< Campbell's Carpet


Campbell's Carpet

Big Cat's comments:

The first time I ever saw Campbell's Carpets play was in 1978. I knew that they had a team in the 1977 ASA National Championships in Parma but I never got a chance to see them play because I was playing myself at different diamonds at different times.. It was in 1978 when they really had put together a hell of a squad.. You heard about their team throughout the season.. The NSPC was one of the leagues that they had established as a top notch league/association.....

Campbell Strange had been putting together a softball club that would take on anybody.. Each year his teams got better but it was in 1978 when they really put themselves on the softball map. When they came to Cleveland, Ohio in 1980 to play in a NSPC tournament they scheduled their first game against our team Hillcrest Tavern and with a full house at Brookside Park we played in one of the best games ever played there.. I believe we ended up beating them by one or two runs something like 28-26. Like I said there had to be 2500 people watching the game on a Friday Night..

One of the coolest parts about our game was I really don't think the people from Cleveland had ever seen Elby Bushong at his finest hour. All Elby did was go 5 for 5 all home runs and everytime he hit one it went further and he screamed louder... It was actually comical as he proceded to holler louder each swing....Well I remember we had Steve Blanchette, Fred Guger, and Jerry Spangler doing the pitching for our team.. Spangler ended up doing a heck of a job because he was throwing every bit of 12 to 15 foot high pitches and they were having a hard time with it...They ended up going 4 and 4 for the weekend... At the time they were ranked No. 1 in the country... So for us it was a great win because we did not have all of the talent that they had, but we gave a good showing to the crowd of Cleveland people at Brookside Park that night....

Comments by Robert Brown:

Although men's slo-pitch softball was growing in California in the 1970's, Campbell Strange took it to a whole new level.

In 1973, Bay Area Merchants with a roster made up of players from Northern California won the Men's USSSA World Series, beating favorite Dino's Pizza of Detroit, 4-2 in Southgate, Michigan. The next year, Bay Area Merchants finished 2nd to Dino's in Pinole, California out of an expanded field of 8 teams. 

In 1975, a team from Southern California that would make a strong mark in Men's Softball for more than a decade emerged, Capitol Insulation, sponsored by Don Webster and Bob Edmiston. Their first few years, they were made up exclusively of Southern California players and they made the USSSA World Series almost every year.

Campbell Strange, a native of Ireland, became interested in men's softball in the mid-70's through several of his employees in his successful carpet business. Soon, he took over sponsorship of Bay Area Merchants, called Campbell's-BAM and entered numerous national tournaments. Although the team had a good showing in the 1977 ASA Championship, that experience caused Campbell's competitiveness to seek out players from coast-to coast in order to capture a national title. During that off-season, he went to Tennessee to recruit Ron Masterson and Eddie Corum, North Carolina to get Russell Bradley, Louisiana by way of North Carolina to obtain Denny Jones, Oklahoma for Al White and Gordon Wheeler and closer to home, Southern California for Mike Cellura. 

He also retained several of the Campbell's-BAM team, including Charlie Pierce, at that time the best player to come out of Northern California. He molded that group into a true team through the efforts of manager Tom Crellin and coach Ed Menosse and pretty much dominated the 1978 season, winning two of the initial four NSPC tournaments as well as other national titles, traveling across the country, before defeating Howard's to win the ASA Championship in Elk Grove, California.

In addition to developing a championship team, Campbell did a great deal to promote softball in California and around the United States. He was very instrumental in making the 1978 ASA Championship and the 1980 USSSA Championship, both in Northern California, extremely successful events from a fan and publicity standpoint.

In 1979, Campbell continued his recruiting, getting Jerry King, Greg Fuhrman and Dick Bartel and went into the season as a prohibitive favorite. However, Nelson's wound up with the Triple Crown that year. Unfortunately for softball but fortunately for Campbell, Bob Nelson retired from softball following that season. Campbell then obtained Richard Willborn, Mickey McCarty, Buddy Slater and Bill Ferguson from Nelson's and also recruited Elby Bushong and Dennis Myers from Capitol. That team, managed by Randy Gorrell, recovered after a relatively slow start and won the Triple Crown over Jerry's Catering, the favorite going into 1980. 

