Memories keep Lloyd softball team going
Former teammates gather to reminisce
|Members of the former Lloyd Manufacturing slowpitch softball team glance at a scrapbook during a gathering Saturday at the Birch Creek roadside park. |
EagleHerald sports editor
BIRCH CREEK - Old ballplayers never die - they just gather years later to rekindle memories of their glory days.
For the former Lloyd Manufacturing men's softball team, which played from the 1950s into the '80s, the memories seemed like just a few years ago.
Former Lloyd team members gathered Saturday afternoon at the Birch Creek roadside park to share a few laughs. There were more than enough in attendance to field a team, but they knew better than to bring their bats and gloves.
"They were good days, and the time has gone by so fast," said team member Tom Olsen.
For Jerome Moker, Saturday's outing was his first with his former Lloyd teammates in 42 years.
Olsen first put on a Lloyd jersey in 1958, and he played until age 53.
"The last time I played the bases were loaded and I got a double," Olsen recalled.
Team members look like they could still give a softball quite a ride. Rick "Dinger" Salewsky - curls and all - could no doubt still outrun most guys half his age.
They reminisced about playing at the Lloyd Manufacturing field where Angeli's currently is located. They played games in Beaver, Daggett, Birch Creek, Water Tower Park and an old field between the YMCA and Riverside Cemetery.
"Most of us guys started at the YMCA field," said Howie Klein.
Many got their start playing Little League baseball at the old circus grounds near the river in Menominee.
Salewsky recalled the nights trying to track fly balls under the dim lights at Water Tower Park.
"If you were playing left field and a ball was hit in the gap, you never saw it," he said.
There was the 1969 slowpitch/fastpitch doubleheader against Faithhorn Bar. Lloyd lost the slowpitch game but won the fastpitch game.
"And I hit a home run in the fastpitch game and not in the slowpitch game," Moker said.
Klein recalled a game in Marinette when he played second base and Olsen played at first. Cannon-armed John Foley fielded a grounder.
"He picks it up, pumps twice and lets go, and it was a riser," Klein recalled.
The ball glanced off the top of Olsen's mitt, broke his nose, and caromed back toward Klein.
An ambulance transported Olsen to the hospital.
"After all this happened they give the (baserunner) second base," Klein said. "I said, 'no way.' I'm playing second base. I caught the ball almost at second base. Here they're hauling Tom off and we're arguing."
Soon afterward, Olsen went on vacation sporting two black eyes.
"THAT'S when I should've quit," he said.
Olsen has much fonder memories of the game when, at age 36, he went 5 for 5 with four homers - two in the same inning - and 11 RBIs.
"I was drinking beer before the game," he said.
Folks in Beaver weren't too happy the time their hometown team lost by the 15-run rule in three innings to Lloyd Manufacturing. They kicked the Lloyd boys off the field.
"We were a powerhouse," Bill LaLuzerne said. "That's all we'd ever do - pound it."
"Before and after the game," a teammate chipped in.
Olsen once batted against LaLuzerne with the bases loaded and two outs.
"He's the only guy in 40 years to ever strike me out," Olsen said. "All the old guys I worked with were yelling at me - 'rip the cover off it, Olsen.'"
The Lloyd team folded when the factory went out of business in the early-'80s. Ballplayers joined other teams, including the undefeated Dexter's team of the late-'80s. They played in an over 30 league in Birch Creek.
"All of them were good, solid players," Klein said. "We had a lot of fun."
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