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Shoe Column: softball, nicknames ruled in the sixties

By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan

Slow-pitch softball exploded in Stevens Point in the ’60s and ’70s.

Hundreds of teams graced the hallowed diamonds at Iverson Park and Goerke Field. It was a magical time. If you want to talk about real characters, Stevens Point softball was loaded with them.

And almost everyone had nicknames.

The first team I ever played for was Ma’s Children. Bob Pesch, known to everyone as “Ma”, put together a motley crew that was always out for a good time. Most of the teams were sponsored by taverns. Ma’s Children was simply a gang of Pesch’s pals. If the rest of the league thought Ma’s was a bar somewhere, well, we weren’t about to set them straight.

One of the Children’s pitchers was Harv Giese. His real first name is Rick, and he was also known as “The Glide”. One time during an indoor basketball game at St. Pete’s, Harv jumped up for a pass when he was under the basket. The only problem was that the ball went over his head, crashed into a back wall, and slammed against a folding chair. When the ball hit the chair, Harvey then jumped up for the pass. He was off by about three seconds. The Glide was born.

Harv’s brother Bob, also known as “Mumbler”, was a Ma’s regular, as was Pat “Woba” Witkowski. Larry “Crow” Zimmerman was another one of the pitchers, and Mike “Caz” Spreda played in the outfield. Caz was named after Michigan basketball star Cazzie Russell. The best player was Dick “Rufus” Konopacki, not to be confused with Kenny “Rufus” Worden who came later. Another star player was my brother “Casey” whose real name is Kevin.

Our top hitter was probably John “Johnny K” Kedrowski, although his brother Bruce “Deuce” Kedrowski was also right up there. By the way, their brothers “Harpo” and “Smiley” also played in the leagues. Don “Duck” Shannon and Dave “Nax” Nachman also started, and Duck Shannon shouldn’t be confused with Don “Ducko” Ceplina who played for Robby’s and the Unique.

Several of the Ma’s players also joined the Joe “Colonel” Sanders’ clan in tournaments at St. Pete’s. They were usually joined by Mike “Duff” Duffin, Mike “Mikey T” Thompson, Mike “George” Glodosky, Dale “Futz” Varsho (whose brother Gary played for the Chicago Cubs), and Mike “Sarge” Staley, a UWSP Pointer hockey player. Tom “Boda” LaBoda occasionally pitched for the Sanders’ Gang which also gave the world Paulo Pavelski and Jon Cronce.

By the way, George Glodosky’s sister Patti and her buddy Patty Clayton once sponsored a team of their own. They called it the Glowton Funeral Home, and the Milwaukee Sentinel did a story about the team and the funeral home that never existed. Some of their players included “George” Glodosky, Ron “Furberger” Fuhrman, Pat “O.D.” O’Donnell, Marc “Sniffer” Vollrath, and Gary “Otis” Pingel.

Softball players with strange names were everywhere. You couldn’t show up at a ball diamond without running into a nickname. Dave “Boots” Stroik was the Flame’s legendary coach. Dave “Roundy” Kluetz and Ron “Hawk” Bornhauser played for Buffy’s Lampoon. Buffy Burke’s real first name is Dennis. He bartends at the Top Hat. Craig “Archie” Hansen of Archie’s had some fine teams. Tom “Jingles” McCarten, Donny “Big D” Gilbert, and Bob “Rubba” Klosno were key cogs on the Southside tavern squad. Dave “Shifty” Shafton was a pal of Archie’s. Buffy’s was eventually taken over by Jim “Tumor” Mozuch who also sponsored teams.

Moore Barn and Mickey’s could throw studs at you like Dick “Slippery” White, Don “Krotch” Kottke, Bob “Rocket” Henning, Bernie “Bookie” Peterson, Bill “Fox” Nelson, and Blaine “Goose” Reichelt. Bob “Horse” Rohde also saw action. Fox Nelson played college basketball for the Wisconsin Badgers, and Goose Reichelt was a referee in the NBA for 25 years. He lived above Partner’s Pub, owned by Jeff”Moff” Moffat and Mike “Pearly” Derer.

Softball in the ’70s and ’80s also displayed the talents of Tom “Wino” Bernas, Rick “Bullhead” Koehler, Rick “Digby” Fix, Nick “Sween” Wyhuske (not to be confused with John “Swede” Johnson), Scott “Slab” Kovatch, Paul “Rainmaker” Zelewski, Tom “Snake” Johnson, Wilfred “Jake” Hafner, Everett “Harvey” Slack, Dave “Puffo” Roman, Tom “Weasel” Koehl, Bob “Worm” Bablitch, John “Yatch” Herek, Tom “Kat” Kujawski, Kent “Stanley” Zelhofer, Dave “Jinx” Worzalla, Chris “Pops” Haka, Brian “Omar” Gosh, Don “Beef” Tuszka, Leroy “Lefty” Zurawski, Ray “Rainy Ray” Przybelski, Mark “Mongo” Milkowski, Terry “Moose” Sutton, Dennis “Snapper” Napiwacki, Jerry “Jughead” Krueger, Dave “Junkyard” Kanas, Brian “Load” Filtz, Scott “Hoot” Whitney, John “Dog” Loomis, Todd “Marvin” Barnes, Ron “Coach” Glodowski, and Mark “Swamp” Hendricks. Billy “Waldo” Ellenz was around before any of them, and Todd “Wad” Higgins, Lloyd “Bugsy” Gross, John “Carpsucker” Toepfer, and Mike “Spike” Shulfer were later arrivals.

Frank & Ernie’s Riverjumpers boasted the likes of Chris “Ern the Burn” Groholski, Brian “Melido” Buckles, and Matt “Bigsy” Bohm. F&E’s also once traded Chris Lee Chiapuzio, aka “Dish”, for a bag of beer nuts. Athletic Bar had Tom “Kuby” Kubala, Tony “Tuna” Rybarczyk, Brian “Buddha” Williams, and Chris “Veesh” Wisniewski, not one to be confused with Felicia “Feesh” Bella. The Yacht Club was led by Mike “Rat” Splitt.

If you saw a lineup of Chubby, Nitro, Skin, Tuna, and Bones, you knew you were playing against Romie’s.

Stevens Point had nicknames that should be treasured. There was Bernard “Bunsie” Mozuch, Jim “Wingnuts” Marko, Lenny “Yogi” Yulga, Pat “Bird Dog” Mallek, Jon “Flipper” Lowery, Pointer baseball coach Jim “Jumbo” Clark, Dave “Pea Pod” Kaminski, and Bob “Nipper” Nitka. Ma Pesch’s dad Melvin was called “Pete”. So was Jared Redfield’s pa Charles of Pete’s Silver Coach. Then there’s bartenders Dustin “Cheese” Scheid and Jeff “Loopy” Vanderloop. And most people heard of Trivia’s Jim Oliva. “The Great Oz”.

We also don’t want to leave out Adam “Bomber” Rutta, Bruce “BoDing” Dehlinger, and Bob “Bimbo” Tomczak. Not to mention “Blinky” Haessley of Kim’s Barrel Inn, Mark “Harv” Kubisiak, Ronnie “Minnow” Shimek, and the legendary Bruce “Prune” Kinney.

And two of the all-time Stevens Point nicknames. “Soo Line” Polebitski and “Spit In The Ocean”.

We leave you now with yet another keeper. Sandy Duda. She married a Roth. In high school, you just knew she’d be called “Zippity”.

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