Jesus “Jessie” Adamez
Jessie Adamez brings a world-class resume to the Softball Hall of Fame. His playing days as a fleet-footed, strong-armed outfielder saw 13 National and World Championships, five second-place finishes, and six third-place finishes. His accolades also include being a five-time tournament MVP, and a 10-time All American. As if that weren’t enough, Jessie also was recruited to play for the USSSA Hispanic World Tournament team.
Jessie’s career started in 1972 as a teenager. Early in his career, he spent time playing with the Unilex 76’ers, Road Buddies, and TNS Trophies. In 1982, Jessie joined the famous Coffee Cup team, where he played until 1997. In 1998, the Minnesota Merchants recruited Jessie, and he has been playing there ever since. Jessie would also intermittently play senior ball with Doc’s Greyhounds.
In his younger days, Jessie would play any position asked of him, and bat anywhere in the order. Today, Jessie is primarily a pitcher and designated hitter. His teammates even referred to his bat as “The Magic Wand,” because of Jessie’s ability to “magically” put the ball anywhere in play he wanted. To this day, Jessie remains one of the best hitters for contact in Minnesota softball history.
Nominator Jeff Swenson referred to Jessie as “the consummate teammate. Everything he did was about the team first and himself second. He would bat anywhere in the order he was asked to, and would play any position.” Jeff spoke of the concept of Merchant Class and Merchant Toughness as key focal points for the Merchants, describing Jessie as “the ultimate example of ‘Merchant Class.’”
Nancy Anderson played for the legendary Anoka Spooks from 1988 thru 1997. She did an excellent job of playing outfield, was an excellent infielder, and eventually pitched towards the end of her career. Nancy had an amazingly good glove and an accurate arm; no matter what position she played. She excelled at third base with her quick reactions and defensive reliability.
Nancy led by doing the little things like moving runners along and sacrificing when needed. Maintaining a career batting average of .570, Nancy could hit to all fields, and was part of a speed package the Spooks used during her years with the team. While with the Spooks, Nancy was a part of three national championship teams in 1988, 1990, and 1996. She was also named an All American in 1988 and 1990.
Before playing for the Spooks, Nancy played for equally legendary teams like Haleks and the Minneapolis Spirits. Her career spanned 22 years, and she played in an amazing 18 straight national tournaments.
Nancy played on teams that won eight state championships, being named to the All Tournament Team three times. Nancy was quiet in nature but loud on the field with her actions. She was well liked and enjoyed the luxury of having her parents come to almost every game, home and away.
Player/Meritorious Service, Ellsworth
Marlin Boom began playing men’s fast pitch in 1959 at the age of 14. Initially, he sat on the bench, but took the field quickly when a teammate suffered a broken leg. So began Marlin’s 56-year career on the softball diamond. Marlin was a “long ball hitter.” He primarily played center field, shortstop, and first base.
Marlin played for several teams throughout his career. These included not-only his startup team of Valley Springs, SD, but also Beaver Creek (Lester, IA), Brass Rail Bar (Sioux Falls, SD) IPB, and Ellsworth Town. He ended playing 40 and Over with Taco Villa (SD).
Marlin holds the honor of being on the All Tournament team for the 1989 Minnesota Class B Champions, Ellsworth Town. He was also a member of the 1997 Super Sound Tapes over 45 National Champs. Marlin served as the Border League President for several years. He not only played the game, but also coached the little league team, which included Jim Harms, and his sons, Chad and BJ. All three went on to play men’s fast pitch at the major levels. Marlin officially retired in 2002. He continues to be involved as a certified umpire for men’s and girls fast pitch in Minnesota and South Dakota.
Umpiring has enabled Marlin to continue sharing his knowledge of the game. He taught his sons and now 10 granddaughters how to play the game. Marlin’s advice to all players is: “Catch the ball with two hands and ALWAYS think ahead and know where the play is on defense.”
“Catch the ball with two hands,” is still heard today in the Border League, a nod to Marlin.
Player, St. James/Mankato
With hundreds of wins, thousands of strikeouts, and millions of memories along the way, Craig Brown is surely one of the finest left-handed pitchers in Minnesota Softball history.
Craig’s career began in 1966, as an outfield sub with the St. James VFW team. From there, he worked his way in as a pitcher, pitching for the US Army Fort Harrison team in 1969 and Fort Leonard in 1970.
