Dennis “The Greek” Andritsis / Inducted 2016
Dennis “The Greek” Andritsis
Dennis Andritsis started playing lineball on the streets of Chicago when he was eleven. He played baseball and football at Morton West High School. In 1963 when Dennis was nineteen, legendary coach Gene Pingatore recruited him to play sixteen-inch softball for Triners Lounge in Cicero. In 1966, Triners became Sobies Sports Tap and later the American Rivet Sobies. The Sobies won the ASA Men’s Major Sixteen-inch World Championship three years in a row – 1966, 1967, and 1968. In 2014, the ASA voted the Sobies to be one of the five greatest teams of all time.
In 1977, fourteen years after being recruited by Coach Pingatore, the Sobies were playing a combination of the Bobcats and Strikers. Dennis and Bill Bereckis (HOF) were the only Sobies left from the team that won three world titles in the sixties. They beat the Bobcats / Strikers 11-5 and then went to Forest Park and won the title there – two great wins. The Sobies were champions once again.
Dennis played every position, but third base was his best defensive position. He was a line-drive hitter who could occasionally hit one out of the park. He played semi-pro baseball and was offered a tryout with the New York Mets.
Dennis was a stockbroker and insurance agent. From 1978 – 1980 he was in the restaurant business. For the past thirty-five years, he has been in the maintenance and construction business.
The summer of 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Sobies first ASA title. They still get together for dinner, to play cards, or to play in golf outings. In life as well as in sports, when the Skill is Gone, the Will takes Over.
Bill Bereckis / Inducted 1996
Longtime Berwyn resident Bill Bereckis was the “Charlie Hustle”of 16”softball, The toughest out in the game according to all who played with or against since he started playing for Triner’s Hall Rocky Stars in 1960 and eventually evolved into the Sobies, who won every major title in the game. They won 3 ASA National Titles from ‘66 to ‘68. Bill earned All American honors on four occasions and his .775 average in ‘71 lead all players in the nationals. Had power and could hit any line, especially dangerous in the clutch. The superb defensive shortstop was always the catalyst of the Sobies/American Rivet squads from ‘66 to ‘76. Bill, his brother and pitcher John were part of the greatest rivalry in the game against their arch rival Bobcats. Thousands of people would watch every encounter of these two powerhouses. Their ‘74 World Series, ‘75, ‘77, and ‘80. Forest Park wins were the last of the big ones in a stellar team career. Also played with Amphenol, Sportsman’s Lounge, the Cabin, Quan’s Oasis, and Al’s Pals. Bill was also a star at basketball. Played for Utah State, Lewis College, and Triner’s Hall Rocky Stars. They won 5 Chicago Metro Union League B-Ball titles and was the leading scorer three seasons. “Mr. Competitor” died in 1985 at the young age of 44. Survived by his wife and 2 daughters and 2 sons.
John Bereckis / Inducted 1998
According to Bill Jauss in the Chicago Today, life-long Chicago resident, John Bereckis, was the Con artist of the game, a herk-and-jerk, ball-and windmill, hesitate-and-drag pitcher. This so-called con artist and his brother, Bill, led the Sobie’s / America Rivet teams to three A.S.A. National title from 1966 to 1968. Bereckis’ defensive skills were a major factor in the Sobie’s / American Rivet dynasties from 1966 to 1972 - years that saw thousands of spectators throng to see the Sobies play their arch rivals, the Carlucci Bobcats. Besides excelling in softball, John Bereckis also played baseball and basketball at Kelly High School where he received All Sectional honors in basketball from the Chicago Tribune. After returning from military service in Korea, he also played semi-pro baseball for the Cole-Lenzi’s team. After retiring from the Chicago Police Department (where he also contributed to many memorable softball games) and major league softball, John spent his summers in Sioux Narrows, Canada. At 59 John once again put on the cleats when he began pitching for Cookie’s Restaurant and brought Chicago softball to Canada. Known by such colorful nicknames as Johnny B, Bees, and Senor, Bereckis passed away in 1996 at the age of 64. He is survived by his wife, Esther, his son, Jake (Nancy), a daughter, Denise, and two grandchildren.
Robert Bernstein / Inducted 2014
During the late 60’s and early 70’s, many softball experts considered Bob Bernstein to be one of the best all around third basemen in the city. He was a star, leader and anchor for the great Shooter teams of that era. Not only did Bob hit for average (.550 to .600 each year), but he also generated great power to both hitting-alleys, accumulating well over two hundred home runs in his career. If the game was on the line, you wanted Bob at the plate.
Defensively, there was no one better.
He was a flawless fielder with great
hands and a strong accurate arm.
What made Bob stand out so much
was his great agility and acrobatic
diving catches and stops. After one
of his dazzling plays, spectators and
players alike would be shaking their
heads, wondering how he did that. Rarely did a batted ball get past him down the baseline, saving many extra base hits. He also had the uncanny ability to knock down balls in the hole, get up and throw the runner out at first.
His guts and toughness were illustrated in one of the most memorable plays in Clarendon history. In a game between the Shooters and Dwarfs, Ron “Bull” Kupich was on second base when a grounder was hit to Shooter shortstop, “Cookie” Komar. Komar threw to Bob at third base for the tag play. Kupich stood 6’4”, weighed 270 and had made it to the final cut with the Bears.
He had no intention of sliding. He viciously slammed into Bob trying to dislodge the ball. Bob was knocked backwards, making a complete backward somersault into the fence behind third base. Not only did Bob hang onto the ball, he had the presence of mind to jump up and throw to second base to hold the batter to a single.
His Shooter teams won several
titles, including two straight championships at Clarendon Park, the top North Side league, as well
as at Terminal Park in Skokie, James Park in Evanston and Mather Park in Chicago, where Bob was voted MVP of the Mather Park All-Star Game two years in a row. The Shooters also won several tournaments on the South Side, including the prestigious Blue Island tournament. When
the Shooters disbanded, the Dwarfs recruited Bob to play shortstop. With “Jake” Jacobi at short center and Bob at shortstop, they formed one of the best double play combos around. Bob
was on the team that played the first TV game at Soldier Field.
Not only was Bob a great softball player, he was also an outstanding hardball player. In 1962, he was All-City player for Lane Tech, leading the city and suburbs in hitting with a .540 average, still today one of the ten highest averages in state history. Bob went on to star at Southern Illinois University where he was team captain. As a sophomore, he led Southern to the NCAA Division 1A Regional Championship where he was named to the All-Tournament team.
Bob and his wife, Marcia, live in Highland Park. They have two daughters, Lesly and Samantha, two great sons-in-laws, Rich and Marc, and five wonderful grandchildren, Nathan, Dex, Bryce, Sophie and Matthew.
Bill Bransfield / Inducted 2008
Bill Bransfield started playing sixteen-inch softball in 1970 with the Corner, a neighborhood team. They won the league at Pottawatomie Park for two years before Bill moved on to the Vikings in 1972. They won both the Clarendon B-League and the league at Mather Park. In 1973 he played with the Dwarfs at James Park in Evanston. Although they didn’t win that league, he claims that short-lived league was one of the best because just about every game wasn’t decided until the last inning. They did, however, win the championship at Clarendon that year. In 1976 he started a two-year stint with theAmalgamonsters in the newly formed Windy City Classic League. They won that league its inaugural year. Bill retired from playing major softball in 1979 for business reasons, although he did continue to play with some local teams. Defensively, he played left and center fields and third and first base. Offensively, he was one of the great hitters of his era and his numbers prove it. He drove in 710 runs, hit 224 homeruns, and carried a lifetime batting average of .586. In 1975 he was selected MVP of the North Shore Tournament. Bill works for Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department. He and his wife, Patty, live on Chicago’s Northside.
Greg “Speedy” Burzynski / Inducted 2010
Greg “Speedy” Burzynski
Greg Burzynski grew up playing softball on the fields of Kosciusko Park. He attended St. Patrick High School and earned a degree in Physical Education from Lewis College. After being discharged from the Navy, he played right field for the Lyons 45s. They played league play at Portage, Clarendon, and James Parks and participated in all the major tournaments, including the Midwest, the Andy Frain, and James Park. He won the batting title at the Mission Bell Classic at Santa Clara, California in 1972 and was named the MVP of the Racine Tournament in 1976. He was also selected to many all-star teams. Beside the 45s, he also played with the Second City for more than fifteen years at Oriole and Hiawatha Parks. Once his softball days ended, he played in senior-level basketball in the Sweet Charlie Brown League at Washington Park. He now participates in the Senior Olympic games. In 1997 when he was fifty, he set a state district record in the 50 meter dash with a time of 6.8 seconds and a district meet record in the 100 meter dash at 11.3 seconds. He now runs in 5K races and occasional half-marathons and recently completed a 50 mile relay race. Greg has worked at Lawrence Screw for sixteen years. He and his wife, Jan, have two children - Matthew and Colleen. Matthew also graduated from St. Patrick High School where he was team manger for the football and basketball teams. He also works at Lawrence Screw. Colleen graduated from Trinity High School. She is now a senior at North Central, studying Elementary Education. She runs cross-country and track at North Central. Greg and Jan live in Elmwood Park, Illinois.
Al Cech / Inducted 1997
Born in 1942, Al Cech starred as an All-Star shortstop for the Bobcats for many years. A right handed batter and thrower, Al Cech was three times named All-American in the ASA Nationals in 1976-1978. He played on seven ASA National Championships with the Bobcats, C & K Bobcats and Whips. Besides softball, Al Cech excelled at basketball at De LaSalle High School where he played for the city title in ‘58 and ‘60. He also made the Allstate team in 1960. He is in the High School ES Hall of Fame. He received a scholarship to University of Detroit (1965-‘68), where he was a teammate of NBA star Dave DeBusshere. After graduating he was drafted by the St. L Hawks. He played semi-pro basketball in Michigan before returning to Chicago to work at the Chicago Park District. He was a member of the 12” professional Storm team in 1980. He was a coach on the ‘87- ASA champs Sportstation and coached the North Stars on 96. His wife Mary Ann and he have 2 children. He is retired and a security guard at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.
Zeke Crement / Inducted 2002
Zeke Crement played his first game as a seventeen year old at Clarendon Park. His first at bat was a home run, a shot that began a 29 year softball career with some of softball's great teams, and started Zeke's reputation as one of the longest ball hitters of his era. Zeke played with Active Screw at Clarendon and Kosciusko Parks and played with the Lyon's 45's at Clarendon, Evanston, Portage and Kelly Parks. In 1969 Crement helped the Dr. Carlucci Bonbcats win the World Championship at Sheboygan, Wisconsin. In 1979 and 1985, he played in Metro, Illinois State, and World tournaments. Besides carrying a lifetime batting average over .600 and leading his teams in homeruns, Crement was a top notch shortstop, blessed with a strong arm and a range that cut down many would be runners. He and his wife, Mary, had two daughters and a son. Zeke passed away in early 2002.
Bob Dinkelman / Inducted 2009
Bob Dinkelman started playing CYO ball for St. Pascal’s in the 1960s with the '69ers. They played at North side, Shabbona, Dunham, Riis and Portage parks. In 1970, they combined with Active Screw to form the Lyon 45s, playing at Portage, Evanston and Clarendon parks, becoming one of the North side powers in the game. Bob returned from the military in 1971 to play left field and to bat third for the 45s. Soon after learning to dump the ball, he became their leadoff hitter. Like many good players, other teams noticed his talent and asked him to play. In 1976 he played for American Rivet in the ASA Nationals in St. Louis. The team finished second, and Bob was named to the All Tournament Team. When the 45s disbanded in 1977, Bob, Rich Knorowski, Jim Fuller, Mike Levar, and Eddie Shaffer joined American Rivet. Bob played left field and batted leadoff for them for three years. In 1982, Bob and Rich Knorowski got together to form the Bally 45’s to compete in the newly formed Majors in Mt. Prospect, and at Portage Park. He played with them until 1986. During that time, they won a division title at Mt. Prospect, won the Chicago Metro title, and placed 4th in the USSSA Nationals. They also won the Early Bird Tournament in Trevor, Wisconsin. In 1986 he played for Tom Levar in the Ed Kelly Tournament at River Park where he batted twenty for twenty-one, and won co- MVP honors. Besides having a good softball career, Bob had a distinguished football career at Schurz High School in Chicago. In 1965 and 1966, he was named as an Illinois All-State Halfback, and won the Knute Rockne Award in 1966 as the best Chicago high school football player. He also took second place in Chicago for wrestling and played baseball at Schurz. His accomplishments earned a scholarship to the University of Illinois, where he played football for two and a half years. Bob and his wife, Lori, have three children, Jacob Aaron, Sophie Ann, and Sarah Rose, and have one grandchild, Aiden Jacob. He is recently retired, after driving locally and over-the-road for over thirty years. Bob and Lori currently reside on their 35-acre farm in Plymouth, Wisconsin with their two daughters, Sophie and Sarah, and grandson, Aiden.
