Mike “Mac” McClurg of Viroqua was recently inducted into Wisconsin’s Southwest Region Fast-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame.
The induction was the closing ceremony of a fast-pitch softball tournament played in Boscobel. The tournament was held as an eight-team three-day double elimination tournament in which McClurg pitched for Sand Prairie Construction. The final game of the tournament was played between two teams made up of past fast-pitch players from the surrounding area, including some Hall of Fame members. After the final game, a ceremony was held for family and friends to celebrate this year’s inductees.
McClurg was first introduced to fast-pitch softball through 4-H when he was 10 years old. During this same time, Viroqua had an adult men’s summer league and he spent many summer nights watching the men’s league and decided pitching was something he really wanted to do. He spent many hours practicing, and together with his 4-H play, his pitching improved to the point that by the time he was 16, he was asked to play on Viroqua’s V.F.W. men’s team. He continued to play the Viroqua Men’s League until it folded in 1971, at which time he went on to play in the Classic League in La Crosse for the next two years.
In 1973, a league formed called the Tri-County League and McClurg spent the next eight years playing the league and tournaments around the state with Readstown’s Kickapoo Inn, sponsored by the late LaVon and Vivian Guist. For the past 20 years, he has been pitching in the men’s fast-pitch league in Eastman. Fifteen of those years he has pitched for and sponsored a team, McClurg’s Bad Axe Buffalo, which has placed first in the Eastman League multiple times.
During his years of play, he has played for the following area teams: Viroqua’s V.F.W., S&H Sports of La Crosse, Readstown’s Kickapoo Inn, Viroqua’s Big Blue, Sand Prairie Construction and McClurg’s Bad Axe Buffalo. He also had the opportunity to pitch in the Wisconsin state fast-pitch tournament and several national tournaments. He has enjoyed pitching against the “Queen and her Court” three times against the “King and his Court.”
McClurg’s individual accomplishments while playing the game include, pitching a no hitter in 1972 in the Classic League in La Crosse, being named MVP of the 1976 “All Star” Game in the Tri-County League and in 2005 was recognized by the Wisconsin Fast-Pitch Softball Coaches Association for his years of assisting area girls high school softball programs. He still continues to enjoy volunteering to throw batting practice for local varsity teams.
“I feel sense of pride and accomplishment from having been able to introduce many ball players from the Viroqua area to the ‘great game of fast-pitch’ by sponsoring a team in the Eastman’s League,” McClurg said during the induction. “Throughout my years of playing, I have played with or pitched to four generations of ball players. I thank God for giving me the health to play as long as I have.
“One of the greatest rewards has been to watch all three of my children — Seth, Maren and Laramie — excel in the sport I love; and to have them all on the playing field with me is a memory I will always treasure,” he continued.
McClurg went on to thank his family for their years of support, his parents for starting him in 4-H and his wife Char for 40-plus years of traveling to and watching games.
“She always knew which uniform to have clean for which night of the week or weekend,” he said.
He gave a special thanks to all the players he had played with and against who all made the game fun and competitive, and to the many people like Pat Hall and Brad Bay, who have “kept the game alive.”
He finished by thanking the Hall of Fame Committee for selecting him for the honor.
“I am proud and humble to be chosen to be in the Hall with the great players who have already been inducted,” McClurg said.