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2009 NSA Open Super Worlds

2009 held at St. Louis, Missouri on July 31-August 2.

Champion – Phone Masters/Dragons, Wood River, IL
Runner Up – TCP/Easton, Burlington, IA


1. Phone Masters/Dragons, Wood River, IL 4-0 (A)
2. TCP/Easton, Burlington, IA 4-2 (A)
3. Hub’s Pub/Elite, St. Louis, MO 2-2 (B)
4. Players Warehouse/Berties/Miken, Mt. Washington, KY 2-2 (B)
5t. XCORP, Collinsville, OK 1-2 (C)
5t. Softball Times/Worth, Lexington, KY 1-2 (B)
7t. St. Louis Swing, St. Louis, MO 0-2 (B)
7t. St. Clair A’s, St. Clair, IL 0-2 (C)

Southeastern Invitational – Jerome Earnest

Southeastern Invitational held at Oakland Terrace Park in Panama City, Florida.

1964 — Buddy’s Sporting Goods, Tallahassee, Fla., def. Independents, Panama City, Fla. (The Independents won one game by 1-0 over Pure Oil of Tallahassee; the game lasted 37 minutes)

1965 — Commander’s Firebirds, Panama City, Fla., def. Buddy’s (Note: Firebirds same team as Independents; Buddy Alley, Buddy’s big home run hitter, was intentionally walked by Commander’s pitcher Gary Walsingham every time in the two-game finals, except the last time when he hit a grand slam; Commander’s had an 18-run lead at the time; Alley’s son, Scott, became a strong hitter — for such teams as Newman’s, Back Porch, DJ’s, Herrin and Resmondo)

1966 — Buddy’s def. Jo’s Pizza, Milton, Fla. (Note: The Bi-City Merchants out of the Columbus-Phenix City area scored 53 runs in one game, hitting 21 home runs)

1967 — Jo’s def. Kobax, Chattanooga, Tenn.

1968 — Jo’s def. Emory’s, Knoxville, Tenn.

1969 — Jo’s def. Barwick’s, Panecea, Fla. (Note: No team from outside northwest Florida has yet to win this tournament; H.T. Waller, who helped spark Jo’s to a runner-up finish in the ASA nationals in 1968 and 1969, had 12 home runs; he was walked 12 times, 10 times intentionally)

1970 — Valley Merchants, Lanett, Ala., def. Jo’s (Note: Chester Dungan hit 7 home runs in one game for Jo’s; Dungan and teammate H.T. Waller each had 16 home runs for the tournament; Dungan also had a single for an 8-for-8 performance in his 7-HR game as Jo’s beat Golden Gallon of Chattanooga, one of the co-favorites, by 40-30; Jo’s had 28 homers, Golden Gallon 16; A member of the Golden Gallon team was Stan Harvey, who went on to play for Howard’s 3-time ASA and 2-time USSSA champions)

1971 — Jo’s def. Valley Merchants (Note: There was a 16-inning game, with Southern Wholesalers of Rossville, Ga., outlasting the Atlanta Merchants 3-2; there was a string of zeroes for 8 innings before the game was finally decided in the 16th inning)

1972 — Warren Motors, Jacksonville, Fla., def. Jo’s

1973 — Southern Fastener, Mobile, Ala., def. Buddy’s (Note: The local Commander team had a 24-run inning, including 3 grand slams, 2 by Charles Commander; the team came in with a 63-8 record and had won five of seven tournaments, but finished a disappointing tie for 7th place)

1974 — Howard’s Furniture, Denver, N.C., def. Southern Fastener (Note: First time that no northwest Florida team was in the finals)

1975 — Jo’s def. Hammon’s, Tallahassee, Fla. (Jo’s won five times and was runner-up another three times between 1966 and 1975)

1976 — Tom’s Peanuts, Columbus, Ga., def. Reed’s Nuts, Macon, Ga. (Note: Tom Beall, who later earned ASA Hall of Fame recoginition as a member of Howard’s, had a tournament record 18 home runs for Reed’s, which went on to win the ASA Class A title that year)

1977 — Ken Sanders, Phenix City, Ala., def. Buddy’s (Note: James Abercrombie was the MVP, going 10-for-10 with 5 home runs in two wins over Buddy’s; Ken Sanders was runner-up in the ASA nationals that year)

1978 — Ken Sanders def. Alco Roofing

1979 — Barbeque Kitchen, Atlanta, Ga., def. St. Andrew Baptist, Panama City, Fla. (Note: Warren Scarborough set tournament record with 30 home runs as his team lost its first game, then won 10 games in a row)

1980 — Action South, Nashville, Tenn., def. Dubose Insurance, Pensacola, Fla.

1981 — Ken Sanders, Augusta, Ga., def. Elite Coatings, Gordon, Ga. (Note: It was the third Southeastern championship in five years for the Ken Sanders team. Craig Elliott batted .818 with 18 home runs, his younger brother Scott .806 with 12 HRs; Elite’s Graig Merritt, not a big guy and batting in the #10 slot, hit a tournament record 8 home runs in one game — a 69-42 win over defending champion Action South; There were 73 home runs in the game, 50 of them by Elite, including 27 in a 36-run second inning. Elite, with such players as Cecil Whitehead and Ricky Huggins, went on to win the ASA Major Nationals in the first year that the Major and Super were divided up; Ken Sanders, which won the final game by a stunning 31-7 score, played in the ASA Super Nationals that year. Whitehead had 7 homers and Huggins 5 in the big home run game; Two Elite players had 6 HRs — Ed Jones and Don Knight; Two more had five; Merritt made an out in the first at-bat, then had 8 HRs in a row.)

1982 — American Amicable, Crestview, Fla., def. Bobby’s, Chester, Ga. (Note: Led by co-MVPs Mike Cobb and Mike Amerson and big Frank Sorrells, American Amicable went 6-0 and hit 33 home runs in one game.

1983 — Elite def. Miller Lite, Chattanooga, Tenn. (Note: MVP Craig Elliott went 30-for-33 with 23 home runs; Elite, which came into the Southeastern owner of a 75-4 record and ranked No. 1 in the country, went on to win the National Slo-Pitch Conference crown, but was upset in the ASA Super and the USSSA World Series; Sollie’s won one game by 3-2 over Budmen of Tallahassee)

1984 — Sollie’s, Panama City, Fla., def. Barrington Ford, Columbus, Ga. (Note: Sollie’s only the second Panama City team to win this tournament in 20 years; no other Panama City team has won since; Frank Sorrells, John Hicks and MVP shortstop Kevin Balcerak from nearby Niceville, Fla., helped spark Steve Culverhouse’s Panama City team; Barrington won one game by 3-2 over the Budmen of Tallahassee)

1985 — Newman’s 76ers, Tallahassee, Fla., def. Jim McGill Chevrolet, Birmingham, Ala.

1986 — Newman’s def. Jim McGill

1987 — C&M Sports, Dothan, Ala., def. Columbus (Ga.) Fire & Safety

1988 — Don’s, Birmingham, Ala., def. Back Porch, Destin, Fla.

1989 — Back Porch def. C&M

1990 — Cannon Roofing, Savannah, Ga., def. Rick Downs, Pensacola, Fla.

1991 — C&M def. H&H, Panama City, Fla.

1992 — Back Porch def. Gentry’s, Columbus, Ga.

1993 — Rusty Faulk, Luverne, Ala., def. Southland, Gainesville, Ga.

