Cold Spring Mourning Loss Of Local Sports Icon Billy Steil
If you have attended a ROCORI or Cold Spring sporting event in the last 40+ 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 ten 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 more Billy Steil just as much as they know any athlete."
Steil passed away at age 61 Friday night in Cold Spring.
Billy was born in St. Cloud, MN to Ralph and Delores (Johnannes) Steil. He worked for Wacosa, the Cold Spring Bakery, and was a janitor for ROCORI schools. Billy had a passion for all sports. He was the manager of the ROCORI wrestling team and was a Batboy for the Cold Spring Springers for many years. Billy obtained autographs and pictures with many famous Minnesotan professional sports figures. He was recognized in the ROCORI hall of fame for being a super sports fan. Billy loved socializing with people and could be seen riding his bike all over Cold Spring. He was blessed to be surrounded by a community of people who loved him.
There will be visitation from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Wenner Funeral home in Cold Spring. Visitation will continue Thursday one hour prior to the service at the St. Boniface Church Narthex.