1980’s & 1990’s Era
Michael Anast / Inducted 2016
Michael Anast grew up in Garfield Ridge and attended St. Rita High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete.
His love of softball began in 1963 when he played his first game in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). He would end his softball career nearly forty years later in 2001 while playing with Out of Touch, a team comprised of his friends from The Touch.
Anast played for over twenty teams and would accumulate more than thirty championships and tournament titles in his career. As a member of The Touch, he won the 1985 Nationals and was named a First Team All-American in 1987. He considers both to be his greatest accomplishments as a player.
Anast also played for the Christians, Mercury, Nocturnes, Wanderers, Duds, and Lettuce. He still maintains strong friendships with many of his former teammates from these teams.
He also coached his three daughters between 1993 and 2005, when all three played on the same team, the Vixens. He considers this the proudest moment in his softball-coaching career.
Anast and his wife, Diane, live in Lemont, Illinois, where he enjoys the retired life. He can be commonly found on the golf course.
Stan Bachusz / Inducted 2004
Stan Bachusz began playing softball in the 8th grade at St. Angela School on Chicago’s West Side. In high school, friends from the local parish would play on Sundays against other parishes and neighborhoods in the area for bragging rights as to which group was better. Upon graduating from Chicago’s St. Patrick High School in 1976 where he played baseball and received All Conference honors, Stan began playing softball outside of the local neighborhood for the first time. He was asked to join a team called the Chicago Takers from Oak Park, which was sponsored by a local funeral home. The Takers team was run by Rich (Chubbs) Polfus and jump-started Stan’s career into playing big time softball throughout the Chicagoland area. Stan initially played 3rd base, but was later asked to play other positions throughout his career including shortcenter and 1st base, both of which he readily adapted to. He loved playing softball so much that the position didn’t matter as Stan grew to excel at all three. Typically batting 3rd or 4th in the lineup, he hit very well for average and in clutch situations for his teams over the years. Never one to keep his own statistics, Stan was told on numerous occasions by his coaches that he batted over .500 during his career. Winning the game, and doing something to help the team to that end, always took precedence over personal accomplishment to Stan. In addition to the Takers, Stan’s teams included: 86 Proof (no need to mention here what went on at the post game celebrations), St. Angela, Assassins, Cuckoo’s Nest, Six Pack (beer replaced vodka), O’Jays, Friar Tucks, Wedge, Blues, March Manufacturing, Hollywood Casino, The Doll House, Sports Channel and Red Dog. Stan’s personal accomplishments consist of: 1989 USSSA Championship with the Blues against the Whips in Wisconsin, 1994 ASA National Championship with Hollywood Casino, 1995 Forest Park Invitational with The Doll House, 1996 Grant Park Tournament with Sports Channel, and 1998 and 1999 Hall of Fame Tournaments with Red Dog. Additionally, Stan was a participant on teams that won such league championships as: Mt. Prospect Classic League, Oak Park, Portgage Park, Clarendon Park, Amundsen Park, Hamlin Park, Welles Park and Kosciuszko Park. He was selected to either 1st or 2nd team All-American honors several times during the ASA National tournaments. One of Stan’s most memorable moments in softball was hitting a grand slam for Sports Channel on television in the 1996 Grant Park Tournament against Rich Melman’s Lettuce team. In a great game to watch, Sports Channel beat Lettuce 16-13. For the past 5 years, Stan has been coaching girls 12-inch fast pitch for his daughters teams in Park Ridge and Chicago and having a great time doing it. “I miss playing competitive 16” softball, but we all have to grow up sooner or later” Stan says, as our adult journey takes us into more family responsibilities. Stan now dedicates his efforts full time to his daughters Kathryn and Lauren and their sports endeavors at Resurrection High School and to his wife of 20 years Peggy, the once “softball widow” who allowed Stan to play this kids game all of these years. Currently, Stan works for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago as Assistant Purchasing Agent. Stan wishes to thank the Chicago 16” Softball Hall of Fame and all of his teammates, friends and family for their support in making this great honor a reality.
Tom Balek / Inducted 2010
Tom Balek began playing softball in 1969 with his neighborhood friends in local leagues on Chicago's Southwest side. From the early '70s until the late-'90s, Tom was a softball junkie, playing more than 150 games every year. He played in the early '70s with Touch at Tom Bonen's Bridgeview complex. Tom then moved to Tahoe in 1977. They won the Kelly Park League and the City of Chicago championship in 1980. Tom rejoined Touch in 1982 at Kelly Park and in other leagues. In 1985 they won the Kelly Park title, beating Otto's and the Whips for the championship. Also in 1985 they won the City of Chicago championship and the ASA Nationals, beating the Safari Tigers. In 1986 and '87 he played for Aces and helped them win the "A" Nationals in 1987, beating Touch of Class for the title. The following year he helped form Jynx. They won the NSA National title in 2000, beating the Rebels. Tom was named tournament MVP. Although he no longer plays for them, Tom helps manage Jynx, a team that is still together after twenty-three years. In 2010 he received the Terry Moran Sportsmanship Award. He has been fortunate enough to have played with and against the best players for the past forty years. Tom is a retired schoolteacher and lives in Chicago.
Matt Biondic / Inducted 2002
Little did Matt Biondic know in 1981 when he started playing 16" softball with the Jays that he would one day become a key member of Lettuce, a team that dominated major 16" competition during much of the 90's. Biondic graduated from Brother Rice High School in 1979, where he was a wrestler for for four years and ran track for two years. He then graduated from Loras College in 1983 where he wrestled for three years and played rugby for a year. After the Jays, Biondic played with Tahoe ('83-'84), with the Aces ('81-'84), with Eastside ('85) and with Touch ('86-'90). He joined Lettuce in 1991 and helped them win four ASA National Championships ('92, '93, '96 and '98) as well as three second place finishes. Besides winning national championships, Biondic played on four Forest Park championship teams, five Grant Park champions, two Park Forest 12" and 16" championship teams, and numerous USSSA State championship teams. In addition to team honors, Matt was selected to the All Tournament Budweiser Open in 1984; was a first team ASA All American in 1987, '92, and '97; was MVP at Forest Park in 1991 and'97; was MVP of the ASA National in 1992, and was ASA National Home Run Co-Champion in 1997. He also once caught a fly ball at Clyde Park's Kolar Field in Cicero by first letting it bounce off his head. Matt and his wife, Mary, have five children; Sean, Kevin, Barry, Ryan and Fiona. He is self employed as a computer consultant, and coaches Little League in Oak Lawn.
Dave Bishoff / Inducted 2000
Dave started his career back in the early 70’s with the burnside bums. In 1978 dave joined the Amalgamonsters and that started his run with some of the top major teams. In 16 inch softball. Dave’s best years and maybe his most productive were with the Whips in the 80’s, where Dave helped them win 7 ASA National titles, 5 USSSA World titles and 5 Forest Park No-Glove Championships. Dave was selected to 7 ASA First team All-American teams. He was also selected for 3 MVP awards, one at the Forest Park No-Gloves Nationals, one at the ASA Nationals and one for the USSSA World Tournament.
Paul Brezinski / Inducted 2003
Paul Brezinski began his softball career in 1976 with the Freeloaders, a young team playing out of Bensenville. This squad was unique because it featured seven left-handed hitter (including Brezinski). They weren’t a long ball hitting team but a team that could hit singles and doubles consistently, often stretching for the extra base with their team speed. With this potent offense and a strong defense, they took a fifth place finish at the 1977 Nationals. When the Freeloaders disbanded, Paul Brezinski joined Apache, a team that became a dominant force in the western suburbs. Like many great softball teams, Apache eventually became Otto’s, a team that would compiled a 111 - 7 record and would go on to win Forest Park in 1981 and 1982. Because of his contributions to this record, Paul Brezinski was selected team MVP. After Otto’s, Brezinski played for the Stray Cats which eventually evolved into Cooper’s Sporting Goods, Bud North, Automart, and the early Splinters team. In the late 1980’s, Bud North was one of only two teams to capture three consecutive championships from 1987 through 1989. In the 1990’s Paul Brezinski moved to the Whips, a talent-laden team with Hall of Famers Wally Filkins, Johnny Kelleher, and Larry and Jack Kelly. This talented team produced results when the Whips went on to win a national championship. With this title in his pocket, Brezinski returned to Splinters and helped them win the 1996 Nationals at Mt. Prospect. He later won his third and fourth national championship playing with Miller 45’s in Schaumburg. During his 25 year playing career, Paul Brezinski was selected to the North All Star Team every year of the North / South game, he was voted to the All Time Mt. Prospect Classic League 1st Team, and was named to the 1st or 2nd All American Team numerous times. Paul Brezinski resides in Willow Springs with Cheryl Bestow and their daughter, Kaylee. His other children, Jenny, Michelle, and Paul live in Addison. Paul works for a Miller Beer Distributor (a dream come true). Paul will always treasure the memories and friendships he has made over 25 years.
Ken Butzen / Inducted 2008
Ken Butzen began playing softball in 1978 after graduating from Forest View High School. He played baseball there four years and also played four years at Western Illinois University. After a couple of years playing with local teams, Frank Holan invited him to play with the Taggers, a team that featured a lot of guys from Forest View High School and Holan’s sons; Brian, Ken, Rick, and Jim. Ken knew Frank from playing little league baseball in Mt. Prospect, so the fit was natural. He played with the Taggers until he joined the Stray Cats for their inaugural season. After the Stray Cats, he played for Cooper’s Sporting Goods and Meadows before finishing his career with the Taggers. Over his twenty-plus year career, Ken accumulated an impressive record of team and individual accomplishments. He played with several teams that finished in the top ten of the ASA and USSSA Nationals. He also was selected to the North All-Star team and 2nd Team All- American. Additionally, he played for the Taggers when they won the 1990 and 1991 USSSA National Championships. He was selected the MVP of the 1990 USSSA National Tournament. Because of sixteen-inch softball, Ken has made many lasting friendships and feels fortunate to have played for two great managers, Frank Holan and Dick Cooper, managers who ran class operations and treated their players and the game with a great deal of respect. He also thanks his wife of thirty years, Kathy, for allowing him to pursue his passion for as long as he did. Ken and Kathy have two children, Nicole and Matt, and a grandchild, Kalyn. They live in Hudson, Wisconsin. Ken works for Marsh USA in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mike Caputo / Inducted 1998
Mike Caputo grew up in the Garfield Ridge area of Chicago’s Southwest side. A graduate of the John F. Kennedy High School (class of 1969), Mike spent a couple of years at UICC. He left to pursue a professional baseball career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Mike left hardball to begin a softball career that spanned over 25 years against the best teams of the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Mike began his career with the Nocturnes. He then played for the Bobcats, Whips, Touch, Lyon’s 45’s, and Lettuce. Mike contributed to these teams winning six ASA National Championships, four USSSA Championships, four Forest Park Championships, two Clarendon Park Championships, and many other minor championships. A left handed batting and throwing outfielder, Mike was the master of the punch single. His coaches have called him one of the most fundamentally sound players in the game who combined fierce competitiveness with fine sportsmanship. Mike considers it a high honor to be associated with some of the most gifted athletes in 16-inch softball. Mike and his family live in Chicago.
