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Feb. 1, 2010 – Steve Simmons New England & North Regional Director, Clubs & Leagues

TWIN CITIES, Minn. – It plays like a broken record, another Steve Simmons tournament – another weather-challenged event. Usually a Simmons tournament (there were six played during the 2009 SSUSA North region recreational tournament circuit) experiences a rain soaked day necessitating rescheduling and a revamped format.

This time the obstacle was blowing snow and frigid temperatures. This did not stop the teams from playing ball, once inside one of the three Twin Cities domes used for the tournament, but it did play havoc with players and teams trying to get to the domes.

On the first day of the tournament, Dec. 8, the Omaha Godfathers were on the road to Minneapolis to play in their first game scheduled for 3 p.m. The storm, moving west to east, caught up to them and when they reached the half way point in Des Moines, they experienced the misfortune of having one of their vehicles slide off the road into the ditch. Because of the intensity of the storm no tow trucks were allowed on the highway to help stranded vehicles, until the storm blew through. The players abandoned the ditched car and headed back to Omaha in the other cars in the caravan, hoping to recover their stranded vehicle the next day.

Two Omaha players, not traveling with the caravan, did manage to arrive at the tournament and they were placed on local teams and both saw ample action over the two-day competition. Dennis Steinhauser joined the Bobby & Steve’s team from Bemidji and helped them win the recreational division. Chuck Grubb was added to the Whoopie Guldberg’s team and played a major role in their third place finish in the recreational division, which consisted of seven teams.

Another team that would have challenged for the top spot in the recreational division, the Relics from Rochester, were denied that opportunity on the second day of play. They went 2 & 1 on Tuesday but could not return to the Twin Cities on Wednesday when blowing winds caused a “white-out” on the open road between Rochester and the Twin Cities.

Despite the hassle with the elements, the tournament went very well. The tournament was broken into two divisions, a four-team competitive division and an eight…oops, make that seven…no wait a minute, a six-team recreational division.

The competitive division consisted of three teams from the Stillwater (MN) winter league plus the MN Lumberjacks (Bemidji, MN) 2010 tournament team. Four games were played in the Stillwater dome on Tuesday, five games in the Rosemount (MN) dome on Wednesday, and the championship game in Stillwater on Thursday. The championship game was originally scheduled for Wednesday but, since it paired two Stillwater teams, they decided to play it in Stillwater on Thursday where they hold their normal winter league games.

John Orf’s team ended up going undefeated and captured the competitive division title. Orf has been on a role this fall. In addition to this recreation win his 55 tournament team, Ancell / MN Masters, won the LVSSA 55 AAA national title and he was part of the Ancell / Long Haul Trucking team from Minnesota that won the LVSSA 50 AAA national title.

All teams in this tournament were recreation teams and were a conglomeration of all ages, with the exception of the MN Lumberjacks. Dennis Johnson, manager of this 60 AAA tournament team, used this winter get together as an opportunity to introduce his squad to the new additions to his team, the players from the disbanded Midwest Fossils. Joining the Lumberjacks were Mike Coulter, Tarry Cory, John Kelly, Dean Becker and Larry Orth, all from the Waterloo and Des Moines areas.

It was interesting to see how the teams shook out after the seeding round. The four youngest teams, based on average age, made up the competitive division. This was by design and these teams ranged in age from 59 to 61. The four teams that qualified for the recreational upper division ranged in age from 62 to 64 and their positions were determined by seeding play. The three teams that made up the recreational lower division averaged 64+ to 65 years of age.

Art Glidden’s Bobby & Steve’s team won the recreational upper division title. All recreational division games were played at the Richfield (MN) dome where the West Metro Senior Softball League plays. Five of the recreational division teams were West Metro teams.

Bobby & Steve’s win was especially gratifying for their players who have faithfully supported the SSUSA North region recreational tournament circuit, usually taking their lumps and finishing at or near the bottom of their division. This time, with the infusion of a couple of younger players, they turned the table and finished on top.

What was curious with both the recreational upper and lower divisions was the order of finish by age. Finishing first through fourth, in descending order, in the upper division were the oldest through youngest teams in that division. The same held true in the lower division where the oldest team in the tournament, Bob Frey’s Bloodbath & Beyond squad, hammered their opponents by a cumulative 37-17 score in Wednesday’s two bracket games to take the lower division crown.

Items of special note were the appearance of a senior woman player from Iowa and the always interesting aspect of the youngest and oldest players in the tournament. Tammie Picton of Davenport wowed the senior players in attendance. Picton and her husband travelled to Minnesota on Monday (so they avoided the storm) and she played in the tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday and then joined the West Metro Senior Softball League for Thursday league play.

At the plate Picton, a left-handed batter, consistently hit ropes into right field. What was more impressive was her speed afoot and her throwing arm. This woman can bring it, as several of the men can attest who dared to play catch with her. If there are any Midwest women’s senior teams looking for a quality player who could play for a 40+, or 45+, or 50+ senior team, Picton is the real deal. If interested contact the West Metro Senior Softball League or contact Simmons, SSUSA C/L North regional director.

For the fifth time in 15 events, Bob Lundegaard (77) claimed the honor of oldest player in the tournament. Bob is the only repeat performer as the oldest player as the other 10 have all been honored with that title one time apiece. The youngest player was Steve Schaubhut (48) who was another key contributor to Bobby & Steve’s success.

There will be one more dome tournament this winter in the Twin Cities. That tournament will be played on Feb. 25-26. If there is interest from your team, or you as a player, to take part then please contact Simmons, (H) 952-470-9250, (C) 952-239-7674, (E)

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