July2014

Greg Alder, great Boise pitcher gives back to the game - by Bob Otto

July 30, 2014

Boise, ID


Greg Alder, great Boise pitcher gives back to the game

ORIGINAL STORY by Bob Otto

Written by Bob on July 30th, 2014

BOISE, Idaho – For many fastpitch players, once their careers are over the bat and ball, glove and spikes either get thrown in the closet or sold at a garage sale. And then it’s off to the golf course or some other leisurely pursuit.

Not so with Greg Alder.

He’s as involved with men’s fastpitch today as a manager and coach as he was back in his heyday as a pitcher.

A STEP BACK IN TIME

But first let’s take a trip back in time with the 62-year-old Alder from his teenage years to his heyday as one of the country’s best pitchers.

“At 15 my dad (Larry Sr.) got me started playing the outfield,” says Alder, adding that four generations of Alders have played fastpitch. “In my first game as a pitcher at 17, I hit three guys in the head and struck out three in the Boise League.”

Well, it seems the league didn’t take to having a young and wild, hard throwing right-hander in its midst. They didn’t want any part of him. So his dad lined up the team to play against Idaho State Penitentiary ball clubs.

Soon enough his control came around; he was back in the good graces of the Boise League, and he was on his way. Some of the credit for his rapid rise as a pitcher goes to his high school baseball buddy, Mike Cunningham, who formed a young Boise team called Geaurdon Industries.

FROM BASEBALL TO SOFTBALL

“We were all 19 and 20 years old and played high school baseball together,” said Alder of that 1972 team. “We started beating the league teams and qualified for the state tournament by finishing third (of 12 teams) in the league that first year. That was quite an accomplishment back then.”

That Geaurdon team became the forerunner of one of the most respected and successful teams in the Northwest, the Boise Metros.

Alder pitched for the Metros for 31 years, helping the team qualify and play in 20 ASA National Tournaments, ISC World Tournaments, and NAFA World Series.

BEATING SOME OF THE BEST

Along the way, he scooped up his share of accolades: He pitched in the fabled Norwest Travel league. He beat some of the league’s best ball clubs such as Seattle Pay ‘N Pak, Payless from Victoria, BC, Canada; the Vancouver Magicians when a young hurler by the name of Darren Zack was learning the trade.

In 1978 he was invited to tryout for the Pan American team, but had to decline because of work commitments. Then in 1983, he pitched the Metros to a 3-0 victory over the Guanella Brothers of Santa Rosa, Calif. in the ASA Major National Championship in Decatur, Ill.

He was also the Most Valuable Pitcher in the 1985 Peach Arch Tournament – that featured the top Open teams from the Northwest and Canada.

Through all the league games and tournaments, Alder never declined the ball, pitching as many as six to 12 games in weekend tournaments. And In one 24-hour stretch, he once pitched 10 games.

WORTHY AWARD WINNER

So it’s of little surprise that the awards started coming his way as his pitching career wound down. In 2005 he was inducted into the ASA Northwest Region 15 Hall of Fame. And just a year later, he was inducted into the Idaho ASA Hall of Fame.

Last year his Boise RiverDogs received the Idaho ASA Red Halpern Award for helping to keep fastpitch alive in the state.

And during the 2014 North American Fastpitch Assoication (NAFA) World Series, Alder will be inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame.

Alder is grateful for the recognition. Humbled by the honors.

“It means a lot to me and it feels really good,” he said. “I just want to try and give something back to the game that we all care about.”

Giving something back. Now that defines Alder in his second fastpitch career.

FROM THE CIRCLE TO THE COACHES BOX

He formed the RiverDogs in 2004 to accommodate yet another Alder in the circle. His son Shane, the fourth generation of Alder’s in men’s fastpitch that include grandfather Orin, his father and his brother, Larry Jr.

The RiverDogs have gone on to much success over the past 11 years. Last year they won the ASA West Class C National Tournament.

And with NAFA, the RiverDogs have played in eight World Series, always finishing in the top ten, along with third and fourth place honors. And Shane has gone on to earn All-World pitching awards as well, along with several other RiverDogs.

DEVELOPING NEW PLAYERS

Like any manager, Alder aims his team for the top. But he does so with mostly homegrown talent. Raised right there in the Boise area. Right there in the Treasure Valley Fastpitch League that he runs.

Once near extinction, the league had dwindled down to just a handful of teams, but through hard work and recruiting, the future looks bright again. As a former pitcher, Alder realized the leagues’s revival had to start in the circle.

“We were down to three teams, but now we’ve got eight,” he said. “We are trying to develop pitchers. We’ve got three or four younger throwers in their 20s, and five in their 30s.”

Shane has seen firsthand his dad’s efforts to keep fastpitch alive in Boise. The phone calls, the recruiting, the meetings…

“Without my dad running the league for all these years the game of fastpitch would have been dead awhile ago,” said Shane.

So how did Alder and others go about getting young athletes interested in fastpitch? The oldest marketing tool known to mankind: word of mouth.

“I think you have to keep reaching out to the younger guys,” he said. “They will talk to their friends and bring in more players. We are hoping to keep it alive for generations to come.”

Thanks to men like Greg Alder, who continue to give back to fastpitch, the sport continues to survive.

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