Pat Caputo / Inducted 2008
From 1969 to 1974 Pat Caputo played softball with neighborhoods teams. In 1975 he started a 12-year partnership with the Pirates and also played with the Stompers (‘80 –‘85), the Lords (‘82 –‘84), and with the Stooges (‘88 –‘90). These teams won tournaments at Westchester, Broadview, LaGrange and many other Western and Northern suburban leagues. In 1989 the Stooges were the Life Classic Champions and Pat received his first recognition as a 1st Team All-Star. In 1991 he joined Ice for a five year partnership that included many highlights: in 1991 they won an 88 team state tourney and won the LaGrange League title. In 1992 Ice won titles at Clyde Park, at the Life Classic, and won the ASA “A” Nationals. That year Pat was named a 1st Team All-Star for the Life Classic, won 1st Team All-American honors at the ASA Nationals and was named the MVP for that tournament. In 1993 Ice took third place at the ASA Nationals and won the USSSA World Championship. Pat was named an All-American at the ASA Nationals and was named the top defensive player at the USSSA Nationals. In 1991 Ice won the Hawthorne Park Tournament and Pat was named tournament M.V.P. He joined the Rockers in 1997 and helped them to top four finishes in the ASA Nationals in 1997 and 1998. In 1998 they won the Forest Park Invitational. In 2000 he joined Licorice and helped them to Grant Park championships in 2000 and 2002 and to a major national title in 2000 and 2002. In 2000 he received his second All-American honor. In 2002 the Rockers won the “triple crown” of softball: the Forest Park championship, the Grant Park championship and a major national title. He played with Traffic in 2006 and 2006 and still plays with Windy City. In 1998 and 2005 he received additional honors when he was named to the Chicago All Stars. Pat and his wife, Kim, live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have three children - Patrick, Joe, and Jillian and two grandchildren.
Mike Clifford / Inducted 2005
Mike Clifford grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Little Flower High School in 1972. He then went on to Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois where he played baseball. He began playing softball at the major level when he hooked up with Hall of Famer Sal Vasta and the Blues at Kelly Park. He then went on to play for ten years with Bob O’Malley, another great manager, for Phoenix and the Cougars. These were two highly competitive teams at Blue Island where they qualified for the ASA Nationals numerous times, including two fourth places finishes and a third place finish. Mike also had brief stints with the Hot Shots and the Peppers before making a major shift in his playing loyalties. Being a lifetime South Side player, Mike counted teams from the North Side of Chicago to be his biggest rivals; however, the lure of playing for Hall of Fame manager Dick Cooper proved to be too big of an honor and Mike joined Dick and the Meadows. He and long time friend, Chuck DePalma, played with the Meadows for three years. During that time, they won the Mt. Prospect championship twice and were known as one of the most solid and competitive teams of the 1980s. He considers Dick Cooper to be the most influential and honest persons in softball because his emphasis was always on the love of the game and value of sportsmanship. A left-handed batter who played first base, Mike was perhaps best known as a designated hitter who could drive outfielders crazy because of his ability to “dump” a ball in front of an outfielder despite the outfielder’s best efforts. Many players of his era considered Mike to be one of the ugliest .700 hitters because many of his hits never left the infield. He ended his career with a batting average over .500. For his efforts, Mike was selected to three ASA 1st Team All-American teams and two 2nd Team All-American teams. He was also a member of the USSSA World Champion Jokermen and received 1st Team All-American honors for that tournament. Mike retired from softball after 25 years, but has changed to managing Splash, his daughter’s fast-pitch traveling softball team for six years. He is also currently managing his son’s baseball team. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children, Kelsey and Matthew. He is a manager for the United States Postal Service where he and his co-worker, Hall of Fame member Jack Kelly, swap old softball stories. He and his family live in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
Michael Coleman / Inducted 2008
Michael Coleman was eighteen when his father asked him to practice with his tavern team, Boss Larry’s Hustlers. It was during this run that Michael began to hone his softball skills and to prepare himself for his movement into softball’s “major” leagues. The Hustlers played money games against other lounges on the weekends and played in leagues at Columbus Park, at Argo and Summit, and in a highly competitive night league in Maywood. He earned his nickname “Ice Mike” because of his stylish play in the outfield and at the plate. He started out as a long-ball hitting center fielder with a cannon throwing arm. In 1983 the Hustlers played a money game against the Safari Tigers, a young team from Chicago’s Southwest side. After the game, Mike Lee, the captain of the Tigers, asked Michael if he wanted to play for them. It didn’t take Michael long to say yes because of the reputation of the Tigers and because they were closer in age to him. He started out playing right field because Eric “Moon” Jones, the center fielder at the time had a stronger throwing arm and better range. With Michael in right, Eric Jones in center, and Cedric “Secret” Walls in left, the Tigers had one of the strongest outfields in major softball. They would dare runners to try to take an additional base and would then gun them down with their cannon-like arms. The Tigers played in all the major leagues around Chicago and became one of the top teams of the ‘80s. They won the ASA State title in 1985 and were runners-up in the ASA Nationals in 1984 and 1985. After his success with the Tigers, Michael and a few other teammates formed the B-Athletes in 1999. They won many local league championships in the late ‘90s and early 2000s and finished fifth in the ASA Major Nationals in 2003. Michael also moved from the outfield to first base and became one of the top first basemen of his era. In 1995 he was named an ASA All-American, the B-Athletes MVP in 2000, the Claude Rhodes Invitational MVP in 2005, and has been named to several other all-tournament team. Besides playing, Michael has also added leadership and knowledge to some of the up-and-coming teams like the Dogg Pound and his favorite, The Young Guns. In 2000 Michael and his wife of twenty years, Lori, moved to Naperville, Illinois. His daughters, Erica, Essence, and Emerald, would let him know they were at the game by blowing kisses to him between innings. He received a degree in Computer Science from Triton College and a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in 1996 in Management. He has developed software for over twenty years and in 1996 became a computer consultant. In 1997 he started his own consulting company that recently completed a three-year contract with a major telecommunications company. He hopes to enter the field of educational computer consulting.
Ken “Coop” Cooper / Inducted 2006
Ken “Coop” Cooper
Ken Cooper’s twenty-year softball career began in 1975 when he started playing for his father and Hall of Fame member, Dick Cooper, on the Meadows Baptist Church team. In 1977 the Meadows moved up to the Rolling Meadows Park District league. After that, he played for the Taggers, the Straycats, Cooper’s Sporting Goods and Splinter’s Sports Group; he ended his career playing for Lettuce Entertain You. Throughout his twenty-year career, he played on teams that won championships at all levels, including the Forest Park No Glove Nationals and tournament titles at Grant Park, Berwyn, Cicero, the Diet Coke W.L.S., tournament titles and the Cedar Rapids tournament. They won league championships at Forest Park, Clyde Park and at the Mt. Prospect Classic league. Additionally, they won U.S.S.S.A state titles and A.S.A. championships at the state and national level. Ken feels fortunate to have played for managers Mr. Coop, Frank Holan, Bob O’Malley, Ricky Burnett, Al MacFarlane, Scott Rossi, Art Mustari, Joel Zimberoff and Rich Melman. He also played with such great players as John O’Connor, Frank Mustari, Angelo Alesia, Paul Brezinski, Wally Filkins, Ken Flaws and Ricky Gancarz, to name just a few. Personally, Ken Cooper has been named to All-American and all-star teams in Mt. Prospect; he was a North All-Star and has earned All- American and All - World honors in national competition. He credits his success in softball to playing with the best teammates, having the best sponsors and coaches, and playing against the fiercest competitors in the Northwest suburbs during the ‘80s and early ‘90s. He lives in Elgin, Illinois with his wife, Jan, and their two children, Jim and Kelsi.
Tom “Eggs” Czarnik / Inducted 2003
Tom “Eggs” Czarnik
Tom Czarnik began his major softball career in 1976 playing second base and pitching with Murderers Row in the Clarendon and Kelly Park leagues and with the Nocturnes at Kelly Park. Except for a brief stint with Mike McGovern’s Amalamonsters, the early 1980’s found Tom Czarnik joining some high school friends to play with the Rollers, a Northwest side team playing in some of the top leagues. When top-level softball moved to Mt. Prospect, Czarnik joined Cooper’s Sporting Goods, which evolved into Splinter’s Sports Club, sponsored by Al McFarlane. The 1990’s saw Tom Czarnik joining Rich Melman’s Lettuce teams, considered to be the powerhouse teams of the 90’s. Czarnik ended his full time playing career in 2000 with the Miller 45’s. Besides playing in the major leagues, Tom Czarnik never forgot his neighborhood roots. He was a fixture on such neighborhood teams as the Outlaws (Oriole Park), Candlelight Jewelers (Niles), and Music in Motion (Glenview). On the mound Tom Czarnik was known as a fierce competitor and a dedicated Redman chewer who would spit on the ball and chew on a loose seam in order to get an advantage over the hitter. In fact, many in softball consider Tom Czarnik to be one of the top ball and strike pitchers in the history of 16” softball. Besides his pitching prowess, Czarnik was also a top defensive player and a good clutch hitter who could place a ball down either foul line. His skill was quickly noticed at the national level where he was selected to twelve All-American teams. He won three national championships, and was named major nationals MVP three times (1986, 1991, and 1996). He was also named to the first team All-Mt. Prospect League team, an honor bestowed on him by his peers in recognition of his twenty years of league play.
Tim Decker / Inducted 2005
Tim Decker started his softball career in 1967 playing in local leagues around the Bensenville, Wood Dale, and Franklin Park areas with his high school buddies and his brothers, Gary and Bob. When they moved out of state in the mid ‘70s, Tim made the move to some more notable teams beginning with the Pacers and the Lords and then moving to Otto’s, Giraffe, and the Stray Cats. He was fortunate enough during these years to play with such great players of that era as Mike Tallo, Rich Urbanski, the Kellys, the Kellehers, Eggs Czarnik, Ron Zieman, Paul Brezinski and many others. In 1983, after capturing a second place finish at the Major Nationals with the Stray Cats and the Forest Park championship with Otto’s, Tim’s softball career came to a temporary halt because of back problems. He “retired” in 1984 by playing in only forty or fifty games. His retirement was short - lived, however, and a second career was launched when he received a call from Terry Moran and Dick Cooper asking him to play for Meadows. He helped Meadows to a second place finish at the Major Nationals and the championship of the classic league before moving on to play with Magic, the 45s, Splinters and March Manufacturing. During his five decades of play, Tim was selected to all - star teams at numerous North Side parks and to several 1st and 2nd ASA All - American teams; he was voted to the Mt. Prospect Classic League First Team by his peers, and was the recipient of the Terry Moran Sportsmanship Award. Tom and his wife, Grace, live in Elk Grove Village and have three children, Aubrey, Jessica, and Jennifer. He works in the food industry.
Andrew “Buddy” Doroskin / Inducted 2005
Andrew “Buddy” Doroskin
Bud Doroskin began his softball career in 1976 with the Badgers, a local team from Rand Park in Des Plaines. In 1981, he got his first taste of national tournament competition with the Rat Pack, a select group of Rand Park players. In their first metro at Schaumburg, Buddy pitched the Rat Back to a 3 - 1 upset victory over Otto's, a team that was one of the most dominant teams of its time. Later that day, they beat Hiller and Hamm to advance to the nationals at Harvey. During the summer of 1982, Buddy hooked up with Zeffers, a group of classic Italian guys, including Scott Rossi, the Lococos, Dan Bianci and others in the Mt. Prospect Classic League. After failing to qualify for a metro, he was picked up by the Runts, a talented team with Hall of Famers John O'Connor and Tom Czarnik for a run at the 1982 nationals in South Aberdeen, SD. Buddy pitched the Runts to a second place finish in the tournament. For his efforts, he received his first 1st Team All - American honors. After the Runts, Buddy moved to the Stray Cats (and switched to playing first base). The Runts evolved into Cooper's Sporting Goods, Bud North, and Automart. The Bud North team of the late '80s was one of only two teams to win three consecutive Forest Park championships (1987, '88 and '89). These teams finished second place in the ASA National Tournament in '86, '88 and '89. Buddy collected 1st Team All - American honors in '86, and '88 and also won the National Tourney Homerun Championship in 1986. Unfortunately, in 1990 while playing with March Manufacturing at Forest Park, Buddy suffered what seemed to be a career ending herniated disc injury while taking the turn at first base. In 1995, however, his desire to play outweighed the pain and he was picked by Prime Time for a final run at a national championship. The team came up short by taking second place and Buddy retired from major softball. He still plays with his friends on the Zeffers. Bud currently lives in Hoffman Estates with his wife Karen, whom he met on the on-deck circle at Mt Prospect while playing for Bud North. They have been married twelve years and have three children,Tatiana (9),Ariana (4), and Nicholas (19 months). Andrew is Chicago regional manager for Jaeckle Distribution. Bud remembers all of the friends he made, the great competition he faced, and the respect he received from all of his teammates during his years of playing 16" softball.
