Another Portage inductee
Portage la Prairie's Gregg Waldvogel has been pitching windmill style for 35 years and is now being inducted into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame with the Class of 2018. (file photo)
He's the second individual from Portage to be inducted in as many years.
Portage la Prairie softball player Gregg Waldvogel has a distinguished past in the sport and is now being recognized by being named an inductee of the Class of 2018 at the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame.
“I was fortunate to enough to go to senior ‘A’ championships, three world championships, 16 western Canadian championships, and it’s incredible to get recognized like this,” says Waldvogel. “I had a lot of fun over the years and my favourite memories are of the marathon provincial championships where you needed to win like 10 games to get the title.”
Waldvogel grew up an all-around athlete in Saskatchewan before moving to Manitoba at the age of 16. He enjoyed the sport of softball as soon as he was introduced to it at his new high school in Killarney - the high school played the sport instead of traditional baseball, a staple for most Manitoba high schools at the time. His athletic career eventually led him to Selkirk where he played junior A hockey for the Steelers while playing senior ball in the summertime.
“When I converted and started pitching in high school, it was anyone who could throw strikes got to play,” he laughs. “At 16-17, I was playing junior hockey and the senior fastball team took me on and mentored me and the rest is kind of history.”
His softball career really took off when Waldvogel officially joined the South West Fastball League’s Killarney Sanders Fastball Club where he would spend a half decade, playing from 1979-1984. Before long, the opportunity to play with several top level teams arrived and in the 1980's and 90's, Waldvogel suited up for clubs in Winnipeg, Minto, and Portage la Prairie. The latter destination is where he began his career in education. His time in Portage was spent teaching and playing with teams like the Portage Diamonds alongside teammates Ferdi Nelissen, who entered the provincial hall on last year’s ballot, and Premier Brian Pallister.
Two Senior A Men's National Championships, several World Tournaments held in the United States, and a trip to the International Softball Congress World Tournament with the Portage Diamonds in ’92, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, are just a few of the milestones Waldvogel can look back on. He’s won the Provincial Championship 15 times over his career and individually, he was selected as Manitoba's Senior Men's Player of the Year in 2003. He was also recognized as the Top Pitcher at the Western Canadian Masters Championships in 2013.
“To play 35 years and stay injury free with no arm problems is special,” adds Waldvogel. “It was a lot of fun, you get into it because you like the game but you keep playing because you like the people. If it wasn’t fun I wouldn’t have played as long as I did. You want to leave while you’re still competitive so that’s kind of what I did.”
The Waldvogel fastball story didn’t end with Gregg, as both sons Tanner and Zack took up the sport, with Tanner even specializing in the windmill pitch like his father. Both even had the opportunity to play in the Canada Summer Games with Team Manitoba. Tanner and Zack continue to play the sport while the elder Waldvogel took his first official season off in 2017.
He’s contributed to the game as a player, player/coach and mentor for close to 40 years and is undoubtedly a very deserving recipient of Softball Manitoba’s distinction.