Well folks, I had a chance to talk to an old friend last weekend.
It brought back memories of when we first met on the softball fields on the corners of Woock Field back in the late ’60s.
Softball was just starting to be a “thing” and it wasn’t quite slow-pitch, so if you had someone that could really bring the smoke, you had a big advantage. Not many teams had that advantage but lefty Howie Smith had some movement on the ball. He was tough to hit, but the guy who was feared by everyone was a fireballing right-hander named Pete Kellerman.
He played for First National Bank of Deerwood and they showed up with full uniforms and were intimidating to say the least. There were guys with last names of Fellerman, Hasskamp, Kellerman of course – and maybe a Dangers or two thrown in.
Gruenhagen and Gruenwald were two more names to throw out and they were the forerunners of the Iron Hub teams to come later. They were good and tough to beat but their strongest asset was Pete. He could fire the pill, and when I stepped in the box, I think my knees were probably shaking. I had played baseball in high school but no pitcher scared me more than Pete.
You could actually hear the pitch whizzing by you when you were at the plate. They were dominant for several years behind their star pitcher, but of course slow-pitch came along and Pete had to hang up his “heater” and just toss the ball, something he still did pretty well.
Pete has always been a good friend and there are not too many of us left who remember facing him on the diamond.
He combined that tough attitude and great pitching ability to strike out a lot of players over the years. I get to see and talk to him every once in a while so one of these days we’ll have to talk softball again.
It’s always a pleasure, my friend!