Bill Dvorak / Inducted 2002
A graduate of Oak Lawn High School who played softball and baseball, Bill Dvorak was one of the top players of the "80's. During his 21 years playing 16" softball, Bill reached milestones most players only dream of. His softball career began when he formed a church team in 1970. He then started Coolers in 1974 at Stickney. He began to move to the upper echelon of softball when the Coolers beat the Ducks. After the defeat, the manager of the Ducks did what every great manager would do - he asked Dvorak to play for him. The rest was history, as Dvorak played with such legendary teams as the Ducks, Whips, Touch, Saxon Lodge, Rabbits and the Bobcats. Dvorak was a top notch third baseman who also spent some time at first and short center. A left handed power hitter who hit in the third slot, Dvorak lead most of his teams in RBI's. He first garnered serious attention with his selection as a first team ASA Major All-American in 1984. He repeated that accomplishment each season through 1987. In 1985 he was named a USSSA All American, and won the USSSA batting title. The following year he helped the Ducks win the ASA Major Nationals at Mt. Prospect. In 1991 he capped his swan song season by being named to the ASA Class "A" All American team. Bill has been a Senior Superintendent at Pepper Construction for thirty years. He and his wife, Debra, have three sons and a daughter and they live in Tinley Park.
Mike Ellerby / Inducted 2003
“Special thanks to my two greatest fans , Mom and Dad (Doris and Bob Ellerby).” Mike Ellerby started his softball career at 17 playing with his uncle, Joe Legner, and his Babe Ruth baseball coach, Fred Ballatine. After playing first base and making the league’s all-star team, Mike headed west to Carol Stream to play with the Jax. With his solid arm strength, Jax moved him from first base to shortstop, a position he played throughout his career. After playing with a variety of local teams (Redneck Mothers and Bruins), Mike joined Meadows and tasted the ASA Metro tournament finals for the first time. Although Meadows lost in the final game, Mike whetted his appetite for national competition. After joining Magic, Mike batted second and teamed up with Pat Heraty to form a potent r.b.i. duo. For two decades Magic made it to national tournaments. After finishing play with Meadows lead by Dick Cooper at Mt. Prospect, Ellerby continued his Mt. Prospect Classic League play when he joined the Taggers and Frank Holan. The Taggers were perennial top ten finishers at national tournaments, winning the USSSA Nationals in 1991 and taking second in 1992. Mike then joined MGD (formerly the Taggers) in the 90’s and ended his Classic League play. After a brief stint with Performance Metals, Ellerby returned to national play with Florida Tropics where he earned First Team All-American honors in 1999, adding to his Second Team honors earned in 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998. Mike will always be known as a player who gave 100% on the field during every game. Over his 25-year career, he has made many friendships that are still intact today. He is honored to have played with and against some of the great players and managers of all time. Mike lives in Bolingbrook with his wife, Karen, and their two children, Lauren and Kevin. He works in the IT department of Sears Roebuck and Company.
Wally “Sweet Lou” Filkins / Inducted 1997
Wally “Sweet Lou” Filkins
Wally Filkins began his 16” softball career in the playgrounds of his Burnside neighborhood. In 1975 he entered the “big leagues” when he joined the Eastsiders where he was to play until 1978. In 1978 he joined Mr. Lucky’s, where he teamed up with fellow Hall of Famer, Larry Kelly. Together they formed one of the best first and second base combinations in softball history. Wally stretched the limits of playing first base when he also played a short right field but was still able to cover the put outs at first with his soft hands and great footwork. In 1981 Wally joined Jimmy Lang’s Whips, a move that was to lead to 5 ASA Championships and 4 USSA World titles. In addition, “Sweet Lou” also won national titles with Sportstation in 1987 and two with Splinters Sports Club in 1991 and 1997 for a total of 8 World Championships. Wally has been named to numerous All-American teams and was named MVP of the ASA Nationals in 1989. He has also won - No Glove National Championships at the Forest Park tournament with three different teams- Mr. Lucky’s, The Whips, and Splinters Sports Club. In addition to playing with some of the great players of the game, Wally is also thankful for having had the chance to play with his three brothers - Les, Randy and Keith. Together the 4 Filkins Brothers own 19 ASA National Championship plaques. Wally also compares the 1983 Whips to the Bobcat teams of the 60’s and 70’s. That year they won every tournament they entered and won the ASA and USSA World Titles. They ended that year with a record of 113 wins and just 8 losses. Wally Filkins played his entire career with the heart and tenacity of a true champion. As Vince Lombardi once wrote. “I firmly believe that at a man’s finest hour - his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” This quote summarizes "Sweet Lou’s" love and dedication to 16.
Randy “Tex” Filkins / Inducted 2010
Randy “Tex” Filkins
Randy attended George Washington High School where he played baseball and football. He was named to the all-state team in both sports. In 1976 he attended West Hills Junior College where he was named a baseball All-American. He played baseball for Cal State Stanislaus in 1979 and 1980. He was selected an All-American there and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004. He was drafted by the New York Yankees and played in their farm system for three years until an ankle injury sidelined his career. Tex played sixteen-inch softball for Sports Station, Bud Runners, Splinters, Cougars and the Ringers. He played from Mt Prospect to Blue Island all week long. On weekends, he played tournaments. In 1982 he was named MVP at Grant Park, helping Sports Station win the title. He won ASA national titles with Sports Station in 1987 and with Splinters in 1991. Softball tournaments also doubled as family vacations, so it was nice to have his brothers Wally (HOF), Les, and Keith as teammates. The Keith-to-Randy-to-Wally double play combination was a thing of beauty. And many opposing hitters and base runners experienced that beauty. Randy and his wife, Sue, live in Chicago. They have three children - Jason, Casey, and Beau.
Bill Finnegan / Inducted 2006
A graduate of Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, Bill Finnegan played basketball and baseball, earning all-conference honors in baseball his senior year. He began his softball career in 1978 with the Magicians, a Park Ridge team made up of a group of young high school friends. During the summer of 1980, after the Magicians had moved up divisions within their league, Bill was noticed by Hall of Famer Tom “Eggs” Czarnik and was asked to join the Runts who were playing in the Mt. Prospect Classic League. After getting the o.k. to play from his girlfriend and future wife, Barb, Bill joined the Runts and started a sixteen-year career in Major 16" softball. After the 1980 season, he played for three years with the Meister Brau Taggers, under the direction of Frank Holan. He then moved to the J-Birds before playing for Meadows and Hall of Fame manager, Dick Cooper. He later played with Bud North, Automart and March Manufacturing, teams comprised of the same core of players, including Tom Czarnik, John O’Connor, Bud Doroskin and Curt Uidl. The Bud North teams of the late ‘80s were one of only two teams to win three consecutive Forest Park championships (1987, ‘88, ‘89). He started his career at shortstop but eventually moved to and finished his career playing third base. Because of his home run hitting power, he was a natural third and fourth place hitter. In fact, while playing with the Taggers, he won the home run hitting contest at the 1986 ASA Nationals at Mt. Prospect. During his sixteen year career playing major softball, Bill Finnegan was named to the North All-Star team every year during the North / South games and earned 1st and 2nd Team All- American honors in at ASA national competitions from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s. He currently resides in Woodbury, Minnesota with his wife, Barb, and four sons, Ryan, Brent, Shane and Austin where he coaches youth hockey. He is responsible for all Minnesota operations for Information Builders, a software company. Although he doesn’t play softball anymore, he will always treasure the memories and friendships he formed over his twenty-five year career.
Tim Flanagan / Inducted 2010
When Tim Flanagan was a kid, his father would take him to Kelly Park at night to watch softball games. He remembers the excitement of the crowd and the major-league atmosphere on those hot summer nights. Little did he know that some day he would be roaming the outfield at Kelly and other parks. During his twenty-year softball career, Tim Flanagan played with some of the greatest teams of major softball during the '80s and '90s but also played with at least seventeen local teams around Chicago's Southwest side. His entrance into major softball began when he was playing for the Beavers in the early-'80s at Kelly Park and Mike Tallo asked him to play for Otto's. He filled in for them in tournaments, and was part of the team that won the Forest Park title in 1981 and also the Chicago Park District championship at Clarendon Park. It was there that he first experienced the intensity of the competition and the talent at the major level of softball. He played with the Viscounts (78-79), Beavers (80-81), Stickmen ('82-'84), Ducks ('85), Touch ('86-'89), Lettuce ('90), Bud 45s ('91-'95), and Swingtown ('96 and '97). All totaled, he has played in fifteen ASA Nationals. In 1987 Tim and the Normandy Park Crush took second to the Whips in the USSSA Nationals. In 1991 he helped Lettuce finish second to Splinters. He helped Lettuce win Forest Park in 1990 and '91. In the early '90s he and Hall of Famers Larry La La Washington, Randy and Mike Lee helped the Safari Tigers win the popular 4th of July He-Man tournament. In 1989 he was named MVP of the NSA World Championship while playing for Touch. In 1982 he was the Davis Square Tournament MVP with the Shamrocks. He was an ASA First Team All-American with Lettuce and a Second Team All-American with Touch and Bud 45s. Besides playing softball, Tim worked with Tim Maher (HOF) on the Chicago Softball Magazine in 1987 and was on the initial advisory board and planning committee for the Hall of Fame. Tim played football for St Rita in the Prep Bowl in 1972 at Soldier Field beating Morgan Park Academy. In 1973 he represented St. Rita in the Catholic League All-Star game played at Comiskey Park. He was a four-year starter in baseball at St. Xavier University and played in nine National Invitational Touch Football championships in St. Louis, MO from 1978 to 1987 with the Chicago Beavers and the Chicago Saints. Despite all the great moments of playing major softball, Tim most fondly remembers playing the outfield with his youngest brother, John, when they played for Bud 45s and Swingtown. In 1999, Tim received the Cook County Superior Public Service Award in the category of Outstanding Public Safety employee. He received the award for his work with street gangs on behalf of the Cook County Adult Probation Department where he has been employed for the past twenty-nine years. He would like to thank his beautiful wife of thirty-two years, Debby, and their three sons, Dan, Brian and Sean for their patience, love and support throughout his playing years.
Ken Flaws / Inducted 2001
After graduating from Richards High School in 1973 (where he was an All-Area basketball player), Ken Flaws started his softball career with Scotch Mist, a team sponsored by a local tavern. Ken's career really took off in 1975 when Ed Zolna saw him play in Dolton, and recruited him to play with the Bobcats. A shortstop who also played most middle infield positions, Flaws helped the Bobcats win four ASA Nationals from 1976 to 1979. Over the next twenty years, his skills helped three other teams win National titles; the Whips in 1980, Splinters in 1991 and 1998, and Lettuce in 1999. Ken Flaws best remembers the 1991 National title won by the Splinters, when they came out of the losers bracket in Kingman, Arizona to win the Championship for the first time. In 2001, Flaws worked as a stock trader. Ken and his wife Luanne have three daughters; Breanna, Jannelle and Teigan.
Mike Flynn / Inducted 2003
Chicago resident Mike Flynn's softball career began back at Sherman Park at 55th and Racine. Flynn went on to play with some of the best teams in Chicago, including the Gage Park Bulls, the Scramblers, the 49er's, Vis-men, The Big Banjo Bruins, Silver Streaks, Strikers, and Touch. Most of his career, though, was spent with the ZZRight Ons, Jays and Stickmen. It was in 1991 that Flynn enjoyed his greatest achievement in softball, winning the ASA Class A Nationals title in Blue Island with the Stickmen. After that season, Mike decided to retire from the game to allow more time to watch his son, Patrick grow up and play sports. Now 21 years old, Patrick is a baseball player at Xavier University. A 22 year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department, Flynn and his wife, Celine, still live in Chicago.