Matt “Mattie” Dosen / Inducted 2003
Matt “Mattie” Dosen
Matt Dosen began what would become a 34 year softball career in 1964 when he was 22 years old playing with a neighborhood team at Russell Square and Cal Parks. It might have been a neighborhood team, but it had a legendary sponsor - Alderman Ed Vrdolyak. 1967 brought a change to Dosen’s career when he met White Johnson and played with Butch McGuire’s at Lake Shore Park and Clarendon Park. He began a five-year run with ERV and manager John Kavanaugh in 1968, playing at Kennedy Park against the Bobcats, Sobies, Strikers, and Moore Business Forms in some memorable Sunday doubleheaders at Kennedy Park and in the Moday/Wednesday leagues at Ridge Park. Like many great players, Matt Dosen’s talent was quickly noticed and recruited by Eddie Zolna; neighborhood ties proved more important, however, and Dosen stayed with ERV and the Eastsiders. That year (1969) ERV and Matt Dosen won the Trumbull Park Labor Day Tournament. In the mid 1970’s, he played in the Windy City League first with Tom Bonen and later with Les Messinger. Dosen ended his softball days playing with his sons on the Snappers in 1996. One of Matt Dosen’s fondest softball memories is playing ball with his sons at age 53 in the Grant Park Tournament. He and the Snappers lost the first game but then went on to win six games in a row. Primarily a short center through most of his career but a player who also played shortstop and second base, Matt Dosen carried a career batting average and r.b.i and homerun totals that placed him as one of the best hitters of his 1964 - 1979 era. Batting second or third on most of his teams, Matt Dosen was well known for “setting the table” for the homerun hitters who followed him in the lineup. Matt Dosen and his wife, Patricia have three children, Matt, Marty, and Debbie and three grandsons. He works for the Chicago Port Authority.
Willie Frencl / Inducted 1998
Softball critics from the 60’s and 70’s claim that Willie Frencl, a clutch left-handed hitter and pitcher, was considered by to be the toughest single out from the left hand side of the plate during his era. His baseball and softball career began after graduating from Reavis High School in 1957 where he was selected as Outstanding Senior Athlete. Willie Frencl was signed by the Chicago White Sox as a pitcher and outfielder. He lasted in the minor leagues for two years before he was released. During that time he struck out 17 batters in a 7-inning game, 21 batters in a 9-inning game, and 12 batters in 4 innings of relief pitching. Frencl began his softball career with the Mice in the Normandy Park League. In 1959 they won the park championship where Frencl played against Eddie Zolna of the Bobcats. After that game Zolna convinced Frencl to play for the Bobcats, a partnership that spanned some 16 years and produced a plethora of titles and championships. In 1962 Frencl was the Batting Champion of the Daddy-O Daily League. He was selected to the ASA All American Team in 1970 where he also received the Slugger Award for total bases. Once again in 1972 he was picked to the ASA All American Team and was awarded honors as their top catcher. In 1976 Willie Frencl switched to the Amalgamonsters where his team won the Windy City League and took runner-up honors in the ASA Nationals. Frencl was also selected as Ist Team Catcher that year in the Windy City League with a batting average of .506. Willie Frencl retired from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District after 28 years. He resides in Chicago with his wife, Carol, where they live near their three children and their first grandchild.
Jim Fuller / Inducted 2005
Jim Fuller started a 43 year softball career in 1959 that would bring him successes that few players ever dream of: he would play with some of the most notable teams of his era, including the Dwarfs, Lyons 45s, and American Rivet, he would be a part of teams that would win numerous league championships, three ASA National Championships (1970, 1978, and 1979), and he would be selected as a first baseman to the 1970 ASA All - American Team. But despite having played with the “big boys” of softball, Jim remained loyal to such local teams as the Gurney Gaffers, the Stones, Fuller’s Pub, Stars, Wolves, and Shooters, teams that won numerous local championships during four decades of softball. In 1963, he helped the Dwarfs capture the B - League title at Chicago and Kedzie. Three years later, in 1967, the Dwarfs won the Andy Frain championship at Clarendon Park. He also was part of the championship of the traveling league at Clarendon, Kelly and James Parks, beating the Bobcats in a one run game. Jim Fuller was known as a long ball hitter who once hit five homeruns in one game. When outfielders caught on to his power, Jim became a line drive hitter. Mostly a first baseman with a unique style, he also played shortstop and third base. Besides his talent in softball, Jim Fuller was a part of the Schurz High School city championship team in 1962. He received a football scholarship and played two years at The University of Tennessee at Martin. He also won the 1967 heavyweight title in Golden Gloves competition. Jim and his wife, Suzie, have one child, Erik, and five grandchildren. He has three children from a first marriage - Tony, Tom, and daughter Teri. He owns Fuller’s Pub on Chicago’s North Side and coaches little league teams throughout the Chicago area.
Bobby “The Grip” Garippo / Inducted 1997
Bobby “The Grip” Garippo
A perfect nickname, for Bob because he owned one of the best pair of hands that ever played this game. Before gloves were used, he played as though he had mitts on both hands; spearing line drives righty or lefty. With Bob at third, smart pitchers would jump as far as they could toward the third base foul line to deliver an inside pitch to give Bob as much action as possible. In his mid-teens; he would be seen playing with the "Older Greats" such as. Lewa Yacilla, Moose Vamillo, and Missy Miceli, who recruited Bob for money games. He was also recruited by the New York Mets. With a lifetime batting average well over .600, clutch hitting was definitely his forte. If you check the record, he was usually second behind Jake Jacobi in batting average most seasons in league play; as a member of Stompers, Rouges and most of all Bobcats. In 1969 he was a nationals MVP and earned 3 All-American Honors as he played on 6 ASA championship teams. He averaged 150-200 games a year. Bob is married and has 2 children. His land development business and golf take up much of his time today He owes his success to his dad. He passed away in 2010.
Floyd Glover / Inducted 0
Floyd Glover's softball career started with the Indians and fellow Hall of Famer Henry Currie. His playing days took a turn for the worse, however, when he suffered a back injury while in the Marine Corps. That injury put an end to his days of playing competitive softball.
The injury didn’t put an end to his passion for the game, so he spent a lot of time in the early ‘60s watching games in the Daddy-O-Dailey League at Meyerling Park. That league showcased some of the great teams and great players of the time. In 1970 he was approached to serve as commissioner of the Chicago South Side League, a league that featured some of the best black teams of that era. He ran the league from 1971 to 1974.
In 1975 he switched to manager when he took the reins of the Senators, featuring Hall of Fame player Henry Currie, Rick Monday and “Hammering Hank” Kemp. That partnership stated some classic softball games between the Senators and the Flamingoes at Kelly Park. In 1975, he took the Senators to their first Nationals. They captured third place that year at Marshalltown, Iowa. In the ‘80’s and ‘90s he managed the Dating Game, Flash, the Bandits the Windy City Bombers, and a re-organized version of the Senators called the Senators Siege. In all of the years Floyd Glover managed, his teams never finished below third place in any of the leagues where they competed. He is retired from the insurance business. He and his wife, Doris, have four children and six grandchildren. They live on Chicago’s South Side.
Robert “Butch” Gordon / Inducted 2004
Robert “Butch” Gordon
At sixteen years of age, Robert “Butch” Gordon started his softball career at Sherman Park in an unusual way: he presented a phony birth certificate so he could play with the Calumet Council of the Knights of Columbus. He was later recruited by the Crusaders and played with them from 1958 to 1960. In 1961 he started a twelve year career with the Whips / Moaners at Chicago and Kedzie and Clarendon Park, helping them to championships at both parks. “Butch” Gordon played right field with Whips / Moaners. He was known for having an excellent arm and for being a long ball hitter. In 1973 he switched to the Sobies, playing with such great players as Jake and Willie Schmidt, Vic Kariolich, and Eddie “Champ” Surma. Robert Gordon and his wife, Karen, are both retired Chicago Police Officers living in Hometown. They have four sons - Michael, Mark, Joel, and Matthew and seven grandchildren.
Paul Guenther / Inducted 2008
Paul Guenther began his twenty-six year softball career in the early ‘60s playing in the park leagues of Berwyn and Cicero. Although he spent most of his career playing second base, he could play any infield position with skill. When he moved to the Sobies, he was a great asset because he could also play any outfield position. Paul was not the biggest or the strongest player, but he was blessed with excellent speed and sure hands, skills that any team would love to have. Besides his excellent defensive skills, he was also a great hitter who could drive in runs with singles and doubles. He helped the Sobies / American Rivets teams to two state titles, two Chicago Metro championships, three Chicago Park District titles, and the 1974 Windy City Chicago championship. They also won the Clarendon Park title five times, took four Andy Frain titles, and won three world championships. Paul and his wife, Bonnie, live in Las Vegas, Nevada with their daughter. 16
Buddy Haines / Inducted
Buddy started playing 16” softball in 1966 with Jeno’s Lounge before moving to Andy Ortolano’s Super Stars and then to the Dwarfs. He played second and third base with the Dwarfs and helped them win numerous tournament and league titles, helping them to a second place finish in the ASA Nationals and twice received ASA All-American honors. In 1975 he became director of softball operations at Grant Park and began running the largest 16” softball industrial league in the country. For two years he was Chicago Park District city-wide softball chairman and created the AH. He was director of the Grant Park Recreation Association Tournament of Champions for fifteen years.
Bob “Hober” Hobson / Inducted 2000
Bob “Hober” Hobson
A veteran of over 2,500 games, with a batting average near 700, Bob Hobson hit over 1,200 home runs in his distinguished career. Hobson began big time softball with the Spartans, playing with the likes of Jerry Witrey, Jerry Dowling and Jim Madden. They won 10 championships and twelve tournaments on the Southeast side. Hobson then went on to play on the first integrated team sponsored by Verve Records, in the Daddy O’Daily League. In the 1960’s, Hobson and other teammates formed Butch McGuires under the direction of the colorful Jack “Whitey” Johnson and Frank “Tuna” Winston. They won over twenty five tournaments and eight championships at some of the top parks of the era. Later in the 60’s, they formed the Frogs, and won two championships. Bob also played with the Bobcats, and had two World Series appearances in St. Louis. After that, he played for Aurelio’s Pizza, amassing more twelve championships and eight more tournaments to his record. Hobson attributes his success to the teamwork of his fellow ball players. In 2000, he resided in Oak Forest, Illinois with his wife, Judy. They have three children.
William “Sweet Billy” Holford / Inducted 2002
William “Sweet Billy” Holford
The year that "Sweet Billy" Holford began his 16" career in 1972 with the Strikers and the Kelleher brothers at Foster Park, they entered the Kelly Park league, where they were routinely beaten by most of the teams. With determination and pride however, they returned in 1973 and won a few more games. 1974 proved to be their year as they won the Windy City Championship with a season record of 140 - 30. Their championship string continued into 1975 when they won he Winston World Series. When the Strikers broke up in 1976, Holford joined the Bobcats, helping them to national championships in 1977 and '78. Of the many titles Holford was a part of, he remembers the 1980 title with Whips, because they entered the tournament as underdogs and had to beat some top teams to win that title. The Whips then went on to win national titles in 1981 and '83. Although he banged out over 550 homers in his career and was known as a gap hitter, Billy says that defense was his forte. A second baseman who also played short center or third (especially with the Whips) Holford was always counted on as a solid fielder because he remembered hitter tendencies and was often able to predict their hitting spots. William Holford is a retired diesel mechanic who lives in Mokena with his wife, Lynn. His current passion is rebuilding classic Chevy Chevelles.
Ben “The Thumper” Holt / Inducted 2001
Ben “The Thumper” Holt
Ben Holt is recognized by softball experts as one of the greatest power hitters of all time. A 347 foot homerun at Clarendon Park, and another, hit during the Hamms Homerun Hitting Contest at Comiskey Park, that eventually landed in the upper deck, are just two examples of his legendary hitting power. Holt originally played with the Big Banjo Bruins, and helped them achieve a 27 and 5 record during the regular season, hitting 513 (41 of 80) with seven homers and 46 RBI. A top defensive catcher, he received honors as a Windy City All-Star in 1976, and was a first team All-American with the 1977 World Champion Bobcats. Ben’s softball career spans three decades. In addition to the Bobcats and Bruins, his resume boasts such legendary teams as the Dwarfs, the Storm, Fire, Beetlebombs and American Rivet. When he wasn’t playing softball, Ben Holt was an Olympic power-lifter at Sayre Park. In 2001, Ben lived on Cicero, and had two children; Anita and Ben.
John Hornacek / Inducted 1999
Like thousands of others before him, John Hornacek began his 16" softball career at the age of 17 in the parks of Chicago. However, unlike most of those thousands, John went on to become one of the top first basement with one of the legendary teams in softball - the Sobies. John began his playing career with the Rocky Stars in 1955 at Kells Park. He then played for Triner’s Lounge from 1960 to 1965. In 1965 Triner’s became the Sobies from 1966 to 1971. In 1971 the Sobies became American Rivet. John’s outstanding fielding skills, combined with his clutch hitting, propelled the Sobies to 16" World Softball Championships in 1966, 1967, and 1968. John attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier from 1956 - 58. He transferred to Illinois State University where he played basketball and baseball. John taught at Marshall High School in Chicago from 1961 to 1963 as a physical education teacher and as an assistant basketball and baseball coach. John then moved to St. Joseph High School in Westchester as Dean of Students from 1963 to his retirement in 1998. John has referred high school basketball for the last 35 years. He worked the Illinois State Basketball Tournament in 1989, 90 and 91. In 1991 he officiated the championship game. John and his wife, Sue, have four sons - Jeff, Jay, Jim, and John. They are the proud grandparents of eight grandchildren.
