Cold Spring mourning loss of local sports icon Billy Steil

By Dave Overlund

WJON Radio

This story originally appeared at WJON.com and appears here with permission.

If you have attended a ROCORI or Cold Spring sporting event in the last 40-plus years, whether it was a Spartan wrestling match, Cold Spring American Legion baseball game or anything else under the sun, there’s a great chance that Billy Steil was there as well.

“He must have been at over 100,000 games in his life,” St. Cloud State baseball coach and Cold Spring native Pat Dolan said. “He was around games for over 40 years, whether it’s the Springers or the Rockies or Richmond Royals … he didn’t just wear one hat.”

Dolan took on Steil as an assistant coach when he began his career with the Cold Spring American Legion baseball team. The duo ended up spending 10 years together in the dugout.

Dolan first met Steil as a middle-school aged wrestler who was trying out for the team. The coaching staff had Dolan take on Steil, which would turn out to be the end of the former’s wrestling career.

“I took it easy on him at first, but he was a really good wrestler,” Dolan said. “Next thing you know, he had me in like a figure-four leglock and I couldn’t move! After that I stuck to basketball!

“It was one of my first jobs as a coach, and Billy traveled with us all the time to the Legion games, and to Dairy Queen afterward,” Dolan said. “There were 11 guys on that team that played college baseball and Billy would come in and give the pregame and postgame speeches.”

Steil filled the room with his personality, which included the “best pregame and postgame speeches ever” according to coach Dolan.

“He would just loosen guys up,” Dolan said. “The running joke in Cold Spring is that Billy could have run for mayor any year in the last 40 years and won in a landslide.

“It was just comfortable being around the guy … it always was,” Dolan said.

He was even known to grab a mic and sing, whether it was the seventh inning stretch at a local game or even hopping on stage with the Fabulous Armadillos, which he did just last year.

“If you ask any person involved in sports around Cold Spring, of course you know Eric Decker,” Dolan said. “You know Steve Huls, there are a lot of great, great players … but I would bet the mortgage people know Billy Steil just as much as they know any athlete.”

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