Mark Frighetto / Inducted 2006
After completing a successful baseball career at the University of Illinois at Champaign, Mark started his softball career in 1976 with the Bakers at the behest of Danny Cocco. In the late ‘70s, the Bakers merged with Mike McGovern’s Dwarfs to form the Amalgamonsters. Even though the Amalgamonsters never clinched a national championship, with Hall of Fame players Larry Kelly, Ron Ziemann, Pat Moran and Steve Prostran, they were a dominant force within the traveling leagues at Kelly and Clarendon Parks. In the ‘80s Mark moved to the Runts, Coopers Sporting Goods, Bud North and Automart, teams made-up of the same core of players along with Hall of Fame players John O’Connor and Eggs Czarnik. Mark’s reputation as the premier short center of his era began to take shape during this time. His skills helped the 1987- 89 Bud North teams win three consecutive championships at the Forest Park Tournament, one of only two teams in the thirty-seven year history of the tournament to accomplish this. In the early ‘90s, Mark became an integral part of Fritz Zimmerman’s March Manufacturing, a dominant force in the emerging Mt. Prospect League. In 1995 while with Primetime, he had the unfortunate distinction of being a member of the only Chicago-area team to lose an ASA Nationals championship to an out of state team (Carpet Country of Iowa). In the late ‘90s Mark joined up with Wally Pecs and Red Dog to capture the championships at the only two 16" Softball Hall of Fame Tournaments ever held. When Mark joined Bob Rascia’s Miller 45s in 2001, he began a quest for that elusive ASAtitle. That dream became reality in 2001 at Schaumburg when Miller 45s captured the ASAcrown. They also won ASANational Titles in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 at Marshalltown, Chandler, Arizona and Mt. Prospect. During his four decades playing 16" softball, Mark was named to numerous North Side All-Star Teams, was named to the First Team All Mt. Prospect League (as voted by players), was the Forest Park Tournament MVP in 1987, earned ASA Second Team honors twice and was named First Team All-American three times. He played on teams that took second place at the ASANationals eleven times and won five ASA titles. Mark credits Danny Cocco and Mike McGovern for giving a former hardball player a shot at big time softball, Wally Pecs for his years of friendship (admittedly strained at times due to their competitive nature), and Bob Rascia for helping to make his dream of national titles come true. More importantly, however, he credits his wife, Nancie, their children Reid and Reese, and the rest of his family for their patience and understanding as he played Chicago’s “crazy” game. Currently, Mark works for Glenview State Bank as vice-president of Commercial Banking/Commercial Real Estate and resides in Arlington Heights.
Pat Heraty / Inducted 2007
One of the top leadoff hitters of his era, Pat Heraty was known for his precision hitting, a skill that frustrated infielders and outfielders alike. He started his career in 1975 playing for Dino Franch on the Franch & Sons Trucking Team. In 1981 he joined fellow College of DuPage baseball teammate Bob Fogarty’s Magic team. With a strong squad that featured Bill Spingola, Tom Cahill, Mike Ellerby, Bruce Hill and eventually Mark Malouf, Tim Decker and Johnny Morris, Pat gained valuable experience. Magic won several tournaments and Metros, playing regularly in the Major Nationals and at Forest Park. It was during this period that Wayne Page, an old friend, taught Pat how to “cut” a softball. This skill made him a tough out for the remainder of his career. In 1988 Pat and four other Magic players hooked up with Dick Cooper and the Meadows. At that time it was led by Hall of Famer Terry Moran. Heraty stayed with them for two years until Dick Cooper's retirement. Pat then joined Fritz Zimmerman’s newly formed March Manufacturing, managed by Joe Mercadante. For the next two years, he had the opportunity to play with Hall of Famers Pat Moran, Jack and Larry Kelly, and Mark Frighetto. In 1992 he was invited to play for Frank Holen and the Miller Taggers. The camaraderie on this team made 1992 one of the most enjoyable years he would experience playing softball. He then moved to March Manufacturing for two years, rejoining Dick Cooper and Terry Moran in 1993 for a run at the national championship. That team came up a game short when they lost in the title game. In 1994 Dick Cooper went back into retirement and Rick Gancarz took over the reins of the new March Manufacturing team. This was a scrappy team that won the state tournament and finished second in Forest Park, losing 1-0 in the single elimination championship game. In 1995 Pat started what was to be an eleven-year run with Hall of Fame coach Bob Rascia and the 45's. In 1998 Pat helped bring Rick Gancarz to the team and that started the flow of top caliber players like Frank Mustari, Israel Sanchez, Joe Dooley, Rich Villa, Dan Jalowiec, Mike O’Neill, Tony Prochenski, Kurt Uidl, and more recently Mark Holstein, Jeff Berger, Jim Matlock, and Brian Miller to the 45's. In 2001 with the team now stronger than ever, Pat and the 45’s won its first national championship, a victory that Pat will always cherish. Between 2001 and 2005 this powerhouse team went on to win three more national championships, three Forest Park Championships, and an astounding thirty-eight tournament titles during that five-year period. Over the course of his career, Pat has been named to twelve ASAAll-American teams, the All Classic League Team at Mount Prospect, numerous all-star teams, and was honored with the 2007 Terry Moran Sportsmanship Award. Pat credits his success in softball to top notch coaching, great teammates, and the best batting practice pitcher and number one fan, who never complained at how many pitches he threw or how many games he played in, his wife, Mary. Pat considers it a privilege to have played memorable 16-inch softball for the past thirty-three and to have formed life long friendships. At age fifty-three, Pat continues playing with Sal Milazzo’s Windy City Softball Team in hopes of bringing them a national title. Pat thanks the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame committee for his nomination, and thanks his wife, Mary, his son, Tom, and all of his family, friends, and teammates for their support in making this great honor possible.
Clayton Jones / Inducted 2007
Clayton Jones, one of softball’s premier shortstops, played with the Safari Tigers during the 1980s and with the Be- Athletes into the ‘90s. As a three-time All-American selection in 1985 and 1986 and again in 1995, Clayton’s excellence at shortstop excited fans for over twenty years. Playing with La La Washington (HOF) and Stretch Lee (HOF), Clayton rounded out one of the strongest infields playing during their era. His exciting plays during the 1985 and 1986 ASA Nationals helped the Tigers to advance into the finals, narrowly missing winning back-to-back titles. Besides his excellent defensive skills, Clayton helped the Tigers and the BE-Athletes with his ability to hit consistently with power and accuracy. With his great speed added into the mix, Clayton was truly a fully rounded athlete who earned the respect of his teammates and competitors alike. He and his wife, Neola, live in Chicago.
Tom Jurevis / Inducted 2002
Tom Jurevis grew up near the southwest side of Chicago in Stickney. He won his first league championship at age 16, and by age 25, he had played for such top teams as the Shooting Stars, Magnum, Crush, the Outsiders and Touch. In 1983 he played on eight league champions, including the Kelly "A" and Normandy Park leagues with Touch. In 1984, Touch combined with the Bobcats. While playing with the "Touch Cats", Jurevis won the MVP award of the Cicero tournament, despite his team not winning the title. Tom made just one out in six games. They went on to win the 1984 and '85 Chicago City Championships, as well as two Grant Park Open titles. In 1985 Jurevis was named starting short center on a dream team roster in their "Kings of 16" Softball" article. That same year Touch won the ASA Major 16" Nationals, and Jurevis was a first team All American. Touch finished in the top four twice more, and Tom was first team All American again in 1988. He also earned All American honors with the National runner-up, Crush team at the USSSA World. A student of the game, Jurevis carefully observed other teams when not playing, noting their strengths and tendencies. He was also a true team player who believed you got recognition as an individual because of what your team did. True to that philosophy, he believes that his induction into the Hall of Fame is a tribute to the excellent players on all his old teams. Jurevis is grateful to Bill Frencl for showing him how the game is played, to Tom and Ed Gregoire for moving him to short center, and to Dave Neligan for making the Touch team what it was and giving him a chance to play "with and against the best." Tom currently plays with the Out of Touch Over 40 team in LaGrange. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Sue, and two daughters, Jessica and Rebecca who he encourages in all sports, coaching them whenever he can.
John Kelleher / Inducted 1998
A quiet leader who led by example ... a natural athlete who was one of the best finest hitters in the game, and at turning a double play... a competitor who played his hardest at all levels of competition. These and other accolades from fellow players describe an inductee who many consider to be one of the finest players in the history of the game. John Kelleher began his softball career at the ripe old age of sixteen with his superb brothers ended up with the most National Championship rings in history (13 ASA). He was a textbook example of a pure hitter who could drop a ball in the gap or power one over your head if you tried to play him shallow. With a “sixth sense” for the game, John could effortlessly stretch a double into a triple or turn a double play to save a game. In one tournament at Forest Park, a place where he was named MVP numerous times, John never made an out during a six game stretch. A great ball player at the top of his game also plays with great teams. Kelleher’s stint with the Whips, Strikers, Bobcats, and Lettuce is no exception. With his great contributions, they won numerous ASA and USSSA Championships and were named All American. John Kelleher lives in Naperville, Illinois with his wife and three children.
George Kelleher / Inducted 2010
With a pitching record of 2000-plus wins (including two no-hitters) against 700 losses, George Kelleher certainly ranks as one of 16-inch softball's great pitchers. He played for the Raiders ('89), the Stickmen ('73 - '97), Sports Channel ('98), and Crush ('89 - '02). In 1974 he was MVP for the Class "A "Windy City World Series and in 1997 he was the MVP for the Miller Lite Classic "A" World Series. In 1993 he was voted to the All Tournament Second Team for the ASA Nationals. He was a First Team member of the USSSA Nationals each year from 1992 through 1996. In 1991 he was a Class "A" First Team All Tournament player. He also won the national championship that year with the Stickmen. Teams he pitched for won league titles at Kelly, Clyde, Blue Island, Harvey, Armor, and Donovan parks. George also pitched for teams that won tournament titles at Grant Park, Forest Park, and Hawthorne. In addition, the Kelleher family team won multiple championships at Archer Park. George is the fourth Kelleher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Clara, live on Chicago's Southwest side. They have three children - George, Colleen, and Tim.
Larry “Muscles” Kelly / Inducted 1996
Larry “Muscles” Kelly
He was one of the most feared hitters in the game during the late 1970s and 1980s. He played with the ERV Strikers and Bobcats in the Windy City League in 1976 and ‘77. He was MVP of the Chicago Park District Tourney with the title holder Cats in ‘77. In 1978 he led the Bobcats to one of their last ASA National championships as MVP and batting champion. He played for Mr. Lucky’s and then his career took off with Jim Lang’s Whips as he teamed up for many years with his younger brother Jack. He was known for his tremendous power, but also was a great pinch hitter who could cover the entire field with hits. He had exceptional power to right center for a right handed hitter. He threw right-handed. He was a nine time ASA All-American. His Whips teams won six national ASA championships in 10 seasons and four additional titles in the USSSA. He left one season and he led Sportsstation to a crown in ‘87 as MVP and batting champion. He also led his team to major titles as a MYP at Forest Park in ‘83 and the Budweiser World Series in ‘82. He later won a National ASA title with Lettuce in 1992. He was Player of the Year in Chicago Softball in 1978. Him and Paula have 2 daughters. Born in 1952.
Jack “Stone” Kelly / Inducted 1998
Jack “Stone” Kelly
John Wooden once said, “Success is peace of mind in knowing you did your best. “ This quote fits Jack “Stone” Kelly because he always did his best. He began his major league softball career in 1977 with Shoes. From 1979 to 1981 Kelly played with Shoes, Condors, and Mr. Luckies respectively. He hit the jackpot in 1982 when he joined his Hall of Fame brother, Larry Kelly; on what many people say was the best softball team of the 80’s and possibly of all time - the Budweiser Whips. They won four ASA National Titles in 1983, 84, 89, 90 and four USSSA world Titles in 1982, 83, 84, and 87. Kelly took a two-year hiatus to play with Sportstation in 1987 and 1988 before returning to the Whips for two years. He played with March Manufacturing in 1991 and finished his softball career with Lettuce. Kelly won two more ASA Nationals with Sportstation in 1987 and with Lettuce in 1992. Jack Kelly was selected to seven ASA 1st Team All-American Teams and won the Home Run Championship four times in 1983, 84, 88, and 1990; he was also selected as the ASA Nationals MVP in 1983, 1984, and 1990. He also won USSSA MVP honors in 1984, making him MVP in both tournaments that year. Jack Kelly was one of the fiercest home run hitters of all time who was also able to punch the ball in front of an outfielder in one inning and then power the ball over his head the next inning. He played his entire career with strength, guts, and courage. His teammates will always remember him as the guy who could keep the team loose with a joke or prank on another player. If Babe Ruth was know as the King of Swat for baseball, Jack Kelly was known as the King of Swat for softball who spoke softly but carried a big homerun stick.
