Bud Thomsen

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

1939 Sherman Elementary - Northend Champions

Front row l. to r.: John White and Don Klarich.
Back row l. to r.: Jack Ridger, John Ferguson, Jerry Ostlund, Stan Curry, Bud Thomsen, George Long, Dick Brown and Murray Wheeler.

Name a sport and there aren't too many that this spry 90 year-old hasn't tried, let alone excelled at over the years.   Football? Check. Basketball? Check? Handball and racquetball? Double check! Baseball, fastpitch and slowpitch softball? Triple check! Ping pong, golf, swimming, running and marbles? You bet. And we haven't even talked about coaching and umpiring baseball or officiating basketball.

A Tacoman since arriving on the scene on December 23, 1926, Bud Thomsen attended Sherman Elementary School where he captained his summer league baseball team and fondly remembered going to school with six marbles in his pocket and coming home with over 100.  "I don't know why this is but for some reason I was always just really good with anything done with a round ball-marbles, golf, softball and more."

Bud attended Mason Junior High and Stadium High School where he was a yell leader and a member of the reserve football and swim teams. "I wore out the seat of my pants sitting on the bench so much, but I really didn't start to develop my athletic skills until I entered the service," he recalled.  









From 1945-47 Bud caught for the Hudson AC baseball team that competed in the City League. Named in honor of high school teammate Wes Hudson, who was killed while serving in the military, George Pease rounded up high school classmates to play on the team and convinced local 6
th Avenue merchants to sponsor the boys.

Five days after graduation Bud was on his way to Camp Roberts in California for basic training and spent one year in Korea. After a two-year stint in the Army Thomsen returned home and earned his Business degree at the College of Puget Sound.

It didn't take long for Bud's coaches to realize that his ability to judge and catch fly balls was non-existent and thus his career as a catcher was born. From 1945-47 Bud played for the Hudson AC baseball team that competed in the City League. Named in honor of high school teammate Wes Hudson, who was killed while serving in the military, George Pease rounded up high school classmates to play on the team and convinced local 6th Avenue merchants to sponsor the boys.

Thomsen continued his fastpitch softball career playing for Wood Realty from 1947-50, the Young Men's  Business Club (YMBC) from 1950-52 with pitcher Tom Cross and infielder Russ Soper, and finally with Ben's Truck Parts during the 1953-54 seasons.













Bud Thomsen with the Wood Realty fastpitch team from 1947-50

In 1954, Ben's Truck Parts became the first Metro Tacoma championship team to compete in the Pacific Northwest regional fastpitch tournament. Held Labor Day weekend and sponsored by the Tacoma Athletic Commission, the tournament matched eight teams from Washington, Oregon and Idaho competing at Peck Field for a berth in the national tournament in Minneapolis.

Ben's was represented by manager Stan Stowe, Mack McAllister, Duane Siehl, Bob Zurfluh, Al Herzog, Howard Hanson, Jack Fabulich, Gordy Bendick, Tom Zurfluh, Dean Seabeck, Phil Yant, Vern Morris, Don Messo, Don Maitland and Thomsen.

Thomsen recalled, "I was pretty talkative as a catcher and Tom Zurfluh tossed a no-hitter in the first game against Rubenstein's (Eugene, OR).  Lorne Merkle was behind the plate and I remember telling him, "c'mon Lorne, you gotta give him that inside pitch! We won, 1-0, but eventually lost in the finals, to the Renton Cowboys, 2-0, behind the 18 strikeouts by Bob Fesler. Of course I still don't understand what all the hoopla was about Tom tossing that no-no.













Bud Thomsen played for Ben's Truck Parts fastpitch team in 1954

Heck, I called the game. They should have been congratulating me!"

Armed with his degree from CPS, Bud began working for Washington Steel, a company that dealt in builder's and kitchen hardware, first in the order department and later as a sales representative. It was at Washington Steel where he picked up ping pong during lunch. The next thing he knew he had entered a tournament with a borrowed paddle but lost in the semis to one of Pierce County's all-time elite players, Paul Lucien.

After the 1954 softball season Bud decided he wanted to give back to the community by coaching a boy's baseball team.  The kitchen housewares department at work needed a rep for their Pot & Kettle division and Bud volunteered, found some old P&K uniforms in the attic to outfit his team and they were ready to compete. For the next 15 years Bud took three groups of boys from ages 8-13 and developed them both on and off the field and cherishes that more than any of his other accomplishments. When asked why he stopped coaching them Bud smilingly said, "At age 13 I didn't want them anymore because they started looking at girls right about then!"