Ken Izral / Inducted 2014
After graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1964, Ken Izral began playing sixteen-inch softball with the Impalas at Sherman Park. The team was an average team, but
it launched Ken into a
stellar softball career. The
next year he was recruited
by Cordsman Inn, the top team in that league. Besides Sherman Park, they started playing at Cornell Square and Bogan Park.
During his “days off” from Corsdman, Ken played for The Dog House, Scobies Aces, Monty’s Liquors, St. Albert the Great Knights of Columbus – Gold and Blue, and with many players from Madonna Knights of Columbus. Playing for these team exposed Ken to the world of “big time softball.” He was recruited by Hell’s Angels SAC and played for them at Clarendon Park and at Chicago Avenue and Kedzie, while continuing to play with his local teams. There were several seasons where he played more than 150 games.
In May of 1972 a friend from the South Side and a member of The Dog House recommended him as his replacement on a team playing in a Memorial Day tournament in Santa Clara, California. Bob Campbell (HOF) called him and told him to meet the team at O’Hare Airport. Ken showed up with spikes and bat in hand, met the members of the Bruins, boarded the plane and established Bruin history.
After the tournament, Ken played for the Bruins in weekend tournaments because of his commitments to other teams. He helped them to a fourth place finish
in the nationals, was named a 1st Team All-American at third base, and finished second in hitting. The next year he played full-time for the Bruins, although he still played for his local teams. He was named MVP of the California tournament and once again the Bruins qualified for nationals. They took third and Ken was named a 1st Team All- American at first base and finished third in hitting.
The following season the Bruins broke-up and Ken
and many other Bruin players moved to the Big Banjo (later to become the Big Banjo Bruins). They competed in many tournaments and ended their season with a
loss in the Metro Tournament. 1975 proved to be most successful for them. They competed at the highest levels at Kelly Park and James Park. They took fourth at the nationals and Ken received his third All-American honor as a first basemen. But that year he won the batting title to prove that the “third time is the charm.”
After nationals, the Big Banjo Bruins played in the World Series of Softball with the semi-finals and finals being played at Soldier Field. They played in the championship game but lost to the ERV Strikers. Ken was named as a 1st Team All-American at first base.
1976 saw big changes with the Big Banjo Bruins. Players were moved around and new players joined the team, so after much thought, Ken decided to retire from softball. He would not give back one game, but he’s sure his knees would disagree.
Ken coached AAU baseball from 1997 to 2000. He presently coaches varsity baseball at St. Edward High School in Elgin.
Ken and his wife, Kathleen, live in Elgin, Illinois. They have two children – Jaclyn and Christopher.
Joseph “Jake” Jakobi / Inducted 1996
Joseph “Jake” Jakobi
Jake is considered by many experts as the greatest hitter in modern times... and he worked at it. He was picked up as a swift defensive centerfielder by Ed Zolna and he batted the hard hitter 9th in the lineup. In the ‘64 Nationals he switched outfield positions at times with Willie Simpson to take advantage of his defensive skills. He then worked on getting hits between third and short and eventually perfected the art of “dump hitting” created by Bobbie Lamont. He won the batting in the 1976 Windy City League with an unbelievable .714 ba. This was no fluke, the right hander had a similar average in the Daddie O’Daylie League in the early 60’s. Jake played with the Bobcats, Dwarfs, Monsters, Whips, and others. Played in seven ASA National Finals and won six. He was MYP and batting champion of the 1970 ASA National Tournament. He is best remembered as a stoic short-center for Bobcat and Monster teams, leading off and setting the table for the big hitters. Has been a hitting coach on the 3 ASA National Champion Lettuce teams over the past few years. Also played 12” ball professionally and lead the league for most of the season with his funny looking swing to non-Chicagoans. Jake has 2 daughters. Born in 1943.
Billy “Sweet” Johnson / Inducted 1998
Billy “Sweet” Johnson
With the nickname of “Sweet” this right-handed hitter was considered to be the greatest all-around black softball player of all time. A right handed hitter who played most of his great years with the Flamingos, Johnson was a lightning fast 225 pound ball player with an arm like a rocket launcher but with a fine touch to turn an inning ending double-play. Johnson’s 16-inch career began at the age of 11 with the Princeton Pirates, the “farm team” of the Flamingos. He credits the Pirates and the Flamingos with getting him off the tough streets of Chicago’s Southside. In 1974 Johnson won the ASA National batting title and was selected to the Ist Team All-American team, hitting over .600 in Dalton, GA while leading his team to a third place finish. Johnson continued his dominance of Chicago softball when he was selected as the Windy City All-Star 2nd baseman, hitting .533, which was the fifth best average in the league. After a series of knee injuries caused by collisions with teammates in the outfield, Johnson switched from being a power hitter to being a more complete hitter who could “hit smart”, a talent gained from observing some of the top players in the top leagues of the city and suburbs. “Sweetman” Johnson graduated from DuSable High School and Wilson Junior College where he played football and basketball. Billy lives in Chicago.
Jack Johnson / Inducted 2001
Like many men his age, Jack "Whitey" Johnson's softball career began after a two year stint in the Army. Unlike many players, however, he started his softball career after playing with the Chicago White Sox in 1959, and with the old Washington Senators in 1960. A softball second baseman who also played third and first, Jack had a lifetime batting average near .700 and hit over a thousand home runs. His batting and fielding skills helped several teams win tournament, league and national titles. He helped Butch McGuires win 25 tournaments and 8 league championships at Ridge, Kelly and Clarendon Parks, and helped Aurelio's win 10 championships. He captured the 1967 National title with the Sobies, then won the next two National championships in 1968 and '69 with the Bobcats. Jack Johnson spent 33 years as a member of the Chicago Police Department, and is currently a member of the Cook County Sherriff Department. He lives in Tinley Park with his wife, Joanne. They have four children; George, David, Jack and Julie.
Warren “Holmes” Johnson / Inducted 2012
Warren “Holmes” Johnson
A fierce competitor, Warren Johnson always played to win. He was an inspiration to his teammates because of the way he played the game. He earned citywide respect for his play and was a major force on the teams he played for, but his loyalty dictated that he would always play with his friends. He would play for the Gas Company in an industrial league, drive to Portage Park for a second game, head over to Clarendon Park for another game, and end his night with a 9:30 game at James Park as a member of the Rollers. Warren and the Rollers won the City Championship at Clarendon Park and the North Shore Tournament, all on the same day. He also played for Murders Row, the Levee, and the Bobcats and won many city and state titles with them He was Co-MVP at the Lacrosse Wisconsin Tournament in 1984 and was a member of three National Championship teams - once with Sportstation, and twice with Licorice. On the bases, he could turn a single into a triple with his excellent speed. He won numerous park championships and tournaments while playing with Hall of Famers Willie Simpson, Al Cech, Tom "Eggs" Czarnik. He ended his playing days in 2002 as a member of the Licorice team that won the National Championship.
Ray Johnson / Inducted 2014
Raymond Johnson began his softball career with the Flamingoes in 1961 when he was fifteen. He played third base with them in the Daddy- O-Daylie League at Meyerling
Park, under the tutelage of John Wolf-Wilson. Besides finding great success in this league, the Flamingoes also finished in the top three in
the Sixteen-inch World Series in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1969.
The Flamingoes also played in the Industrial League as the Coca Cola Flamingoes. They won the league championship at Grant Park from 1966 to 1970.
Ray left the Flamingoes in 1970 to form the Senators in 1971. This team featured Hall of Fame players Jessie Mack, Henry Kemp, Riccardo Ligon (aka Rick Monday), Willie Kemp, and Henry Currie. They were coached by Hall of Fame manager Floyd Glover.
The Senators (sponsored by Alderman Wilson Frost) played in leagues at Kelly Park, Blue Island, Clarendon Park, Mount Prospect, and in the Windy City League. They battled such legendary teams as the Bobcats
and Eddie Zolna (HOF), the Sobies and Tony Reibel (HOF), and the Strikers and Mike Tallo (HOF). They were also known as the Kuppenheimer Senators. They won the Industrial Metro Tournament in 1975 and earned a trip to Marshalltown, Iowa.
The rivalry between the Flamingoes and the Senators was always a highly anticipated rivalry, drawing over a thousand fans. Ray left the Senators in 1983 to form the Bandits. In 1985 they won the Metro Tournament
and qualified for the World Series In Marshalltown, Iowa in 1985.
Ray played all infield positions as well as catcher. He was MVP of the Sunday Cocktail League
and the 75th and Jeffery League. He also was selected as the MVP of the Flamingoes, Senators, and Bandits.
Ray ended his playing career at the end of 1985 and began umpiring in 1986. In 2008 he was inducted into the NSA Hall of Fame as an umpire. He is currently on the Hall of Fame committee for the NSA and is an assignor for the Chicago Public Schools and USSSA / UIC.
Ray has been married twice. He has five children – Letitia, LaTonya, La Shawn, Andrew III, and Raymond II. He is a grandfather of fourteen and a great – great grandfather of ten. He retired from Met-Life Insurance after a thirty-five year career as Manager of the Financial Planning Division. He currently lives in Alsip, Illinois.
Lowell “Yogi” Junior / Inducted 2012
Lowell “Yogi” Junior
Lowell Junior played softball for sixty-one years. He grew up in the Altgeld Gardens and is one of the greatest baseball players to emerge from there. He began playing softball at Carver Park. His friend Maurice gave him the nickname "Yogi" because he said he reminded him of Yogi Berra of the Yankees. He played in the Tavern Leagues with sponsors like Louise's Lounge on 37th and Wentworth, Tiger Lounge, located east on 79th Street, and the Apartment Lounge. He played in the legendary Daddy O'Daylie Leagues on Chicago's South side. He played for the Chicagoans at Carver Park, the Flamingoes at Fuller Park, and the Iron Men at 37th and King Drive. He also played at Washington, Princeton, Tuley, Douglas, Cole, and Grant Parks. He was a Nat King Cole All-Star. The team was a compilation of such top Chicago softball players as Sweetwater Clifton (HOF), Dan Dumas (HOF), Bobby Blackstone (HOF), Charles Bell, Bill Reid, and Loyal Bratton. They played mostly night games at 72st and King Drive. Lowell played all positions and retired with a batting average over .400. He hit fifty homeruns and drove in 420 runs. He retired from the Chicago Housing Authority in 1992. Yogi and his wife, Semarian, have four children: Derrick, Keith, Steven, and Diane
Ken Kamradt / Inducted 2000
Ken Kamradt, a five time All-American at the National Tournament level, and twenty year veteran of the softball wars, epitomizes excellence in 16” softball. As a shortstop with the ERV Strikers, Kamradt helped them win the 1974 ASA National Championship and the 1975 World Series of Softball at Soldier Field. In 1976 he switched to the Bobcats and was instrumental in their regular season 26 and 6 record, as well as their National Championship. A clutch hitter, Kamradt’s trademark move at shortstop was to go deep into the hole and fire a strike to nip an opponent as he crossed first base. All totaled, he has been involved in winning five 16” National Championships. In addition to his record in 16” softball, Ken Kamradt has also won a National title in 12” softball in 1991, four 12” All-American honors, and a 12” Golden Glove Award in 1992. In 2000 Ken lived in Lockport, Illinois, enjoying his new passion; golf.
Jerry Kelleher / Inducted 1999
It seems that Jerry Kelleher's appearance on a team yields interesting results -they win championships. With the Strikers he won championships at Ridge, Foster, Kennedy, and Ashburn Parks. The Blazers won the championship at Curie. 1981 was a particularly good year as Kelleher played on two National championship teams - with the Bobcats in winning the 1981 USSSA National Championship and with the Whips in winning the 1981 ASA Nationals. In 1986 Kelleher and the Ducks of Oaklawn took the ASA National Championship. Seven years after their title in 1981, the Whips continued their dominance of softball when they won both the ASA and USSSA Championships in 1988. Besides national championships, Kelleher's career includes numerous individual awards. In 1981 he was selected to the ASA and USSSA National All - Tournament Team where he was also selected as the Most Valuable Player of those tournaments. He received similar honors at the 1981 Mt. Greenwood All - Star Game and in the 14th Ward Tournament. 1988 saw Kelleher capturing Most Valuable Defensive Player honors at the 1988 USSSA Nationals. Jerry Kelleher's career found him playing most positions of the infield, but his main position was at shortstop where he was known as one of the top defensive players in the 1970s and 80s. Kelleher also demonstrated his offensive prowess with a .550 lifetime batting average that made him one of the top r.b.i. men of his era. Jerry and his wife, Maria, have three children. He passed away in 2010.