Steve Kirby / Inducted 2009
Born in 1951 in Chicago, IL, Steven Jerome Kirby began playing organized 16-inch softball for Medill School Park in the Monroe and Racine Police District league when he was twelve years old. He played second base for Medill School and W.S.O.Express from1963 to 1979 at Garfield Park. He joined the Koreans in 1980, playing in leagues on the South side at Rosenbloom Park and at Lou Boudereau Stadium. He was invited to play with The Flamingos in the ASA 1982 Nationals in Marshall Town, Iowa. The Flamingos finished third and Kirby established himself as a solid player by being selected as a 1st Team All-American and was runner up in the homerun competition with four. One of Steve’s homeruns drove in two runs to tie the score in the last inning followed by another by Sweet Willie Johnson to win the game. In the mid 80s and 90s Steve played for The Safari Tigers in leagues at Blue Island and Mount Prospect. He returned to the West side, playing for California Gold in the Pro League in Forest Park. Because of his efforts, he was selected to play in the North- South All Star Game. During a televised game George Bliss said that Kirby had the quickest bat he had ever seen in 16-inch softball. He was named a 1st Team All American eight times over his career. His trademark was a black bandana on his head. His bat carried the saying, “Hold me level and I will hit the Devil.” Steve and his wife, Dorothy, have three children - Tyree, Kyle, and Diamond. They live in Chicago.
Jim Kraus / Inducted 2007
Jim Kraus has always loved sports. As a boy, you could always find him at the park playing baseball with his brother Joe. This interest in baseball led him to be a starting pitcher at Proviso East High School. He started playing softball in the early ‘70s with Spirit, a team made-up on high school friends, at Forest Park. Though he pitched in high school, he switched to playing first and third base. In 1975, Jim was asked to play for Cecelia (managed by Rich Huska). He stayed with them for five years before Otto’s (managed by Chris Baraglia) took over as sponsor. In 1980 he played in his first national competition. It was a memorable beginning when he hit a homerun in his first at-bat. Otto’s broke up after the 1981 season and Jim moved to the Whips. In 1982 the Whips won the USSSA Nationals. During his time with the Whips, Jim was named MVP in the Forest Park Tournament, hitting .600 for one of the tournaments. Over the years he had the opportunity to play with many great players. He played in many ASA and USSSA Nationals and in several Forest Park championships, his favorite tournament. Jim continued to play with the Whips until he retired from softball in 1992. He works for School District 87 in Berkley, Illinois. On the weekends he works with longtime teammate Wally Filkins and WF Decorating. He resides in Addison, Illinois with his family.
Richard Ladewig / Inducted 2000
Throughout his 23 year softball career, Richard Ladewig played for three of the top teams in the 1980's; the Condors, the Bobcats and the Whips. As an outfielder he had a lifetime batting average over 600, and hit more than twenty home runs a year. Ladewig accumulated four A.S.A championships and six U.S.S.SA. championships with the Bobcats. He received seven A.S.A. All-American honots and four U.S.S.S.A. World All American Team honors. In 1979 he was crowned the A.S.A. National Batting Champion with a 650 batting average. Ladewig also recewived hardball honors when he had a tryout with the Baltimore Orioles in 1970, as a pitcher. He has 3 daughters, and resided in Frankfort, Illinois in 2000.
Randy “Stretch” Lee / Inducted 1999
Randy “Stretch” Lee
Stretch Lee remembers traveling to Taylor and Fuller Parks to watch his older brother play 16" softball. Little did he realize at the time that he would someday grow into one of the most feared long ball hitters of his era. Stretch’s softball career began in 1982 in local parks with Magnum’s. At eighteen he was asked to play for Safari, one of the top teams of the time. Stretch Lee especially remembers 1984 and ‘85 when Safari finished second to eventual national champs, Touch and Whips in Iowa. Like many long ball hitters, many of his times at bat resulted in an intentional walk. Pitchers could not, however, walk him each time. When they did pitch to him, he exploited the short fences by hitting twenty home runs during the two national tournaments. With a lifetime batting average of approximately .375, Stretch Lee remembers averaging fifty to sixty homers a season. Besides being a feared hitter, Stretch was also one of the top first basemen in the game. He and his pitcher, Larry Mc Ghee, created a pickoff play that embarrassed more than one unsuspecting base runner. Stretch Lee retired from the game in 1997 after a sixteen-year career. Stretch credits much of his success to his recently deceased manager, Claude Rhodes.
Michael Lee / Inducted 2004
Michael Lee began his 16” softball career in 1970 playing with the Robert Taylor Van Dykes at Washington Park and Blue Island. In 1973, he left the Van Dykes to join the Magicians where he played with his brothers, Wesley Lee and Hall of Famer “Stretch” Lee at Washington Park. In 1980 he jumped to the famed Safari Tigers and began a twelve-year career that would solidify his reputation as one of the great players of his era. A short center with power to all fields , Michael Lee once hit four homeruns against the Stray Cats. He was known as a homerun hitter who also could place a clutch line drive over the head of the shortcenter. In 1983 the Tigers beat the Stray Cats for the State Championship. In 1985 the Tigers won nine straight games to take second place in the ASA Nationals to the Whips. They finished second to Touch in the 1985 ASA Nationals. Michael Lee was selected to the 1st Team All Tournament Team honors for his efforts. He attributes the success of the Safaris, one of the best African-American teams of the 1980s, to practicing daily, playing outstanding talent, and competing against the best teams of that time. Michael Lee finished his playing career with the BATHLETES (Black American Softball Association) in 1996. He thanks his wife, Lynetta Lee, and his children Emanuel and Laqueta for his many successes.
Rick “Monday” Ligon / Inducted 2001
Rick “Monday” Ligon
Rick Ligon began his softball career with the Jugglers in the early '70's. Before he was through, his softball name, Rick Monday, would be known throughout the southside and in every Chicago area park where serious softball was played. In the mid-70's, the outfielder/first baseman hooked up with the Senators. There, under the tutelage of Floyd Glover, Monday grew into an All-Star. Besides playing with the Senators and good friend Hank Kemp, Monday played with a who's who of south side powerhouses over his career, including the Bandits, Flamingo's, Flash, Seige, Cal Gold, Windy City Bombers and B.Athletes. In addition to being regarded as the MVP of every team he played on, Monday earned All-American honors with several of those teams, won numerous tournament MVP awards, and played on National tournament teams throughout the 70's and 80's. In 1985, according to Hank Kemp, Monday batted .750 and drove in 180 runs in just one league. Those who played with and against him called Rick Monday a great softball player, and now, a Hall of Famer.
Bobby “Lopes” Lopez / Inducted 2010
Bobby “Lopes” Lopez
Bobby Lopez started playing softball at sixteen in La Grange with his brother's team, the Family. Mike Spidale saw him play and invited him to play third base for the Stooges. After that, it was on to the Jaw Jackers in Cicero, the Titans and Jerry Main, and then with Lenny Nuzzo on the Blues. He moved into "big-time" ball when Angelo Alesia asked him to play center field for the Whips. He then joined Frank Holen to play for the Taggers and then played for Dick Cooper and Meadows. Rich Melman recruited him while he was playing for Meadows and it wasn't long before he was playing for Melman and Lettuce. He helped them win the ASA Nationals four times (they took second in 1998), the USSSA Nationals once, and the Forest Park No Gloves Nationals four times. Once Melman left the game, Bobby played for Mike North and Licorice, helping them win the ASA titles in 2000 and 2002 and the No Glove Nationals in 2002. He won the batting title in the 1998 Mount Prospect Nationals and won two home run titles in 1998 and 1992. He was co-MVP with Frank Mustari at Forest Park in 1993 and was solo-MVP at the1998 Nationals. He was an ASA First Team All-American in 1988, '89, '92, '93,'98, 2000, '01, and '03 and was a USSSA All-American in 1994. He was an ASA Second Team All-American in 1997. Bobby Lopez attended Lyons Township High School where he played four years of baseball (second base) and four years of football (defensive back). After high school, he played three years of semi-pro football with the Glen Ellyn Hawks as a wide receiver. Bobby and his wife of twenty-five years, Angela, live in Bolingbrook, Illinois. They have three children, Bobby, Anthony, and Nicky. Bobby is pursuing a career in law enforcement; Anthony attends Illinois Wesleyan University and was a starter on the 2010 Division III National Championship Baseball Team; Nicky plays baseball and basketball and is a sophomore at Naperville Central High School.
Don Magnuson / Inducted 2008
Don Magnuson grew up on the Northside of Chicago and attended Amundsen High School where he excelled in athletics. He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946 before returning to Chicago to continue his softball career. He played for the Ravenswood Merchants and Cheri-Ami Lounge at Winnemac Park, helping lead them to several championships. He was a versatile player who could play any position and was known as a feared power hitter and long ball hitter. Although he could hit to all fields, he especially liked hitting to the hole in right-center field. He once had a string of eighteen hits, with sixteen of them as homeruns to the hole in right-center. He joined the Alderman Hoellen team at Welles Park where he joined Hall of Fame manager Santo “Doc” Scavuzzo and played with Hall of Famers Kenny Speirs, Davy Arnoux, and Larry Coutre. They dominated play at Welles for years and then played at Clarendon Park and the park at Chicago and Kedzie. He also played with Nortown Check Cashers. In 1959 he moved to Northbrook and ended his days of playing major softball. He continued playing when he joined the Allen Catering-Glenview House team in the Glenview Adult League. During a ten year span from 1960 to 1970, the team posted a record of 110 - 12 and were league champions seven times and tournaments champions five times. He was the most feared hitter in the league, hitting many tape measure homeruns. Teammates remember him as true “cleanup hitter.” Defensively, he was unmatched at third base. Don graduated from Bradley University in Peoria. He was a steel salesman who owned his own company for fifteen years. After retiring from softball, he became a skilled handball player and won several YMCA tournaments throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Unfortunately Don passed away in 2007. His wife of thirty-three years, Jean, passed away in 1985. They are survived by their children, Richard, Dwight, and Donna and five grandchildren.
Rich Mahoney / Inducted 2006
Rich Mahoney’s softball career started when he, Phil Pieczynski and some other Kennedy High School buddies formed a team named Elite. The problem was that no one on the team was more than eighteen years old, so they had to get permission from other teams to play in the men’s league at Minuteman Park. The age factor, however, didn’t stop them from winning the league title that year. Rich continued winning with Elite in leagues at Bedford Park and Wentworth Park. It was at Normandy Park, however, where Elite moved into big time softball by playing some of the city’s toughest teams and where Rich met Ray Topps and joined the Touch of Class. Going away to college didn’t diminish Rich’s love for softball because he would routinely drive back and forth from the University of Notre Dame from 1978 to 1981 to play in important regular season and playoff games. In 1983 when the Touch joined forces with several members of the Bobcats, Rich got his first taste of Major softball when he played in that year’s national tournament with Hall of Fame players Kenny Flaws, Willie Simpson and Eddie Zolna. It was during his playing time with that team that he learned the fine art of the “dump” hit over the third baseman’s head. With his speed, he would routinely stretch a single into a double with a headfirst slide. If the outfielder “cheated”, he would drive a long ball or hit to the gaps. Defensively, he settled into playing either third base or first base, digging out balls in the dirt or snagging line drives with his soft hands. In 1984 he played in eleven leagues and tournaments, playing nearly every weekend. That year Touch took fourth at the Nationals. In 1985 Touch won the Kelly Park League along with other tournaments, but their greatest accomplishment came when they captured the title at the 1985 National at Marshalltown, Iowa. In 1988 he tore his ACL and not only had to miss the entire season but had to change his route home from work to avoid passing a softball field. In 1989 he rejoined Touch. They lost to the Whips 2-1 in a semi-final game in Mt. Prospect, a game that many softball historians call one of the greatest games ever played. He was named to the 1st Team All-American team at that tournament. He retired from softball after the 1991 Nationals. Today he still plays occasionally in a thirtynine and over league but spends most of his time attending his children’s athletic endeavors. He and his wife, Michelle, have three children, Alanna, Spencer and Zack. They live in La Grange Park, Illinois. Rich is president of Hinsdale Bank and Trust Company.