1994 — Back Porch def. Deep South, Jackson, Miss. (Back Porch won the ASA Major title in 1993, and was runner-up in 1994; It was the third Southeastern championship for Back Porch)

1995 — JB’s, Gainesville, Ga., def. Abbott’s, Crawfordville, Fla. (Note: JB’s was a “pick-up” team, with several players from the powerhouse Superior/Southland team, including Rob Darhower (the MVP who went 25-for-28), Sylvin Little (who had 18 homers), Tim Williamson and Joey O’Dell (who each had 17 homers) and Dewayne Frizzell and Mike Stanley (who each had 15 homers); JB’s won one game 67-65 over Back Porch/Moulton; Darhower and Stanley were former Back Porch players; Back Porch/Moulton finished third, losing a 70-69 shootout with JB’s)

1996 — Memory Lane, Columbus, Ga., def. TNT, Pensacola, Fla. (Note: Phil White went 51-for-56 with 20 home runs as Memory Lane, a “pick-up” team, lost its first game, then won eight in a row; Kenny Carver had 28 home runs, Charles Wright 27)

1997 — Metro Merchants, Atlanta, Ga., def. Hudson’s, Samson, Ala. (Note: Russ Earnest hit 21 home runs for the runner-up team; the third-place finisher, Moulder & Sons of Panama City, had 84 runs and 40 home runs in one game; Barry Reynolds and Andy Cobb each went 9-for-9 with 6 home runs and Tony Dixon also had 6 homers)

1998 — Knoxville Billiard, Knoxville, Tenn., def. Horsemen, Panama City, Fla. (Note: Russ Earnest hit 21 home runs for the runner-up team)

Note: The Southeastern was the first invitational tournament in the South that matched teams from different states, except for the ASA regionals. The tournament always had a “waiting list” in the late 1960s, the 1970s and the early 1980s; It started as a 16-team tournament, grew to 36. Like the Smoky Mountain Classic now, every team had to play on Friday night. Saturday night’s play ran late, late, late. The Stroh’s Invitational in Springfield, Ohio, was started in 1960; Oakland Terrace Park was the third four-field “wheel” complex in the country, behind Salt Lake City and Toledo, Ohio; Oakland Terrace Park itself celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998. Some facts and figures: Of the 34 Southeasterns, teams from north Florida, Alabama or Georgia have won 31 times and finished runner-up 31 times; Teams from north Florida have won 15 times and were second 16 times, and teams from nearby south Alabama have won 4 and finished runner-up 3 times; Teams from Georgia have won 10 times and have been second 13 times; Teams from Alabama have won 5 times and been second 5 times; Teams from Tennessee have won twice and been second 3 times; The only other championship was by Howard’s out of North Carolina (1974); Jo’s Pizza won 5 times, was runner-up 3 times between 1966 and 1975; Buddy’s won 2 and was runner-up 3 times between 1964 and 1977; Ken Sanders won 3 times between 1977 and 1981; Back Porch 3 times between 1989 and 1994; Newman’s and C&M each won twice.

H.T. Waller, from little Vernon, Fla., set the ASA national tournament home run record with 16 and was voted the MVP for runner-up Jo’s Pizza of Milton, Fla., in 1969 at Parma, Ohio; It was the second year in a row that Jo’s was the runner-up team; Also pictured are John Nagy, Cleveland Metro commissioner, and Don Porter, ASA executive director. After playing quarterback and linebacker in high school, Waller was defensive end for the FSU Seminoles. He was a big league pitching prospect before an elbow injury in football ended his pitching hopes.

The Name Game – Jerome Earnest

Nicknames, nicknames, nicknames . . . most of them tagged by Ray Molphy, who came from Long Island, N.Y., to become “The Voice of Softball.” Ray retired after calling his 30th Smoky Mountain Classic in 1998. He used to call games from 8 a.m. until midnight. His great voice will be missed.

Here are some of those nicknames:

  • Rick “The Crusher” Scherr . . . probably the most famous softball nickname of all
  • “Dangerous” Dennis Graser
  • Darrell Beeler “The Tulsa Terror”
  • Mark Hierlmeier “The Tampa Terror”
  • Russell “The Rooster” Bradley
  • Larry Fredieu “The Bayou Beauty”
  • Rick Wheeler “The Pomona Pumper”
  • Doug Roberson “The Beast”
  • Bruce “The Bruiser” Meade
  • “Tricky” Ricky Weiterman
  • David “Tater” Allen
  • Thom Lord “The Dinosaur”
  • “Rocket” Ron Parnell
  • “Rocket” Rod Hughes
  • “Lovable” Larry Carter
  • “Monsterous” Monty Tucker . . . They started calling him “Mile High” Monty after he won a home run derby at Mile High Stadium
  • Charles Wright “The Georgia Peach”
  • “Daffy” Dave Steffen . . . or “The Daffy One”
  • Dan Schuck “The Iowa Idol”
  • “Cranking” Craig Elliott . . . or “The Cranker”
  • James Boyett “The Rattler”
  • “Mighty Joe” Young . . Young’s first name was not even Joe . . it was Andrew
  • Mike “The Masher” Macenko . . . also known as “Big Coon,” “Gorilla Boy,” “Mighty Mike,” and “Roy Hobbs-The Natural.” Now he goes by “Big Cat”
  • Mark “Downtown” Brown
  • Denny “Uptown” Jones . . . When Dave Carroll recruited Jones out of Louisiana, he said, “He’s got long hair and a full beard, and he hits it so far, they call him Jesus Jones”
  • Eddie “Jughead” Foust
  • Judson “Jughead” Jackson
  • Gene “Mountain” Jones
  • Mickey “Bimbo” McCarty
  • “Shack” McDaniel
  • Charlie “Beep Beep” Pierce
  • Brian “Snake” Reed
  • Tuck “Fleet Feet” Hinton
  • Harold “Killer” Kelley
  • Elby “Boom Boom” Bushong . . . the West Coast version
  • Larry “Boom Boom” Hutcherson . . . the East Coast version
  • Scott “Bam Bam” Virkus
  • Greg “C-Train” Cannedy
  • Ricky “Huggy Bear” Huggins
  • Scott “Scooter” Nastally
  • Lamar “Spec” Echols
  • Kenny “Pickle” Pruitt
  • Dirk “The Blaster” Androff
  • Clyde “The Glide” Guy
  • Herman “Captain Crunch” Rathman . . . or “Hammering Herman”
  • Richard Willborn “The Texas Tornado”
  • Dick Bartel “The Rocket Man”
  • Greg “The Bull” Fuhrman . . . in his early years on the circuit, they called him “The Baby Bull”
  • Walter “June Bug” Wright
  • William “Billo” Harvey
  • Henry McBeth “Buffalo Soldier”
  • Kevin “Tiny” Giddens
  • Derek “Tweekie” Jones
  • David “Ta Ta” Beaird
  • Steve “Yank” Jones
  • Jim “Bo Bo” Bizzell
  • “Leaping” Larry Garrard
  • “Doc” Crismond
  • “Doc” Thompson
  • “Dock” Booker
  • “Tex” Collins
  • “Chub” Johnson
  • “Buck” Buchanan
  • “Prince” Williams
  • “Jack ’em” John Grissom
  • Ray “Country” Cowart
  • F.A. “Faraway” Martin
  • “Jolly” Charlie Mitchell
  • Phil Jobe “Black Magic”
  • David “Dirt” Brown
  • Jeff “Poncahontas” Ross
  • “Cactus” Jack Reagan . . . sometimes he was called “Cadillac Jack”
  • Chris Chilton “Chili” or “Chili Dog”
  • “Mutzy” Matzdorf
  • Brian “Bauser” Ellinghausen
  • Jim “Birdie” Burbrink
  • “Gar” King
  • Mike “Stump” Stanley
  • Jeff “Mule” Riner
  • “Buck” Hall
  • Ray “The Big Bopper” Anderson
  • Earl “T-Bird” Funderberg.