Campbell determined after that achievement to follow Bob Nelson into retirement from softball. During the relatively brief time that sponsored a team, he made a huge impact, both in on-field success and popularizing slo-pitch throughout the country and in California in particular. 

Below is John Vella from the Oakland Raiders football team promoting Campbell's

Dick Bartel - Outfield
Denny Jones - Outfield
Elby Bushong - Infield
Gordon Wheeler - Pitch, Outfield

Jerry King - Outfield, Infield
Randy Barlick - Outfield
John Trechira -, Infield
Dennis Meyers - 2nd base

Mike Cellura - Outfield
Richard Wilborn - Outfield
Rooster Bradley - Shortstop, Pitch
Al White - Pitch

Mickey McCarty - 1B, AH
Stevie Williams - SS, Infield
Buddy Slater - Pitcher.

Eddie Menosse-Tom Crellin

Rodney Lee - Outfield, 1at Base
Greg "The Bull" Furhman
Tom Sandau-3rd Base/Outfield
Larry Lung - Infield



The Campbell Carpets story by Campbell Strange:

A lot of people have asked me how I got into softball sponsorship, and why. The how is pretty easy to answer. It all started early in the 1976 season, when one of my employees came to me and said they needed a sponsor for the team. I went out and watched them play, and I got interested in the game. As the season went on, I got more and more involved. By the end of the year, we wound up forth in the state tournament, and just miss going to the regional's, and I guess I was hooked.

When the 1976 season ended, I decided I was going to stay with the, I wanted to have the best team in the area. I like to travel myself, and I thought it would be a real challenge to build the first national contender from California. So, we merged are for best players with the Bay Area merchants team that had won USSSA World Series a couple of years earlier. That not only gave us better players, but also gave us three people to do the work instead of one, with Tom Krell and, Ed Menosse, and me. We all do different things well, and the combination has worked out fine.

Even so, it was evident to us as we traveled that even if we could field the best in players in Northern California, we didn't feel that we can when the Nationals. A look at the four teams that finished higher than we did in Parma Nelsons, Ken Sanders, Howard's, and Jerry's prove that conviction. We decided to do a little recruiting. Before 77 season ended, we were well on our way to having Denny Jones and Russell Bradley signed up for 78. Immediately after the nationals, Jones and Bradley joined us, and we took the team to Phoenix for Thanksgiving tournament that included some other top out-of-state players. From that group, we recruited Gordon Wheeler. By February in 1978, the team is pretty well set, with the addition of Al White, Eddie Corum, and Ron Masterson. Throughout the 78 season, the team continue to improve and the addition of Mike Siller of in May and the return of Tommy Sandau in June were key factors in the team's development. We played very well during the last half of the season, and everything came together in the Nationals at Elk Grove.

Obviously, when Tom, Ed, and I were putting the team together, we look for great players, but we also pay great attention to their personalities and their character. Sometimes the toughest victories are won when the character of an individual or the entire team makes the difference, and this team really played like a team. The key ingredient was closest of the players. This is something we believe we have maintained for the 79 season, with the addition of Dick Bartel, Greg Furhman, Jerry King, and Rodney Lee.

A national championship is only one with the cooperation and the effort of a great many people, on and off the field. We all real depth of gratitude to the city of Concord in the sports staff of the Contra Costa Times and the Concord transcript, who supported us all year, and continue to do so. We also salute the families of our players and coaches, who have sacrificed in many ways so that we can reach our goal. We are looking forward to 1979 the great. In running the business of Campbell's Carpets, we've always strived to be the best. We do the same thing with our softball team. And, now that I think about it, I guess why I'm involved in softball is easy to explain it's a lot of fun. Share the fun with us in 1979.

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