James Matlock / Inducted 2009
Jim Matlock played wide receiver for Hinsdale South High School, so it made sense that when he started playing softball, he would become a natural left fielder. He started his thirty-four year softball career with some friends in a Sunday morning league at Shabonna Park when he was nineteen. As is true for all great players, he was quickly noticed. Guy Trippi recruited him to play for the Woodmen. He played for the Woodmen for two years, the Blues for six years until they disbanded, March, Hollywood Casino / Doll House, Sports Channel, Puglish, Bucks, Splinters, and the 45s. He helped these teams win eight ASA National titles: five with the 45s, and one each with Hollywood, Puglise, and Splinters. They have also won nine Forest Park championships. Jim played left field during most of his career but switched to right field and third base later in his career. He started out as a straight pull-hitter, but as he matured, he studied other hitters and eventually became a gap hitter. He was named an ASA All -American ten times, was named the Forest Park tournament MVP in 2003, and was the ASA MVP for the 2005 nationals. He also won an ASA award for 12-inch softball. Jim and his wife, Holly, live in Woodridge, Illinois. They have two children - Jason and Justin and three grandsons - Jaden, Jacob, and Logan.
Bob McClelland / Inducted 1999
Bob McClelland was one of the most feared leadoff hitters in 16" softball. His fiery temperment, fierce competitiveness, and batting skills allowed him to “set the table” for some of the best hitters of his era. Many of the top teams of his time recognized and sought his skills as he played for Right-ons, J’s, Whips, Sports Station, and the legendary Bobcats. Ron Kubicki, one of Bob�s coaches, placed his talent in perspective when he said, “When you build a team, your most important position is leadoff. There was nobody more feared in his era as a leadoff hitter than Bob McClelland.” Mc Clelland’s talents paid off when he was selected to numerous tournament All - Star teams throughout his career. A slick infielder with superior defensive skills and speed that enabled him to stretch a single into a double, Bob McClelland lives in Cedar Lake, Indiana.
Tim McManigal / Inducted 2009
Tim McManigal started playing softball in 1977 in the Worth Park District with the Players when he was fifteen years old. He then moved to the Hot Shots in the Worth Men’s League. In 1984 and ‘85 he played for Barrel of Fun. They took fifth place in the ASA National tournament both years. He played for Bud Chicago / Sports Station in 1986, 1987, and 1988. They won many tournaments, including the 1987 ASA Nationals. In1991 he played for Jynx softball and helped them to a third place finish at the ASA nationals that year. From 1992 to 1999 he played for Lettuce softball and helped establish them as one of softball’s legendary teams by winning ASA national titles in 1992, ‘93, ‘96, and ‘98. They won the USSSA title in 1994 and Forest Park championships in 1991, ‘93, ‘94, and ‘97. Tim had excellent speed that allowed him to chase down long fly balls. This skill made him one of the top center fielders of his time. He could hit to all fields and was known as a consistent singles / double hitter. He was selected to two 2nd Team All - American teams at the nationals. Tim and his wife, Karen, have four children - Tim, III, Tom, Theo, and T.J. They live in Chicago Ridge, IL.
Frank Mioni / Inducted 2009
Frank Mioni began playing 16-inch softball in the 1970s when he and some friends got a team together for something to do during the summer. Little did he know then how softball would allow him to make friends, establish connections, and open important doors in his life. In fact, he met his wife, Kim, while playing in a co-ed tournament at Grant Park. Frank played with Pegasus in the Chicago Ridge Men’s League and with Pogos at Mann Park on Chicago’s East side. After a brief stint with the Bobcats in 1982, he joined the Budweiser Whips. He then played with Jynx, Lettuce, Sports Channel (Bucks), Licorice/Flash, Puglise, and other teams. As one of the top outfielders of his time, he helped lead Whips and Lettuce to several Forest Park and ASA National titles. He was a versatile hitter who could line a ball through the right center gap, or he could hit a long ball to drive in runners. For his efforts, he was selected the tournament MVP of the 1993 ASA Nationals and tournament MVP at Forest Park while playing for Lettuce. In 1994 he was selected tournament MVP of the USSSA Nationals with Lettuce. But he most remembers when the players of Puglise selected him as their team MVP in 1998. In 1999 he helped lead the Local 281 Sprinkler Fitters to a tournament victory in Cincinnati. The problem? He wasn’t a sprinkler fitter at the time, but that was soon rectified after he completed the apprenticeship and became a full-fledged member of Local 281. Despite his many accomplishments on the field, Frank most remembers the great times with his five sisters and two brothers. Five of his nephews are currently playing softball (one with Jynx). While playing at a tournament in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a man told Frank’s father that it was always easy to find Frank. Just look for a lot of guys laughing and Frank will be in the middle of them. It’s this camaraderie that has helped him play for as long as he has. Frank and Kim have two children - Nick and Francesca. They live in Chicago Ridge, IL. He is a loyal member of Local 281 Sprinkler Fitters.
Terry Moran / Inducted 2002
After graduating from Rolling Meadows High School in 1976, pitcher Terry Moran embarked on a softball career that was to include key roles on teams that won numerous local, state and national titles. Along the way, he was named to several All American teams, and won batting titles in several different leagues. After starting out with the '76ers, Moran switched to Meadows (1979-'81) where he hit .600 plus each year of his three seasons. In 1982 Moran helped the Miller Taggers finish second at the USSSA World in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and an Illinois Parks and Recreation State Championship. In 1983, with the Stray Cats, he placed second at the ASA Major Nationals in Harvey. Moran rejoined Meadows in 1984, and his .714 batting average helped them win the Illinois State title. In 1985 Moran was named a First Team ASA Major Nationals All-Star, despite Meadows ninth place finish. That year, Meadows also took a fifth place finish at the USSSA World Tournament at Muncie, Indiana. In 1986 and '87, Meadows won the championship of the Classic League with Moran hitting an astounding .800 in 1986. In 1990, Moran helped the Taggers capture the USSSA World Tournament at Merrillville, Indiana. For his effort, he was selected to the All World First Team. That same season the Taggers played to a fourth place finish at the ASA Majors, as Moran earned his second appearance on the ASA All-American Team. In 1994, playing with the Bud 45's, Moran hit .667 and was Second Team All-American as the 45's took second place at the ASA Nationals. Terry Moran ended his career in 1994 with the Panthers.
Patrick “Paddymo” Moran, Sr / Inducted 2002
Patrick “Paddymo” Moran, Sr
In 1970 Patrick Moran Sr. graduated from Roosevelt High School on the northwest side, where he had been an all-area basketball player and an all-city baseball player. He started his softball career with the Wolves, a team sponsored by a local tavern and managed by Jim Schmidt. Dwarfs Hall of Fame manager Mike McGovern quickly saw Moran's potential and recruited him to play short stop. Over the next 25 years, Pat also played for such prestigious teams as Otto's, the Amalgamonsters, Bud North, Coopers, Meadows, Red Dog, Stray Cats, Blues and March Manufacturing. He helped teams win five Forest Park No Glove tournaments, four Clarendon Park League Championships, two Mt. Prospect League Championships, and finish in the final four ASA Glove Nationals 15 times. Pat also had the honor of playing for such managers as Danny Coco, Bill Cavanaugh, Tim Decker, Rick Burnette, and Hall of Fame managers Dick Cooper, Waly Pecs and Sal Vasta. All along, Moran was known as one of the top defensive players of all time, both shortstop and short center, as well as a class act both on and off the field. During the same period, Pat played in the corporate league in Grant Park for ComEd, a powerhouse team that won three consecutive Tournament of Champions competitions. Pat fondly recalls the time, while playing for Bill Cavanaugh at ComEd , when Janet Davies of WLS TV Sports followed the team through to their ultimate victory in the 1993 Grant Park Tournament of Champions. He also enjoyed the once in a lifetime opportunity of accompanying his entire team to Cancun, Mexico after winning this first place prize. Par has worked for ComEd for 32 years and currently lives in Oak Park with his family.
Frank Mustari / Inducted 2007
After a record-breaking baseball career at Illinois State University and two professional seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank Mustari focused his talents on 16-inch softball when he joined his neighborhood friends on Custom Tape. His talents were quickly noticed and Ken Cooper added him to the Cooper’s Sporting Goods roster. With Frank at shortstop, Coopers would become one of the dominant teams of their era and Frank would become one of the most sought after shortstops of that era. During the late 1980s, Frank joined Bud North and helped them to three consecutive Forest Park No Glove championships. Bud North was loaded with future Hall of Fame members Ken Cooper, John O’Connor, Tom Czarnik, Ken Flaws, Buddy Dorskin, and Mark Frighetto. In 1991, with the help of Ken Cooper and Al McFarlane, Frank started Splinters Sports Club, arguably one of the best teams in 16-inch softball. As player/coach, Frank led the team on the field and from the bench. These efforts produced an ASA title in Arizona, the first such title by a North side team. From 1993 to 1995, Frank brought his talents to Rick Melman’s Lettuce. He helped Lettuce to a national title in the 1993 Nationals and Marshalltown, Iowa. During that tournament, he won the batting title, the home run title, and was named tournament MVP. After lettuce, he rejoined Splinters and led them to a national championship in 1997. He also helped the Rizza Rockers win a Forest Park title. To finish out his softball career, Frank joined Bob Rascia and the 45s, a team that dominated the softball scene and won numerous national titles. Frank was a member of teams that won eight Forest Park titles and six ASA National championships. Personally he was named to the First Team All Mt. Prospect League; he won one ASA Major Home Run titles and two ASA Major Batting titles; he was an ASA Second Team All-American and was selected eight times as an ASA First Team All- American. Frank would like to thank all of the great sponsors that he played for throughout his career, specifically Dick Cooper, Rich Melman, Lane Nieman, and the best sponsor he ever teamed with - Al Mc Farlane and Splinters Sports Club. He also had special thanks for his great teammates Rick Gancarz, Jeff Berger, Ken Flaws, Israel Sanchez, Tom Czarnik, Ken Cooper, John O’Connor, Angelo Alesia, and Jim Matlock. He offers special thanks to his brother Dan Mustari and his defensive partner and dear friend, Tony Prochenski. Most importantly, he would like to thanks his wife and number one fan, Karin, who cheered him on at every game he played. He thanks his sons, Justin, Jeff, and Matty, his parents, Art and Elaine Mustari, and his in-laws, Bob and Hedy Clausen. Unfortunately, Bob passed away, but he would be thrilled to see Frank inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Tom Newman / Inducted 2004
Most great softball players grew up playing the game in the parks and schoolyards of the Chicagoland area. Young players would begin playing the game as soon as they could pick up the ball, and they competed against the older guys in the neighborhood until they could one day beat them at their own game, and the cycle of competition would continue. Tom Newman’s career fits this scenario perfectly. He played football and baseball at George Washington High School, but in his senior year he picked up softball as a seventeen year old leadoff man. In 1976 he played with Dago Park Softball, a team that played for fifteen years. After losing the championship at Trumbell Park, they became a y the Eastsiders (Tom Newman played with them off an on for twenty years) in 1977. They beat the older Eastside team and entered the world of “big time” softball, playing at Harvey and Blue Island, winning the 32 team Metro title at Calumet Park in 1980, and finishing fifth at the ASA Major tournament. In 1982 while playing with the Condors, Newman won the ASA batting title at the Nationals in South Dakota. In 1986 Tom Newman formed a five year partnership with the Whips, helping them to ASA National titles in 1988, 89, and 90. They were runners-up in 1987 and captured fourth place in 1986. They won numerous USSSA and ASA state titles and championships at the top parks in the Chicago area. From 1991 to 1997 Tom Newman played with the Eastsiders and the Stickmen, winning titles at Blue Island, Kelly Park, and at Hawthorne Park. 1998 found Tom Newman joining the Men from Uncle, named for their Hall of Fame sponsor, “Uncle” Pete Crnjak. They dominated play at Blue Island and ended the season with an ASA “A” State Championship and an ASA “A” National Championship. Tom Newman won 1st Team ASA All- American honors. From 1996 through 2002, Newman played at Mt. Greenwood with Jay’s, a who’s who team of softball veterans. He also played with Storm out of Whiting, Indiana. In 2002 he was named to the All Tournament team at Hawthorne Park, the NSA All-Tournament team, the ASA All American team where Storm was ASA “A” runners-up. Tom Newman was one of the top run producers of his era who showed his love of the game by being one of the first players on the field. While he never played a set position, he did favor first, second, and short center and became a pitcher late in his career. Tom Newman principally batted third and was known as a gap hitter who would get a clutch hit at a key point in the game. Tom Newman lives in Munster, Indiana with his wife, Cathy. They have three children: Lindsey, Jeremy, and Corey. He is a member of the Local 281 Sprinklerfitters Union.