Following the Army teams, Craig played for St. James VFW, Mankato Circle Inn, Mankato Bouhers Inc, Buttertop in Clear Lake, IA, Mankato Mettler’s Bar, Mankato Happy Chef, James Gang of St. James, Gaylord Prairie House, and Super Sound Tapes.
Craig was a key player on several state championship teams (1974 – Circle Inn, 1977 and 1979 – Mettler’s Bar, 1981-1983 – James Gang). Craig also made several appearances on the national and world tours, taking 5th at World’s in 1980, and a third place finish on the Over-40 National Tour in 1990. In all, teams Craig played for won seven state championships, four Northern Regional Championships, and had two World Tournament appearances. According to Hall of Famer Don Rotert, Craig “probably had more wins against Class AA teams than any left handed pitcher in Minnesota softball history.”
Arguably Craig’s best year pitching was in 1981 with the State Champion James Gang team. Craig led his team to 41 wins, 20 by shutout. He also sported a stingy 0.65 ERA with 373 strikeouts.
Player/Pioneer, St. Paul/Minnetonka
Donald Carruth began playing slow pitch softball in 1961 for Tonka TV. While softball is our main focus tonight, we should note while Donald was starting his softball career, he was also playing amateur baseball in St. Bonifacious. His baseball team won 3 Amateur Class B State Tournaments in 1961, 1964, and 1965.
In 1966, Donald decided to focus on slow pitch softball exclusively. His playing career as an infielder and outfielder includes stints with Tonka TV, Burches Blue Notes, Countryside Realty, and the 908 Bar, all of which are based in Hopkins. Donald also played for T Bryce in Chanhassen, the Born Again Jock’s (BAJ’s) in Bloomington, and Coffee Cup in St. Paul, which has since renamed following sponsorship by Jimmy’s Food and Drink. Donald’s career with Jimmy’s continues today, primarily playing in the outfield.
While playing for 908 Bar, Donald’s team won 72 league games in a row. The 908 team played in two national tournaments in New York and Ohio. The Coffee Cup team won regional, national, and world tournaments, which saw Don named to several All-Tournament Teams, including Plano, TX, Mankato, MN, and Las Vegas, NV.
With Jimmy’s Food and Drink, Donald won the National Tournament in 2013, and was named to the All-Tournament Team. In 2014, Donald made the All Tournament Team once again at the Tournament of Champions in Lakeland, FL, and in 2015, Donald received a gold medal at the National Senior Games in Bloomington.
Donald’s athletic talents led to induction in the St. Cloud State University’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
Meritorious Service/Pioneer, Chatfield/Albert Lea/Geneva
Dave Gilbertson’s softball days began in 1959. He played for 42 years, and continues to serve the game today.
Dave’s first two years were played in Mabel. He played the next 40 years in Burr Oak (IA), Chatfield, Austin, Albert Lea, Geneva, Kenyon, Owatonna, Blooming Prairie and St. James. His career ended playing the last 15 years for Super Sound Tapes in the Over-40, -45, and –50 tournaments.
Dave was no stranger to state tournament play, with a plethora of appearances between 1962 and 1997. Dave’s Class A State Championship teams in 1984 and ’85 were both undefeated. He also won National Championships with the over 45 team in 1997, and the over 50 team in 1999 and 2000. Dave also played in the Master’s World Games in 1998 in Portland, OR.
Dave’s commitment to excellence in softball applied both on and off the field. He umpired fast pitch softball for 21 years, and spent nine years directing the Class B, C, and D state tournaments. Dave has been a member of the Minnesota State Fast Pitch Committee for the last 27 years, and has been the Chairman of the Fast Pitch section of the Softball Hall of Fame for the last 10 years.
Minnesota State Softball Commissioner Perry Coonce said about Dave: “Since becoming Commissioner in 1997, there has been no one like Dave Gilbertson in terms of giving back to the great game of fast pitch. An accomplished player and umpire, Dave has served for the past 27 years as Minnesota Fast Pitch Committee member and Chair of the fast pitch section of the Hall of Fame. None other like him in terms of volunteer service to the game.”
