Honoring the past: Sign made in Brownstown to commemorate ’77 state champions



Back in the 1970s and ’80s, slow-pitch softball was one of the most popular sports across the state of Indiana.

Friends and family would gather any night of the week to catch their favorite team at their local park, supporting their loved ones while getting wrapped up in the competitiveness of the sport.

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Some towns, even the small ones, would have more than a dozen teams. Sometimes, those teams played three or four games a day.

While the interest has started to fade in the sport, many locals still reminisce over those days, which created lifelong friendships.

In Brownstown, a group of men recently celebrated one of their most memorable seasons together.

Forty-one years after winning the Class A Softball State Championship, the 1977 Brewer’s Agri Specialists team, which was based in Brownstown but also had players from across Jackson County, became immortalized outside its home diamond at Brownstown Park.

A sign with the name of every member from that championship team is now attached to the signage that greets guests to the park.

The idea to have a sign outside the park was hatched by Jerry Jackson, a lifelong Brownstown resident.

“It has been 41 years ago, but a few months ago, I approached park board president Dick Burrell and the park board committee and kind of drafted a letter of what I would like to have happen,” Jackson said. “(Burrell) thought it was a wonderful idea, so I went in front of the board and they approved it. I told them we would make a sign at our expense with the names of the guys on the team on the back of it.”

After getting the approval for the sign, Jackson had another idea to honor the group of guys that made up the team.

“After I told them we had the approval to do a sign, I said that I have a close friend that is a Jostens representative and asked if anyone would be interested in making state championship rings,” Jackson said. “Ten of (the former players) said absolutely, so at their expense, we have ordered 1977 championship rings. They will be in right before Thanksgiving.”

In the summer of ‘77, Brewer’s Agri Specialists posted a 7-1 record at the state tournament in Jasper to earn the title.

The team opened with a win over Rochester Concrete Products before knocking off Danville Heating and Plumbing to open tournament play. Brewer’s Agri Specialists then lost to Petersburg Moose before bouncing back for a big win over B&G Tire of Jasper.

The Brownstown team then knocked off Wilson’s Farm from Vincennes and Micky’s of Michigan City, which resulted in Brewer’s Agri Specialists winning the loser’s bracket. That win enabled them to play Petersburg Moose again for the championship.

Brewer’s Agri Specialists won 9-3, resulting in both teams having one loss. In one final game, Brewer’s Agri Specialists beat the Petersburg Moose 13-11 to capture the state championship.

Andy Denny was named the Most Valuable Player in the tournament, going 17-for-29 with 11 homers and 18 RBIs. Bob Bowman was 21-for-28, while Jim Reynolds went 20-for-31 and Mike Weaver finished 19-for-30, according to an Aug. 14, 1977, article in The Tribune.

Reynolds was one of the few who came out to Brownstown on Friday to see the sign and meet up with some teammates.

“You remember the good times and the fellowship,” he said. “It was like one big party. I know the summer of ‘77 was my highlight. I thought we played 150 ball games. It’s nostalgic.

“We were pretty much all local guys. Our wives and kids would come and watch us. It was one big happy family. It was exciting. We had a lot of good competition, which makes it more fun. Back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, slow-pitch softball was huge around here.”

After the tournament, Brewer’s Agri Specialists had established a 67-22 record. They went on to finish with just under 100 wins the rest of the season.

It was a long process for the team to just make it to state.

“You had to win the Seymour tournament to go to the Greensburg tournament. From there, you go to the Batesville tournament. Once you get that far, you’re narrowing it down to six or eight teams left in the state,” Jackson said. “Jasper was the fortunate town to host (state) that year. It was double-elimination, and we never lost again. We knew we had to bear down.

“Everyone did their part. Dave Warren, Carey Lambring and Jim Brown were so fast on the base paths and so fast in the outfield. Mike Weaver and Jim Reynolds could pulverize the softball. We had a bunch of good athletes, and we gelled together.”

Boyd Brewer of Brownstown was a member of the team. He said seeing the sign with all of the names on it means a lot.

“It’s just special. We put in a lot of time,” he said. “Everyone was basically from this area. We played together for years. We had a lot of fun with it. We traveled all over Indiana. It wasn’t just playing ball. We had a lot of cookouts and things like that. A lot of us also worked together. It was just a family. When we first started this team, we had no idea how far it would take us.”

Weaver, who now lives in Madison but used to live across from the Brownstown Park, made a trip down last week.

“It brings back a lot of memories. There was a lot of camaraderie,” Weaver said. “I came over (Friday) to run into some of these old guys. It’s fun to reminisce. I haven’t seen some of these guys since the ‘80s.

“We all just gelled together as a team. We knew each other and knew our strengths and weaknesses. We knew what to expect out of each other. We knew that we would win even if we were down a bunch of runs in the seventh (inning).”

Jackson said the park means a lot to many who grew up and live in Brownstown.

“When we were little, you either played at the park or was on a team or you were at the pool in the summertime,” he said. “When we played, in between innings, they would stop traffic because you couldn’t get up to the parking area. It was unreal.

“We played two nights a week here. There were 10 teams in Brownstown. There were 10 or 12 teams in Seymour and 20 in Jackson County. There were so many teams around. You would go to North Vernon and you would see teams up there you’ve never seen before.

“We went to Mitchell and played in a tournament over there, and a lot of those guys were older than us. A lot of us were in our early 20s and late teens. They took this stuff seriously. If you beat them by one run, they were mad. They didn’t want to shake your hand at the end, but everyone did and moved on.”

While times have changed, the memories of slow-pitch softball live on.

“I’ve lived in Brownstown my entire life,” Jackson said. “At the end of every softball game, you always had to throw 10 rocks off the field. The infield had a lot of rocks working up into the dirt. After a few years, it was clear as a bell. This park was special.

“A lot of kids today, when you mention slow-pitch softball, they don’t know what you’re talking about. Times have changed, and that’s fine. We had a lot of fun here.”

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