John O’Connor / Inducted 2000
Silent,Feared,Effective,Respected. These are four words that describe the career of one of softball's greatest power hitters. With three National Championships, five second place finishes, seven First Team All-American selections and three home run championships on his resume, these words are obviously not exaggerations. Fans of 16” softball will always remember the home run that cleared the press box at Lou Boudreau Field in Harvey, the shot that hit the upper deck at the old Comisky Park and his 37 round trippers in one season at Majewski Park. In 1992, John O’Connor won MVP honors at Forest Park as a member of one of only two teams to win that championship three straight years. John began his playing career in 1974 at DesPlaines with the Townhouse Pub. From that point on he played with teams such as the Turtles, Carmichael’s Runts, Sporting Goods, Bud North, March Manufacturing, Lettuce and many others. He even took a year off from 16” softball to play 12” with Eddie Zolna’s entry in the Pro League. John fondly remembers the competition against his fiercest rivals of the 80s and 90s, the Whips. That rivalry produced great memories, as well as long lasting friendships. John and his wife,Christine, have three children: Kelly, Colleen and John.
Brian Panick / Inducted 2001
While attending St. Rita High School, southsider Brian Panick and some of his buddies joined the Aces, a neighborhood softball team. The Aces went on to become a southside powerhouse during the late 70’s and early 80’s, winning many Chicago Park District league titles. Panick moved on to play for a short time with the Viscounts from Chicago’s inner city, before being recruited to the major level by Hometown Touch. He was soon playing an integral role in making Touch one of the top teams of the 80’s, and the ASA National Champs in 1985. After his success with Touch, Panick and a group of teammates became the core of the Lettuce team. Their contributions helped Lettuce win ASA Championships in 1991 and ‘92. After Lettuce, Brian joined the Bud 45’s and helped that team finish in the top four at the 1994 Nationals. Known as one of the top defensive players of his era, Panick played shortstop and short center, and was widely known to be a class act on and off the softball field. In 2001, Brian resided on the southwest side of Chicago with his wife, Mary, and children Eric and Elyse.
Al Placek / Inducted 2006
Sixteen-inch softball has always been a part of Al Placek’s life. From the early days playing in the parks of Chicago to his days with the Bud 45’s, he always believed that to be the best you had to play against the best. He started his career playing CYO softball with a team from Our Lady of Victory Elementary School at Wilson, Rosedale and Portage Parks. He played baseball, basketball and football at the Latin School of Chicago, earning all-conference honors in all three. He moved up in competition when he was seventeen and joined his father’s team, the Craftsmen at Portage Park. His play against the likes of Lyons 45s, the Dwarfs and Murderer’s Row earned him a reputation as an outstanding defensive shortstop and short-center fielder. He moved up again in competition when he joined the Chicago Mets, a young team that was making its mark against some of the top teams at Portage and Clarendon Parks. After the Mets won the prestigious Men’s Senior “A” League at Portage Park in 1977 (and knocked off the star-studded BBC team in the Norridge Park Tournament), they decided to merge with Gary Kirch’s powerful Playboys team. Al became a part of a team that beat the Bobcats twice in one day, won the City of Chicago tournament, and won the Andy Frain Tournament at Clarendon in 1978. Throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Playboys continued to win prize money in tournaments around Chicagoland, including Evanston’s North Shore Tournament in 1980. They won numerous park league titles at Portage and Merrimac Parks and became one of the toughest teams to beat at Clarendon, playing against the likes of the Bobcats, the Amalgamonsters, the Rollers and the Dwarfs to name just a few. In 1984 Al joined Tom ”Eggs” Czarnik and the Runts as their shortstop. His days with the Runts were some of his favorite years, playing with Hall of Famers “Eggs” Czarnik, Ron Ziemann, John O’Connor and Mark Frighetto. That year they won the state tournament in Wheeling. In the late ‘80s he moved to Bob Rascia’s Bud 45s, anchoring the infield. He also played on teams that won tournament titles with Hall of Famer Wally Pecs, played with softball legend Eddie Zolna at Kelly Park, played shortstop with the Ducks in 1987 when they were the reigning ASA National champions and helped the North All-Stars defeat the South All-Stars by hitting a triple off Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Tallo. He continues to play softball at fifty-five with his brothers, Glenn and Robert. Al Placek works for the City of Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. He resides in the Oriole Park neighborhood of Chicago and has a son, Christopher.
Steve Prostran / Inducted 2002
A 1969 graduate of Shurz High School and DPaul University, Steve Postran began his thirteen year softball career with the Road Runners in 1973. The following two seasons he played with Al Maag's Baggers, then the Bakers and the Associates in 1976 before hitting it big with the Bobcats, Amalgamonsters, Runts and Stompers. The championships and all tournament honors began to accumulate for Steve in the late 70's, when he was a member of the Bobcat team that won the Windy City Championship. That game was broadcast by Channel 5 to the largest audience ever to see 16" softball, and Postran was named tournament MVP. That year the Bobcats went on to win the ASA National Championship in Missouri. From 1978 to 1982 Postran helped the Amalgamonsters to two ASA second place finishes and a third place finish in addition to state, city, and metro championships. Steve also helped the Runts to a second place ASA finish in 1982. He was named first team All American each of those five years. In 1983 Steve moved back to the Bobcats and helped them capture the Clarendon Park Championship and was named ROX League MVP. Postran finished his career in 1986 with the Stompers, helping them to a second place finish in the USSSA National Tournament, a fifth place finish at the ASA National Tournament, and bowing out with a career batting average over .600. Steve and his wife, Lynette, have a son, Michael. Steve is an account executive with At&T Media Services in Chicago.
Ben Reilly / Inducted 2008
Ben Reilly’s softball career began in 1948 when he was invited to join the Westfield Legion Post team for games at Murray Playground at 73rd and Wood Streets. He played mostly outfield positions but also spent some time playing infield. As a left-handed hitter who threw with his right-hand, he remembers many great moments of neighborhood pride when Westfield beat many teams from surrounding neighborhoods in league competition and in money games. Because of his time with Westfield, he expanded his playing opportunities when he joined teams at St. Sabina and Little Flower in the parish leagues. In the early 1950s he left Westfield to play left field for Bonnetti’s out of Ogden Park. Unfortunately, he missed playing most of that summer because of his work schedule. The next season he was back playing when Bob Wilson, the player/manager of the Crusaders recruited him to play for them. They played their games at 31st and Hoyne and at Byrne Field at 59th and Damen. Like many great players who loved the game, he and his teammates played “eight days a week” in league and money games. In the early ‘60s he joined Ready Paving and Brennan’s Tap, playing in leagues in the 19th Ward and Ridge Park. These teams were competitive in both leagues and won a few championships. But Ben mostly remembers that the softball played on the Southside during those years was the best that it could be. He played mainly left and center fields where his outstanding speed gave him an edge in tracking down long fly balls. He batted at the top of the lineup but spent most of his career as a number three hitter. He gave up the game when he was thirty-nine years old because of a growing family and other compelling issues. He will always remember the great memories and friendships he made during his twenty-one years of playing Chicago’s great game. Ben is a graduate of St. Rita High School where he played basketball and of Chicago Teachers College South (now Chicago State) where he also played basketball. Upon graduation from college, he became varsity basketball coach at Mendel Catholic High School in 1954 until 1959. He returned in 1961 as a teacher and athletic director for the next seven years. During this time he started what would become a twenty-five year career officiating basketball with fifteen of them as a Big Ten official. He concluded his professional career with a title company for twenty years in sales and public relations. Ben and his wife, Wilma, have four sons (Gregory, Terry, Rich, Rob), a daughter (Nancy), and two granddaughters. They live on Chicago’s far Southside.
Jerry Rhea / Inducted 2007
Jerry started playing softball in the seventh grade with Leo Priebe’s after school program. After transferring to St. Benedict’s in the eighth grade, he continued playing softball in school leagues around the North side of Chicago. He graduated form St. Gregory’s (where he played basketball and baseball) and joined the Flying Circus, a team comprised of friends from local high schools. Jerry started out playing shortstop until one of his coaches realized his great speed gave him the ability to chase down fly balls, so he switched to the outfield. During the mid-‘70s, he played with the Hitmen and the Malnati brothers, winning the Paul Revere League and the Sting, taking the titles at Hamlin and Dunham Park Leagues. After graduating from Aurora College where he played baseball, basketball, and soccer, Jerry moved to the softball’s upper echelons when he joined the Playboys. They won the Portage Park title and the Northshore Tournament. In 1984 he had a brief stint with Eye of the Tiger and the Bobcat-Registers, a team combo of Hall of Famers Wally Pecs and Eddie Zolna. He stayed with them through the ‘85 and ‘86 seasons. He also played with the Naturals and Bob “Snake” Jirsa. In 1986 the Jaybirds came calling and Jerry helped them to win a state championship and the 1986 USSSAWorld tile in Muncie, Indiana. In 1987 and 1988 he played for Hall of Fame manager Dick Cooper and Meadows. They won the Mt. Prospect Classic League and were runners-up in a 2-1 game to the Whips in the USSSA finals. In the 1990s he played with the 45s and March Manufacturing (who placed fourth in the ASA Nationals in Kingman, Arizona) before joining Wally Pecs and the Rabbits in 1991. They took second place in the Chicagoland Classic in 1991 and ‘92 and captured the national title at the 1992 USSSAWorld Championships in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. He then moved to Red Dog and helped them to two 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame Tournament titles, the championship at the Maher Tournament, and runner-up in the Chicagoland Classic. After twenty-plus year in the outfield, Jerry switched to second base, prolonging his career a few more years. He played briefly for the Bucketheads, March, Registers, and Off. During his career, Jerry played on teams that finished in the top ten of the ASANationals eleven times, won two USSSA championships (and were runners-up once). He was named to the North Side All-Star Team and was named an All-American. Jerry thanks his wife, Karen, and son, Neil, for their patience and support during his twenty-plus year playing career. He dedicates his induction to his daughter, Kailyn, who passed away earlier this year.