Player, St. James/Odin/Mankato/St. Paul
Darrell started playing fast pitch in 1966 in Butterfield. The next 8 years he played for Odin. The 1972 team played in the Class A State Tournament. In 1976, Darrell played with the St. James Band Box. He was drafted by Mettler’s Bar in 1976 and played in the 25 inning game at State. From 1979 to 1983, Darrell played in St. James. Those teams played in both ASA and ISC Nationals, and either won or placed at State. Darrell’s 1981 team had a record of 78-26. Darrell was regularly the leading hitter for his team. Darrell was a contact hitter who had more walks than strikeouts for his career. He could play any position, including pitcher.
Darrell played in St. Paul from 1984-86 for the All-American Bar team. In 1986, Darrell was selected second team All World. His batting average at state was .385. Unfortunately, he injured his Achilles tendon during that tournament.
After an absence of nine years, Darrell returned to action as a member of Super Sound Tapes. The team was 45 and Over National Champions in 1997. Darrell led the team with a .524 average, and was named first team All American.
St. Paul Morelli’s was Darrell’s next stop, where he played five years. Morelli’s were the Class C state champs in 1998, and in 2000, Darrell was named MVP at age 48. He is currently playing for Villard with his two sons.
Ward Halvorson’s name is synonymous with softball in Austin, MN. His contributions as a player, manager, and Austin Park Board President and Treasurer have left lasting impressions on the Austin softball community.
Ward’s career began in Austin as a player and manager with Armstrong Trucking. In 1969, he became the manager of Austin’s Whiz Kids team, managing until 1973. Ward also managed Lefty’s Bar from 1974-1985, and Macken Alstrom Plumbing in Rochester from 1986-1993.
Ward’s teams saw much success, competing in state tournaments almost every year from 1969-1993 in Class A or Class AA. His managing of the Austin Eagles national tournament team from 1978-1985 saw five Top-5 finishes, including a second place finish in that stretch.
Beyond an illustrious playing and managerial career, Ward was instrumental in the building of the Todd Park Complex in Austin, which he managed for 20 years. In addition to his work on the Todd Park Complex project, Ward, along with Hall of Famers Don Stillwell and Dave Tollefson were largely responsible for bringing several national tournaments to Austin in the 1980’s, ‘90’s, and ‘00’s. Ward was also involved in the formation of the Austin Softball Association, which led to funding of amenities such as bleachers, scoreboards, fencing and maintenance equipment at the complex. Ward has served on and off as President of the Austin Park Board since November of 1980, where he is currently serving a term set to expire in December of 2018. Through all his work behind the scenes, Ward always worked with enthusiasm and diligence.
David “Davey J” Johnson
Davey J’s softball exploits began at the young age of 16 when he organized a three-team league on his parents’ property. The field had 250’ dimensions and all he had to do was mow it! During the summers of ’66 and ’67, winners got a $.50 treat at the local Dairy Queen; the losers got $.25.
In 1968, he began playing on a team his father sponsored in the Northfield League, taking their lumps on a weekly basis. In 1972, Daryl Blom of Northfield invited him to play on his team. For the next 11 years, he played with such teams as Village Pump, Mulligan’s Tree Service, Your Sport, and two different stints with a very good Northfield American Legion team.
David played all over southern Minnesota; in Northfield, Faribault, Nicollet, Owatonna, and Waseca. His softball home, however, was Mankato for 40 years, where he played for top tier teams like Hospitals, Hurdy Gurdy Saloon, Albatross, Highland Liquor, and Hubs.
A few incredible stats: David played in nearly 3,000 games, had over 5,000 hits with 780 of them home runs. At least until recently, Dave played or managed in every NFLD Jesse James ever held. He also managed at least 1,000 games.
In 1999, David was elected to the Mankato Softball Hall of Fame.
David played in 37 State Championship tournaments, winning five times and finishing runner-up five times. He was on 19 Division I Championship teams in Mankato, and won too many weekend tournament titles to count. He also participated in 10 national tournaments.
According to nominator Darwin Rasmussen, “Dave is not only a great player but a great teammate as well, always with a team first attitude. I never heard a negative comment about him in my 30 years of playing with or against him. Whenever he came to the plate, all teammates and fans anticipated another hard hit ball, whether inside the fence or over it. His soft hands and quick feet made him a solid first baseman, scooping up any errant throws.”
In 2014, Dave retired from the Division I league in Mankato after 40 years. He continues to play on a 50+ Mankato League team, and is sponsoring a team in the Shakopee D League. Softball in Mankato and Southern Minnesota would have never been the same without players the likes of Davey J.