Henry “Hammering Hank” Kemp / Inducted 2000
Henry “Hammering Hank” Kemp
Sorry, correcting the work
Willie “Wicked Willie Pool” Kemp / Inducted 2010
Willie “Wicked Willie Pool” Kemp
Willie Kemp aka Wicked Willie Pool, was born in Marigold, Mississippi and raised on Chicago's South side. He attended both elementary and high school at Francis Parker where he excelled in football, basketball, wrestling, and softball. After graduation in the early 1960s, he attended Wilson Junior College and Chicago Teacher's College South (now Chicago State). Wicked Willie Pool started his softball career while in elementary school with neighborhood teams, beginning with the Uncle Austee Stars during the late-1950s and early-1960s. Wicked Willie Pool was still a member of this team when it became known as the 151 Stars, the 203 Stars of 69th Street, and eventually became the legendary Kuppenheimer Senators in the late '60s and early '70s. Wicked Willie Pool was the captain of the Senators from its beginning to its end at the turn of the century. The Senators were the third team to be honored by the Hall of Fame. Wicked Willie Pool played all positions, especially shortstop and first base. He carried a batting average between .800 and .850 and hit so many homeruns that it is difficult to count them. He played next to his brother, Henry "Hammering Hank" Kemp (HOF) for nearly four decades. He also played behind Henry "Hawk" Curry (HOF), who threw to Rick "Rick Monday" Lagone (HOF), while being backed up by Jesse "Mee-Sack" Mack (HOF) and was managed by Floyd Glover (HOF). Wicked Willie Pool also played along side his other brothers, Fred Kemp, Richard Kemp, Roland Kemp, and the late David Kemp. During his playing days, Wicked Willie Pool was one of the most feared hitters in several leagues. He has played against such Hall of Famers as Tony Reibel, Al Maag, Jake Jacobi, Willie Simpson, Ed Zolna, Mike Tallo, and Ed Surma. He also played against Hall of Fame players Gene Mathis, Sweet Willie Johnson, Bobby Blackstone, Donnie Gardner, Austin "Spider" Ware and a host of other top-flight black ball players. Wicked Willie Pool played in leagues and parks all over the Chicago land area. He played at Hart Stadium, Avalon Park, Mount Prospect, Washington Park, and Kelly Park. He played in the Windy City League, the Cocktail League, the Daddy O Daylie League, and the 75th and Jeffrey Softball League. Wicked Willie Pool was named MVP of the South side Cocktail League and the Washington Park Softball Tournaments several times. He also was the MVP of the Avalon Park and 75th and Jeffrey Leagues. He won honorable mention in the 1968 nationals. In 1966 at Clarendon Park, The Kuppenheimer-Senators were the first black team to play in the Nationals. They then made the Nationals in 1968 through 1975, and again in 1983, and 1985. He was selected All-State, All-Tournament, and All-American at Washington Park and was selected an All-Tournament player at Blue Island several times. Additionally, he was an All-Star selection at 75th and Jeffrey, at Windy City, at Hart Stadium, and at Kelly Park. He was also named honorable mention at Kelly. Wicked Willie Pool played softball for five decades from the late-1950s until his retirement in 2006. His team, the Senators, won every championship on the South side of Chicago for ten years in a row. He possessed extraordinary softball skills and always displayed an unwavering high caliber of play. Whenever the game was on the line, Wicked Willie Pool was always unshakeable. Wicked Willie Pool and his wife of thirty-five years, Lucinda, have five children - Kirstie, Karlos, Olivia, Esaw, and Eric. Another son, Kevis, is deceased. They live in Calumet Park, Illinois.
Richard “Chopper” Knorowski / Inducted 2011
Richard “Chopper” Knorowski
Rich "Chopper" Knorowski began his thirty-five year softball career at St. Pascals where he played second base for his grade school CYO team. He continued playing softball during high school. In 1963 he formed the Chantels and played third base. They competed in the Shabona Park League for three seasons from 1963 to 1965. In 1966, Rich and some friends, including Bob Dinkelman (HOF) formed the 69ers. They were managed by Roy Kindt (HOF) and won the Shabona Park League. They also played in Clarendon Park's "B" League and played at Kosciusko Park. His softball career was put on hold in 1967 when he was called to serve his country. He is a Vietnam veteran and is a recipient of the Purple Heart and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Bravery. He was honorably discharged in 1969. Back from the service, the 69ers merged with the Active Screw to form the Lyons 45s. His playing career changed when he was asked to pitch. The 45s competed at Clarendon Park (A League), at Portage Park and at James Park in Evanston. Rich's pitching and great defense helped the 45s win the Portage Park League six of seven years. They played for the championship at James Park and were successful at Clarendon. They were a mainstay in the Andy Frain Tournaments and the City Metro Tournaments, taking second place in 1977. They also won the Elk Grove Village Tournament in 1976. Along with John Straley (HOF) and Greg Burzynski (HOF), they won the Racine, Wisconsin Tournament from 1973 to 1977. Rich then played for the American Rivet Sobies in 1979, the Playboys in 1980, the Jerry Levatino Stones in 1981 and 1982. In 1983, Rich and Bob Dinkelman formed the Bally 45s (later the Bud 45s). Rich pitched and managed this team. They played in the inaugural season at Mt. Prospect and competed at Portage Park. With Rich as the principal pitcher, the 45s won a division title at Mt. Prospect, won the Chicago Metro title, placed fourth in the USSSA Nationals, and won the Ed Kelly Tournament at River Park in Chicago. He also pitched for ten years and won many championships with Second City, a team that played at Hiawatha and Oriole Parks. Over his career, he was a consistent hitter and a tough defensive player. He won seventy-percent of the games he pitched. In 2009, Chopper felt the competitive juices flowing when he went to watch the Elk Grove Village 50-and-Older League. He joined the league and continues to play Monday nights from late April to September. His team, Code Blue, went 18-0 to win the championship in 2011. Rich retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2002 after thirty-two years of service. He and his wife, Susan, live in Bloomingdale, Illinois. They have three children – Julie, Michael, and Amy.
“Kro” Krolicki / Inducted 2009
Mike Krolicki started playing 16-inch softball with the Vanguards at Kelly Park after he quit playing hardball when he was fifteen. After they disbanded, he joined the Marauders, and helped them win the Lawndale Park title twice. Because of their success, they played in the Chicago Park District City Tournament where they faced the Bobcats. They lost to them then, but later Mike would help the Bobcats win numerous titles in 1976. They won the city and ASA sponsored state tournament and the ASA national tournament. Mike was selected to the ASA All-Tournament Team. Additionally, they won thirteen of fourteen Winston Tournaments and the Forest Park Tournament. That year Mike also won the home run hitting contest at Comiskey Park. He hit seven of ten balls into the stands from second base. He got to meet Bill Veeck and was given a tryout with the White Sox. He also played with the Nocturnes, Frogs, Stompers, and Impalas. In 1985 he helped the Stompers win the USSSA championship and was selected to the USSSA All-Tournament Team. Mike played third base and short center and was well known as a versatile hitter who could pull the ball for a home run or hit a line drive into the gap. Besides 16-inch softball, Mike also played 12-inch pro ball. He played for Milt Pappas, Joe Pepitone and “Jungle” Jim Rivera. In 1980 he was an all-star with the Chicago CNA. He is a Chicago firefighter and lives on Chicago’s Southwest side.
Jim “Jimbo” Lang, Jr. / Inducted 2012
Jim “Jimbo” Lang, Jr.
Jim Lang, Jr. played softball for twenty-one years, the majority of the time with the Whips. They played at Lou Boudreau Stadium in Harvey and at Kelly Park, Centennial Park (Blue Island), Bedford Park, and Komensky Park, to name just a few. Jim played right field and was an extra hitter. He had a career batting average over .550 and hit twenty-five homeruns and drove in five hundred runs. He batted leadoff or second on one of the most potent offensive teams ever. He had a great on-base percentage and was known as a clutch hitter. In the late '70s, Chicago Softball Magazine voted him (and Jack Kelly) as two of the up-and-coming young players in the Chicago land area. Jim and the Whips won seven ASA National titles, five USSSSA titles, and five Forest Park "No Glove" championships. In 1983 he was voted MVP of the "No Glove Nationals" in Harvey. He also was selected seven times as an ASA Second Team All-American and won ASA First Team All-American honors once. Jim lives in Tinley Park, Illinois. He has a daughter, Jacqueline Winkiel.
Frank “Frankie” Lentine / Inducted 1999
Frank “Frankie” Lentine
With a softball career spanning 27 years, Frank Lentine has played for such legendary teams as Cherry Lounge, the Jokers, Rogues, and the Bobcats. Although he played all outfield positions, Frank’s favorite position was left field. With a .600 plus batting average, Frank was known as a contact single hitter with exceptional base running skills. His outfield and batting skills earned him most valuable player honors in regional tournaments from 1963 to 1968. Frank was named five times to the All American National Tournament from 1969 to 1974. In 1972 he was named M.V.P. at the ASA National Tournament in St. Louis. In addition, he was selected to the All State Tournament team from 1970 - 1972. He has played in every regional ASA Metro tournament from 1960 to 1984. Frank Lentine’s crowning achievement must be winning the National Championship five times from 1969 to 1973 while with the Bobcats and once with the Rogues. Lentine continues to work part - time for the Chicago Park District. He also has coached baseball, softball, touch football, and basketball. Frank also competed in three National Tournaments in Senior Softball in the age 50 - 55 age bracket. Frank and his wife, Jeanne, have eight children. He lives on the Northside of Chicago.
Lou Lusignan / Inducted 2003
During Lou Lusignan’s thirty year softball career, he played on teams that amassed twenty plus league championships, six metro titles, three state titles, and a national championship with Dr. Carlucci’s Bobcats in 1969. He began his playing days in 1957 with Ryan’s Jungle, playing at Clarendon and Wells Parks. From 1959 to his retirement in the late 1980s, Lou Lusignan played with S& N Jewelers, Active Screw, Lyon’s 45s, the Bobcats, Jesters, and the J-Birds in city and suburban leagues where he earned several league most valuable player honors. He even had a brief stint in the Daddy O Daley League as a power hitter. At nearly 6”- 4” tall, Lusignan, gave many infielders pause to think about their best defense. A line drive hitter who carried a career batting average over .600 Lou Lusignan (affectionately known as “Big Lou”), was also known for hitting clutch homeruns in some big games. He most fondly remembers beating the Sobies (and former Ryan’s Jungle teammate, Tony Reibel) for the World Title in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. His 6”-4” frame also made him one of the top first basemen of his era. Lou and his wife, Mary, have three children, Terri, Louie, and Joe and four grandchildren. He is an electrician living in Park Ridge.
Jim Martin / Inducted 2016
Jim Martin grew up on the North side of Chicago in the Hamlin Park neighborhood where he was introduced into the realm of sports by Chicago Park District icons Harold Joe Gaffney, aka “The Count,” DePaul University’s only All-American football player, and Carl Newey. Jim attended Carl Schurz High School where he played basketball and St. Benedict’s High School where he played basketball and baseball. He is a member of that school’s Hall of Fame. Jim attended DePaul University on a basketball scholarship where he played for Chicago icon and legendary coach Ray Meyer.
In the mid-sixties, he began his sixteen-inch softball career with the Levatino’s Stones in the eighteen – and - under league at Clarendon Park as an outfielder - a position he played throughout his entire career, Over the next few years, Jim played with the Stones in men’s leagues at Hamlin, Wells, Portage and Clarendon Parks and won various championships. At the end of college, Jim began playing with Herman’s Liquors Circus in the leagues at Welles Park and the Clarendon “A” league where he won multiple championships.
In 1975, he was a founding member of Kelly’s Dog Bite softball team (Hall of Fame honoree in 2011) playing weekends at Lake Shore Park. In 1977, Eddie Zolna invited Jim to join the perennial World Champion Bobcats. That team won the Winston World Series in Bridgeview and the 1977 ASA National Tournament. In 1978, the Bobcats won multiple league and tournament championships, culminating with the 1978 ASA National Championship. In 1979, Jim became a member of the Monsters Softball team led by manager Dan Cocco. The 1979 Monsters were the Kelly and Clarendon Park A League Champions, Chicago Park District city champions and the Illinois State Champions. That team also won the prestigious Andy Frain Tournament at Clarendon Park. The Monsters were runners up in the 1979 ASA National Tournament where Jim led the tournament in runs batted in and received 1st
Team All-American honors. In 1980, the Monsters again won multiple championships including Kelly Park, Clarendon Park and the Illinois State championship. Once again, the Monsters were runners up in the 1980 ASA National Tournament where he received 2nd Team All-American honors.
In 1981, Jim was a member of the Otto’s Team lead by HOF inductee Mike Tallo. Again, Jim helped the Otto’s team earn a spot in the 1981 ASA National Tournament. In 1982, Jim became a member of the Silver Streaks softball team, led by brothers Terry “Turk” Muller and Ron “Joker” Muller, and won various tournaments including the 1985 Evanston North Shore Tournament. In the late 80’s, he became a member and captain of the Jump softball team, led by manager Bernie Byrne. That team won championships at River and Brands Park. Jim continues to play softball in the 60- and - over league on the Shamrocks team in Elk Grove Village. They won the league championship in 2014.
