Fast-Pitch Hall of Fame adds five

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 24, 2002

Some things never change. Some change forever.

Both were clearly evident at the 36th Annual Freeborn County Fast-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame banquet.

It was the first without Cliff Petersen, the hall’s co-founder and longtime secretary, but it went on just the same as five new members were inducted Saturday night at the Albert Lea Elks Lodge.

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Staying with tradition, Petersen and other departed hall of fame members were honored with a moment of silence. The rest of the time was spent honoring memories of a game that was once the hottest ticket in the area but has since faded into near obscurity.

Dave Gilbertson, the hall’s president who along with wife Julie organized the festivities, offered up highlights from as far back as the 1940s. It was also decided the annual Old-Timers Game, scheduled for Friday but canceled because rain rendered the Conger field unplayable, will probably be held in August. And Geneva was set as tentative host for next year.

This year’s inductees were Al Batt, Tim Elmer, Fred Schaub, Al Tullberg and Floyd Wangen. David “Dubb” Richards was scheduled for induction but was out of town and will have to wait until next year.

Here’s a brief profile of each of this year’s inductees:

– Al Batt – Known more for writing and story telling these days, the 54-year-old Batt was a more-than-capable athlete in his younger years. His fast-pitch career began in 1963, at age 13 in a league with a minimum age requirement of 14. “I played for whatever old guy didn’t show up that night,” said Batt. He played all nine positions, mostly catcher, and isn’t afraid to admit his pitching career was brief and that he still holds the Church League record for most hit batsmen in one inning. Kenny Sibilrud and Arnie Hanson recruited Batt into fast-pitch. Batt’s brother Don and Gary Hansen were also big influences. One of Batt’s fondest softball memories occurred in Ledyard, Iowa. “We played a team from Ledyard that had eight Johnsons. We had six Hansons on our squad. The p.a. announcer kept announcing me as ‘Al Hanson.'” Batt got the last laugh with the game-winning hit.

– Tim Elmer – The youngest of this year’s inductees at 48, Elmer follows his father Lowell into the hall. A second baseman known for his defense, bunting ability and speed on the base paths, Elmer played for Trades & Labor and Christ Lutheran in the Church League. One of his favorite fast-pitch moments also happened in Iowa. &uot;We went to Scarville, and it was my first tournament,&uot; said Elmer. &uot;We were up against (hall of famer) Gus Courrier. My first time up, I hit a home run. The next three times he struck me out.&uot; Elmer also played for several Trades & Labor state tournament teams and said he was “honored and shocked” to join his father in the hall of fame.

– Fred Schaub – Schaub had a brief but memorable fast-pitch career that was cut short for health reasons. He played in the late 1940s for The Tavern, hitting .315 in 1948 as his team was runner-up in its league. He played primarily outfield. &uot;I’m flabbergasted because I only played for two years,&uot; said Schaub, 81. &uot;I’m very humbled, really, to be here. It’s a distinct pleasure to see a lot of familiar faces.&uot;

– Al Tullberg – Tullberg, 59, played for First Lutheran and one year with Zion Lutheran in the Church League from the late 1950s into the mid ’60s. He was a catcher. &uot;It was just a lot of fun,&uot; said Tullberg of his fast-pitch career. &uot;Those years were very enjoyable.&uot; Tullberg was also surprised and honored to join the hall. &uot;I think it’s a neat deal,&uot; he said. &uot;I was real shocked though. When the guy called and told me, I thought he was just kidding. But he wasn’t.&uot;

– Floyd Wangen – Still a resident of Manchester, for which he played from 1947-55, Wangen, 56, was a center fielder. His specialty, in his own words: &uot;Base hits.&uot; His special memory is a vivid one. &uot;We had a team from Minneapolis come down and they figured they’d beat this hick town, no problem,&uot; said Wangen. &uot;We beat them pretty bad, like 12-5. They felt so bad, they were almost crying, coming down to this little hick town and losing.&uot;