSSA Slow-Pitch events. In 2010, he was inducted into the USSSA Minnesota Hall of Fame. This is Mike’s ninth Dudley Classic.
Pete Strand III – Pete lives in Rosemount, Minn. He has worked for RB Honda for 12 years in the parts department. Pete has umpired in 4 World Series and has been umpiring for 19 years. He has played and umpired in many state and national tournaments, and is still playing. Pete also enjoys golfing, bowling and mountain biking. This is Pete’s eighth Dudley.
Bart Peck – Bart’s been umpiring for 19 years and this is his sixth Dudley Classic. During this time he has umpired numerous Regional, NIT’s, State and World Tournaments in Orlando, Fla. Bart has been married for 27 years to his wonderful wife Katie and they have two great kids, Alex (18) and Amanda (16). In addition to umpiring softball, Bart is also a high school baseball and basketball official. He spends much of his summer watching his daughter Amanda’s fastpitch team and is Alex’s No. 1 baseball and basketball fan!
Cathy Hoffman – Cathy has two sons, Dalton (14) and Garret (12), and resides in Ramsey. She has been a physical education/substitute teacher for 21 years. For the past five years, Cathy has worked for Minnesota USSSA Softball as my assistant. Cathy has played women’s and mixed softball for over 36 years with numerous all-tournament team honors, state and national titles. From 2008-12, Cathy has umpired the World Tournaments in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Cathy has been umpiring for 10 years and this is Cathy’s sixth Dudley Tournament.
Reggie Jarrett – Reggie and his wife Mary were born and raised in the Windy City. He has four children, Eddie (33), Reggie Jr. (29), Regina (28) and Lance (21), and eight grandchildren. Reggie has worked for the Minneapolis Park Board for the last 24 years. His hobbies include bowling, golfing, riding his motorcycle and playing competitive softball for the last 17 years. Reggie has umpired numerous men’s and women’s B, C, D and E National and World qualifiers. The past five years he umpired the Men’s B, C, D and Women’s B, C and D World Series in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This is Reggie’s fifth Dudley Classic.
Kevin Peterson – Kevin has worked 28 years in the automotive field as a GM Technician. He has been an umpire for 22 years and has umpired in Nationals, NIT’s and State Tournaments. When not umpiring, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife Paige and his twin boys, Nick (10) and Nate (10). This is Kevin’s fifth Dudley Classic.
Earl Thompson – Earl has been married for 27 years to his lovely wife Debbie. They have three children, two boys and a girl. He works at the Anoka County Courthouse. Earl has been umpiring for 21 years. He has umpired two World Tournaments in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., along with many NIT, World Qualifiers and Men’s Major Conference Tournaments. Earl has coached many different levels from high school, college, semi pros and arena football. This is Earl’s fourth Dudley Classic.
Steve Thornton – Steve is an eight-year Marine Corps veteran. He has umpired at all levels from football, basketball, baseball and softball. Steve has been umpiring for 13 years. In 2010-12 he has umpired the Men’s B, C, E and Women’s A and B World Tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Steve has five children, two boys and three girls, Jacboy (33), Mikaela (25), Imani (24), Shayania (16) and Steven (9). Steve enjoys fishing and camping and spending quality time with his children. This is Steve’s fourth Dudley Classic.
Mark Dallenbach – Mark has worked for HD – Supply – Creative Touch Interiors for the past five years as the branch manager for Minneapolis and Chicago markets. He has been married for 12 years and has two children. He has umpired in Nationals, NIT’s and State Tournaments. He has umpired the 2010-12 World Tournaments in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This is Mark’s fourth Dudley Classic. He loves spending time with his wife and children.
Dave “the Durb” Allen – This is Dave’s second Dudley Classic. He has been a registered USSSA umpire for the last 14 years. He has been to three World Tournaments in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Dave has umpired multiple National tourneys out state and NIT World qualifiers, State tournaments and district play-offs. His quote of the day: “LET’S PLAY BALL.”
Scotty O’Neil – Scotty resides in Eagan, Minn., and has been a USSSA umpire for 24 years. This is his second Dudley Classic. He has three children, Kimberly, Kevin and Kyle and four grandchildren. He worked the 2011 World Series in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and several state and national tournaments. He recently traveled to Columbus, Ohio and Joliet, Ill., to umpire the Conference Tournaments.
Chuck (Doc) Beckwell – Chuck hails from the Wolverine State. “Doc,” as he is known to the softball world, works as a family and cosmetic dentist in both Shelby Township and St. Clair Shores, Mich. Chuck, Beth and their four kids, Charles III, Erin, Robert and Allyson, reside in Shelby Township as well. He started umpiring in 1977 and joined the USSSA in 1984 while at Liberty Park of America in Sterling Heights, Mich. He has umpired in world tourneys each year since then, including the class A/AA, first in Raleigh, Va. leading up to the Men’s Class A Final this year in its new home in Kissimmee, Fla., on the fields at Fortune Road. Doc has worked world tournaments in each major classification since beginning in 1984 including over 650 games in Conference USSSA. He umpired a home run derby in Tiger Stadium in 2001 where Mike Macenko became only the 19th player to ever clear the roof in the stadium, joining Harmon Killebrew, the great Minnesota Twins player, as one of only five players to ever clear the right field roof in the now razed stadium. Doc umpired the first-ever USSSA Conference final at the plate in 2006 and added the plate for the finals of the Class “A” and Major World Series that year as well. In 2006 he attended the USSSA National Convention and was named USSSA “Official of the Year.” Doc was inducted into the Michigan USSSA Hall of Fame in 1996, was elected into the USSSA National Hall of Fame and has worked in eleven Major World Series in his long career of service to the USSSA. Chuck looks forward to the camaraderie of his fellow umpires in Minnesota and the outstanding competition and tradition of the 31st annual Dudley Budweiser Classic. This will be Doc’s seventh Dudley Classic.
