Some of us were friends. Some of us were foes. Some of us are relatives. But all of us were a family to Curt Stensrud.
In the Powerline Baseball League, it doesn’t matter if you play with or against someone, it’s a bit of a brotherhood that builds over the years – especially when you play for three different teams. So the news of Curt’s death shocked many of us – even those who knew him just as an opponent on a baseball field.
It doesn’t matter how we lost Curt. At times like this, I don’t like to ask how or why, but remember when and what. To me, I generally only knew Curt as a teammate when playing for the Armena Axemen and a hearty foe when he played for the Ryley Rebels the last three years.
If you Google Curt Stensrud, baseball is what you’ll find. Baseball is what many of us will remember Curt for. It’s where Curt shawn as both a competitor and a friend to many of us.
When I was 15-years-old I heard of a flame-thrower from Camrose whom scouts had come to see. It wasn’t until I entered the Powerline League did I get to see the heat. Soon after, he returned to play in the league in Armena, guiding us to a couple PBL championships.
One of the most vivid memories of the 2003 season was when Curt showed up at Harry Andreassen Park with the biggest grin on his face; if you knew Curt, you know the one I’m talking about. He was so pumped, so jacked and so excited to play for a championship game in Camrose, I don’t think the grin ever left his face.
And despite being in the bottom of the seventh inning with the tying run on base and the Axemen leading by two, Curt got what should have been the game-ending pop out to secure the win. In one of those slow-motion unbelievable moments, Curt dropped a sure out. The ball skipped away from him. The bases were now loaded. I swear he was still smiling. Not many of us would have shaken that off to get Steve Ofrim to ground out to first.
But he did.
And that was Curt. He was a competitor on the ball field all of us respected. He was a level-headed gentleman at times when you least expected it. He threw hard, but as the last few years went on, threw smarter and more effectively.
On July 12, 2009, I drove out to watch Curt square off against Donny Oslund in Bardo in a game that meant the world to both teams. Ryley could clinch if they earned a point. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. In 11 innings. Both Donny and Curt pitched the whole game.
Curt was one of those guys that helped restart the Ryley Rebels. That playoff berth was special that night for him and the guys. I could tell in his voice how happy he was that night.
But outside the achievements on a men’s baseball field, Curt’s competiveness could be tempered at the most sought after times. When Armena could only field one ump earlier in that 2009 season, it was Curt who spoke up amongst a Rebel team starting to get angry and said, “Who cares, let’s just play ball, it’s the same for both of us,” smiling and swinging a bat to get ready before the game.
And that’s what I’ll remember about Curt. I’m sure there’s a lot of memories of good times off the field, but to many of us, this is where we knew Curt best. This is where he had some of the most fun in his life. It’s where we have some of the most fun times in our life.
In the short-term, I’ll remember the good times on the ball field and I hope you will, too. We lost part of our PBL family and although it’s different than a real family – it still hurts to lose a friend, or a teammate and even an opponent so unexpectedly.
Thanks for the memories Curt. So many of us will miss you next summer – even those you never knew.