B.J.'s ALL STARS 1972-1981
Back row l. to r.: Sue Ray, Suzy Newman, Ardi Schrag, Sue Vincent, Phyllis Textor, Nora Underwood, Vicki Panzari, and Joyce Wolf (coach).
Back row l. to r.: Trena Page, Sue Vincent, Alice Textor, Terri Riffe, Ardi Schrag, Dar Peterson, Vicki Panzari, and Joyce Wolf (coach).
Joyce Wolf had played fastpitch and slowpitch for 25 years for some of the best teams in Pierce County, and she learned the game playing for some of the best coaches in the area. So when Pizza Pete disbanded after the 1971 season and several teammates nominated her to help start and coach another team, it ended her playing career and began a new chapter as coach.
Even though she had never coached, Joyce felt ready to lead. The foundation of the 1972 team was eight players from Pizza Pete, and others were recruited and added to the roster. With B&E Tavern as the initial sponsor, the team was ready for the 1972 season. That club won five tournament championships and the Western Washington League title with a record of 10-2. The season ended in the regional tournament championship game when B & E lost to Hamilton's of Bellingham on a questionable play at the plate.
Wolf boosted the 1973 lineup and the re-named Creekwater Dispensary had an even more prolific season. The team finished 66-5 overall with seven tournament championships and its second straight Western Washington League crown, this time with a perfect 12-0 mark. The season ended at regionals with a third-place finish, but two years of experience at the level paid off during the 1974 season when Creekwater won the region title at Sprinker Field. With the regional first place trophy in hand, the team traveled south to the national tournament in Elk Grove, Calif., where it finished 17th. By season's end, the team finished 66-7 with eight tournament titles, including regionals, and its third consecutive league hardware.
Through three seasons, that core group of players won 19 of the 22 tournaments it entered - apart from regional and national play - and was a three-time league champion. Joyce believed that every player on those teams was recognized, at one tournament or another, with all-star or most valuable player status. "They were highly skilled athletes," she said.
During its first four years of existence, the team won 235 games and lost only 29, qualifying for three national tournaments and playing in two of them.
With a new sponsor for the 1975 season, B.J.'s All Stars continued, in various forms and with players coming and going, playing until 1981. Though she lost the later years' team records in a move, Wolf recalls that "winning was second nature to this team."
B.J.'s had five different catchers during its existence - Yvonne Via, Judy Bickenbach, Sue Ray Harding, Phyllis Textor, and Debbie Gray. Via set the course, working well with pitcher Pat Kearney and in late innings calling timeout to confer with Pat as to which tavern they would visit following the game. "She kept things loose and fun and made that catcher's position worthy of recognition," Wolf said.
Harding played catcher and outfielder until 1979 and as a leadoff hitter hit in the low .400-range and flashed her great speed on the base paths. Phyllis Textor, a Western Washington graduate, joined all-star sister Alice on the team and was a force behind home plate. She hit .713 and was named tournament MVP in leading B.J.'s to its first regional title and national tournament appearance. "Winning all-star and MVP recognition was a given for Phyllis," Wolf recalled. "She was that good."
Gray caught one year and the team won the regional title and participated at the national tournament in Tennessee.
Pitcher Pat Kearney came to the team as an experienced third baseman, but with Sandy Molzan entrenched at the hot corner, Kearney became an ace pitcher for B.J's, throwing every game. She learned to pitch by measuring off the distance from the pitching rubber to home plate and every night after work lobbing softballs into a bucket. At one invitational tournament in Aberdeen she pitched a perfect game, an amazing accomplishment for slowpitch softball. Additionally, the team was not scored on in that tournament.
First baseman Sue Vincent came from Aberdeen when she had had earned state tournament MVP honors playing for a team that placed fourth. After moving to Tacoma in 1971 she played for B & E Tavern, Creekwater Dispensary and B.J's All Stars and earned Regional all star honors in both 1971 and 1973. She had a career average of .450 range and was an outstanding fielder with a strong arm.
Back row l. to r.: Sue Carter, Trena Page, Sue Vincent, Vicki Panzari, Melodie Fox, and coach Joyce Wolf. Front row l. to r.: Phyllis Textor, Louise Rota, Ardi Schrag, Alice Textor, Sandy Molzan, and Pat Kearney. Kneeling: Batgirl Kena Weiss
Among the team's second baseman was Louise Rota who moved from the outfield to become an excellent infielder. She played for B.J.'s until 1981, and during her extensive slowpitch career was named to seven state all-star teams and six regional all-star squads. Rota currently resides in Saint Cloud, Fla., and does volunteer work at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, Fla., a part of the Make a Wish Foundation.
Vicki Panzeri played second base and shortstop during her B.J.'s career, "owned the infield," said Joyce and sprayed the ball all over the field. Many times an all-star, she played in both of the team's national tournament appearances. She later learned racquetball and eventually was ranked third in the nation. Darleen Peterson was another of the team's shortstops and earned MVP honors in at least two tournaments. Later playing for JAE Awards of Seattle, she helped that team place fourth at the national tournament, the highest-ever finish by a Puget Sound area team at the national level.
Sandy Molzan played her entire career at third base, first playing fastpitch, and then transitioning to slowpitch. She helped the Cage Tavern reach the national tournament before switching over to Pizza Pete and then to B & E, Creekwater and finally B.J.'s. She was on four regional championship teams.
Among the team's outfielders was Trena Page, an outstanding multi-sport athlete while a student at Western Washington University. She hit in the .590 range, according to Jones Wolf, and was versatile enough to play different positions until making left field. She won all-star honors at two 1973 tournaments and was the all-star left fielder on the 1974 regional title winner. Wolf said she was "a very popular player and the team leader. Her fair and intelligent responses to any team problems" helped settle issues before they could escalate, which was a major reason for the team's success, according to the coach.
Alice Textor excelled as a short fielder, covering lots of ground and cutting down opponents' rallies while playing through the 1975 season. Regularly hit over .500 and one year finished with a .620 average while pulling in numerous all-star honors.
Ardi Schrag was a member of the original B&E sponsored team in 1972 and stayed with the group through the Creekwater and B.J.'s years. An all-star right fielder, she helped the team win its nine Western Washington League titles and four regional championships while also playing in two national tournaments.
Outfielder Denise Hoober came on board in 1978 after playing for such teams at New Frontier Lanes, McKnight's Food, B&I and Gusto Grannies. She was a long ball threat and a consistent hitter.
Among the other team members who helped out during B.J.'s glory years were utility players Melodie Fox, Susie Showalter, and Diane Irish, second baseman Wendy Hawley, and infielder Suzy Neuman. Nancy Craig, who coached several other slowpitch teams in the area, came to B.J.'s in 1978 to help coach.