Lance and Billy end up in middle of church battle

The following is another "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Daily Telegram.

The following is another "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Daily Telegram.

This week Billy and Lance venture into the world of church softball and encounter a: Holy war in Shrangri-La.

Another warm and sunny day blessed the partisans on both sides of the big game recently in Lake Nebagamon. Theological differences were put aside and matters were settled on the diamond as the Trinity Lutheran softball squad and the St. Anthony Catholic softball team assembled at Otto Finnell field in the village we refer to as Shangri-La.

The Lutherans had won three consecutive years in the annual affair and the Catholics had to do something to reverse that. Both sides showed their competitiveness as the Catholics looked past the paltry appearance fee (lunch) and signed your columnists up to play for them.

The Lutherans were not blameless either, as they flew in Valter Jardineiro from Portugal the night before the game to spark their squad. Alas for both, Lance and Billy proved to be way past their prime and it turned out to be Valter's introduction to the sport.


The event was appropriately started with a potluck picnic attended by hordes of parishioners from each side. The food fare was a distraction throughout the game, as players gravitated to the cuisine between innings.

Play began with solid performances by both sides. The Catholics' Joe Krieg speared a line drive on a defensive play that would have made Brooks Robinson proud. Jesse Peterson let nothing fall in left field, and pitcher Ed Noltner tossed with uncanny accuracy.

Scott Davis and Zach Davis formed a solid double play combination for the Lutherans. Despite being a Cubs' fan and delivering a sermon earlier in the day, Pastor Darrell Kyle played flawlessly.

The hitting of Lance Reed and the Tokar boys, Jake and Nolan, got the Catholics four runs early. The Lutherans countered with four of their own with Kurt Schmude, Brock Haugerud and Paul Graden delivering key hits.

It was an even game until Lance (Leighton) keyed a rally for the Catholics in the third inning to break the game open. Courtesy runner Kaci Reed scored the first run and eight more followed as the Catholics emulated Genesis 1:1.

The final out by Billy Pirkola (Granlund) convinced manager Deb Krieg to trade her designated hitter to the Lutherans. Deb was delighted to find out that the Lutefisk lovers offered a Swiss army knife in return for the aging veteran. Chagrin became the emotion moments later when an inside-the-park, less than stellar, fielding-aided home run came off the bat of the just traded columnist.

A staged brouhaha occurred in the fourth inning as Krieg's pitcher, Noltner, lobbed a pitch behind batter Billy Pirkola. Members of both teams charged the plate area before retired Presbyterian minister and impartial umpire Duane Aslyn restored order. A complete investigation resulted in Lance Boyle being named the instigator.

Play resumed with numerous outstanding plays and players from both teams helping the Lutherans' catcher, Jardineiro, learn the intricacies of this variation of America's pastime. (Jardineiro is a foreign exchange student staying with teammates Rob and Brecken Calhoun).


Other highlights included Lance Reed belting a tape measure home run, John Haugerud becoming a key late inning replacement and Jim Amundson providing timely comic relief.

But it was too late for Kurt Schmude and the Lutherans as the nine-run inning did them in.

The final score will not be etched in the sidewalk in front of the Village Auditorium as the Catholics claimed a 21-10 victory while the Lutherans showed 20-9 in their scorebook. Both teams will ponder strategy for another year as the successful and popular outing will most certainly remain an annual affair for both congregations.

In the end, God's love prevailed as the combatants shook hands in a gesture of sportsmanship and then met behind home plate for a "photo op" of both teams.

  • Other participants in the game for the Lutherans were Kate Olaf, Dennis Raas, Gretchen Grube and Tyler Davis. For the Catholics, Travis Hanson, Maggie Lattery, Roger Wickenson and Ray Mock filled out the team. Karlie Reed was an assistant coach. Jerry Reickhoff was the base umpire. Roberta Grube, Lisa Haugerud and Jeannie Kallinen were official photographers.

It was a great day to see old friends Mickey Barnaby, Jack and Jeannie Kallinen, Keith Anderson, the Strevelers, Gloria Williams, Alvina Britz, the Weyers and many others.

  • The next day, still basking in the glow of victory, Lance Boyle had much difficulty bending over to put on his shoes, but with the game only an annual affair, it was not necessary to place him on the disabled list.

Immediately after the game, a pilgrimage to that shrine of Shangri-La, the village auditorium, was taken by Lance. Seeking out "The Great Recruiter," he reported the score to Kay Coletta. She smiled. That was the only payment Lance needed.

  • Coletta missed the game because she was helping organize a fundraiser for Village Constable Jesse Beasley, a former Duluth-Superior Shoreman football player, who was an injury victim of a hit and run incident. The fundraiser ended up being a huge success. If readers want to contribute to the cause, please call Coletta at (715) 374-2283. Tax deductible contributions can be made in Beasley's name to "Kids in Nebagamon."

Remember, this is what a small town is all about. "People" (with apologies to Barbra Streisand) are the greatest asset we have, and people need people.

  • On the schedule for this weekend is the second annual battle between the Lakeside Baptist softball team and the Cloverland Covenant team. This annual event is all even at this point at 0-0-1 as the teams played to a 2-2 tie last year. This game is played on the Lakeside church field with a new bleacher seating capacity of 84 and honors the memory of the late Martin Bitner, who was an avid baseball and softball player, coach and fan.

The "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund runs occasionally in The Daily Telegram. Opinions and/or story ideas can be e-mailed to or

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