Some of my favorite Molphyisms, (and some from David, Ray’s backup announcer at the Smoky):

  • “His next hit will be his first.”
  • “He’s on the snide . . . he’s off the snide.”
  • “That was an insurance catch . . . if you don’t have the insurance, you had better catch it”
  • “That was a tweener . . . between his legs.”
  • “A Del Monte Job” . . . a high pop fly.
  • “The sacks are packed” or “The bases are bulging.”
  • “A Slammeroo.”
  • “He has two hits, one for the minimum, one for the maximum” . . . a player with a single and a home run.
  • “That was Scherr power” . . . after a Rick Scherr home run.
  • “A piece of peach pie” . . . a Charles Wright home run.
  • Herman Rathman came up with a couple of nicknames: “Left Turn” Don Ardnt . . . for trotting down to first base, taking a left turn, going to second base, taking a left turn, etc. . . . and “Sweet Swinging” Stan Harvey . . . Molphy called them “The Hall of Fame Twins.”
  • “Chic” Downing . . . Ray did not give Matthew his nickname; he got that for going to get a bucket of “yardbird” after every game. He spelled it “Chic” . . . not “Chick.”
  • And . . . “Another Waller Wallop” for H.T. (Herschel Tucker) Waller.

Jerome Earnest News and Quotes

How’s this for putting up the numbers: Mike Macenko, Rich Petrunyak and Dock Booker combined to go 18-for-18 with 18 home runs . . . that’s right, 18-18-18 . . . for Dave Neale’s Nationwide Advertising Services team from Cleveland in the 1981 Shrine Classic at Spartanburg, S.C. That was in one game!

Mike Macenko, Dock Booker and Rich Petrunyak had a herculean game for Nationwide Advertising of Cleveland in the 1981 Shrine Classic in Spartanburg, S.C. All they did was combine to go 18-for-18 with 18 home runs!

