Eastman Fast Pitch Hall of Fame to recognize inductees July 4

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Blair Dillman

Roger McCarthy

Tim Trautsch

Lyle Wall

Greg Fisher

Joe Gillitzer

On July 4, at 4 p.m. at the Eastman Ballpark, several inductees to the Eastman Fast Pitch Hall of Fame will be recognized. The inductees are as follows.

Blair Dillman

Blair Dillman will be recognized as a Friend of the Game.

Blair has for decades donated concrete and gravel to help keep the park beautiful. If you are standing or sitting on concrete, there is a good chance it was donated by Blair. Also, if you are parked in the new parking lot, more than 400 yards of breaker rock and gravel was donated by Blair.

Roger McCarthy

I started playing softball at Bush Park. I played at Eastman in the Junior League. There were teams from Prairie du Chien, Eastman, Seneca, Steuben, and Wauzeka. I played in all of the local leagues at one time or another.

I enjoyed the game and all of the people I played with or against. We all became friends. It was a great time to grow up playing softball. That’s just what everyone did at that time. Everyone seemed to be at the ball park. 

Thank you Eastman Fast Pitch Hall of Fame.

Tim Trautsch

I started playing and pitching softball in fourth and fifth grade. The first team I played on was Pintz Construction, followed by others: Hilltop, Bell’s Bar, and Timberlanes. 

Playing two to three nights a week and tournaments every weekend was fun. Being on a ball team is like having a second family, you develop friendships with all the players from other teams and the memories last forever. 

Playing in Bush Park, Steuben, and Wauzeka was fun, but Eastman was always home.

Lyle Wall

My softball career started at the age of 14 playing catcher for my brother Paul Wall on Frankie Harvat’s team. Throughout the years, I played for many teams like Jack Key, FS, Roaring 20s, Ahrens Reality, Key Reality, Oak Grove, Met Life, Sand Prairie Construction and Bob’s Place. I played for many different teams and traveled all over Wisconsin and Iowa.

I ended by career pitching for Bassett Trucking. Over the years, I have played all 11 positions.

I have met people on the ball field who are still good friends today. I would like to thank the Hall of Fame committee for voting me in. And, a big thank you to my family for putting up with many days at the ballpark.

Greg Fisher

Like a lot of other guys, I started playing fast pitch softball at an early age. I was lucky to see a lot of the old timers play. I learned how to pitch from my older brother Joe. I started playing for my favorite team when I was 16 years old, the Eastman Jets. A really fun bunch of guys to play with. 

My best memory was when we beat the Eastman Mets for the Wauzeka League Championship 5-3. We also really liked playing in Bush Park. I played for Slama’s Bar, Seneca, Steuben and others and then finished with a bunch of good old boys in the Eastman League. 

I am sure there are not many towns in Wisconsin that has as much history as Eastman’s fast pitch softball. I would like to thank all the great guys I got to play with and against, it was truly fun, and I made tons of friends and a lot of awesome memories. Thank you.

Joe Gillitzer

My love for softball came at an early age. I remember going down to Bush Ball Park and watching my parents play. From there, I started playing in 4-H at Eastman Ball Park. When we weren’t playing in Eastman, we would get together with the neighbors and play pick-up games. 

I then started playing in high school. After high school is when I had my first opportunity to play fast pitch with the Branding Iron. After a few years, the Branding Iron closed, so I played with the Pine Tree Inn team. After playing a few years for Pine Tree, I continued for my uncle’s team, Gillitzer Milker Service. There were a lot of fun memories with that team because I played with my brother and cousins. One summer, we played a lot of ball, 128 games.

From there, the game of fast pitch softball changed. The cost of sponsorships increased with made it extremely difficult to get sponsors. But, I was lucky, I was able to go on and play for Oak Grove II, which belonged to Chuck and Rosie Stram. We were considered a little sister to Oak Grove I.

I always dreamed about playing ball for the Oak Grove I team, and play with my brother Russ. In 1982, after Oak Grove I won the Class A State Title, which led to the advancement to regionals, I finally got the call from one of the best ball players I know, Donny Stram. That year, I traveled with the team and continued to play for Oak Grove I the following year in various positions, starting with outfield, followed by first base, and finally ending up at third base. This was fun because I finally got to play along side Donny and my brother Russ. 

Some highlights of my time playing was when we won the Prairie du Chien Fast Pitch Tournament which consisted of 60 plus teams. Another memorable tournament was the Kiwanis Tournament in Dubuque that consisted of 70 plus teams and had some of the best teams and pitching in the world. And, the last memorable tournament was the Class A State Tournament in Janesville in which we took third place.

Sometimes there were some long weekends of playing ball. One specific memory is getting done playing ball at 11 p.m. at the Class A State Tourney and traveling the long ride home. It was so late when we got home, I decided to jump in the shower and go straight to work. That next day, Donny Stram called and told me I was selected as First Team All State Third Baseman.

Finally, all of the hard work, long weekends, and some long travel times would not have been possible without all the support from family, friends, and the community. They are your cheering section that cheer you on sitting in ball parks eating concession stand food. Also, the people you meet; teammates, opposing players and their families become your lifelong friends. Whether you win or lose, at the end of the game you still are able to grab a beer and talk about the game and life.

Now, as a grandfather, I am watching my grandkids play ball and could not be more proud, and always hope they have an experience playing ball like I did.

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