1979 SAGINAW BOLTER’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SOFTBALL TEAM
The Saginaw Bolters fast pitch softball team captured the International Softball Congress World Championship in 1979 as sponsor Art Gillis and manager Jim Trier built one of the best softball teams this area has ever seen. New Zealander Kevin Herlihy was brought in by Gillis and pitched the Bolters to the title and was named MVP for his efforts. In the championship game the Bolters beat 10-time champion Long Beach Nitehawks (CA) 2-1 in 11 innings for the World title. Shortstop Dave “Tuck” Bedford was the leading hitter, going 8 for 20 in the tournament. The Bolters were 83-11 during the regular season. Herlihy, a three-time Player of the Year in New Zealand, pitched four no-hitters during the season and had record of 49-11. In 445 innings of work, Herlihy allowed just 24 earned runs, gave up 179 hits and struck out a whopping 690 batters. Herlihy also showed uncanny control by walking only 32 batters. Both Bedford and Herlihy were selected to the 1979 ISC All-World team and Herlihy swept the Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Pitcher awards. The 32-year-old New Zealander struck out 96 batters in 54 innings, allowing 22 hits, and walked just four batters in the Bolters’ seven games. Remarkably, Herlihy allowed just three runs and none of them were earned. Both Rick Maturen, who was twice named to the Amateur Softball Association’s All-American team, and Bedford, a three-time ASA All-American and a member of the United States’ team in the 1989 Pan-American Games, are enshrined in the Michigan Amateur Softball Association’s Hall of Fame along with Gillis. The 1979 team consisted of Rick Maturen (first base), Art Dijak (second base), Bedford (shortstop), Marc Gillis and Spike Eastman (third base), Gary Compau and Bill Summers (catcher), Doug Fillmore (left field), Rich Herman (center field), Pat Matuzak (right field), Herlihy (pitcher) and reserves Tom Stasik, Bob Harding, Steve Saylor and Russ Van Zoren. Trier was the manager, Jack Clements the business manager, and Al Compau and Ralph Ward were assistant coaches. The Saginaw Bolters also won the Tri County League Championship beating league runner-up and ASA National Champion Midland McArdles seven of 10 times during the season.