Slugger leads Bunny’s into league playoffs
Father Time has been chasing Paul Halpin for a few years, but it’s doubtful that he’ll ever catch the Edina slowpitch softball slugger.
Halpin is the king of Edina softball, having played in leagues in the community for the last 42 years. There’s no sign that the former Edina-West High athlete is slowing down. In fact, when teammate Jeb Lau needed a pinch runner during a 17-7 victory over C-Side last week, Halpin told his teammates, “I got this.”
“Jeb hits a single, and all of a sudden Paul’s out there running for him … I couldn’t believe it,” said Bunny’s Bar & Grill third base coach Art Erdall, a longtime teammate of Halpin’s.
Halpin has played with Bunny’s for 25 years now, and that’s where he feels at home.
“In all my seasons in Edina softball, this year’s team is the best I’ve ever played on,” said Halpin. “Most of our games have only gone four or five innings, and we’re scoring more than 25 runs a game. We have good athletes who have played together a long time, and we really hit the ball.”
Halpin is an Edina native, who played four sports for Edina-West High – football, basketball, baseball and golf.
“I wasn’t able to letter in golf because we had a great team, so I switched to baseball my senior year,” said Halpin. “The golf team was unbelievable. We had Jim Kidd, Chris Perry and the Werness brothers, Spencer and Bump. How do you crack that lineup?”
Halpin’s claim to fame at Edina-West was that he was coach Stav Canakes’ favorite football player.
“Paul can do it all,” said Canakes after Halpin led the Cougars to victory against arch rival Edina-East. That night, Halpin returned kicks, caught passes punted and was generally a thorn in East’s side.
Years later, Halpin said, “I used to play for the Cougars, now I chase them.”
Halpin began playing men’s league softball in Edina when he was only 15 years old. No one questioned his age because even then he was bigger than most of the adults at 6-3.
“I started my career with Thomas Air Conditioning and later played for Classic Motor Company and Jerry’s before joining Bunny’s. You talk about a great sponsor, Bunny’s has been with us 25 years. It’s a great place to hang out when you’re thirsty after a game.”
Bunny’s will finish the regular season as the second-place team in the Edina 35 & Over League.
“Our only loss was to the Love Handles,” Halpin noted. “In that game, we gave them a few too many outs. We’re buddies with them off the field, but in the games, it’s a rivalry. I know some of their guys pretty well. I played on Edina Rec basketball teams with some of their guys – Rick LaVercombe, Jimmy Williams and Tim McGovern.”
Next year, Halpin will celebrate the 40th reunion of Edina-West’s Class of 1978. He is one of the athletes from that era who won’t need to embellish his achievements, and the fact that he’s still playing sports after all these years will no doubt come up in the discussion.
Greg Roth, Bunny’s shortstop and home run leader, is one player who realizes how remarkable Halpin’s career has been.
“Paul has had much more longevity than I’ll ever have on the softball field,” said Roth. “I keep telling myself I’m going to retire so I can play more golf, but seeing Paul out here keeps me coming back.”
Mike Fricke, Bunny’s manager, who has been involved in slowpitch softball since 1964, understands Halpin’s passion, as well as his longevity.
“The game gets in your blood,” said Fricke. “And you just don’t want to quit.”
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