One of the greatest softball pitchers in South Dakota and Iowa, LeRoy Carlson’s career began at the age of 13 on a team from Baltic and lasted for 41 seasons, ending in 1979 in Sioux City.
Carlson grew up in Baltic and Sioux Falls, graduating from Washington High. After spending four years in the Navy, he returned to Sioux Falls and his legend grew as he dominated South Dakota hitters.
In 1948, Carlson teamed up with another local star pitcher, Paul Ferrie, and they won the state VFW championship. In the national VFW tourney in Austin, Texas, they won two and lost two.
In 1949, they again won the state VFW tourney and in the national tournament Carlson pitched the team to the semifinals. He pitched 11 games in 3½ days, pitching four no-hitters, four one-hitters and three two-hitters. He went the distance in a 13-inning game, striking out 36 of a possible 39 outs. Carlson was selected to the All-America team and was awarded the Outstanding Player trophy.
In 1950, they won the state VFW title again. In 1951, he and Ferrie again teamed up and their El Morocco Club team won the state ASA championship. He pitched three of the five games, allowing no hits and averaging 19 strikeouts per game.
In 1952, Carlson moved to Iowa to begin his domination of fastpitch in that state. When his teams returned to Sioux Falls for tourneys, his legendary pitching duels with Ferrie attracted the largest crowds ever for fastpitch in South Dakota.
In Iowa, Carlson won open class state championships in 1955 with Glen Towers of Des Moines, 1956 with the Night Hawks of Des Moines and 1964 with Gibson’s Appliance of Sioux City. He was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Pitcher all three times. He also won the 1974 Class B title with the Sooland Soos of Sioux City and the 1978 Class A title with the Kingsley Merchants.
Carlson holds Iowa state tournament records for state tourneys won (5); pitching wins (76); shutouts (51); no-hitters (10); strikeouts (886); strikeouts in seven innings (20); years played (25); and games played (99).
Following retirement from softball, he was instrumental in forming the Sioux City Softball Association and in the design of numerous softball complexes within the city.
He is a member of the South Dakota and Iowa softball halls of fame.
From Jeff Collins:
Thanks for tip on Leroy Carlson, You also mentioned Ferrie so thought you would enjoy this one. Carlson on the left - Paul Ferrie on the right. Paul related to Brad Ferrie by any chance?
In June of 1957 - 60 years ago this coming summer..... they locked up in a 1-0 15 inning thriller. Game totals between them of 51 K's and 6 hits later -- Carlson wins the game.
Game played at Pat Wyman Field in front of a huge crowd in Sioux Falls........
From Steve Stein:
Paul was Brad's uncle. Brad's father, Roger and his son , Both were pitchers, are in the Hall of Fame in So. Dak. Mike was inducted this past Oct.8th. My good friend Jimmie Hennessey played with and againt both of these men. He told me that they had side bets on the games they faced each other.
From Jeff Collins again:
1973 South Dakota State Champions..... I recognize Gregg Bosch who I got to face later in the 80's when he was with the likes of Cedar Rapids, The Iowans, etc. This must have been before Welty Way went after him.
He always seemed like one of the good guys in the game.