  • Bruce Meade hit one with a titanium bat in a hitting exhibition at the Pif in Canada one year that cleared the stands on top of the hill and landed in the street . . . well over 500 feet. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder they called “The Bruiser” hit many, many shots that are legend in parks all over the country. But he would always tell you: “I’m a line drive hitter. I’d rather have a good batting average.” And he did.
  • The most consistent home run hitters (because they hit towering blasts): Mike Macenko, Craig Elliott and Rick Scherr. And they consistently put up the big numbers to prove it. The late Dirk Androff hit towering blasts too . . . but he was like Meade. He went for the batting average. There were other great home run hitters — Jim Galloway, Paul Tomasavich, Tex Collins, Don Arndt, Stan Harvey, Ron Patterson, Bert Smith, H.T. Waller, Al White, Rick Wheeler, Mike Parrott, Charles Wright, James Boyett, Bill Gatti, Benny Holt,, Herman Rathman, Chic Downing, James Abercrombie, Buddy Alley, Jim Fuller, Dave Steffen and Mighty Joe Young to name a few. Of course, before they are through Carl Rose, Wendell Rickard, J.C. Phelps, Dewayne Nevitt, Rusty Bumgardner, Hank Garris, Larry Carter, Dan Schuck, Todd Joerling, Larry Fredieu and Jeff Wallace will rank right up there on the all-time list.
  • Mighty Joe Young always said he could hit it out with a rolled up newspaper. And he did hit it out with street shoes on . . . one night when he was running late and did not have time to change his shoes. He was running late at the 1977 ASA national tournament, had a tussle with the parking lot attendant because he parked in the wrong area and was left off the all-tournament team, despite having a top-notch weekend as Nelson’s came out of the losers bracket to beat Ken Sanders twice for the title.
  • Ten HRs in a game . . . that was accomplished by Don Arndt, Mike Macenko and Ricky Huggins.
  • Mike Macenko had 16 and 15 HRs in doubleheaders during Steele’s barnstorming days.
  • Mike Nye earned a mind-boggling 13 MVP awards in regular season tournaments in two years — 1975 for Nelson’s and 1976 for Warren Motors. Plus he shared the ASA MVP award with teammate Ron Ford at the end of the 1976 season.
  • During a 6-year stretch for Steele’s (1985-90), Mighty Mike Macenko racked up 3,192 home runs and 6,298 RBI. His HR totals: 315, 410, 844, 830, 385, 408 (in a total of 1,581 games). The team’s total: 26,372 That’s an average of 15.7 per game. Steele’s had 6,690 HRs in 365 games in 1987 and 6,331 in 386 games in 1988.
  • Elite, based out of Gordon, Ga., compiled a 332-33 record for three years (1983-85), winning 40 of 49 tournaments. The 1985 team, with the likes of Bruce Meade, Charles and Paul Wright, Bill Pollock, Cecil Whitehead, Steve Williams, Freddie Trice, Ron Ford, Doug Brown, Rick Wheeler and Buddy Slater, was 72-5 through the regular season, winning 11 of 12 tournaments and holding season margins over Steele’s (8-3) and Howard’s (9-2), the only other Super teams that year. However, Elite had to come out of the losers bracket to win the final leg of the Triple Crown (the USSSA after Howard’s won the ISA and Steele’s the ASA). Slater had two called third strikes on behind-the-back pitches in one inning vs. Steele’s in the Petersburg, Va., NIT. Elite won the “Pif” in Canada that year despite hitting only 13 home runs in 5 games, and two of the HRs were inside-the-parkers by Paul Wright in the same game. Elite pulled several double plays, and an around-the-horn triple play.
  • Other low loss seasons around that time were 4 by Little Caesar’s out of Detroit in 1970, 2 by Warren Motors of Jacksonville in 1976 (both to Tom’s of Columbus, Ga.) and 5 by Smythe Sox of Houston in 1986. Nelson’s 1979 team went 80-10 and the Smythe Sox of 1987 went 96-10. Of course, the Steele’s Silver Bullets went 226-9 in 1990, including 142 wins in a row. Campbell’s Carpets of California went 118-12 in 1980 and Howard’s/Western Steer out of North Carolina went 160-15 in 1981 en route to their Triple Crown achievements. Other big won-lost ledgers: 117-14 and 122-15 for Howard’s Furniture in 1973-74; 111-18 for Nelson’s in 1977; 93-15 for Campbell’s in 1978. Ken Sanders out of Alabama had good years with good players in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but managed only one championship — the NSPC in 1982.
  • How about this game in 1985 between two teams that were not Super powers? Newman’s of Tallahassee outlasted Ray’s of Alachua, Fla., 55-54, in an 8-inning game in the Rose City tourney at Thomasville, Ga. Newman’s was enjoying a 40-19 lead before drawing blanks in the sixth and seventh. Ray’s, the ASA Major runner-up the year before, tied the score on Randall McGee’s fourth HR in two innings, then Newman’s hit for 15 runs on 9 HRs in the top of the extra inning. Ray’s came back with 14 runs, but came up one short. The final home run count: 31-29 Newman’s. Earlier in the tournament, Fred Miller had two grand slams in a 23-run inning for Newman’s.
  • Steele’s had 3 players go 12-for-12 in a 108-run game May 25, 1987 at Wichita Falls, Texas — the first three batters in the order (Doug Roberson, Mike Bolen, Mike Macenko). Macenko had 9 HRs, Roberson and Bolen 6 each. Ricky Huggins was 11-for-12, with 7 HRs. Macenko had 17 RBI, Jeff Stamps and Ken Dain 16 each. Dain had 7 HRs, Stamps 6. Ron Parnell, the last man in the lineup, had 6 HRs. Steele’s had 22 runs in 1 inning, 26 and 23 in others. It was a 6-inning game.
  • Carl Rose had 15 successive HRs at Poway, Calif., in 1997 when Lighthouse came out of the losers bracket to double dip Sunbelt. He was 9-for-9 with 7 HRs in one game. He had 28 for the tournament. Lighthouse totaled 200 in 6 games. Mike Macenko had strings of 10 and 12 HRs in a row. When this scribe fielded a team in Panama City (1964-76), Johnny B. Newsome, recruited from the high school baseball team, had 13 HRs in succession.
  • The most HRs in a tournament? 32 by four players . . . David Beaird did it for Ken Sanders in 1977 at Spartanburg, S.C.; Herman Rathman did it for Nelson’s in 1978 at Marietta, Ga.; Britt Hightower did it for Ritch’s/Superior in 1994 at Salem, Va.; and Chris Graves did it for Brandon’s in 1997 at Chattanooga, Tenn. Three players have hit 30 . . . Warren Scarborough for Barbeque Kitchen in 1979 at Panama City, Fla., Dave Steffen for Converters/Vernon’s in 1994 at Brooklyn Center, Minn., and Rusty Bumgardner for Shen Valley in 1997 at Maryville, Tenn. Wendell Rickard had 35 in 1997 for a “pick-up” team in an offseason tournament at Lake City, Fla.
  • Ricky Huggins once had 20 HRs in 21 swings over four games in two days (believe it or not, Sunday in Georgia and Monday in Kennewick, Wash.) That was during Steele’s road days too.
  • Steele’s had 10 HRs in succession on a stop at Wyoming, Mich., in 1987.
  • When he was with the Steele’s barnstorming team, Doug Roberson had 20 RBI in one game and 21 in a game the very next night. Believe it or not, one game was played in Utah, the other in California. Steele’s had some wild and crazy scheduling back then. Yours truly was the “mad” scheduler.
  • A couple of years earlier, Roby had 44 RBI in 3 games in Colorada. And he had 2 grand slams in 1 inning . . . twice. How about those numbers? Don Clatterbaugh, who is still playing at 50-plus, once had 2 slams in 1 inning for Dave Carroll’s team. He had 13 slammers that season.
  • The All-Steele’s team from 1983-89: Rick Weiterman, p; Craig Elliot, c; Dennis Graser, 1b; Mike Macenko, 2b; Charles Wright, 3b; Ron Parnell, ss; Doug Roberson, of; Scott Virkus, of; Joe Young, of; Ricky Huggins, of; Bill Blake, dh; Greg Whitlock, Mike Bolen, Monty Tucker, utility.
  • The All-Steele’s team from 1971-81: Larry Garrard, p; John Geckle, c; Al White, 1b; John Brenner, 2b; Tim Haley, 3b; Ted Keysor, ss; Cliff Carpenter, of; Dennis Helmig, of; Joe Young, of; Henry McBeth, of; Rick Hasty, dh; Ray Crisp Sr., Steve Barrington, Bob Mulcahy, utility.
  • Steele’s holds records for runs and home runs in a game in both the ASA Super Nationals and the USSSA World Series. Steele’s beat Capitol Insulation of California 84-22 in the 1987 USSSA World Series at Waterloo, Iowa. Steele’s had 53 home runs — 8 by Kenny Dain, 6 each by Mike Macenko and Craig Elliott and 5 each by Doug Roberson, Ron Parnell, Monty Tucker and Jeff Stamps, 4 each by Scott Virkus and Mike Bolen. Steele’s scored 47 of the runs in back-to-back innings. Then in the 1989 ASA Super at Oklahoma City, Steele’s beat Instant Landscape of Florida 75-21, with a 19-run inning and a 20-run inning. Back then, there was no rule run and both games went seven innings. Steele’s was the home run vs. Capitol. Steele’s had 56 HRs vs. Instant — 8 by Dirk Androff, 6 each by Bill Blake and Todd Joerling, 5 each by Ron Parnell and Ernie Montgomery and 4 by four players (Craig Elliott, Monty Tucker, Ken Loeri and Scott Virkus).
  • Only three players have led the Majors in home runs and batting averages in the same year — 1983 Craig Elliott 390 HRs, .765; 1991 Carl Rose 230 HRs, .751; 1994 Jimmy Powers 175 HRs, .790. Two other times, the batting average lead is unofficial: 1973 Bert Smith 218 HRs, .694; 1982 Rick Scherr 356 HRs, .708.
  • John Keigley has played on four USSSA World Series runner-up teams since 1990 — Superior/Apollo in 1990, Williams/Worth in 1992, Shen Valley/DJ’s in 1995 and Dan Smith in 1996.
  • Remember Dave Elder? The little, bespectacled pitcher from Louisville. He was the key reason for a less than super team winning the Smoky in 1988. And it just wasn’t because he was a good pitcher. All he did was go 8-for-9 with 3 homers and 9 RBI when Starpath upended Marlton Trucking 59-56 in the finals at Maryville. Dave Johnson made a diving catch in the outfield of a knuckleball that was the biggest play in the game. Later that same season. “D.J.” also ended up being the MVP at the ASA Super Nationals in Oklahoma City in which Starpath came out of the loser’s bracket to double-dip Sports Heroes of Minnesota 18-15 and 17-13 (after having squeaked by Steele’s 22-21 in the losers bracket). Johnson hit .688 with 11 home runs and 22 RBI.
  • How about this for a season . . . a career for some folks? In 1990 for the Steele’s Silver Bullets, Mike Macenko (we called him Mighty Mike and Mike The Masher back then; he liked Roy Hobbs — The Natural; now he goes by The Big Cat) batted .728 with 408 HRs in 231 games; he batted .717 with 162 HRs in 77 tournament games; and he batted an awesome .783 with 51 home runs in 20 Grand Slam championship games. He was the MVP in the NSA and the co-MVP with teammate Monty Tucker in the ASA. And his contribution when Steele’s won the Smoky Mountain Classic: .750 batting average with 17 HRs in six games. “Mike was right there for us in every big tournament,” stated manager Dave Neale.
  • The year after H.T. (Herschel Tucker) Waller won the MVP for the runner-up Jo’s Pizza team (1969), he was intentionally walked 13 times in a tournament in Cottonwood, Ala. Four of the times, Jim Duncan, former UofF baseballer and now a high school principal in Oak Ridge, Tenn., followed up with a home run. By the way, Waller played football at FSU.
  • Bert Smith did not give the opposition many chances to “pick it” in the 1973 Pick of Dixie Invitational in Chattanooga, Tenn. He powered Howard’s to the title by going 31-for-33 with a whopping 27 home runs. How about that HR ratio!