1954 Ben's Truck Parts

Front row l. to r.: Mack McAlister, Duane Siehl. Bud Thomsen, manager Stan Stowe, Bob Zurfluh and Al Herzog.
Back row l. to r.: Howard Hanson, Jack Fabulich, Gordon Bendick, Tom Zurfluh, Dean Seabeck and Phil Yant. Missing: Don Maitland.

In 1954, Ben's Truck Parts became the first Metro Tacoma championship team to compete in the Pacific Northwest regional fastpitch tournament. Held Labor Day weekend and sponsored by the Tacoma Athletic Commission, the tournament matched eight teams from Washington, Oregon and Idaho competing at Peck Field for a berth in the national tournament in Minneapolis.

Ben's was represented by manager Stan Stowe, Mack McAllister, Duane Siehl, Bob Zurfluh, Al Herzog, Howard Hanson, Jack Fabulich, Gordy Bendick, Tom Zurfluh, Dean Seabeck, Phil Yant, Vern Morris, Don Messo, Don Maitland and Thomsen. 

Thomsen recalled, "I was pretty talkative as a catcher and Tom Zurfluh tossed a no-hitter in the first game against Rubenstein's (Eugene, OR).  Lorne Merkle was behind the plate and I remember telling him, "c' mon Lorne, you gotta give him that inside pitch! We won, 1-0, but eventually lost in the finals, to the Renton Cowboys, 2-0, behind the 18 strikeouts by Bob Fesler. Of course I still don't understand what all the hoopla was about Tom tossing that no-no. Heck, I called the game. They should have been congratulating me!"


1958 Pot & Kettle Rookie League Team

Front row l. to r.: Joe Price, Denny Brand, Wayne Hoff, Jim Anspaugh, Denis Nadeau, and Ray Mosier.
Back row l. to r.: Steve Gegorich, Nick Perovich, Craig Cameron, Tim Thomsen, Mike O’Conner, Lew French, and Mark Cameron (batboy).

 


Pot & Kettle Baseball Team

Front row l. to r.: Tom Rogers, Bob Thomsen, Dick Long, Dennis __________, Tom Dickson, Doug Binkley and Joe Dille.
Back row l. to r.: Phil Rogers (assistant coach), Frank Manthou, Ed Ward, John McMasters, Mark Cameron, ______________, Scott Eshelman and head coach Bud Thomsen.


Pot & Kettle Baseball Team

 

1968 Slowpitch Oldtimers

Front row l. to r.: Bud Thomsen, Dick Hannula, Dean Nicholson, Wayne Zimmerman and Steve Orfanos. ______________ (batboy).
Back row l. to r.: Lornie Merkle, Rollie ___________(Umpire),  _______________. Tom Cross, Ed Bowman, Ed Tingstad and __________________.

1970's Pierce County Decathele Competitors

Front row l. to r.: Clint Scott, Merle Palmer, Bud Thomsen.
Back row l. to r.: Dan Hannula, ______________, _______________, Jim Van Beek.

1976 Elks Handball Championships

Front row l. to r.: Bill Ide, Steve Sand, Bud Thomsen and Bill Reel Jr.
2nd row l. to r.: Tony Milan, Marty Hart, Dan Kuchan.                              3rd  row l. to r.: Terry Trowbridge, Mike Sinkewicz, Dan King, Gordie Pfeifer.                                                                                                   4th row l. to r.: Jim Engerbretson, Bob Cortez, Ted Whitney.                 Back row l. to r.: Tom Hainline, Doug Cail and Al Cail.


In the late 60s Bud turned to playing slowpitch softball in the local recreation leagues and he continued playing in his later years in Palm Springs and subsequently won a Senior Softball National Championship in the 70s division with the Anaheim Pirates before retiring at age 81 due to a leg injury.

Not one to be inactive, Thomsen turned to handball during the 50s-70s. "My good friends, Gary Hersey, Earl Birnel and Stan Langlow were all members of the Elks Club and found a way to sneak me in so I could join them playing handball. Gary and I were doubles partners for over 20 years and I won the Elks handball championship in the old Elks building and the new Elks facility," he recounted.

His other athletic endeavors include winning the Pierce County Decathlete of the Year competition in the 50 & over division in the mid-70s and running in the Sound-to-Narrows Race for the first 30 years it was offered (son Mike has run in all 43 as of 2016).

Married to Audrey for 22 years and Sylvia for the next 33, he is the proud father of four children - Tim, Janet, Bob and Mike.

Bud Thomsen is certainly one of the youngest 90 year-olds that this community has come to know and love and we are so happy that he still does not know how to act his age. Congratulation you not-so-Oldtimer!