NO. 26

Fastball champ

Pitcher Bill West helped Zollner Pistons to two world titles

Former Zollner Pistons manager Bernie Kampschmidt, shown on the left in this photo, was once asked which pitcher he would use if he absolutely had to win a game.

"Bill West," he replied with no hesitation.

"Wild" Bill West, shown on the right in this photo, helped the Pistons win world fastball titles in 1946 and 1947 after the team had won a title in 1945.

After serving in the armed forces during World War II, West joined the Pistons in 1946. During the next two years in the national tournament, West won five games, giving up only six hits. In 1947 he went 28-4 with the Pistons on their third consecutive title.

"He had to be one of the top five best pitchers in softball," former Zollner official Carl Bennett said. "When we were playing the tough teams, there wasn't a lot of offense because the pitchers were so good. He stood out among even those pitchers."

West went 34-7 in 1948 as the Pistons finished with a 99-21 record, the worst record in the team's history. He was named the National Fastball League's MVP that season and made the all-star team four consecutive years, from 1946 to 1949.

West had his best year in 1949, going 36-2 and striking out 452 batters in 285 innings and allowing only 93 hits. The Pistons won 114 of 124 games that year. The next season West was 32-4 before being recalled into the Army because of the Korean War. He came back to go 24-2 in 1951, 24-4 in 1952 and 18-4 in 1954.

After the team disbanded in 1954, West moved to Detroit. He was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1963 and died Oct. 14, 1972, at age 51.

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