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Softball and baseball’s favorite newspaper since 1987

Fireman’s, Frolics make summer sizzle


By Don Bowman

Let’s Play Softball Columnist


With beautiful weather continuing all the way through July, it’s not surprising that the Bloomington Fireman’s and Crystal Frolics tournaments were another big hit in the Twin Cities this year!

Xtreme/Miken Softball, the top rated team in the state, were brilliant in claiming not one, but BOTH tournament championships in men’s open play!

Xtreme won the men’s Open Division in the Fireman’s on July 18-20, while another very hot men’s team, the B-52’s of Inver Grove Heights, took home Division II championship honors.

Another job well done by Fireman’s director Jeff Barnes, ASA commish Dan Pfeffer, and the Bloomington Parks and Rec department, who put on a GREAT show! Toss in the beer tent and some semi pro wrestling, it doesn’t get much better! ASA softball is back on the rise in Minnesota!


Fun at Crystal Frolics

Speaking of great tournaments and tournament directors, nobody works much harder than Crystal Frolics tournament director Jim Wajda and his staff! What a fantastic event they ran in Crystal on July 25-27! The spectacular fireworks, rides for the kiddies and great softball made for a perfect weekend for area residents and ballplayers! This is Wajda’s 24th year running the event!

Once again it was Xtreme/Miken grabbing the $1,000 in cash for winning the open division, taking down the mighty T’s 13/DeMarini squad out of Nebraska in the finals, while H. Auto claimed third. Class D champions were BP Athletics out of the North Metro. MPL out of Little Canada was the highest finishing “C” team in the open event as well.

Birdie McGovern won the men’s D home run contest, while Jake Gallery won the men’s open long ball contest. In a “swing off,” McGovern knocked off Gallery to win a $200 savings bond!

Also recognized was Dick Anderson of St. Anthony, 84 years young, who was recognized for his contributions to area softball for over 60 years! Anderson, in addition to weekend tournaments, plays FOUR DAYS a week!

A big thanks go out to the Crystal Parks and Rec Department, and Crystal Frolics committee for a job well done!


Get well soon

Long-time Minnesota Twins organist Sue Nelson is nursing a broken wrist which was sustained while walking to her car after a recent Twins game. Despite the injury and cast on her arm, she continued working through the pain and performed her duties as usual! This included working the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Target field!

Joe Mauer and Ricky Nalasco ($35 million between them in salary this year), by the way, continue to sit it out for the record, nursing injuries of their own. Good thing we have Sue ‘manning’ the stadium!

Sue’s husband Larry, by the way, offered to fill in for Sue with his ukulele in the meantime, but was turned down by Twins management!


Silverbacks win Rice Street Days title

Don Robinette’s Silverbacks of St. Paul won the 2014 Rice Street Days men’s tournament in St. Paul on July 26-27.


H. Auto posts huge upset

Rob Hortenbach’s H. Auto class B ball club shocked the No. 2 team in the land, Laservision/Easton (New York) in the Cincinnati Major NIT a few weeks ago. In doing so, the team garnered enough conference points to qualify for the prestigious USSSA Major World Series at Disney Florida in September!


Geno Buck heads to Last Chance NIT

Speaking of the major world series, Red Wing, Minn., softball star Geno Buck and his Fallen (Las Vegas) club will travel to Michigan for the Last Chance World NIT in early August. As of this writing, his team has not qualified for the World Series, and have to finish strong in the motor city event in order to qualify.

Geno’s daughter is a starting guard for the Wisconsin-Green Bay Division I women’s  basketball team by the way!


MN Masters White takes second

The MN Masters White men’s 60s major plus team out of White Bear Lake finished world runner-up at the SPA Men’s Major Plus Worlds in Dalton, Ga.,  two weeks ago. In the finals they lost to No. 1 rated Superior Softball of Virginia with Hollis Appraisals (Fla.) finishing third. Don Tarasewicz, Garry Morris, Larry Nelson, Greg Shaver, Lon Stole and Gary Hamilton were named to the all American team.

The club finished third at the ISF World Cup championships in Roanoke, Va., on June 14-15 as well.


B-52’s win Berry Days crown

The B-52’s out of Inver Grove Heights won the Cottage Grove Berry Days tourney last month. They played “berry good!”


Grandfathered bat question

Long-time reader Richard Cranium of Faribault writes in: “Diamond Don, what’s up with policy regarding ‘grandfathered USSSA bats?’ Are they good or not this year?

Dick: Old/grandfathered USSSA bats can only be used by leagues that specifically permit them in their league bylaws. They are NOT allowed in many leagues now, and definitely not allowed in tournaments or the postseason!

It looks like all leagues could be going “grandfatherless” in 2015, so be prepared to buy a new model if you already have not!.


Senior Softball Qualifier set for Eagan

The Minnesota Senior Games Softball Qualifier is slated for Saturday, August 9, at Diffley/Lexington Park in Eagan.  Seventeen teams are entered so far. Come on out and check out the action in men’s/women’s 50-80 year old play!

Teams qualifying will advance to the National Senior Games Tournament, also in Eagan, in 2015!


MN Senior Sports Golf Tournament

The Minnesota Senior Sports annual golf tournament is slated for September 15 at the Tanners Brook Golf Course. For information, e-mail Ray Brown at Proceeds go to support amateur senior athletics!

Speaking of the Tanners Brook course, former Wintz Trucking softball star and Hill-Murray hockey standout Nick Guzzo shot a hole in one there last week!


MN Masters Red 60s wins in Kansas

The MN Masters Red 60s AAA club out of Little Canada won the SSUSA Tournament of Champions Qualifier in Hutchinson, Kan., a few weeks ago, and in doing so, qualified for the TOC in Winter Haven, Fla., come February!