Danielle Lombardi started playing softball at age 13 because she wanted to play on the same team with her mother, a team called All American Bar in St. Paul. She then graduated to play with Rainy’s, Ski Hut, MN Bracers, Americs, Spooks, MN Magic, and MN Ice. You might say softball is one of her loves of life.
She played at almost all levels but quickly moved up to the Class A/AA Level because of her amazing abilities. Fans who watched Major Women’s softball remember Dani as the stellar third baseman with a huge left-handed swing.
Dani played in 18 straight National Tournaments, winning a National Title in 1996. She was named to the 1990 National All American Team. Her teams won state 9 times, and she was named to the All Tournament Team five times. Dani hit .610 for her career and had over 800 RBI’s. She was one of the best third basemen in the nation, with lightning fast reactions and a very accurate arm. According to Hall of Famer Ellie Ghostley, Dani was a major part of the success of the Spooks, providing both consistency and leadership.
Stuart Morrison’s 16 year softball career began with the Scanlon Fire Department in 1965, during his senior year of high school.
Stuart’s playing days in the Duluth and Cloquet areas saw multiple state and regional tournament appearances, with his Viking Steak House team winning the state championship in 1974 and again with Perkins in 1981. In addition to the state championship victories, Stuart’s outstanding pitching performances led to a Regional A Championship in 1974, where Stuart was named Tournament MVP, and a Regional A runner-up in 1975.
One game in particular which stands out was Stuart’s 23 strikeout performance; a perfect game, but for two dropped-third strikes. Stuart regularly pitched a majority of his teams’ games, and with numbers like that, anyone can see why Stuart’s team regularly played in AA leagues, despite being a Single A Team.
In addition to hurling multiple no-hitters as a right-handed pitcher, Stuart was also a force at the plate, batting .285 for his career. Stuart was also a constant deep-ball threat, with great power from the left side.
Unfortunately, Stuart’s career was cut short due to bad knees. However, his love of the game kept him close. After his playing days, Stuart worked with the Esko High School girls fast pitch team, and helped develop the Cloquet U-18 Boys Fast Pitch Team.
Dan Nessler was considered by colleagues and opponents alike to be one of the best hitters in fast pitch softball over the course of his 20+-year career. His speed made him a continual threat on the basepaths, as well as laying down a surprise bunt for a hit.
Dan played for Happy Chef throughout his career, from 1982-85, 1990, and 1992-99. During that time, Happy Chef won three AA State Championships. They also won the Class A National Championship in 1995, where Dan was named a 2nd Team All-American. Dan was the player/manager from 1992-99, and regularly led the team in batting average and on-base percentage statistics.
Dan also played for Penn Corp of Sioux City, IA. Penn Corp won the World Championship Tournament three time in 1988, 1989, and 1991.
Dan was selected to the All-World team four times; twice with Happy Chef in 1985 and 1992, and again with Penn Corp in 1988 and 1989. Dan was also selected to participate in four US Olympic Festivals, winning two gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal.
Dan was inducted into the ISC World Fastpitch Hall of Fame in 2009.
Today, Dan coaches softball for his son and daughter in Mankato, where he has also served as the Mankato Senior Peppers Girls Fastpitch coach.
The Water Gremlins and Mail House are where Dave Rowe began playing softball. However, it has been his outstanding career with the Minnesota Merchants that established him as the ballplayer he is today.
Dave joined the Merchants in 1985. Without having any real experience at the position, Dave was asked to step in and pitch in his first year on the team, and he’s held the position for 32 years and counting.
On a national level, Dave’s teams have won eight national championships, six national runner-ups, and six third-place finishes. Dave was named tournament MVP five times, and was a 13 time All-American, 10 of which were first-team honors. Dave also represented Team USA at the World Softball Championships in 1987.
Nominator Jess Swenson mentioned “Merchant Class” and “Merchant Toughness” when speaking about Dave’s teammate Jessie Adamez and Dave is the epitome of “Merchant Toughness.” On multiple occasions, Dave would pitch as many as 10 games in a row to come charging through the bracket. Additionally, the Merchants have not had to utilize a 5-man infield strategy, because Dave is a defensive specialist on the mound. His talents force opponents to think twice before trying to go up the middle for a hit. To this day, Dave stays committed to his trade, the first to practice and the last to leave, striving for continued greatness in all aspects of his game, but especially on defense.