Craig Elliott . . . cranking one for Elite . . . hit 390 HRs in 1983 for 1.93 ratio

  • Five home runs in one inning! Yes, that’s right . . . Craig Elliott did it in Muncie, Ind., one night for the barnstorming Steele’s Silver Bullets. Many players have had 4 home runs in one inning. Steve Craven almost had 5 in one inning for Lighthouse one year in Tullahoma, Tenn. His would-be fifth curved foul.
  • Two other players had five home runs in one inning . Jimmy Powers for Steele’s/Sunbelt in 1992 at Fort Worth . . . Carl Rose had five in one inning for Williams/Worth in the Cajun Classic . . . Steele’s scored 106 runs in that game at Fort Worth. Steele’s earlier had 108 and 109 runs in games in 1986 and 1987. Later Williams/Worth scored 110 runs in a game at Thomasville, Ga., in 1993. W/W had a record 65 HRs. Steele’s had 62 and 63 HRs in their big games. Steele’s had 50 runs in an inning once, Lighthouse/Worth 48 and 49 in different years at Tullahoma, Tenn. Then along came Shen Valley with a 122-run game in 4 innings at Little Rock, Ark., in 1996. SV scored 49 runs in one inning, 59 in another . . . with 25 and 29 HRs. Jimmy Powers had a big day in that one. He batted 13 times, had 12 hits and a walk. Seven of the hits were home runs. Tot Powers and Todd Martin each had 8 HRs in that game. They each had 6-for-6, 4-HR innings. Jimmy had 16 RBI, Randell Boone 15 and Tot 14. Then in 1998 at Portland, Team TPS had 69 runs and 31 HRs in one inning.
  • There’s a story concerning Steele’s 106 runs in 1 game at Fort Worth in 1992 . . . Steele’s/Sunbelt did not win the tournament. Afterwards, Jimmy Powers goes up to Dave Neale: “Dave, next weekend you keep my $300 and buy my brother (Tot) a plane ticket if you want to win.” The Powers brothers played together before, and they have been playing together since.
  • Ray Molphy, the traveling announcer, used to call Tot “Tote” . . . It took several reminders and a verificaton from Tot that his name wasn’t “Tote” before Ray got the message.
  • Jimmy and Tot played on the same football team in high school. Tot was the quarterback, Jimmy the running back. Both were loggers. Other loggers who were softball stars included Stan Harvey, Mike Cobb and Larry Fredieu. Most people won’t recognize the name Mike Cobb. He was a Pete Rose lookalike who was a very strong hitter for teams out of Panama City in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. He beat Warren Motors with a home run in the bottom of the 7th in the Pick of Dixie at Chattanooga in 1973. He’s got a son, Andy, who is a young power hitter.


  • Mike Cobb . . . a Pete Rose lookalike from Panama City . . . after being coaxed out of fast pitch, he was a powerful hitter for Panama City and Northwest Florida teams in the 1970s and early 1980s.
  • Another note on Tot Powers: They called him “Heavy” and when the next batter, Dave Steffen, stepped into the box, they called him “Heavier” Converters won the USSSA World Series that year (1994) . . . Jimmy and Tot played on another USSSA World Series winner with Shen Valley/Superior/Taylor (1996).
  • Nobody has played on more Smoky Mountain Classic champions than Charles Wright . . . 10 — six in a row in 1982-87 with Ken Sanders, Elite and Steele’s and four in row in 1993-96 with Ritch’s/Superior and Sunbelt. The Columbus, Ga., product played on the same Ken Sanders team with Craig Elliott that lost two 1-run games to Nelson’s in the finals of the greatest national tournament ever — the ASA in 1977 at Parma, Ohio. Elliott set the Smoky home run record with 26 in 1981. That stood until Rusty Bumgardner hit 30 for runner-up Shen Valley in 1997. Rusty’s came in 10 games, the Cranker’s in six.

Charles Wright . . . “The Georgia Peach” from Columbus six successive Smoky Mountain Classic winners between 1982-87 (Ken Sanders, Elite 3 years, Steele’s 2 years), then on another four in a row from 1993-96 (Ritch’s/Superior 3 years and Sunbelt).

Guess who has played on more championship teams than anybody in the history of slow pitch softball? Rick Weiterman . . . 33. That total includes the old pro league, the USSSA, ASA, NSA and ISA. He was the MVP in the pro league in 1980 at the age of 21. The Milwaukee product played on three pro league championship teams. He was the MVP for Steele’s Silver Bullets in the 1988 USSSA World Series at Long Beach, Calif. Seventeen of those championships came in a 4-year span — 3 with Steele’s in 1990 and 14 with Ritch’s/Superior in 1991-95. The R/S Express won the Grand Slam in 1992. Weiterman, a pitcher and Mr. Automatic at the plate as a base hitter, was on one championship team as a third baseman — Elite in the USSSA in 1994. With Steele’s, he had a streak where he hit .740, .750, .760 for the season, mostly by base-hitting. But there was a night in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when he hit eight . . . that’s right, 8 . . . home runs. In one game!

  • No. 2 on the champions list is none other than Buddy Slater with 29. Twelve of his was as the manager of Ritch’s/Superior, when he played only sparingly. He pitched for such teams as Nelson’s, Campbell’s, Howard’s, Elite and Smythe Sox . . . and a little for Steele’s where he was used mostly as a coach. He was a part of back-to-back Triple Crown winners — Campbell’s in 1980 and Howard’s in 1981. Randy Gorrell managed both of those teams, with some of the same players — Slater, Dick Bartel, Richard Willborn and Bill Ferguson. Big Mickey McCarty, who was drafted in three professional sports out of Texas Christian, played on the Campbell’s team and was to be a member of the Howard’s team, but he suffered a stroke. Other leaders on the champions list: Britt Hightower and Doug Roberson 25 each Cecil Whitehead 22 Ron Parnell, Paul Drilling and Dirk Androff 21 each Charles Wright 20. Androff played on his 21 title teams between 1988 and 1997 with Steele’s and Ritch’s/Superior. He died on an exercise bike at the age of 34 in the fall of 1997.
  • Cecil Whitehead had 11 home runs and 3 walks in his first 14 at-bats for Ritch’s in the 1990 USSSA World Series at Greensboro, N.C. He finished the tournament with 15 home runs (Jim Fuller of Superior had 14) and a .783 batting average, and earned the MVP award as Ritch’s beat Superior in the finals. That was the year that Steele’s Silver Bullets were supposed to win (they had won the first 3 legs of the Grand Slam and just about everything else that season), but they lost to Sports Hero’s from Minnesota, who had lefthander Teddy Larson doing the pitching, and Bell Corp. Steele’s lost only 9 games that year, and three of them were to Bell. Bell ended Steele’s 142-game winning streak in at Sterling Heights, but Steele’s came back to win that tourney. Back to Whitehead, he played on consecutive USSSA winners in 1984-85-86-87 for Elite and Smythe. He played on a few more USSSA winners with R/S.

A Look Back at Yesteryear

Big Jim Galloway with County Sports boss Doc Linnehan . . . perennial All-Star in the 1960s . . . hit 400-foot home runs with a wooden bat

Bruce Meade, Mike Nye, Ronnie Ford and Ray Fleetwood. They played together on the Warren Motors team from Jacksonville that went 94-2 in 1976 and won the ASA national championship. The Warren team won its first 78 games. The only two losses were to Tom’s of Columbus, Ga. — in Macon, Ga., and Lynn Haven, Fla. Ironically, Tom’s, with such players as Craig Elliott, Charles Wright, James “The Rattler” Boyett, David “Ta Ta” Beaird, Sidney Cooper, James Abercrombie and Greg Smith, was upset in its regional and did not make it to the national tournament.

Mike Bolen, Craig Elliott, Joe Young, Mike Macenko. This photo of “The Four Horsemen of Steele’s” was taken before the start of the 1986 season

Little guy Mike Nye taking a big swing in the 1976 ASA national tournament before hometown crowd at Jacksonville, Fla. Nye set a record with a .769 season batting average that year. It stood until Jim Fuller batted .774 for Ritch’s/Superior in 1992. Fuller made a bid in 1990, but slipped in the final tournament of the season and wound up at .767. Bruce Meade earlier made a couple of bids, finishing at .764 in 1977 and .767 in 1981 (he also had seasons at .757 and .746). Craig Elliott made a bid in 1983, winding up at .765. Jimmy Powers topped Fuller’s mark with .790 in 1994, then Jeff Hall batted a stunning .807 in 1997 (his on-base percentage was .817).

