Rochester’s ‘Mr Softball’ Has Died
Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - A Rochester softball enthusiast who was known to thousands of players over the years has died.
Gene “Geno” Alexander died Saturday in Rochester just a few weeks shy of his 83rd birthday.
Alexander organized and served as the main umpire for the Rochester Church Softball League for 50 years before stepping aside about 10 years ago. His dedication to the sport landed him in the Minnesota American Softball Association Hall of Fame and a mayoral proclamation in 2002.
Alexander befriended many of the youth and adult players in the league, often chatting with them during at-bats. He was known for his fast-moving games and his reputation of playing “in the rain” unless there was lightning in the area. The games were played from May-August at Rochester’s Slattery Park and the league will soon begin a new season.
During the winter months, Alexander organized and umpired the Rochester Church Volleyball League for many years. He also played in the Rochester Church Volleyball and Basketball Leagues. He worked at Rochester Public Utilities for nearly 40 years
His funeral will be held Saturday at Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester, beginning at 1:00 PM. Visitation will be from 5:00 - 8:00 PM Friday at Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Home in Rochester, and an hour before the service at the church.
Here is his Hall of Fame nomination, submitted by Al Horstmann & the Rochester Church Softball League
When one mentions the Rochester Church Softball League, the name “Gene Alexander” is synonymous. “Jigger”, as he was known in his younger years, stated umpiring in 1954 in the Rochester City Park & Rec. leagues. After two years of umpiring in these leagues, he began to look elsewhere for a place to put his time and talents. The city leagues often got out of hand with yelling and arguing. The church softball league seemed the perfect place. The teams were competitive, yet easy to get along with and got along with each other. They realized that they were out there for fun. Gene was very familiar with the church league, having grown up in the same neighborhood as the Slatterly Park Ball Field. This field was long ago designated as the church league ball field. As the space crunch came for softball and Little League fields in Rochester, Gene was told that as long as he was running the league, the field would belong to the church league. The league started out as fast-pitch, but due to lack of pitchers, slowly changed to slow-pitch. Gene welcomed this change as it allowed more people to enjoy the sport of softball. Lighting at Slatterly Park was never very good, but he lights were there and allowed the games to be played. After spearheading a fund‐raisin effort to two years, Gene used his connections at Rochester Public Utilities to buy some second had lights and set new poles for the field. The lights have been a great addition and we have Gene to thank for them. The players all know to show up for each and every game. Except for lightening, games are played regardless of the weather. Rain, sleet, even snow, is no reason not to play in Gene’s mind. Since his retirement from Rochester Public Utilities, Gene has been living in Lake City, MN. He makes a forty‐five minute drive to and from Rochester four nights a week from the beginning of May to the end of August. Gene is not only the umpire for the league, he also organized the managers meeting each spring and he’s been the secretary/treasurer for the league year after year. Gene always has a big smile and warm greeting for everyone that plays ball in Slatterly Park. He shows no favoritism and tries to keep thinks light. If someone gets a little heated, Gene reminds them that this is the church league and we are here for a little exercise and some fun. Gene has been the single driving force behind the league for so many years its’ hard to imagine the league without him. When he does decide to hang it up, he’ll have something lined up to keep the leagues going. Gene will make sure we’re taken care of, just like he has for the last forty‐five years. It is our honor to welcome Gene Alexander to the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame.
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