Jim retired from the Chicago Board of Education public schools after a career that spanned forty years teaching at the elementary level. He currently is an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s School of Education where he works with student teachers. He lives in Lincoln Park with his wife of forty-five years, Joan.
Jesse Mack / Inducted 2008
After a sixteen-inch softball career that spanned four decades, Jesse “Mesack” Mack retired from softball in 2001. He was one of the most respected and one of the most feared leadoff hitters and outfielders in the game. With the game on the line, he was unshakable. It would be hard to find a better player at the plate for a clutch hit or in the field when the team needed a spectacular catch. Jesse began playing organized softball in 1963 with the Budlanders in the Tuley Park League. They won every championship in that league through 1968. In 1969 his excellent play was recognized when he was recruited to play right field for the Flamingoes in the national tournament in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He stayed with the Flamingoes in the 1970 season and then rejoined them in 1974 for the nationals in Dalton, Georgia. The Flamingoes took third place and Jesse earned All-American honors. In 1971 Jesse joined the Kemp brothers to form the Senators, one of the most powerful black softball teams of the era. During his 15 years with the Senators, he competed against the toughest teams at Washington, Hamilton, Rosenbloom, and Kelly Park leagues and in the Windy City League at Bridgeview. While with the Senators, he played in national tournaments at Waukegan (1971), at Racine, Wisconsin (1972), and at Marshalltown, Iowa (1975) and (1985). Because of his talent and high energy, he also played with the Flashes, Bandits, the Demons, the Dating Game, and the Windy City Bombers in various leagues and tournaments. His favorite league was the Sunday Southside Cocktail League where his teams won numerous championships and he won MVP honors. From 1979 to 1989 he was employed at Rush- Presbyterian St-Luke Medical Center and was a member of the hospital’s activity committee. He led and promoted softball, basketball, and bowling activities and was a player-manager on one of the softball teams that won the championship nearly every year in the hospital’s intramural league. After his retirement from softball, Jesse demonstrated his love of the game once again when he coached the Lady Sluggers in the Southside Post Office Ladies Softball League from 2004 to 2007. He led them to second place finishes in 2005 and 2006 and to the championship in 2004. He retired from the Miller Beer Chicago Brewing Company in 2007. He has five children (Angela, Ronald, Donald, Lynn, and Ricardo) and fifteen grandchildren.
Vito Maggerise / Inducted 2008
Vito Maggerise once almost threw his arm out while trying to throw a ball onto the roof of Ryerson School on Chicago’s Westside, just a few blocks from Kells Park where he started playing softball with the Rogues when he was twenty years old. It’s fortunate that his arm recovered because Vito went on to become one of the top first basemen of the 1964-1979 era. He played with the Rogues at major parks throughout Chicago for years, winning championships throughout the city and at Clarendon and Ridgewood. While playing with the Rogues in the championship game against the Bobcats in Evanston, his daughter, Jeana, yelled out that they needed a triple play to end the game. Right on cue, the next batter hit into a triple play, (line drive to second to short-center to first) with Vito doing his famous splits at first base to record the third out. During the mid-60s, he played with both the Rogues and the Stompers before making his move to major softball when he joined the Strikers in the 1970s. In 1974 the Strikers beat Danan’s Pub 4-3 to clinch the ASA title at Dalton, Georgia. During a semi-final game against Saxon’s Lounge, Vito hit a leadoff single and helped start a rally to eventually beat Saxon’s. After leaving the Strikers, he played with the Impalas at Norridge Park, wearing the number that reflected his age - forty-seven. Vito played first base throughout his career and was known as a top leadoff hitter, who could always be counted on to start a key rally. He was named MVP at Park Ridge in 1976. That year he was voted tournament MVP at Norridge when he carried a .533 average to beat the highly touted Hornets, as recorded by an article in the Suburban Sports edition of the Chicago Tribune. During Vito’s forty-five year softball career, teams he played on won more than thirty championships, including multiple titles at Amundsen and Kosciusko Parks, the Andy Frain title in 1966, and the ASA title in 1974. Vito retired from softball in 1983 and took up golf, opening up a whole new world of friends and competition. Besides playing softball, Vito also boxed when he was young and once won the Golden Dome title at Garfield Park. He was a crane operator and a member of Local 705. He and his wife, Barbara, have two children, Jeana and Frank and four grandchildren, Dominick, Alexa, Sasha, and Evan. His grandchildren continue Vito’s love of sports by being active in baseball, soccer, and cheerleading. Unfortunately, Vito passed away in May of 2008.
Hank “Hammer” Magiera / Inducted 2004
Hank “Hammer” Magiera
Wearing his trademark engineer’s cap as he chugged around the bases, Hank Magiera emerged as one of the most colorful players during his softball playing days. Hank Magiera demonstrated his athleticism when he lettered in four sports (baseball, football, track, and wrestling) at Schurz High School. He was selected as an All - State baseball player with a career batting average of .515. He then played baseball at Western Illinois University with former Cub pitcher Rick Reuschel. Hank entered the world of big time softball when Denny Hall asked him to join Murderer’s Row in 1971, playing right field and hitting leadoff (and once completing an unassisted triple play). They won numerous tournaments, including the Chicago Park District Championship, the Lyon’s 45 Tournament, and the 4th of July Tournament at Kelly Park. These championships earned them the honor of being written up in the first edition of Windy City Softball Magazine in February of 1974. Hank Magiera started playing nationally when he joined the Bobcats in 1975. He played right field and hit leadoff for them but switched to center field, a position he played until the end of his career. He remembers winning the State and City Championships in the same day. Although he was primarily a single hitter who would often stretch it into a double with his patented headfirst slide into second, Magiera once hit three homeruns in one inning during the 1977 World Championship Tournament. After the Cats lost early to the Sobies at the World, they battled back from the loser’s bracket to face the Sobies again. They had to win two games to clinch the championship. He led off both games with homeruns and the Cats took both games by large margins. For his efforts, Magiera was named an ASA All American that year, and he counts this victory as his most memorable softball experience. Throughout his career he was known as a player who could “makes things happen” on offense, the main requirement for a top leadoff man. During a tournament in Marshalltown, Iowa, he reached safely in all but one at bat, despite having a pulled hamstring. He once hit a ball so hard that he knocked the third baseman for the Strikers out cold. Defensively, his speed made him a sparkling defensive player who would often run through the outfield crowds at Kelly Park to hunt down a long fly ball. Hank Magiera and his wife, Nancy, live in Barrington with their children - Stacey, Lauren, Cassie, and Nick.
Michael “Reno” Mareno / Inducted 2002
Michael “Reno” Mareno
A veteran of the softball wars in parks on the North and Northwest sides, Mike Moreno began his 16" softball career as many great players before him did - on the school grounds of Chicago. He played with the legendary running back Jim Grabowski as a member of the Rascals at Rosedale Park and with the Playboys at Jefferson Park. In 1966 he joined with Active Screw at Clarendon and went full time with them in 1967, earning Most Valuable Player honors at the Andy Frain Tournament in 1968. Mareno made his big move to the majors in 1969 when he was recruited by Eddie Zolna to play with the Bobcats. During his tenure with the Bobcats, Mareno was a major contributor to eight ASA National titles from 1969 to 1979. In 1976 he was selected MVP at the Winston Firecracker AAA tournament and earned similar honors at the 1977 ASA Nationals at St. Louis, a memorable tournament because of the defensive plays he made to help secure the championship. A left fielder with a lifetime batting average over .500, Mareno prides himself on never having worn a glove during his career. Offensively, Mike was known as a slot hitter who recorded clutch singles and doubles as a member of the Bobcats. Mike has been retired from Commonwealth Edison for seven years and lives in DesPlaines with his children, Lauren, Anthony and Mikala.
Bill “Willie” Massuci / Inducted 2001
Bill “Willie” Massuci
Bill Massuci played during some of softball’s most competitive decades, with some of the best teams of the era. In the ‘60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, Bill played with top teams such as the Stompers, Rogues, Sobies and Otto’s. He earned a reputation as one of the best shortstops and short centers of his time, while posting a lifetime batting average over 660 and averaging 30 home runs a season. His hitting and defensive skills earned him tournament MVP titles at James Park, Rolling Meadows and Sayre. Bill was named to five major All Tournament Teams, including the Windy City Tournament, and the ASA Nationals in 1973, ‘77, ‘78 and 1983. Following the 1983 season, Bill Massuci retired from softball. In 2001, Bill lived in Wayne, Illinois with his wife, Rosanne and daughters Marissa and Alexandrea.
Ronnie “Mouse” Maurer / Inducted 2009
Ronnie “Mouse” Maurer
Ronnie “Mouse” Maurer started playing 16-inch softball after concluding other notable sports accomplishments. In 1961, he won All-City baseball honors while playing for Amundsen High School on Chicago’s North side. Later, as the only sophomore on the starting line-up, he captained the University of Illinois baseball team to the Big Ten championship in 1963. He also played a few years in the Cape Cod Baseball League on the East Coast. Once he started playing 16-inch softball, however, he quickly established himself as one of the top players of his era. Ron started playing for the Shooters at Clarendon Park in 1968. They quickly established themselves as a top team by winning the championship two years in a row.Besides the Clarendon title, they also won titles at Terminal Park in Skokie, at James Parkin Evanston, and at Mather Park in Chicago. They also won several tournaments on the South side, at Niles, and at Blue Island during Ron’s time with the team. As a left-handed hitter with exceptional speed, he piled up extra base hits, including numerous “speed” homeruns when he hit to the gap between the outfielders. He carried a batting average well over .600 each season. His speed and sure hands made him a top defensive player in left field. His speed allowed him to get a jump on the ball, demoralizing runners who thought they had a clean hit to left field. Those runners who tried to stretch a single into an extra-base hit found that his strong and accurate arm quickly dashed their hopes. His teammates rarely recall him making an error. In 1972 he joined the Bobcats and helped them win numerous local tournaments and a national title in St. Louis. He received all-tournament honors for his efforts. He moved to Los Angeles in 1977 and, surprisingly, found a four-team 16-inch league made up primarily of transplanted Chicagoans. He also played 12-inch ball before retiring from playing in 1993. Ron and his wife, Vicki, live in Canoga Park, California. They have three children - Gilly (Carter), Nikki (Jason), and Paige (Ryan). They also have four grandsons - Satya, Mason, Campbell, and Taj, and one due in May. A great beginning to an all-star team.
James “Mac” McArdle / Inducted 2006
James “Mac” McArdle
Growing up in Canaryville, Jim McCardle started out playing softball the way generations of kids in Chicago did - on the street corner using the sewers as bases and dodging cars while chasing a fly ball. When he and his friends got too big for the street corner (and started threatening the windows of their neighbors with their line drives) they moved to the local park, specifically Boyce Park at Root and Union (now named Taylor-Lauridsen Park). Jim played with Knights of Columbus for over a decade at Kelly Park, Clarendon and Ridge Parks. He was named to the all-star team in 1965 with Madonna Knights of Columbus. He then met Hall of Famer Les Messinger and played with Moore Business Forms for twelve years until his retirement from softball in 1976. Primarily a left fielder throughout his career, Jim was known for his quickness to the ball and a strong arm that was capable of challenging runners at every base. Offensively, he was a leadoff hitter whose ability to get on base consistently set the table for the hitters behind him. He worked for thirty-five years for Campbell-66 Freight Company. He and his wife, Marilyn, have three children, Jim Jr., Tom (deceased), and Dennis. They live in Bangor, Michigan.
Jim Mikuta / Inducted 2007
Jim Mikuta started playing softball at 37th and Albany in the Brighton Park neighborhood of Chicago. Like thousands of kids before him, he and his friends played “sewer to sewer” until they were too big for the street corner and moved to the schoolyards or the neighborhood parks. In Jim’s case he moved to gravel lots along at 38th Street during recess where he received valuable lessons on hitting from the nuns at St. Joseph and St. Anne’s Grammar Schools. He attended St. Rita High School until his family moved to the Midway Airport area in 1962 and Jim transferred to Gage Park High School. Because of this move, he spent a lot of time at Pasteur Park watching the older guys play. Once he got older, he and his friends started the Chancellors. They played at Pasteur and other neighborhood parks. Around 1964 - 65 they combined players with some former Whips players and created the Hustlers. It was a two-day tournament with the Hustlers at Trumbull Park that would change Jim’s softball fortunes. They were playing Red’s Tap (aka the Bobcats) in a 9:00 game on Sunday morning and many of the players for Red’s Tap were late in arriving, so the Hustlers were holding their own. Once the stragglers started arriving, the game turned from being a good game to being a great game. Although the Hustlers lost the game 7-6, Jim did especially well on the field and at bat, hitting two homers and a triple. After the game, Pete Monaco, the Hall of Fame manager, asked Jim if he wanted to play for the Cats. That was every playground rat’s dream, so he quickly said yes. However, before he started playing at Clarendon, he put in some practice time in a gravel lot by Gage Park to get used to the “juiced-up” ball used at Clarendon. With that it was softball five nights a week with double headers at Clarendon and Kelly Parks. They played in weekend tournaments, in classic money games, and on Sunday mornings at Lake Shore Park. Jim also played with Sgt Peppers and Butch McGuires in the Rush Street League. Unfortunately Jim’s first appearance in a national tournament with the Bobcats didn’t go as he planned. He and two other players were benched in favor of some ringers brought in for the tournament. The Bobcats lost to the Sobies 10- 0 and Jim’s loyalties quickly changed to the Sobies. He stayed with them a few more years before retiring from softball. 1968 was a life-changing year for Jim. He started his carpenter apprenticeship with Local 10 and met his future wife, Carole Mary. He has since worked as a building inspector for Chicago, was a union steward for the new Comiskey Park (has the first brick from the old park), worked for the Chicago Housing Authority for ten years, and is currently finishing his career as a carpenter for the CTA at the South shops. He and his wife, Carole Mary, have been married forty years and have three sons, Christopher, Adam, and James. Unfortunately, his youngest son and great sports enthusiast, Jim, passed away in 2005. Jim, Sr. dedicates his induction to his sons. He cherishes the memories of all the great games and all the friendships he made because of softball.