When talking about the Merchants, people often ask, “Is that guy with the beard still pitching?” referencing the days when Dave’s beard reached his belly button. Teammates even referred to him as “ZZ Top.” While the beard is trimmed up these days, Dave is still as intimidating as ever on the mound.
Howie Schaber began his ball career playing little league baseball and then town ball in Hamel through age 42.
His fast pitch softball “career” began in 1961 playing for Medina Ballroom in the Hamel League through 1970.
Chuck’s Dairy of Minneapolis recruited Howie in 1971. That year, Chuck’s Dairy won the Northern Regional; no small feat at the time, and went on to win the coveted Class AA National Championship in Springfield, MO. The following year, Chuck’s Dairy picked up a new sponsor, Byerly’s, and that team went on a 30 year run in the fast pitch world. Byerly’s played in 17 regional tournaments and their offshoot, ERS, played in many 40- and 45-and-over Nationals.
One highlight of Howie’s fastpitch career was being picked to try out for the Pan Am team in 1978 at the age of 36.
Howie had a lifetime batting average of .310. His slugging percentage was .542 and on-base percentage was .422. He clubbed 10 home runs per season, many in clutch situations. Howie’s defensive play in centerfield was stellar, and he was selected for two All Tournament Teams.
Unlike today, where national tournaments are open-entry, Byerly’s was foiled many times by their rival and nemesis, Whitaker Buick in the championship game of the Northern Regionals. Only one team per region made it to the Nationals in those days because there were tens of thousand of teams playing fast pitch.
Like some fast pitch players have done late in their careers, Howie began playing, dare we say, slow pitch softball in Edina in 2004. His Minnesota Masters AAA 70+ team won the National Tournament in Las Vegas in 2012. At age 77, Howie is still playing “winter ball” in Phoenix, AZ, and “summer ball” in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Doug Sorenson and softball in Mankato have been synonymous the past 30 years. He has umpired slow pitch and fast pitch softball at a high level, and as importantly has given back to the game in the form of mentoring and supervising/assigning umpires.
Doug served as umpire in chief for seven national events and 28 district and state tournaments. Doug has also officiated five MSHSL girls fast pitch state tournaments and four NAFA World Series events. He has also umpired college fast pitch for 15 years.
Prior to his umpiring career, Doug played slow pitch softball in Mankato for 20 years. Doug played for several different teams, but most notably the Kost Service team in the mid 70’s and early 80’s. He was a good ball player in his own right, kindling his interest in umpiring so he could remain close to the game he loved.
Dave has been a member of the Mankato Umpire Association for 30 years, serving as its President for 11 years and assignor for 13 years. Anyone who has assigned officials will attest to what an amazing run that has been.
Nominator Molly Madden said “there has been no one in Mankato that has done a better job of recruiting, training, assigning, and mentoring umpires than Doug, and everyone knows what an extremely critical component of any successful sports program that is. Doug has been very committed to his association.”
One of Doug’s favorite aspects of softball these days is working with the Mankato Peppers Girls Fast Pitch program. He has also served as the UIC for the Southern Star Girls Fast Pitch League, recruiting and training new umpires. Doug says working with the young ballplayers and grooming young umpires has been very satisfying.
Everett “Ev” Wright
Ev Wright started pitching at the age of 12. At 13, he was already pitching for Chatfield, and at 14, he pitched in the Rochester B League. By pitching in Rochester, Ev got out of milking the cows on game night. At 15, Ev moved to the A league, and played in his first state tournament with the Chatfield team. After high school, he moved to the Twin Cities and played for the VA, Scooner’s Bar, Otto’s, American Trailer, Chuck’s Dairy, and Byerly’s teams.
While playing for Byerly’s in the 1971 regional final, Ev faced Whitaker Buick in his first national tournament. Ev was outstanding in the tournament, winning both starts and driving in the winning run in the 1-0 championship. Ev was named tournament MVP. By the time his career was over, Ev had played in 17 regional tournaments.
During his career Ev won over 500 games, and averaged over 200 K’s for his career. Ev was no slouch at the plate either, batting a career .317. A threat to hit one out every at bat, Ev had at least 10 home runs each season.
One particular bright spot in Ev’s career was a victory over the legendary King and his Court. Anyone who can come close to competing with Eddie Feigner is certainly to be commended.