Ken Waltner started playing fastpitch softball in Freeman, SD in 1969 with the Freeman Blues. In 1979 he came to Sioux Falls to play with Tiki Liquors for a year then 5 years Beal Budweiser. After the run with the Sioux Falls teams, he decided to go back to play with the hometown Freeman Blues until 1991 when he thought he retired from playing after 23 years. But like a lot of fastpitch players, a phone call or 2 got him back on the diamond to play over 40 with Service First Credit Union for another 3 years.
Ken’s primary positions were shortstop and pitcher. But he moved to wherever the team needed him, except for one spot, Ken chose to not put on the tools of ignorance.
Ken has the distinction of winning State Championships in all 4 classes of South Dakota fastpitch, AA, A, B, and Masters. He helped lead the Beal Budweiser to the 1984 State AA Championship. When he moved back to Freeman, he led the Blues to a Class A Championship. With the 40 and over Service first, they won the State B the first year and swept the master’s 40&Over the 3 years he was on the team.
Back when ASA had regionals for the state champions to qualify for nationals, Ken played with TIKI in Austin, MN in ’79 and with Freeman Blues in Fargo in 1989. Ken also played in 3 master’s 40&Over nationals with Service First in 1993 in Las Vegas, 1994 in San Antonio, and 1995 in Minneapolis.
Ken met his wife Cindy, daughter of Hall of Famer Harvey Wollman, 1997, at the ball diamond. They married and had 2 children, Brett and Jenna, who grew up at the ball diamonds while Kenny and their Grandpa Harvey were playing ball. He passed his love of the game and competition on to his children.
Cindy Waltner “Softball has been a staple in our entire family’s life because of Ken. We met at the softball diamonds and fell in love. Ken coached Jenna for countless hours, teaching her to pitch and hit. Jenna went on to pitch varsity at Larchwood. Iowa for 5 years. Brett still plays in Sioux Falls and the tradition continues as our granddaughter is playing under Brett’s guidance.”
Bob ‘Cubby’ Wollman “Ken certainly had a career worthy of being in the SD Hall of Fame. But more importantly, he led a HOF life! Ken’s role as a husband, father, son, brother, grandfather, and friend were his greatest accomplishments.”
Cam Lind, Hall of Fame 2015 "Ken was money in the clutch, had the speed to turn singles into doubles, could play 6 positions on the diamond as well as hold his own pitching against any team in the Tri-State area. Very competitive but I would bet a $20 that you cannot come up with any ball player who disliked the "Cat" for any reason. A great player, family man, and friend to all"
From nominator, the late Mike Timmerman, Hall of Fame 2019. "Ken was a tremendous athlete who could pitch, play defense, hit for average, and power with great speed. Teams were better with Ken on the roster."
Nominated by the late Hall of Fame member Mike Timmerman and letter of recommendation from Hall of Famers Cam Lind, Dennis Krier, and many others.
To the family, congratulations on Ken Waltner becoming a member of the USA Softball South Dakota Hall of Fame Class of 2023, now and forever.
* Ken Waltner passed away on February 17th, 2012, with a Glioblastoma brain tumor at the young age of 59.
To buy tickets to the induction ceremony
The 2023 USA Softball of SD Hall of Fame Banquet and Award Ceremony are scheduled for Saturday, October 14th at the Holiday Inn City Centre, 100 W 8th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Please contact the hotel for rooms at 605-339-2000, ask for "In-House Reservations" and then the Softball Hall of Fame block of rooms for room reservations. The block will be held until September 5th, after that date the rooms will be released.
We are cordially inviting you to join us in honoring this year's inductees:
RICH SKORHEIM – Miller – Umpire
CHUCK BUCHHEIM - Sioux Falls - Umpire
STEVE RABINE – San Antonio - Player
KEN WALTNER – Sioux Falls – Player (Deceased)
The evening agenda:
5:00 -- 6:00 Open social hour (cash bar)
6:00- Picture taking of Inductees and Current Hall of Fame Members
6:30 - Banquet, Induction Ceremony and Celebration
PLEASE CONTACT BY 10/9/2023 THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ATTENDING THE BANQUET IN YOUR PARTY!
We ask that you, your family, and your friends please make your reservations through Mike Dykstra by October 9th. Mike’s contact information is listed below. You may call, text, or email your ticket information so Mike knows the number of people attending so that we can check them in at the door. We must have reservations for the banquet, as we are required to give a 100% guarantee to the hotel. Banquet tickets are $40.00.
A block of rooms is reserved under the Softball Hall of Fame. Please make your room reservations by September 5th. Please contact the hotel directly at 605-339-2000, ask for the Softball Hall of Fame block. After September 5, the rooms will be released.
We have a fun filled evening planned and I hope you can join us. If you are unable to be with us, we would appreciate your thoughts and continued support in the promotion of our Hall of Fame.
Sincerely, Mike Dykstra
USA Softball of South Dakota Hall of Fame Banquet Chairman
4101 S Judy Ave
Sioux Falls SD 57103