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The USSSA’s men (and woman) in red at the Dudley

  

By Gerry Turnberg

 

On behalf of Minnesota’s USSSA and the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association, I want to thank all players and fans for attending Brooklyn Center’s Dudley/Budweiser/Easton Major NIT. It is hard to believe that this was the 26th year that the world’s best softball players have invaded the Gopher State. I am fortunate enough to have been involved in all 26 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 2007 campaign. We registered over 6,200 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 four teams captured World titles: Easton/Hooters/Rockets – Women’s “C,” Showcase/J & H /Chanticlear/Combat – Men’s “B,” Luther Auto/ 3M – Corporate and Korba Softball – Men’s 55 + Over.

This past January, a crowd of over 300 gathered at Brooklyn Center’s Crowne Plaza Minneapolis North to honor our newest inductees into our State Hall of Fame – John Brodzinski, Pat Burns, Steve Cahill, Chris Duda, Jon Gurban, Steve Hackel, Bob Klick, Ed Korba, Dave Serie and Jerry Ujdur.

All indications reveal that Minnesota’s USSSA will continue to grow and prosper in the new millennium. Our No. 1 priority is to give you, the participant, a quality program that you can enjoy.

A warm Minnesota thanks go to to USSSA’s Executive Director & CEO Don DeDonatis (Kissimmee, Fla.), Assistant Executive Director Dan Brown (Concord, Calif.), Executive Vice President Kevin Naegele (Hobbs, N.M.) and National Umpire in Chief Rick Robertson (Orlando, Fla.).

Once again, some of the country’s finest called balls and strikes at last weekend’s Dudley tournament. Here’s a look at these dedicated individuals that contributed to another great Dudley Classic:

 

Jerry Marinelli   Jerry enjoys retirement from the Post Office after 36 years of employment Jerry has retired from umpiring but continues to be our USSSA Minnesota State Umpire in Chief the past four years. Jerry has also worked the 2000 and 2004 Men’s Major World Series in Florida.  In 2002, he was elected into the USSSA Minnesota Hall of Fame.  Jerry 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 was his third Dudley Tournament. Mike is also the newly appointed Minnesota State Deputy Umpire in Chief. In 2007, he umpired the Major World Series, the Men’s A and B World Series and the Conference USSSA Championships in Florida along with many other World, National, Regional and State Tournaments in his career. Mike has two sons and a daughter, Kevin (21), Nicholas (19) and Skyler (9). He enjoys hunting, fishing, riding his ’00 Road King Classic H-D and spending good quality time with his parents, Ron and Mavis, and the rest of his family.  

 

Bart Peck – Bart works for Pioneer Packaging and Printing in Anoka. He’s been umpiring for 11 years and is this was first Dudley Tournament. During this time, has umpired numerous Regional, NIT’s, State and World Tournaments. Bart has been married for 22 years to his wonderful wife Katie and they have two great kids, Alex (13) and Amanda (11). In addition to umpiring softball, Bart is also a high school baseball and basketball official. He spends much of his summer coaching his daughter Amanda’s fast pitch team and is Alex’s No. 1 baseball and basketball fan! When there is any spare time left over in his busy schedule, he enjoys golfing and fishing.

 

Rick Alexander – This was  Rick’s sixth consecutive year in the Dudley.  He is umpiring his 23rd season as a USSSA umpire and has umpired many National and World tournaments including the 2003 Men’s Master’s, 2004 “C” World and the 2006 “D” World. Rick is an Insurance agent. He is married to his lovely wife, Breanna and resides in Monticello, Minn.

 

Erick Norby – Erick is an Assistant Principal at Cooper High School in New Hope. He’s umpired since 1985 and for the past 12 years. He’s been the New Hope Umpire in Chief. In 2001, Erick umpired the Men’s “B” World Series and Men’s “D” National Tournament in the championship game. This was Erick’s eighth year umpiring the Dudley.  He and his beautiful wife Kristen have two wonderful children, Marissa (12) and Reese (8). 