Tony (The Rook) Walczak – Tony currently lives in Macomb Township, Mich., where he is a supervisor in shipping and receiving. He joined USSSA in 1993 at Liberty Park of America in Sterling Heights, Mich. Tony has umpired eight Men’s Major World Series (2004-11) and four Mixed World Series Tournaments (2006 and 2008-11). He has also umpired six Conference USSSA Championships (2006-11), numerous NIT’s, State and Regional Tournaments. Tony has called several World Tournaments including five “A”, two “B”, three “C” and “D.” He has been honored to receive the Michigan Umpire in Chief award in 2005, the 2010 USSSA National Umpire of the Year Award, the 2011 National USSSA Official of the Year and was inducted into the Michigan Hall of Fame this past March. This is Tony’s seventh Dudley Budweiser Classic.
Duane (Drano) Posavetz – Duane is originally from Michigan and now resides in Orlando, Fla., where he’s a service consultant for a Chevrolet dealership. Drano has been umpiring for over 29 years with many accolades to include USSSA “Official of the Year” in 2007. He’s umpired all levels at the National and World Series divisions, to include 12 Major World Series appearances, with the first in Fredrick, Md., in 1996. He and his beautiful wife Linda have two wonderful kids, Jason (34) and Kelly (22), and is the proud new grandpa of Kailey Grace (Jason’s first born). He enjoys bowling and playing golf with his wife, Mr. Rick and the lovely Ms. Anna. This is Drano’s seventh Dudley.
In addition to the umpires who will be working the trenches, I want you to know some of the other fine individuals associated with the Dudley/Budweiser/Easton Classic:
Jim Glasoe, our host, is the Director of Brooklyn Center’s Community Activities, Recreation and Service Department. Jim enjoys golf and home improvement projects in his spare time. Jim and his wife, Ann, of 24 years reside in Champlin. Their two sons are attending college in sunny California.
Joe Ericksen, our host, is the Recreation Program Supervisor for the City of Brooklyn Center. Joe runs one of the state’s finest USSSA leagues. His hobbies include softball, hunting and fishing. Joe and his wife, Theresa, reside in Champlin. He is a member of our state Hall of Fame.
Warren Bellm is the choreographer for this tournament. As the Tournament Director, he ultimately has the responsibility of coordinating the overall effort along with Joe. Warren will have put in literally hundreds of hours before a champion is declared on Sunday afternoon. He is responsible for making this the No. 1 NIT in the country. Warren himself was a well-respected umpire for 16 years and is currently a USSSA Area Director. He also has been the Tournament Director for the Men’s Major World Series and numerous Conference Tournaments. Warren retired as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office of Hennepin County. This spring he started his fourth season working for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in guest services. Warren and his wife, Sandy, have two children and four grandchildren. Warren is a member of our State Hall of Fame.
Joe Bruntmyer is a tournament assistant. Joe is the Athletic Supervisor for the Vernon Hills Illinois Park District. Joe, who was my assistant in 2000, comes back to his old stomping grounds to assist each year. Joe and his wife are proud parents of baby August, and live in Vernon Hills, Ill.
Gregg Otten has been in and around softball for over 40 years and is a member of our State Hall of Fame. Gregg started OTTS Product Company specializing in softball bat protection equipment. Gregg, his wife Patty, and daughter Kelsey (22), live in Maple Grove.
Steve Cahill would normally be umpiring this weekend but a knee injury has put him on the staff. Steve’s son Aaron and his wife Sara have a son Logan who grandpa is very proud of! Steve is employed by Goodin, a wholesale plumbing and heating company, and also works for the city of Brooklyn Center. Steve is a member of our State Hall of Fame.
When the voice of softball, Ray Molphy, retired a few years ago, some thought it would leave a void in the announcing department. But the announcing has not missed a beat with the very capable Dave Trombley. When Ray had to catch a plane before the start of the “98” championship game, Dave was called to duty and he’s been behind the mic on the north field ever since. Dave, who is 40 years old, lives in Brooklyn Park.
Steve Ericson will be on the mic on the south field this weekend. He is very well respected in the softball world and is a member of our State Hall of Fame. Steve is employed by Independent School District 279. As the girls’ fastpitch coach at Park Center High School, he guided the Pirates to back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011. Steve has been named the Class AA State Coach of the Year during those championship seasons. He and his wife Miki of 36 years reside in Otsego.
Brooklyn Center’s Park Maintenance Department is the best in the business. Once again the playing conditions will be second to none!
I have only mentioned a handful of people associated with this tournament. Obviously it takes a great deal more people than that to run a tournament of this magnitude.I salute the many employees of the park maintenance, police, recreation, and volunteer fire departments and others who lend their time and talents to make this the best Men’s Major National Invitational Tournament in the country.
Check out the Minnesota USSSA website and view the listings of all tournaments. You can also print out copies of numerous fliers for weekend tournaments.
Minnesota USSSA/MRPA Website:
National USSSA Website Access:
If I can be of any assistance in any of your softball needs, please call me at 763-571-1305 x 108 or 1-800-862-3659 x 108, e-mail me at email@example.com or stop by my office at 200 Charles Street NE, Fridley, MN 55432.
REMEMBER – It is you, the player, coach, fan, director, umpire and association that make USSSA a GREAT organization and the place to be!