Mike Nye in a Jerry’s Catering uniform . . . he played for such teams as Warren Motors, Nelson’s Painting, Detroit Caesars (in the pro league), Ken Sanders, Jerry’s, Steele’s, Ritch’s and Vernon’s. He earned all-star honors when Ritch’s won the ASA Super and Major titles in 1989.

Big Bruce Meade taking a big swing for Warren Motors in the 1976 ASA national tournament at Jacksonville, Fla. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Meade, from Bradenton, Fla., played for such teams as Manatee All-Stars, Copher Brothers, Warren Motors, Nelson’s Painting, Dave Carroll Sports, Jerry’s Catering, Steele’s, Starpath and Vernon’s.

Rick Scherr at third and Bill Ferguson at short for Taylor Brothers of Texas at the 1976 ASA national tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.

Denny Jones . . . great hitter who earned many defensive awards in left field . . . when Dave Carroll recruited him out of Shreveport, La., in 1977, Mr. Carroll made this comment: “He’s got long hair and a full beard, and he hits the ball so far, they call him Jesus Jones.” MVP for Campbell’s Carpets in the 1978 ASA national tournament.

Steele’s first promotional poster.

The 1974 Howard’s Furniture team from Denver, N.C. . . . winner of the ASA Open national title for the second year in a row.

The 1979 Nelson’s Painting team from Oklahoma City . . . winner of the NSPC and USSSA . . . the Nelco team, with three of the same players (Bruce Meade, Joe Young and Terry Perryman) won the ASA, surprising such teams as Campbell’s and Howard’s at York, Pa. Defending champion Campbell’s drew three-time former champion Howard’s in the first round; Campbell’s won, and later eliminated Howard’s. Campbell’s was runner-up, Howard’s third. Left to right, back row: Sponsor and manager R.T. Nelson, Chic Downing, Bruce Meade, Herman Rathman, Myles Schexnaydre, Joe Young, Bill Ferguson; Front row: fan Tom Aldrich Jr., Danny Basso, Donnie Wood, Richard Willborn, Buddy Slater, Terry Perryman, batboy Mark Cantitino, Mike Parrott.

The 1980 Campbell’s Carpets team from Concord, Calif. . . . won the Triple Crown in 1980 (NSPC, ASA and USSSA) . . . little pitcher Buddy Slater was the MVP in the ASA and USSSA; Mike Cellura was the MVP in the NSPC. Left to right, back row: Dick Bartel, Greg Fuhrman, Mickey McCarty, Gordon Wheeler, Bill Ferguson, Dennis Myers. Middle row: Sponsor Campbell Strange, Jerry King, Steve Williams, Elby Bushong, Mike Cellura, manager Randy Gorrell. Front row: batboy Robert Baracosa, Buddy Slater, Richard Willborn, Denny Jones, Ron Williams, Larry Lung.

The 1975 County Sports team from Long Island, N.Y. . . . the team was managed by Hall of Famer Doc Linnehan.

Rick “The Crusher” Scherr in 1974 in his hometown Slinger, Wis., uniform . . . he went on to play for Taylor Brothers out of Corpus Christi, Texas, then joined Howard’s out of Denver, N.C., in 1977 . . . he has remained in North Carolina, still working for Howard’s Furniture and entering horseshoe tournaments.

Elite of 1985 . . . one of the strongest teams ever put together, but lost to Howard’s in the ISA and Steele’s in the ASA, and had to come out of the losers bracket to win the USSSA . . . L-R, back row: manager Charles Hatchett, Steve Williams, Glenn Atchison, Charles Wright, Bruce Meade, Fred Trice, Gary Robertson (an added player from California for the nationals), Doug Brown, Bill Pollock; Front row: Rick Wheeler, Cecil Whitehead, Buddy Slater, Ron Ford, Bill Gatti and coach Barry Long.

Fred Miller . . . came out of Jacksonville to start at fullback for FSU in the early 1970s . . . a wild and crazy guy who was a cheerleader when he had to sit out a season; later seen on TV at a frigid Cleveland Browns game in the Dawg Pound with no shirt on . . . played for Buddy’s of Tallahassee on the slow pitch circuit in 1972-77, then in the pro softball league, winding up with Dave Neale’s Nationwide Advertising team in Cleveland; played third base and hit with power from the right side of the plate, despite a glass left eye; died a few years back from a blood clot from an old football or softball injury.

Harold Kelley . . . came out of the tiny community of New Brockton in southeast Alabama to play for Nelson’s Painting of Oklahoma City in 1978, and wound up in Miami; he’s still playing on the Class A level.

Charles Mitchell . . . came out of the tiny community of Campbellton in northwest Florida to play for Nelson’s Painting of Oklahoma City in 1978, and wound up in Detroit.

Cecil Whitehead . . . came out of Valdosta, Ga., to play for many championship teams — Elite, Smythe Sox, Steele’s, Ritch’s/Kirk’s, Ritch’s/Superior . . . a very good hitter, and a very good left fielder.

Jerry’s Caterers foursome in 1980 . . . Jim Underhill, James Washington, Frank Sorrells, Fred Winston.

A Look Back At Ritch’s/Superior of Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Ritch’s/Superior/TPS compiled a 7-year won-lost record of 508-81, winning 68 of 103 tournaments, including 16 of a possible 28 Grand Slam championships. The won-lost record the first three years — 1991-93 — was a gaudy 241-22, including 10 of 12 Grand Slam titles. The R/S Express went 80-7, 80-9 and 81-6.

The first three seasons saw 31 championships out of 40 tournaments. There were four seconds, two thirds, and a tie for fifth, seventh and ninth.

The 1992 team is one of only two (2) teams to claim the Grand Slam (the ISA, NSA, ASA and USSSA). The 1993 team won the first three legs, then finished a stunning ninth in the USSSA World Series, going 1-2 (losing in shocking upsets to DJ’s 17-15 and Herb’s 22-21). Bell Corp. was the winner of the USSSA crown that year.

Frank LaTeano, the Superior half of the co-sponsorship, called the 1993 team the best. “We just seemed to do everything right,” he said. . . . until the final tournament. The ’93 team won its first nine tournaments, then placed third in the last regular-season tournament (Sterling Heights, Mich.) The final count that year: 12 championships in 14 tournaments. The ’93 team, which was undefeated in Grand Slam play until the USSSA, included Charles Wright, Cecil Whitehead, Doug Roberson, Ron Parnell, Darrell Beeler, Britt Hightower, Dirk Androff, Dave Steffen, Jimmy and Tot Powers, Paul Drilling, Rick Weiterman and Dennis Graser. Roberson, Parnell, Beeler, Androff and Weiterman played for R/S from 1991 through 1997.

Androff died on an exercise bike the fall of 1997. Louisville Slugger had elected to merge R-S and Shen Valley into Team TPS for the 1998 season.

Composite stats for the first three seasons saw Androff compile a .751 average with 449 home runs compared to .727 and 469 HRs for Wright. Beeler and Hightower each had 381 homers, Steffen and Parnell 366 each and Roberson 351. For the three seasons, Steffen batted .689, Beeler .685 and Hightower 684. That’s what you call a balanced attack.

The Powers brothers had played for Steele’s/Sunbelt the year before. Tot batted .679 with 146 homers, Jimmy .688 with 117 HRs. That was the only season the Powers brothers played for Ritch’s/Superior.