 

Dan Marcouiller – Dan is employed by Allina Hospitals and Clinics as a Financial Analyst. He’s been a USSSA umpire for 12 years, officiating numerous State, Regional and World Tournaments.  This was Dan’s third Dudley Tournament. In addition to umpiring softball, he referees hockey and enjoys coaching youth baseball and hockey. Dan and his wife Trini live in New Brighton and have four children, Nicole (24), Megan (20), Derek (19) and Joey (10). 

 

Brian Carlson – Brian has worked for Wells Fargo for over 10 years. He has been a high school basketball official for 11 years and baseball/softball for a combined eight years. He has played in three World Tournaments and has played competitive softball for 19 years.  This was Brian’s first Dudley.

 

Harlan Isom – Harlan returned to the Gopher state from Southern California. He has worked for Unisys for 40 years in Logistics Management. He will be spending three months in Minnesota this summer working other tournaments and enjoying the mosquitos.  Harlan has been umpiring USSSA since the early 1980s at all levels, including the 1998 Women’s World Series and the 2004 Men’s Major Worlds Series at Disney World. This was Harlan’s fifth Dudley Tournament.

 

Mike Raymond – Mike is an Accounts Manager for K2 logistics in Eagan, Minn.  He resides in Blaine and will be getting married to his beautiful fiancée Kim in the spring of 2009. Mike’s been playing competitive softball for many years and is an avid hunter and golfer. He’s been umpiring for the past few years, with this being his first year in the Dudley.

 

Ron Johnson   Ron is a 38-year retired U.S. Army Veteran. He’s been an umpire for 25 years and this was his fourth year in the Dudley. Ron lives in Brooklyn Center with his wife Linda. He’s enjoying retirement life to the fullest.  

 

Dave Robinson – Dave is a high school and college football and basketball official. Dave played in the first seven Dudley’s.  Dave worked in the 1997 Men’s Major World Series in Daytona Beach. This was his 18th year umpiring in the Classic! Dave is also a member of our USSSA Hall of Fame.

 

Al Edwards – Al has been married for seven years to his lovely wife Wendy and has an 18-month old daughter named Kylee. He has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for six years and has played competitive softball for 21 years.  Al has played in seven World Tournaments and has umpired in several NIT and National Tournaments. This was Al’s fourth Dudley. 

 

Ken Girard – Ken works for Premier Contractors and has umpired for 19 years in Brooklyn Center and is a full time sports official for basketball, football and broomball. Ken and his lady friend, Sandra, have been together for 17 years and they enjoy fishing and hunting. This was Ken’s 12th Dudley.

 

Dana Erickson – This is Dana’s 23rd year as an umpire and his 13th Dudley. He has been married to his bride, Leileni, for 24 years. He has worked numerous NIT’s and State Tournaments. Dana enjoys playing poker and spending time with his wife. He also has works for Center Point for over 20 years.

 

Tim Ives – This is Tim’s 19th year umpiring and 12th Dudley.  In 2004, he also worked the “C” Worlds at Disney World.  When he started umpiring, “I got to work with two of the best, Jim Wajda and Dave Purtle.” This is his 35th year of playing, winning numerous weekend tournaments and three state championships. Tim has been in the tree industry for 31 years and now owns his own company called “Timber Tree Care.” Tim is also owner of Under Foot Flooring. Though never married he is still hopeful but admits. “It’s not easy finding a woman who will put up with someone who plays, umpires and thinks softball 24/7.” 

 

Gregory (Smitty) Smith – Greg was born and raised in Tulsa, Okla., by proud parents Sylvester “Buddy” and Alice Smith.  Veteran umpires Kenny Glasbock and Gary Jamison influenced Smitty to start umpiring Youth ASA softball 28 years ago. He switched to USSSA in 1986, umpiring at many levels and numerous venues in Minnesota. Although he moved back to Tulsa, he continues to come back to umpire and spend time with his children Melissa (Smith) Jorgensen, Joshua Smith, and his two grandchildren (Darien & Angelina). He misses his friends and ball buddies in Minnesota and would like to give a special thanks to Jerry Marinelli, Gerry Turnberg and Warren Bellm for allowing him to continue to come back and be a part of his eighth Dudley.

 

Mike Ellenz – Mike is the owner of Premier Construction Services and has umpired numerous NCAA baseball and fastpitch National Championships. He has also worked State, National and World Slow-Pitch events.  This was Mike’s fourth Dudley.