Jim Moore / Inducted 2003
Playing his peak years of softball from 1961 to 1987, Jim Moore ranks as one of the top players to emerge on some of the top teams of that era. He began his career in 1964 playing with the Knight Of Columbus and other local Southside teams. He made his jump to big time softball in 1965 playing with the Bobcats, Moore Business Forms, and Alsterda Construction, helping the Bocats to a Chicago Park District championship. 1968 found Jim Moore joining Sobies-American Rivet, a team he stayed with until 1984. With the Sobies, Jim Moore began to rack up championships and All-American honors. They captured titles and league championships in Berwyn and Cicero, at Clarendon, Kelly, and Forest Parks, and in the Andy Frain Tournament. Jim Moore was selected to the ASA All-American Team in St. Louis and in 1975 and 1976 at Hart Stadium. A jouneyman softball player who played very position, including pitcher, Moore was best known as one of the top outfielders of his time. He batted 2nd or 5th and became an accomplished gap hitter with a unique training aid - he placed a 55-gallon drum in left center and practiced hitting that from home plate. A printer for 42 years, Jim Moore has with Lake Book Manufacturing for ten years, and has been president of the printer’s bowling league for 35 years He and his wife, Diane have two children, Ron and Debra and three grandchildren. Besides being one of the top players of his time, Jim Moore also excelled by referring basketball at the high school and junior college levels. He enjoys bowling (carries a 200 plus average for the last twenty years) and is an avid deer and pheasant hunter. After graduating from Tilden Tech where he played basketball and baseball.
John “Wimpy” O’Connor / Inducted 2003
John “Wimpy” O’Connor
At 118 pounds, John O'Connor was never known as a power hitter, but his defensive skills spoke volumes during the 50's and 60's. He played football and basketball at St. Phillips's High School, quitting football after scoring a touchdown because the coach didn't play him enough. But football's loss was softball's gain when O'Connor was invited to play with Hall of Famer Moose Camillo's Cherry Lounge and later with Camillo and Phil's Lounge. O'Connor began as a short-stop, but with his great speed and soft hands, he was soon moved to center field. He helped Camillo win championships at Chicago and Kedzie and at Clarendon, beating the legendary Bobcats in the early 60's. Fortune took a turn when O'Connor and five other legendary players left Moose Camillo to play for Phil Rizzo and O'Boyle's. They captured the Clarendon championship with O'Boyle's before O'Connor decided to hang up his cleats to persue a possible career in golf at age 31. Golf didn't pan out for O'Connor, so he started with the City of Chicago as an electrician, a job he kept for 35 years. He and his wife, Ellen, have nine children and eighteen grandchildren. They live in Hoffman Estates.
Thomas “Tomo” O’Malley / Inducted 2006
Thomas “Tomo” O’Malley
Tom O’Malley is one of those rare players whose talent and longevity helped him reap the rewards of fifty-five years of playing softball. Perhaps his greatest achievement was winning the Kennedy Park championship at 59 in 2000 (his last year of playing) with his two sons, Mike and Tom. Tom grew up playing softball with the older guys (Hall of Famer Jerry Schmidt was one) in the neighborhood of St. Sabina’s Parish in Chicago. It was here that he formed the loyalty to the neighborhood teams that characterized many players of his era. Even though he played with some of the bigger named teams, he still remained loyal to the neighborhood, especially for money games. In fact, for twenty years, Tom O’Malley and Hall of Fame members Jerry Schmidt and Eddie Surma formed one of the best outfield combinations of their day. He started with Father Perez when he was eighteen and stayed with them for fifteen-plus years. He then played for such teams as Morgan Murphy (with Bill Bereckis and John Hornacek), Wilt Climate, the Hustlers, Butch Mc Guire’s, Freddies, the Right Ons, IGAs, Blarney Tap, the Whips, Jones Motors, Casto’s, Barret Boosters, Scotties, and People’s Choice. He played in nearly every league in every park and every tournament in Chicago and suburbs during his playing career. He played on at least one championship team every year, including the Kennedy Park championship mentioned above. One of his highlights was playing in the Daddy- O Dailey League when Sweetwater Clifton was at the end of his career. He was named one of two MVPs (along with Jerry Schmidt) when the 19th Ward All Stars defeated American Rivet and was a member of the All-State Knight of Columbus team in 12” softball. He also pitched IGAs to the Chicago Park District city championship. His commitment to teaching and coaching prevented him from participating in national tournaments. Tom O’Malley was known as a clutch hitter who normally hit second because of his ability to hit behind the runner. As he got older and wiser, he became the master of the “dump” ball behind third or second. Defensively he was known as a solid player whose great arm was a threat to base runners at every base. He and his wife of forty-one years, Carol, have three children, Tom, Mike, and Carrie, and twelve grandchildren. He currently coaches basketball at St. Xavier University. They live on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Ron “Big O” Olesiak / Inducted 1997
Ron “Big O” Olesiak
Ron played every field position with the highest degree of skill. He was an outstanding infielder, a swift outfielder, and punishing catcher. Ron batted right and threw right. He played with the Bobcats, Whips and Amalgamonsters where he was considered to be the top player in 16” softball during the 1970’s. His 100 home runs in one season stand as testimony to his offensive prowess. He was the Windy City Leagues MVP during its first year in 1976, where he recorded an impressive slugging percentage and stroked 18 home runs against the top teams of the year. Ron played on four championship teams and was a six time All -American in the ASA National tourneys. He was twice named MVP during these tournaments. In one game he hit 4 homers in a row over a 275” fence! He also played for the 12th pro team in Chicago, The Storm. Ron -currently demonstrates his athletic and decision making prowess as a referee in the NBA.
Eugene “Gino” Petramale / Inducted 2005
Eugene “Gino” Petramale
Like many Hall of Fame players who came before him, Gino Petramale started his softball career playing in the schoolyards and streets of Chicago. For Gino, these streets were Taylor and Roosevelt on Chicago’s West Side when he was in his early teens, but unlike many players, Gino also played a game that was foreign to most athletes of that era: he played soccer at Marshall High School and later went on to play with the 1954 United States World Cup Soccer Team in Mexico. In 1987 he was inducted into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame. His 42 year softball career took off when he was in his 20s and started playing with the Dugouts, a team he stayed with throughout his career. They played at all the major parks in Chicago, but like many great players, he also lent his talents to other teams. He played in the Father Jerry League from 1953 to 1956. While playing with Kool Vent Awnings at Thillens Stadium in 1963, he was noticed by Eddie Zolna who asked him to play for the Bobcats the next year. He started out doing part-time duty with them but eventually switched to full-time, staying with them until they split-up in 1975. He was a member of the Dr. Carlucci’s Bobcats team that won the ASA Nationals in the ‘70s. Gino played second base and center field and batted leadoff for most of his career. While he did hit a few homeruns, he was best known for his ability to get on base. His efforts and talent earned him a place on the Park Ridge Tournament All-Star team in 1963, and he was selected MVP of the Father Jerry League. He retired from Continental Can after 42 years of service. He and his wife, Pat, have one daughter, Maria Targonski, and three grandchildren. He also has one stepson, Jay, and two step granddaughters and one step great grandson.
Ray Prost / Inducted 2010
Ray Prost started playing 16-inch softball in 1953 at Riis Park on Chicago's Northwest side. Ray and his brother started a team called the Ball Busters that played in the Forest Park Tournament in 1960. Although he doesn't play there anymore, Ray still has a permanent place outside the right field fence for every No Gloves Tournament. Shortly afterward he started working at O'Hare Airport and managed a team in The O'Hare Softball League. Soon his best friend Willie Simpson (HOF) came to work there and joined Ray's team with others from the Bobcats. That year they won five championships, including the Las Vegas Airline Tournament in 1979, '80, and '81. In 1979, Ray began an association with Ed Zolna (HOF) when Ed asked him to help run the Old Style Bobcats in the first year of the Mt. Prospect Classic League. In 1982, the Cats won the last City of Chicago championship. It was played at Clarendon Park and was televised. Ray later supported many teams and helped start the North Stars and the Candlelight Shooters. He most remembers the years he played with the Levee Softball team from 1978 to 1997 and the boys of summer who came to play for Warren Johnson - Willie Simpson (HOF), Al Cech (HOF), Tom "Eggs" Czarnik (HOF), Rich Paul and the rest of the Levee team. May God bless them all. Ray and his wife, Renee, have been married for forty-eight years. They live in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. They have three married daughters and nine grandchildren. And now Ray spends all of his time trying to keep them happy.
John Ben Rossi / Inducted 2007
John Ben Rossi
John Rossi’s voyage to playing major softball in Chicago took a few detours along the way. After graduating from Mendel Catholic High School in 1955 (where he played football), he attended and played football for Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, Citrus Junior College in Azusa, California, and Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado. He was then drafted into the Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington where he played baseball for the fort team. After the army it was back to Chicago where he started playing softball. During his twenty-five year career, John Rossi played with some of the top teams and top players of his era: the South side Loafers with Les Messinger (HOF) as manager and with Jake and Willie Schmidt and Fred Woolfe (all Hall of Famers) as teammates and with Beetle Bomb and Ron Braash on the North side (HOF) with Hall of Fame teammates Wally Mader, Tony Reibel, and Zeke Crement. He competed at Clarendon Park with Beetle Bomb, at Kelly Park and Summit Park with the Loafers, at Kosciusko Park with the Loafers and Beetle Bomb and in the legendary Daddy O Daily League with the Loafers. He also played in parks all over Chicago for the Chicago Fire Department. Of all the great moments John had while playing softball, he most remembers beating the Bobcats at Trumbull Park in the late ‘50s and beating the Chicago Police Department at Thillen’s Stadium while he was playing with the Chicago Fire Department team. He is a retired bricklayer of forty-four years with Local 21 and a retired firefighter of thirtythree years with Local 2. He and his wife, Debbie, live in Homewood, Illinois. They have twin girls, Francesa and Michelina.
Bob Russ, Sr. / Inducted 2010
Bob Russ, Sr.
Bob Russ, Sr. started his softball career on the North side of Chicago at Hermosa, Mozart, and Blackhawk Parks with the Trolls and DE Rogues. He attended Lane Tech for two years and then transferred to Kelvyn Park. He was elected captain of the Kelvyn Park baseball team for the final two years and was selected to Chicago's All-City Baseball Team. He also played basketball and football at Kelvyn Park. Bob was drafted in the Army where he spent two years with the 4th Infantry Division. He returned form Vietnam with the rank of SPEC 5. He started playing serious softball when he joined the Olympics, a team playing at Kosciusko and Clarendon parks. He was then asked to play with the Lyons 54s, a powerhouse team in those days, featuring such great players as John Straley, Jim Fuller, Louie Zielinski, and Greg Burzynski, all Hall of Fame inductees. He also played with the Gaffers at Kosciusko. Bob was considered one of the toughest outs in softball. He did what all good hitters do - he got on base. He hit hard, spinning line drives at the feet of infielders, making them difficult to pick-up. He hit the gaps hard and when the outfielders came in to catch the dump hit, the ball would jump off to the side, allowing him to take an extra base with his good speed. He was a tough singles and doubles hitter with a lifetime batting average over .600. In the 1970s, he joined the Rogues. They played at Clarendon and Kelly parks in Chicago and James Park in Evanston. Many softball experts think the Evanston League was one of the toughest ever with the Bobcats, Sobies, Dwarfs, Murder's Row, Rogues and others competing. They beat the Bobcats for the championship on a triple-play in the last inning when Lou Zielinsky made a great play in short center, flipped the ball to Bobby Russ who then threw to Vito Maggerise (HOF) to complete the triple play. The crowd of one thousand spectators went crazy. The Rogues won championships throughout the city, including the Andy Frain Tournament and won multiple titles at Amundsen and Kosciusko parks. The Rogues featured Hall of Fame inductees, Vito Maggerise, Bill Massuci, Mike Mareno, Bob Garippo, Lou Zielinki, and Mike Tallo. Bob was MVP two times in the '70s with the Rogues before moving to Otto's in the '80s. Bob played second base and catcher for Otto's. He was surrounded with great players on the team, again all Hall of Fame inductees: Mike Tallo, Rich Urbanski, Bill Massuci, Jim Krause, Paul Brezinski, and Tim Decker. In the '80s Bob also played with the Pirates of Broadview and also with the Stooges, led by Pat Caputo (HOF) and Michael and Jimmy Spidale of the Stooges. He finished his playing days with the Bally team and a work team in the suburbs. Bob went on to manage and coach some great teams in the '90s through the new millennium, including Primetime, Lettuce, Licorice, Sage, Maxim, Flash, and Jinx, five-time national champions. Bob lives in Carol Stream with his wife, Terry. He has three sons, Bobby Jr., Randy, and Mark and two stepsons, Brian and Keith. They have eight grandchildren and a chocolate lab named Toby.