Big Jim Fuller played for the first two R/S teams, and he set a record with a .774 batting average in 1992. That topped the record of .769 by Mike Nye for Warren Motors of Jacksonville, Fla., that had stood since 1976. Fuller, a former major league baseballer, made a bid for Nye’s record in 1990. He was batting .776 after a hot start in the USSSA World Series, but faltered and finished at .767. Fuller’s 2-year totals for R/S: .751 with 269 home runs.

Over seven seasons, the R/S Express, in addition to winning 68 tournaments, finished second 14 times, including five times in the Grand Slam championship play. The first five years saw a 376-48 record, with 50 championships and seven runners-up out of 71 tournaments.

There were some low points. In 1996, R-S went 0-2 in the NSA; then in 1997, R-S went 0-2 in the ISA. The 1994 season saw R-S go into June (five outings) before winning a tournament.

Coy Honeycutt, out of North Carolina, was the other original co-sponsor. Then came Bill Copeland, Andy Beloli and Gothrie Short. Honeycutt once made this comment: “I’d be a millionaire if I had back all the money I’ve spent on softball and women.” His Ritch’s team, with Whitehead, Hightower, Drilling and Wright, beat LaTeano’s Superior club, with Roberson, Parnell, Beeler, Graser and Steffen, in the finals of the 1990 USSSA World Series at Greensboro, N.C. Steele’s Silver Bullets won the first three legs of the Grand Slam that year, but was upset by Sports Hero’s of Minnesota and Bell Corp. in the USSSA World Series.

Steele’s did not field a team in 1991, and Androff and Weiterman hooked on with Ritch’s/Superior. But they didn’t exactly have to beg to get on the team. Counting two years with Steele’s and five with R-S, Androff and Weiterman played on seven consecutive ISA and and seven consecutive NSA championship teams.

Wright (ISA 1991, ISA 1992 and ASA 1993) and Androff (USSSA 1991, ASA 1992 and NSA 1995) were national tournament MVPs three times each, Steffen (USSSA 1992, ISA 1993), Drilling (NSA 1992, NSA 1993), Parnell (NSA 1994, ISA 1994) and Beeler (NSA 1991, ASA 1996) twice each, and Roberson (ISA 1995) and Dewayne Nevitt (ASA 1997) once each.

The R-S Express tied a record by winning three consecutive Smoky Mountain Classic crowns (1993-95). Beeler, Hightower and Androff were the MVPs. Hightower was the MVP of three consecutive tournaments, starting with that MVP award in the 1994 Smoky. That’s quite an accomplishment this day and time in the major ranks. R-S won the Smoky again in 1997, with Nevitt earning co-MVP honors. That was the year that Rusty Bumgardner set a record with 30 HRs for runner-up Shen Valley.

Elite won three straight Smoky titles in 1983-85. Howard’s won four altogether and was runner-up five times. Steele’s also won three.

In 1989, Ritch’s won the ASA Super and Major titles, while Superior won the USSSA World Series. That was the year that Steffen hit a record nine home runs in one game. The last one was an inside-the-park job.

Honeycutt, who has been out of the game since 1993, accumulated 13 championships, topping the record of 12 by Richard Howard’s teams. LaTeano’s title total has climbed to 19. “Frank’s obsessed,” Honeycutt once remarked. LaTeano will be with the Easton-backed Chase powerhouse in 1999. Both LaTeano and Honeycutt think that the 1993 R/S team was the best of all time. “Howard’s had a great team in 1981, but this team is the best,” Honeycutt said at the time.” LaTeano echoed the statement: “The best team ever.” Not too many people will argue that fact, especially if you are talking about the best team over three years (1991-93), or five years (1991-95), or seven years (1991-97).

Ritch’s/Superior’s Coy Honeycutt (left) and Frank LaTeano after one of the team’s championships in 1993.

Left to right, front row: Cecil Whitehead, Doug Roberson, Britt Hightower, coach Randy Gorrell; Back row: Ron Parnell, Darrell Beeler, Dave Steffen, Charles Wright, Dirk Androff, Paul Drilling, Rick Scherr, co-sponsor Bill Copeland, Dennis Graser; Holding the trophy: co-sponsor Frank LaTeano and manager Buddy Slater; Not pictured: Rick Weiterman and co-sponsor Coy Honeycutt.

Ritch’s/Superior players display awards after winning 1993 ISA World Series at Gainesville, Ga.

Award winners at the 1993 NSA World Series in Burlington, N.C. — MVP Paul Drilling of champion Ritch’s/Superior; Mike Macenko of runner-up Steele’s/Sunbelt Hit Men; Ron Parnell of R/S, Randy Kortokrax and Steve Craven of S/S; Britt Hightower and manager Buddy Slater of R/S

Doug Roberson . . . the Ritch’s/Superior MVP in the 1996 ISA World Series. Also earned MVP honors for Steele’s Silver Bullets in the 1988 NSA World Series.

The late Dirk Androff has been voted into the NSA Hall of Fame; He gets a Ritch’s/Superior/TPS hug from Charles Wright, who will be inducted into the ISA Hall of Fame in December.
Androff was 3-time MVP in national tournament competition with Ritch’s/Superior; Wright is a four-time MVP selection, one with Ritch’s/Kirk’s in 1990 and three times with the R/S Express.
Androff, a product of the St. Louis area, ran up big numbers for Steele’s Silver Bullets in 1988-90 and Ritch’s/Superior in 1991-97 before passing away a few days shy of his 35th birthday in October 1997; Androff posted 10 consecutive .700-plus seasons, topping Bruce Meade’s eight. The guy they called The Blaster, batted .705, .705 and .729 for Steele’s Silver Bullets in 1988-90, then reeled off these figures for Ritch’s/Superior: .747, .756, .749, .733, .779 (on-base percentage in 1995), .732 and .739.

Paul Drilling . . . MVP as the pitcher for Ritch’s/Superior/TPS in 1992 and 1993 NSA World Series . . . pitched Sierra/TPS to the Class AA Triple Crown in 1997

Britt Hightower . . . a most valuable player who has never been the MVP in a national tournament . . . he was, however, the MVP for Ritch’s/Superior in the 1994 Smoky Mountain Classic . . . and he earned four season All-Star honors in a row.

Hank Garris . . . home run leader in 1998 with 196 . . . MVP in 1994 ASA Super Nationals . . . tri-Player of the Year in 1998

Buddy Slater, R-S manager, smiles after a dip from the cooler after a tournament championship; Charles Wright follows through on another home run.

Ron Parnell . . . has over 200 hits for a record in USSSA World Series play; Two-time MVP for Ritch’s/Superior in 1994 (ISA and NSA)

Darrell Beeler . . . MVP for Ritch’s/Superior in 1991 NSA and 1995 ASA

Larry Fredieu . . . home run leader in 1995 with 179

The late Dirk Androff with Ritch’s/Superior/Tri-Gems in 1997 . . . Player of the Year in 1995 . . . six season All-Star selections in six years . . . posted .749 composite batting average from 1990-1997

Jimmy Powers (shown in a Shen Valley uniform) and his brother, Tot, played for Ritch’s/Superior in 1993. Frank LaTeano calls the ’93 team the best for the R/S Express.

Big Mike Macenko played for the R/S Express in 1994-95, joining some of his old Steele’s teammates — Dirk Androff, Rick Weiterman, Doug Roberson, Ron Parnell and Charles Wright.

Big Mike not only hit, he could run and slide. This photo was in the 1995 ASA Super Nationals at Waterloo, Iowa.

Dewayne Nevitt . . . Kentucky product was the MVP for Ritch’s/Superior in the 1997 ASA Super Nationals.