 

Ardell MoellerArdell has been married to his lovely wife Jayne for nine years. He has worked for Best Buy for 19 years. Ardell has umpired in two World Series, one in Blaine, Minn., and the other in Orlando, Fla. He has umpired and played in many national and state tournaments.When he is not on the softball field, he is an avid bowler and has thrown two 300 games. This was Ardell’s second Dudley.

 

Pete Strand III – Pete has worked for Richfield Bloomington Honda for seven years. He has umpired in two World Series, one in Blaine, Minn., and the other in Orlando, Fla. Pete has been umpiring for 15 years and has played and umpired in many state and national tournaments, and is still playing. Pete also enjoys bowling and mountain biking.  This was Pete’s third Dudley.

 

Cathy Hoffman – Cathy has two sons, Dalton (9) and Garret (7). She is a physical education teacher for the Anoka- Hennepin School District and has been teaching for 16 years. Cathy has played women’s and mixed softball for over 31 years and has won many state titles and all-tournament honors. She has umpired numerous Men’s and Women’s “B,” “C,” “D,” and “E” Minnesota National and World Qualifiers. This was Cathy’s first Dudley Tournament and our first female umpire working the Dudley.

 

Chuck (Doc) Beckwell – Chuck comes from the Wolverine State. “Doc” works as a family and cosmetic orientated dentist in St Clair Shores, Mich. He started umpiring in 1977 and joined the USSSA in 1984 at Liberty Park of America in Sterling Heights, Mich. He has umpired in world tourneys each year since then, including the class A/AA and then the class A for the past seasons, getting his first start in Raleigh, Va. Doc has worked world tournaments in each major classification. He umpired a home run derby in Tiger Stadium in 2001 where Mike Machenko became only the 19th player to ever clear the roof in the stadium.  Harmon Killebrew, the great Minnesota player is one of only four to clear the right field roof. Chuck 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 “Official of the Year.” Doc was inducted into the Michigan USSSA Hall of Fame in 1996 and has called in seven Major World Series (1998, 2001-2007).  This was Doc’s second Dudley Tournament. 

 

Tony Walczak – Tony currently lives in Macomb Twp, Mich., where he started his umpiring career in 1993 at Liberty Park of America.  He’s umpired four Men’s Major and “A,” two “B,” three “C” and “D,” and a Co-Ed World Series Tournaments. He’s also umpired the first two Conference USSSA Championships along with numerous NIT’s, State and Regional Tournaments and this was his second Dudley Tournament. Tony has been honored to receive the Michigan Umpire in Chief award in 2005.

 

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 25 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 eight Major World Series appearances, with the first in Fredrick, Md., in 1996. He and his beautiful wife Linda have two wonderful kids, Jason (30) and Kelly (17). He enjoys bowling and playing golf with his wife, Mr. Rick and the lovely Ms. Anna. This was his first Dudley Tournament. 

 

In addition to the umpires who worked 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 20 years reside in Champlin with their two sons.

 

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.

 

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 is also the Tournament Director for the Men’s Major World Series and numerous Conference Tournaments. Warren will be retiring as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office of Hennepin County. Warren and his wife, Sandy have two children, and three 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.

         

Gregg Otten has been in and around softball for over 30 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 (17), live in Maple Grove. 

 

Steve Cahill would normally be umpiring but a knee injury put him on the staff. He and his wife Joanie have been married for 21 years and have a son Aaron. Steve is employed by Goodin, a wholesale plumbing and heating company and also works for the city of Brooklyn Center. Steve was inducted into our State Hall of Fame last January.

 

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 35 years old, lives in Brooklyn Park.

 

Steve Ericson was on the mike on the south field last 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 and is the head girls’ fastpitch coach at Park Center High. Steve and his family live in Otsego.

 

Brooklyn Center’s Park Maintenance Department is the best in the business. Once again the playing conditions were 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, 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.

 

Minnesota USSSA/MRPA Website

www.mnusssa.com

National USSSA Website

www.usssa.com

 

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 x108 or write me at:  MRPA 200 Charles Street NE Fridley MN 55432

Remember – it is you, the player, coach, fan and umpire that make USSSA a GREAT organization and the place to be!