Jerry Schmitt / Inducted 1999
Jerry Schmitt was a standout at Leo High School (1958) in track and in basketball where he was named Catholic League All Star in 1957 and 1958. He also played baseball with Elks Lodge 1596 in the Connie Mack League because Leo did not have a baseball team. Softball became a lifestyle for Jerry for over four decades as he would often play 15 to 20 games each week. With a reputation as a swift outfielder with tremendous power, Jerry began his softball career in the 50s at Sabina Field. He played with Father Perez Knights of Columbus #1444 for 1960 to 1984. During that time they captured Knights of Columbus State Championships in 1962, 63, and 64. Jerry was named MVP of the Southwest Cook County All Star game in 1963 and 1964. Jerry then played with the Whips, Bidwell, Jones Motors, and Will Climate. In 1964 he played with the Bobcats as they won the first ever World Series of Softball championship. Jerry remained with the Bobcats until 1970 when he switched to the American Rivet Sobies. This change proved fruitful when the Sobies won the World Series of Softball championship in 1974. Besides playing softball, Jerry also crafted a career on the other side of the plate when he began to umpire. He officiated for ten years at Ridge, Kennedy, Graver, and Mt. Greenwood Parks. Jerry has kept in touch with many of his former teammates and rivals by organizing the Old Timers Softball annual night held each year in May. For the past 13 years, close to 300 former softball greats gather to discuss the game they love and played so well.
Robert “Jake” Schmitz / Inducted 2000
Robert “Jake” Schmitz
A graduate of St. Rita high school, Joseph “Jake” Schmitz began his softball career at the age of thirteen with the Vipers at Ogden Park and at Byrne Field. He moved to the Blie Hawks in 1953 to ‘54, before he settled into a twelve year stint with the Whips Moaners Club. A short stop who was a fierce and daring base runner, Schmitz has been called one of the finest fielding shortstops in the history of the game. During his career, which many considered the heyday of softball, Jake lead the Whips and the Loafers in the powerful leagues at Clarendon and Kelly Parks. Schmitz led his teams in batting average for his last eight years in the game. Schmitz finished his career with Moore Business Forms, from 1968 to 1976. Throughout his career Jake was known and respected for his aggressive, hard nosed style of play that neither asked for nor gave any quarter. In addition to his superb softball skills, Jake Schmitz also shined on the basketball court at St. Rita. In 1954 his team won the Catholic Light Weight Basketball Championship. He was selected to the All Catholic Team by the Chicago Tribune. Jake had a distinguished career with Continental Can before retiring in 1989. In 2000 he resided in Evergreen Park, Illinois.
William “Willy” Schmitz / Inducted 2002
William “Willy” Schmitz
Who would have believed that a high school kid who once beat legendary professional bowler Carmen Salvino, would someday become one of the top 16" softball players of his time? The stage was set for this to happen when "Willy" Schmitz began his softball career with the Earle School Midgets at ten years of age. He then moved to play with the Vipers in eighth grade, and with the Panthers after high school. Fortune smiled on Schmitz when he was recruited to play on the Whips/Moaners Club at Clarendon, Kel's and Kelly Parks. Their 6-1 victory over the Bobcats that year gave them the confidence to succeed in the premier leagues around Chicago. After his stint with the Whips/Moaners, Schmitz played first base with Moore's Loafers from 1968 to '78, winning the City Championship in 1970, and competing against such softball legends as Tony Reibel and the Berekis and Abatacola brothers. Willy then played with Shoos in the Industrial League in Burbank in the '80's. He ended his career with Eddie Zolna in '89 at Kennedy Park. Primarily a first baseman, Schmitz also played third base. With a career batting average over .600, Willy was known as a singles and doubles clutch hitter who could always be counted on for the big hit. Willy Schmtz is a retired toolmaker and lives in Evergreen Park.
Willie “Steamer” Simpson / Inducted 1996
Willie “Steamer” Simpson
Considered by many softball authorities as the greatest “clutch” hitter and toughest competitors in Chicago softball, he could go long or dump. He batted and threw right handed and played basically outfield or catcher. He spent most of his career with the Bobcats and whenever Eddie Zolna showed up at a money game it was sure that Willie wasn’t too far away. Six times he was the All-American catcher and twice the MYP of the ASA National Tournament. Played on every tournament championship you can imagine including St. Albert the Greats CYO teams and especially eleven ASA National Championships with the Bobcats and Whips. He even played with the professional 12” softball team in Chicago in the late 70’s and was one of the league’s top hitters. His enthusiastic whistling and cheerleading while playing in all the top leagues in Chicago for the 60-70s made him a crowd favorite. The Oak Lawn resident is still active as a very effective pinch hitter and coach for the North Stars. Once showed up in tuxedo from a wedding to get the winning hit. He and Laura have 3 children. Born 1946.
Clyde Stary / Inducted 1999
A veteran of the Korean War where he was awarded the Korean Service Medal with three Battle Stars, the U.N. Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Republic of Korea Unit Presidential Citation, Clyde Stary returned to the States to take part in the softball wars of Chicago. During these softball wars, Starry, an All Star shortstop and short center, and the Bobcats won Chicago Metropolitan Championships in 1967, 68, and 69. They were City of Chicago Softball Champions in 1966, 67, and 68. They placed second in the ASA National Championships in 1966, 67, and 68 and won the ASA Nationals in 1964, 1965, and 1969. Starry and the Bobcats also won seven City Softball Championships, including consecutive years in ‘66, ‘67, and ‘68. They also won Chicago Metropolitan Championship during those years. Besides the Bobcats, Clyde Starry also played with Bud’s Tavern, Colonial Lounge, Triner’s (Tigers) Lounge, Rocky Stars, Shakey Jakes, Gravers, and Sportsman’s Lounge. A graduate of Farragut High School where he played baseball, basketball, and football, Clyde Starry was playing professional baseball when his career was interrupted by the Korean War. Clyde worked at General Motors for 21 years and for the Village of Downers Grove for 12 years, retiring in 1994. He and his wife, Mary have two children, Mike and April.
John Straley / Inducted 1998
With the nickname of Dr. Power, it’s no wonder that John Straley was known for his towering home runs. Yet he was also known as a punch hitter who followed Wee Willie Keeler’s adage “hit” em where they ain’t. Straley could drop a single or double in between outfielders who were pulled back out of respect for his power, or he could power one over the heads of a pulled in outfield. A native of the Northwest Side where he still resides, Straley played 16-inch softball for twenty years, most of those years with the Lyons 45’s, a team sponsored by 45th Ward Committeeman, Tommy Lyons. During these years he and the 45’s won their league championship eight times. In 1967 John joined and helped the Sobies claim the Championship during the World Tournament in St. Louis, The next year one of Straley’s favorite memories includes a stint with a team from Active Screw when they defeated the Sobees in 1968 for the Andy Frain Championship. John also played for the Sobies in one of the ASA championships. He remembers playing against such softball greats as Jake Jacobi of the Dwarfs, Willie Frencl of the Bobcats, Bill Bereckis of American Rivet, and the great Bobby Lamont of the “old” Bobcats. Perhaps Greg Brzynski, former manager of Lyons 45’s said it best when he spoke of Straley’s accomplishments, “ John is the heart of our team. Not only is he one of the finest hitters in the game, but he is also a great team player.” John Straley has worked for Colbert Packaging for thirty years. He is currently a computer tactical scheduler.
Anthony Struppa / Inducted 2005
Born in 1933, Tony Struppa played softball for fifteen years and later organized one of the best 16" leagues in Chicago. Tony earned All-City honors for baseball and football while playing at Gage Park High School. He played first base for the city team in the Herald- American Prep All - Star Classic in Comiskey Park. After playing football for Purdue University in 1951, he transferred to Witchita State where he became a five major letter winner in football and baseball. Tony Struppa’s softball career included a four - year stint with the Comets at Byrne Field (now Lindbloom Park) from 1958 to 1962. He then moved to the Whips Moaners club in 1963 at Harper High and Gage Park. Tony was an excellent first baseman who could field his position with the best players of his day. He was also known for his power and his ability to hit to all fields. Throughout his career Tony’s teammates included some of the best players of the day, including Hall of Famers Vic Kariolich, Jake and Willy Schmitz, Robert “Butch” Gordon, Eddie “Champ” Surma and Jerry Schmitt. Tony worked for the Chicago Park District for 39 years. While park supervisor at Clarendon, he ran some of the city’s premier leagues. He was later promoted to Director of Security and was nominated for the city’s Superior Public Service award. Tony met his wife of 40 years, Rosemary, at Gage Park High School. They have three children, Sharon, Mark, and Mary Kay. Tony Stuppa passed away in 1995.
Edward “Champ” Surma / Inducted 1996
Edward “Champ” Surma
“Champ” Surma began his five decade softball career with Ray Topolski on the Chicago- Wolves, playing at Sherman Park in the late 40’s and early 50’s. He also played with the Crusaders, one of the top Southside teams and in many round - robin tournaments on Sunday afternoons. The Korean War interrupted Surma’s softball career when he served with the Airborne’s 187th Regiment Combat Team from 1951 to 1954. While in Korea, Surma played on the regiment football and baseball teams. He competed for the Far East football championship against the First Marine Division in Tokyo. A long-time employee of American Can Company, Surma played for the company team in the Gage Park Industrial League during the 60’s and 70’s, winning many park championships and appearing in three finals in the Chicago Park District Industrial Tournaments in Grant Park. Besides playing for American Can Company, Ed Surma also played for the three time ASA National Champion Sobies from 1966 to 1968. He was named tournament MVP on the 1966 team, going 21 for 24. Besides the Sobies Surma also played for the Whips, Moaners, Sportsman’s Lounge, Silhouette Lounge, Father Perez KC’s, and Rand Bowl of Des Plaines. Surma’s successes continued in the 70’s when he played for the American Rivet’s, a team which won three Forest Park titles and the first World Series of Softball at Ray Hart Stadium in Blue Island. He also played with American Rivet teams that won many Andy Frain tournament titles. To add to his busy schedule, Surma also played with Dr. Carlucci’s Bobcats ASA Championship team in 1970. In a typical summer, Surma would play in 150 to 200 games, travelling from Harvey to DesPlaines, His career ended in the 80’s with Al’s Pals and the Frogs. Besides finding success on the diamond, Surma has also been featured in print and television features. Mike Conklin, Bill Gleason, Don DeBat and Mike Royko have written stories about “Champ” Surma. Tom Weigel featured “Champ” in a television special titled “Hooray for the Little Guys.” Surma and his wife Mary are the parents of two sons and two daughters and proud grandparents of eight.
Frank Szczech / Inducted 2004
Frank Szczech, one of the top leadoff players of his era, could do what all great hitters could do - he got on base. He was capable of driving the ball through the holes in the infield or over the heads of the infielders into the outfield gaps. His hitting and excellent speed made him a top singles and doubles hitter. With his excellent defensive play at shortstop, short center, and second base, Frank Szczech was a complete ballplayer. Frank was recruited by Gene Hrabek to play with the Bobcats in the Daddy-O-Daylie League in the early 60s. His softball career was interrupted from 1964 to 1966 when he served in the Army in Europe. Once he returned from Europe, he played with a variety of teams at parks throughout the West suburban area. 1970 proved to be a memorable year for Frank Szczech when the Bobcats went undefeated in the ASA Nationals to beat the Dwarfs for the national title. Frank was selected to the ASA All Tournament Team that year. In 1971 Frank Szczech and Bill Bereckis reformed the former Sobies team into the Sobies / American Rivet. During his career with Sobies / American Rivet, he was selected to the ASA National All Tournament Team in 1971, 1972, and 1973. Throughout his career, Frank Szczech was selected to six All Tournament Teams, and played on teams that won one ASA National title, four Andy Frain titles, three Forest Park championships, five Clarendon championships, one Windy City title, and numerous other championships in Chicago and around the suburbs. Frank Szczech lives in Cicero, Illinois.
Mike Tallo / Inducted 1996
Considered to be the greatest 16” softball pitcher since 1950. Today every pitcher tries to emulate the quiet thin man who threw right and backed up to play defense. Mike came to the 16” game late after playing minor league ball for the Giants. He quickly made an impact with the Strikers and revolutionized the role of the defensive pitcher in the modern game, when he changed the “drag step” to more of a “step-back” creating a six man infield. Led by his efforts they won 181 games in ‘74 and had only 12 losses! A great defensive player with an unpredictable pick-off move, also a fine hitter and great streak hitter who was 23 for 24 in the 1974 windy City World Series of Softball. He played on six ASA National Champions (ERV Strikers, Bobcats, Lettuce, and Whips) and four USSSA World title winners. He was part of 10 championship teams in the Forest Park Tourney including Otto’s, Mr. Lucky’s, Stompers and teams noted above. Named as the MYP in more than 70 different tournaments during his career including the Winston Softball World Series and 4 USSSA World events. Mike only pitched 2 no-hitters and they were back to back in the same tourney! Only a broken hand from a line drive has really kept him away from playing more often in recent years. He was a co-host on the Miller Softball Report radio show with Tim Maher. Born 1943.