Dave Steffen, being interviewed after Sunbelt/Easton won the 1996 Smoky Mountain Classic, was a two-time national tournament MVP for Ritch’s/Superior — 1992 USSSA and 1993 ISA; Cecil Whitehead goes down the handslapping line with his Ritch’s/Superior/TPS teammates. That’s co-sponsor Coy Honeycutt in the tank top and shorts, in the line with coach John Imlay and manager Buddy Slater.

A Look Back at Bell Corp of Tampa, Florida

Woody Bell’s 1993 Bell Corp/Easton team came out of the losers bracket to double dip Williams of Texas to cap a run of five wins in a row on the final day to win the USSSA World Series at Daytona Beach, Fla.; The Bell Ringers played in 16 tournaments in 1993, finishing first or second in all but one (that one was a third)

L-R, standing: Coach Earl Williams, Ken Schuck, Jeff Arnold, Monty Tucker, Kerry Everett, Mark Martin, Larry Carter, Sponsor Woody Bell
L-R, kneeling: Manager Terry Perryman, Allie Squartino, Todd Joerling, Dan Schuck, Greg Cannedy, Don Rardin, Phil White, Kim Seaman.

The 1993 USSSA World Series all-world team. Left to right, bottom row: Terry Perryman, Bell manager; Greg Cannedy, Bell pitcher and defensive award winner; Jon Meyers and Carl Rose of Williams; Dan Schuck, the Bell MVP; Phil White of Bell; Back row: Ed Starcher of the runner-up Williams team; Larry Fredieu of Ritch’s/Superior; Ricky Huggins and Dewayne Nevitt of Vernon’s; Todd Joerling of Bell; Wendell Rickard of Williams; Jeff Arnold of Bell.

Todd Joerling . . . from New Melle, Mo. . . . a very productive hitter and one of the greatest shortstops of all time

Kim Seaman . . . from Pascagoula, Miss. . . . had 32 consecutive hits in the Twitty/Worth Classic

Jeff Arnold . . . from Mobile, Ala. . . . big man hit a lot of long balls

Phil White . . . from Anniston, Ala.

Andy Cook . . . from Garner, N.C. . . . MVP in 1992 Smoky Mountain Classic

Mark Martin . . . from Orlando . . . MVP in 1991 Smoky Mountain Classic
Mike Ambers . . . from Houston . . . MVP in 1988 ASA Major at Gadsden, Ala.

A Look Back at Steele’s of Cleveland, Ohio

Dave Neale guided Steele’s to 11 national championships between 1985 and 1990; his 1990 Silver Bullets team won a record 142 games and 13 tournaments in a row, including the first three legs of the Grand Slam, for a final 226-9 mark.

Mike Macenko and Steele’s boss Dave Neale. Neale is in the ASA Hall of Honor, plus the ISA and NSA Halls of Fame; Macenko is a three-time Hall of Famer (ISA, NSA, USSSA).

Craig Elliott and Mike Macenko

Charles Wright . . . they called him “The Georgia Peach” . . . 4-time MVP. He holds No. 452 home run ball after breaking Rick Scherr’s record; he finished the 1986 season with 503 home runs; the next season Mike Macenko topped that with 844.

Mike Bolen . . . came out of Cleveland, Tenn., to play for many of the better teams — Burnette & Associates, Dave Carroll, Jerry’s, Steele’s, Howard’s . . . a very selective hitter, and a very good hitter.

The 1990 Steele’s Silver Bullets Team L-R, standing: Coach Randy Gorrell, Dirk Androff, Rick Weiterman, Ken Loeri, Ernie Montgomery, Todd Joerling, coach-player Terry Perryman, Scott Virkus, Greg Schulte, Monty Tucker, manager Dave Neale L-R, kneeling: Dan Schuck, Larry Fredieu, Mike Macenko, Bill Blake

The 1989 Steele’s Silver Bullets TeamThe 1990 Steele’s Silver Bullets Team. L-R, standing: Coach Randy Gorrell, Dirk Androff, Rick Weiterman, Ken Loeri, Ernie Montgomery, Todd Joerling, coach-player Terry Perryman, Scott Virkus, Greg Schulte, Monty Tucker, manager Dave Neale. L-R, kneeling: Dan Schuck, Larry Fredieu, Mike Macenko, Bill Blake

Steele’s 1990 team won the prestigious Smoky Mountain Classic at Maryville, Tenn. Steele’s also won the Smoky in 1986 and 1987. Standing (L-R): Scott Virkus, Ernie Montgomery, John Grissom, Bill Blake, Monty Tucker, Dirk Androff, Mike Macenko, Dan Schuck; kneeling: Danny Williams, Joe Foley, Todd Joerling, Rik Lucas, Dave Neale, Terry Perryman, Greg Schulte, Rick Weiterman.

Standing (L-R): Scott Virkus, Rick Weiterman, Mike Bolen, Mike Macenko, Freddie Trice, Monty Tucker, Craig Elliott, Kenny Dain, Manager Dave Neale. Kneeling: Jeff Stamps, coach Randy Gorrell, Ricky Huggins, Ron Parnell, Doug Roberson, Dennis Graser.

The 1990 Steele’s Silver Bullets . . . winner of 142 games in a row for a final record of 226-9.

The 1993 Steele’s Hit Men — Standing (L-R): Sponsor Wayne Williamson, Jacques Millier, Mike Macenko, Randy Kortokrax, Derek Oliver, Scott Virkus, Doug Burns, Shawn Keane, coach Joe Albert, Phil Jobe, Steve Craven, manager Dave Neale; Kneeling: Kenny Scobee, Todd Martin, Butch Ovens, Sylvin Little, coach Doug Wheelbarger.

Hit Men in 1992: Scott Elliott, Jimmy Powers, Phil Jobe, Steve Craven.

Jimmy Powers slugged 225 home runs for the Hit Men in 1992, tops on the circuit.

Ernie Montgomery . . . from Knoxville, Tenn. . . . MVP for Steele’s Silver Bullets in the 1990 ISA World Series at Columbus, Ohio

Ernie Montgomery lets one fly in the 1993 Smoky Mountain Classic; Scott Virkus gets a high five after a 1993 home run from Sylvin Little as Jacques Millier looks on.

Randy Kortokrax and Tot Powers; Dave Neale and Wayne Williamson.

1991-1992 Softball USA/Slo-Pitch News All-Star Team

No Team selections were made in 1991 or 1992.

1991 Softball USA Player of the Year – Carl Rose, Sunbelt/Worth, 2B (240 HRs, .751)

1992 Softball USA Player of the Year – Dirk Androff, Ritch’s-Superior, 1B (150, .756)

1992 Slo-Pitch News Player of the Year – Dirk Androff, Ritch’s-Superior, 1B)

1992 TSPN Player of the Year – Dirk Androff, Ritch’s-Superior, 1B

1985-1989 National Slo-Pitch/Softball USA All-Star Team

No Team selections were made from 1985-1989.

Jerome Earnest only named the National Slo-Pitch and Softball USA players of the Year:

1985 National Slo-Pitch Player of the Year – Rick Scherr, Howard’s/Western Steer, 1B (451 HRs, .760)
1986 National Slo-Pitch Player of the Year – Charles Wright, Steele’s Sports, 3B (503 HRs, .721)
1987 National Slo-Pitch Player of the Year – Mike Macenko, Steele’s Sports, 2B (844 HRs, .744)
1988 National Slo-Pitch Player of the Year – Mike Macenko, Steele’s Sports, 2B (830 HRs, .745)
1989 Softball USA Co-Player of the Year – Clyde Guy, Superior-Apollo, OF (.709)

Softball USA Co-Player of the Year – Dirk Androff, Steele’s Silver Bullets, 1B (413 HRs, .705)