NEW ULM - He has been called the greatest fastpitch softball player in the history of New Ulm.
And now his stellar career that spanned 17 years from 1958 to 1975 is being recognized on a larger stage.
Dick Hudson, who passed away in December of 2005, has been selected to the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame. He is one of 16 people who will be formally inducted on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.
Dick Hudson (left) will be inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame. He is one of 16 people who will be formally inducted on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.
He is the first New Ulm fastpitch softball player from New Ulm to be so honored. Les Dittrich - who also played fastpitch softball in New Ulm - is also in the Hall of Fame, but he was inducted as a player from Mankato.
Tickets for the event are $40 each and can be obtained from the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame, PO Box 368, Big Lake, Minnesota 55309 or by calling 763-263-9993. The deadline to purchase tickets is Friday, Oct. 26.
"I am very thrilled about this," said Hudson's widow, Marilyn, who will accept the award for her late husband. "I think that he should have been there a long time ago. I know that two or three years ago John Vetter approached me and said that he wanted to get Dick into the Hall of Fame. So this was due to the efforts of John and Les Dittrich."
When you look at Hudson's portfolio of softball accomplishments, you may also wonder why the selection took so long.
From 1958 until 1975, Hudson owned the New Ulm City League Most Valuable Player award. He was named to the City League All-Star Team each year from 1959 until 1975.
He earned the City League pitching award 11 times between 1958 and 1975. He was also the City League batting champion in 1964 and 1967. He won the home run title in 1965 and 1967 and was the New Ulm Invitational Tournament MVP those same two years.
"Most people who followed fastpitch softball when it was in its heyday would agree that Dick was the best pitcher and the best softball player to ever play in New Ulm," said Vetter, who watched Hudson pitch in the 1960s. "He was a great pitcher, a great competitor and an outstanding hitter. He had a great rise ball, a great drop ball and a great change-up, and that was what the really good pitchers had."
Hudson began his fastpitch softball career in 1958 when he pitched for what was then Fluegge's Skelly (now SSL) and moved to New Ulm a couple of years later, according to Steve Fluegge, whose father Norm owned Fluegge's Skelly.
"We won the league and playoff title that first year," said Fluegge, who was a bat boy for the team. "I watched him play and he was an overall great player. He could hang with anyone - he was the equal of any softball player around."
Championships and Dick Hudson went arm-in-arm in the future.
Wherever he went, titles followed, capped in 1965 when he pitched Nicklasson Athletic to the Minnesota Men's Class AA championship.
Carl Paa, who managed Hudson beginning in 1966 with Nicklasson Athletic, saw his team post impressive records.
In 1966, Nicks went 42-10 followed by seasons of 49-9, 51-11, 47-8 and 37-11.
"Dick pitched practically every game for us with the exception of a tournament game where we might pick up another pitcher," recalled Paa. "In 1973, we were the Minnesota State runners-up and Midwest Regional runners-up. We lost to Hibbing 2-1 in both championship games, with Dick pitching each game of the state and regional tournaments."
Hudson's resume also includes pitching a perfect game for Coggie's Bar in a 1-0 win over Cambria. The date of that game is unknown. He pitched a 1-0 no-hit win over powerhouse Whitaker Buick in the Faribault Tournament in 1965.
Hudson was a high-caliber softball player and gentleman on and off the field.
For Fluegge, he remembers that Hudson sang at his wedding and later sang at Norm Fluegge's funeral.
"Dick Hudson is one of the finest gentleman athletes that I've ever met," said former Journal Sports Editor Don Brand.
Retired New Ulm High School baseball coach Jim Senske remembers playing the outfield for Nicklasson Athletic.
"There were games where I would go without ever seeing a ball hit in the air because of his devastating drop ball," Senske said.
Vetter remembers Hudson as more than just a softball player.
"He was a top-notch person and a devoted husband," Vetter said. "He was a hard-working businessman and sang in the church choir. He set the bar for excellence as a softball pitcher in his part of the state and was in a class with anyone who has ever toed the rubber in Minnesota fastpitch softball history."
"I am just very thrilled that he is being recognized for his abilities," Marilyn Hudson said. "If he was here he would give credit to the team - he would want to give credit to the entire team."
Dennis Johnson of St. James and Mark Rieber of Mankato will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame that evening.