Richard Urbanski, Jr. / Inducted 1997
Richard Urbanski, Jr.
Urbanski believes that life is as a challenge that one must attack with diligence and tenacity. This belief has certainly been proven in Urbanski’s softball career. Beginning with Gaffie’s Gaffers at Cornell Park at fifteen, Bruins and concluding with the Budweiser Whips in 1984. Richard has won three National Championships, three ASA National Championships, has been named to seven ASA All-American teams, and to two USSSA All-American teams. He has also received MVP honors in nine different softball leagues. Richard was a member of the following ASA National Champions: the 1978 Bobcats, the 1983-‘84 Budweiser Whips. He feels that the two best teams were the 78 Bobcats and the ‘83 Whips who finished with 113 wins and 8 losses. Throughout his softball career, Rich averaged 160 games per season at shortstop. He started his working career in private industry and is currently working at his greatest professional achievement - Bureau Associate for the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Richard attended St Rose of Lima Grammar School and St. Rita High School where he played varsity basketball. He and his wife Susan will celebrate their tenth anniversary this year.
Marshall “Rock” Waldo / Inducted 2011
Marshall “Rock” Waldo
Marshall Waldo began playing softball when he was eleven. He credits his mentor, the late school instructor / supervisor, Dick Lubera, for his success. Lubera spent hours on end teaching Marshall and other neighborhood kids the fundamental parts of the game. He played baseball at Amundsen / Mayfair Junior College and at the Navy Pier Campus of the University of Illinois. Marshall Waldo's career playing "major" softball began with the Jesters at Clarendon Park in the late 1960s. They were a sub-500 team but competed in a strong league that featured such legendary teams as the Bobcats, Sobies, Stompers, Lyons 45s, Dwarfs, Shooters, Murderer's Row, and the Gaffers. They disbanded after two years and Marshall then joined the Dwarfs. He stayed with them when they became the Amalgamonsters. Neither team won a world series title but did place second, third, and fourth thanks to the Bobcats and Strikers. They did win many tournaments and league championships at Clarendon and Kelly Parks, the top leagues on the North and South sides. While with the Dwarfs and Amalgamonsters, he played with numerous Hall of Fame players. On teams with that many power hitters and with his great speed, the left-handed hitter batted either leadoff or second. He could consistently hit between the shortstop and short center fielder and between the short center and second baseman. Fielders were rarely able to throw him out, and he often stretched singles into doubles. He was one of the better "on-base" hitters with an average close to .600. He made numerous all–star teams. Defensively, he played left and center fields. He retired from softball in 1979. He started playing racquetball in 1977 and soon became an accomplished player, winning numerous tournaments and many state, regional, and national titles. He was a nationally ranked player and was named Player of the Year by the Illinois Racquetball Association in 1989, the first male player in Illinois to receive that honor. He is in the Illinois Racquetball Hall of Fame. He has two children – Kimberly (Steve) Ruge and Bryan (Jennifer) Waldo and five grandsons: Dylan, Drew, Jackson, Jake, and Ryley. He lives on Chicago's North side.
Dennis “Punchy” Wallace / Inducted 2007
Dennis “Punchy” Wallace
Dennis Wallace’s softball career began when he was only four years old. His brother gave him a 16-inch softball and the rest is history. His natural talent was apparent early because whenever sides were picked, he was always one of the first players picked, even though he wasn’t always one of the bigger kids. He was selected because he was often the most consistent hitter and one of the best fielders because he learned a lot from the older players. When Dennis was nine years old he was noticed by David Wells and was asked to play baseball in the Ida B. Wells Little League. That year he never came to bat without getting a hit and was selected to the league all-star team for his efforts. But his fortunes were about to change when the team went to the Little World Series. Whenever Dennis came to bat during these games, he never got a hit. He would hit in practice but wouldn’t get a hit during the games. The team finished in third place. The next year he learned to play all outfield positions, he could pitch, and he could play first base. At thirteen he joined the Red Boys, a pony league team from Washington Park. His pitching prowess shined as he went on to throw twenty-five no hit games. The next year scouts from the Chicago Cubs came to watch him play. He was told that he would get a contract when he was seventeen. But that year he pitched too much and threw out his arm, so his chance at the majors was gone. With baseball out of the picture, Dennis tried to play softball with a neighborhood team but couldn’t compete due to his injured arm. At fifteen he made a successful return to softball when he and his friends formed the Junior Nobles out of Madden Park and began to dominate teams in cash games throughout the South side. One team that they beat had Cazzie Russell, the future NBA star, playing third base. He said that they had never played such a great team. At eighteen he joined the Chicagoans, a team playing out of the Altgeld Gardens. Unfortunately he went into another hitting slump but his defense kept him in the starting lineup. After he realized why he wasn’t hitting, he was able to hit to all fields and could hit with power. When he played with the Senators in the Windy City League and at top parks around Chicago, he was known as one of the best left-handed hitters of his time. He finished his career with the Flamingoes in the tavern league at 75th and Jeffrey. They took first place during the three years he played for them. He also played with the Challengers in the Post Office league on Sundays. They also captured first place every year he played with them. He was named the MVP of the Flamingoes in 1980. He and his wife, Sharron Perrie, have eight children (Dennis, Davin, Deaundee, Arylius, Justen, Romell, Lashonda, and Angellica). They live on Chicago’s South side. 6 4 - 7 9 E R A Dennis “Punchy” Wallace 22 C H
Robert “Sticks” Warnock / Inducted 2000
Robert “Sticks” Warnock
In the highly competitive and closely knit world of championship 16” softball, players destined for greatness are quickly noticed. This was the case with Bob Warnock when he began playing with the Crusaders. His talent was noticed, and he was soon playing with Ed Zolna’s Bobcats. It was a perfect match, and Warnock played with the Cats for thirteen years, as a major contributor to their string of championships and runner up finishes. With over a thousand home runs to his credit and a lifetime batting average over 650, Warnock was both admired and feared as a great power hitter who once hit three home runs in a single game at the ASA Nationals in St. Louis. His longest homerun was hit in Kal’s Park at Chicago and Kedzie. The ball came to rest at the base of the Roccola Building, having traveled a distance of nearly 350 feet. Since deceased.
Leonard West / Inducted 2001
Leonard West was an integral part of five championship teams as a pitcher, a third baseman or a first baseman. He helped win league titles at Kelly, Clarendon and James Park with the Strikers, and two championships at Kelly and Clarendon Parks with the Bobcats. He played with the Spartans at Bidwell Stadium and also with the Condors. West posted a lifetime batting average of 770 and hit more than 300 home runs in league and tournament competition. His excellent pitching record includes two no-hitters. In 1974 Leonard was named MVP of the ASA Nationals. In 2001, He and his wife, Mary Ellen lived in Palos Hills.
Fred Wolf / Inducted 2002
Fred Wolf began his softball career with the Sabers and Crusaders, before moving to Turner's Tap. Wolf helped Turner's win the Illinois State Championship with a victory over the Bobcats in the 1960's in DesPlaines. He then moved to the Loafers ( later Moore Business Forms ) where he helped win three Clarendon Park Championships and six Championships at Kelly Park. Over the same period, he played with Father Perez and won the Knights of Columbus State Championship four times. A veteran of all infield positions, Wolf was mainly a shortstop who ended his career with a .625 average. In addition to playing at Clarendon and Kelly Parks, Wolf and Moore Business Forms also won two championships in the legendary Daddy-O-Daley League at 77th and Southpark. To round out his championships, Wolf won three titles with Shoes and one with the Whips at Boudreau Park, and he was selected MVP in the Mt. Greenwood Tournament. Fred and his wife Donna have six children and twelve grandchildren. He worked as a glazier for 40 years with M.T.H. Industries and is now retired and living in Orland Park
Louis Zielinski / Inducted 2003
“It is an honor to be selected to the Hall of Fame with all the other great players.” After playing with the Cadets for five years, Louis Zielinski and the Cadets learned a hard truth about 16”softball . George Morse at Clarendon would not let them play in the Majors (A League) until they won the B League. So they did what any self-respecting softball team would do, they won the B League. From 1964 to 1966 Louis Zielinski played with the Cadets in the A League at Clarendon, Kosciusko, and Hamlin Parks. He switched to the Beetle Bomb’s in 1967 and to the Rogues in 1968 before joining the Dr. Carlucci Bobcats in 1969. Louis Zielinski was instrumental in leading the Carlucci Bobcats to the World Series title in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That same year he continued playing with the Rogues when they won championships at Kosciusko and James Parks and in the Alderman John Marshcin Tournament, a championship tournament for winners of other park tournaments. 1970 found the Bobcats and Zielinski capturing the World Series title at Waukegan. That year Zielinski joined the Lyon’s 45’s and helped them to the Portage Park title. During the next seven years, Louis Zielinski and the Bobcats won the Kelly Park championship (1975) and a World Series berth at Athens, Georgia. Playing with Lyon’s 45’s, he won four Portage Park titles and the championship at Clarendon Park in 1973. Known as one of the top short centers of his time because of his speed and sure hands, Louis Zielinski, playing with the Rogues, once started a triple play against the Bobcats that ended a late inning rally and clinched the James Park championship. Zielinski was a slot hitter who batted 4th or 5th on most of his teams. Louis Zielinski is a semi-retied printer with Burke Communications in Chicago. He and his wife, Brenda, have a daughter and two grandchildren. He and Brenda live in Niles, Illinois.
Hank Zitnik / Inducted 2001
Hank Zitnik began his 30 year 16” softball career in 1950 with Alpines in Harrison Park, helping them win that league five times. In 1957 he joined Kool Vent Awnings, one of the legendary teams of that or any other era. In 1959, he switched to Sports Bench, playing with them and other teams from1959 ro 1960. Hank also played with the Bobcats briefly in 1959 and 1960, then joined the Sobies in a long string of championships from 1967 to 1977. He also helped them win the 1967 and 1968 ASA National titles, four Andy Frain championships, five Clarendon Park championships, and were two time Illinois Champions. With a 550 batting average in the Major leagues, Hank was known as a clutch hitter who drove in runs with doubles and singles, rather that homers. On defense, he was a third baseman who also played outfield and shortstop. His excellent thrird base skills earned him a spot on the 1971 Major All-American Team. Hank Zitnik retired from softball in1980. In 2001, he and his wife, Arlene lived in Berwyn. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Eddie Zolna / Inducted 1996
The only Chicago softball player ever inducted in the ASA Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, his Bobcat teams won 12 ASA National Titles including the very first ASA National Championship in 1964. In total Zolna played and directed teams to more wins and tournament victories in the history of the sport including several World Championships through the Windy City World Series of Softball and USSSA venues. He has pitched in more than 5,000 softball games during his 6 decade softball career. His legendary Bobcats teams of the 1960s and 70s were one of the most dominating teams during the era. “Eddie Z” as he is known began playing organized softball in 1947 on a major level. Batted left and threw right. At 19 years of age he played in the fabled Windy City League for Rush Liquors. He also played for the Weinberg Studebakers in the equally recognized Northtown League. He played for the fine St. Albert the Great CYO and Jimmy Rose teams in the 50’s. His first Bobcat team began playing locally in the early in the 50’s and the powerhouse really got untracked in the late 50’s as they won 8 city softball titles. He was a three time MVP and six time All-American pitcher in the ASA Nationals. His team won the first National Tourney in 1964 over the Kenneth Allen team at Northtown Stadium. Ed is very proud of his ‘76 team that lost their 1st tourney and went on to win 18 out of 19 for the year. Zolna was one of the first players to use a glove in ‘71 when rule changes were made to allow more teams from out of state to play. He also ran the Chicago entry with Joe Pepitone in the pro 12” League that came in 2nd. Since his playing and managing days Ed has been fortunate to be a coach on 6 ASA National crowned teams with the Whips and Lettuce. He still enjoys playing and coaching with the ‘96 ASA National Champion Lettuce. In 1989 Ed was inducted in the Illinois Softball Hall of Fame as the first 16 inch player so honored. He was also inducted into the Amateur Softball Association’s Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK in 1989 as the only 16 inch player in the nationally acclaimed institution. He authored a book on softball in 1980 with the celebrated Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Conklin, “Mastering Softball” by Wintrop Publishing. Since 1986, he has also written a weekly softball column for the Daily Southtown newspaper, as well as numerous other articles and stories on softball in Chicago. He was a color TV commentator for the 1977 Windy City World Series of Softball on NBC TV. He was a frequent contributor to the Windy City Softball’s radio talk show in the 1970s. Born 1929 in Chicago. Also a superb bowler. Married to Lorraine with 4 children and has 7 grand children.