Mike Stout / Inducted 2005
Mike Stout began his softball career in 1981 with Phil’s Kids, a local team from Melrose Park, playing in leagues in Bellwood, Broadview, and Franklin Park. A meeting with lifelong friend, Jimmy Donato, gave Mike his first taste of competitive softball when Jimmy asked Mike to Play for the Lords, forging an alliance that would last twenty years. In 1983, the Lords won their first Metro championship in Lisle, earning them a spot in the national tournament in Harvey. They learned from the experience when they finished fourth and fifth in the following two years. These successes established the Lords as one of softball’s top teams of that era. During the mid ‘80s Mike was selected to play in every North / South All-Star game during the years they were played. In 1985, Mike hit a three run homerun in the last inning to cap a great comeback by the North and give then bragging rights for the next year. The following year Mike was selected as MVP of the game. In 1978, Mike joined brothers Eric and Kurt Kiesel to make the J-Birds one of the top teams in Mt. Prospect’s Classic League. In 1990, they took fourth place at the Major Nationals and Mike was selected to one of his many 1st Team All-American Teams. Mike joined the Miller Taggers and Hall of Famer Frank Holan in 1991, helping them to a USSSA National title and winning the tournament batting title and being named the tournament MVP. He then moved to Bob Rascia’s 45s for the last eight seasons of his career in 1994. They took the major national title at Schaumburg in 2001. While playing for the 45s, Mike played with some of the greatest players of that era, many of the old rivals. Mike and his wife, Liz, live In Glen Ellyn, Illinois with their three children - Eric, Chris, and Elise. Mike is President of Sales for Strikeforce Bowling in Cicero. While he has retired from playing, Mike continues to give back to baseball by coaching traveling baseball and 12" softball.
David “Smokey” Swiatek / Inducted 2004
David “Smokey” Swiatek
A graduate of Brother Rice where he played baseball (winning the Catholic League and earning MVP honors), Smokey then moved on to St. Xavier where he played outfield and earned a degree in criminal justice. He started playing softball in 1976 with the Right-On’s in Kelly Park’s major league. He then played for the J’s and the Bobcats (during their final year at Mt. Prospect) and the Beavers. Legendary pitcher Mike Tallo of the Whips approached Smokey about playing with the Whips and the rest is history. A quick defensive player who could play wherever he was needed, Smokey was a left handed leadoff hitter who could hit to all fields and carried a career batting average over .500. Swaitek’s offensive and defensive prowess helped Whips to two ASA National Championships in 1983 and 1984 and two USSSA Championships that same year. Smokey earned 1st Team USSSA All Tournament honors in 1985. Playing with Sportstation from 1986 to 1988, they won the ASA Nationals in 1987. Additionally, Whips won the Forest Park Tournament for five consecutive years from 1982 - 1986. Smokey remembers his first National victory in 1983 at Harvey when the Whips emerged from the loser’s bracket to beat the Stray Cats in a close game as one of his greatest softball moments. After 28 years, Smokey retired from softball in 2004. He ended his career playing at Wentworth and Valley Forge Parks with Tom Mulqueeney’s Scooters and Dan Byrne’s Buzzards. Smokey is a member of the Brother Rice and St. Xavier Baseball Hall of Fame. He lives in Chicago and has been a police officer with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for 25 years. He has given up the softball bat to take up golf, a hitting game of a different variety.
Sammy Taylor / Inducted 2000
With a purported 36” vertical leap, sprinter speed and impressive upper body strength, Sammy Taylor was a triple threat in leagues throughout the Chicagoland 16” softball scene. A right handed hitter who consistently averaged over 700, Taylor could also surprise the opposition with his home run power. He played center field for the legendary Flamingos during their heyday in the 70’s and 80’s. He helped lead them the USSSA State Championship in 1988. Taylor was a consistent All-Stater and All-American at the ASA and USSSA levels. As one of the top players on one of the top teams during his era, Sammy Taylor has earned and richly deserves his place in the Softball Hall of Fame.
Gary Thorsen / Inducted 2008
Gary Thorsen’s love for baseball began in back yards and school grounds when he was just eight years old. He moved on to play neighborhood pick-up games and was named a high school All- American. His move to 16-inch softball began in 1970 when he met up with Fritz Zimmerman of March Manufacturing. Besides March, Gary also played with Petro of Bensenville (his hometown), Duo Fast of Franklin Park, and Phil’s Kids in Melrose Park. But it was playing for March Manufacturing and other notable teams in the 1980s and 1990s that gave Gary most of his memories and provided him with most of his opportunities. March Manufacturing, with Dick Cooper as manager, finished second to Lettuce in the ASA Nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa. Doll House, with Sal Vasta as manager, won the Forest Park No-Gloves Nationals and the Rockers, with Lane Nieman as manager, finished fourth in the ASA Nationals. Gary also played with My Chauffer, Attitude, Miller Taggers with Frank Holan, and with the Registers and Wally Pecs. During those years, Gary had the good fortune to play with such great players as Tim Decker, Pat Heraty, John Kelleher, Terry Moran, Frank Mustari, Mark Frighetto, Stan Bachusz, Buddy Doroskin, the Kelly brothers, Mike Stout, Rick Gancarz, Jim Matlock, Tony Prochemski, and Jeff Burger. He has received several 1st and 2nd Team ASA and USSSA All-American awards, but perhaps his greatest award occurred when he tied legendary power-hitter, Kurt Uidl, in a home run championship. Not bad for a “cutter”. Over his thirty-eight year career, he has formed many great friendships because of 16-inch softball. Although he finds time to play 12-inch senior ball, he considers 16-inch softball to be the better challenge. He compares it to a good game of chess because of softball’s strategy and constantly changing game situations. Gary has been president of the 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame for the past twelve years. His mission is to recognize and memorialize those who have made 16-inch softball Chicago’s “great game.” He is honored to be recognized by his peers and dedicates this honor to his mother. Gary lives In Bloomingdale, Illinois and still enjoys playing in an occasional pick-up game with his son, Graham, or playing catch with his other son, Garrett. He is the special events director for the Village of Bensenville.
Ray Topps / Inducted 2001
When he began his softball career in the Grant Park Industrial League, a young Ray Topps experienced a moment few players ever got the change to experience; he played on the same field with his father, Ray Topolski, a fellow Hall of Famer, who retired from softball in 1970. Ray went on to play with the Loafers at Kelly Park and the Nocturnes at Kelly Park and Windy City. In 1978, the Nocturnes went undefeated at Kelly Park. A feat never accomplish before or since. Topps then moved to the Bobcats and remained with them until many of the players decided to play in the 12” professional league. After that, he and a few friends played with the newly formed Whips. Four National Championships later, Topps was lured to play with his neighborhood friends on Touch. In 1985 Touch emerged from the loser’s bracket to clinch a National Championship, a win made all the more poignant by winning with old neighborhood friends. After Touch disbanded, in 1990, Ray, Mike Caputo, Joel Zimberoff and Rich Melman formed Lettuce, for which Topps played and coached until his retirement in 1998. During his 28 years career, Tops won eight ASA Major National titles, six USSSA Nationals, and one NSA title. Named to numerous All-Star teams, he most treasures being named Outstanding Player in Cook County in 1979. Known as a power hitter early in his career, Topps evolved into an excellent clutch hitter with a 500 lifetime batting average. In addition to his softball skills, Ray Topps also excelled in basketball at Brother Rice High School. He played on varsity for four years; two on the light weight team and two on the heavy weight team. Brother Rice was Catholic Co-Champions with Leo High School in 1973. Ray was named to the All-Catholic Lightweight Team in 1971 and was named All-Area Honorable Mention in 1973. In 2001, Ray Topps still enjoyed playing softball with fellow Touch teammates in the LaGrange 40 & Over League. He was owner and operator of Topps Construction Company in Chicago, living in the Garfield Ridge area with his wife of 26 years, Debbie. They have three children; Jenny (Monahan), Ray III and Jackie.
Kurt Uidal / Inducted 2006
Kurt Uidl's competitive softball career began in 1979 and ended in 2001 with a national championship while playing for the Miller 45s. During those years, he was a valuable member of teams that won four ASA or USSSA National championships, and he played in places as close as Mt. Prospect and as far away as Kingman Arizona and South Dakota. He started with the Park Rats and then moved to Custom Tape, staying with them until 1984 when he joined up with the Turtles. While with the Turtles he earned the most valuable player award in Evanston in 1986. The next year with the Turtles he took second place in the ASA Nationals Homerun Hitting Contest. He played with Bud North in 1988 and '89, helping them to a second place finish at the ASA Nationals and the championship at Forest Park. In 1990 and '91 he played for the J-Birds and March Manufacturing. He won his first national title in 1992 when he switched to the Rabbits and helped them win the USSSA Nationals. In 1997, while playing with the Splinters (he joined them in 1994), he helped them to the ASA National title; he did the same in 1998 with Lettuce and again in 2001 with the Millers 45s. He was named as 2nd Team catcher in the All Classic League in Mt. Prospect and received 1st and 2nd All-American Team honors at the ASA tournaments. He retired from softball when his first son was born. Now he enjoys coaching his two sons, Cody and Bradley.
Larry “La La” Washington / Inducted 2005
Larry “La La” Washington
Born in 1956, Larry Washington’s 28-year softball career began in 1970 when he started playing with the Princeton Stars. His talent was noticed quickly and in 1972 at the age of sixteen he joined the legendary Safaris and coach Claude Rhodes. From 1970 to 1976, he played simultaneously with Safari and the Flamingos until his brother, Sweet Billy Johnson, who played for the Flamingos, put some “sibling pressure” on him to play full-time for the Flamingos. He stayed with them until 1990. He then played for the Flashers, the Bandits, Click, and Bud 45s before ending his career in 1998 with California Gold. Given his outstanding athletic ability, he played a variety of positions depending on the needs of the team, including left and right field, shortstop, and even pitcher. Teammates and opposing players remember his outstanding speed and quickness in covering the outfield and infield. Besides his excellent defensive skills, Larry Washington was known as a top hitter of his era. He could beat out ground balls, hit to gaps in the outfield, and power balls over the heads of outfielders. He credits Larry Kelly, Leonard McKinnon, Jack Kelly, Mike Tallo, and his brother Sweet Billy Johnson as his mentors. For his efforts, he was named MVP at Blue Island in 1983 and at Marshalltown, Iowa with California Gold. Larry Washington lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Mark Wilson / Inducted 2007
Mark Wilson’s softball career began when he was fourteen and started playing in the Friday night high school league at Peak’s Park in Worth, Illinois. From that early beginning, he would go on to play with some of softball’s great teams (Barrel of Fun, Francanello’s, Whips, Bud Runners, Renegades, Bats, Hollywood Casino, Men from Uncle, Jelly, and Grasshoppers) and would win numerous team and individual honors. Six years later he made his move into softball’s major league when he joined the Eye of the Tiger team in the Blue Island League. Two years later (1983) he played in his first of many nationals. That year he was named an ASA Second Team All American. Before his career was over, he was named an ASA First Team All American four times (1984, ‘88, ‘90, and ‘91), a USSSA All American three times (1985, ‘88, and ‘89), and a NSAAll American twice. He was also selected to numerous ASA, USSSA, and NSA second and honorable mention teams. He won the batting title at the 1996 ASA Nationals in Brookfield, Wisconsin when he played with Francanello’s and was named Most Valuable Player in the 1988 ASA Nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa with the Whips. Teams he played for appeared in final four finishes four times at Forest Park. They appeared in the ASA final four seven times and won four ASA National titles (Whips, Hollywood Casino, and Men from Uncle) and won three NSA National titles. Throughout his career in “A” and “Major” softball, he played second base, first base and catcher. In time, catcher became his primary position where he was recognized for his knowledge of the game and for his ability to know the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing hitters. Besides his defense, Mark’s offensive skills featured numerous clutch-hitting performances with his signature line drive to the right center field gap. When he wasn’t playing softball, Mark worked as a project manager during the day and sports director at night for the Alsip Park District. During his tenure at the Alsip, enrollment increased to 147 teams in the summer of 2004, second only in Illinois to the Rockford Park District. He currently directs the softball program at the Blue Island Park District. Because of his efforts, the park district was awarded an ASA “A” National bid to the 2006 and 2007 summer league season winners. He continues playing with the Grasshoppers and hopes to win another “A” National title before retiring from softball. He is also an ASA registered umpire. He and his wife, Laura, live in Frankfort, Illinois with their two children - Douglas and Jessica.
Ron “Z” Ziemann / Inducted 1999
Ron “Z” Ziemann
A glance at Ron Ziemann’s career reveals a single truth - teams he played on won a lot of championships. Ziemann’s career began at sixteen in Des Plaines when he played in a high school league. He started pitching by default - no one wanted to pitch. Seduced by the lure of big time softball at Clarendon and Kelly Parks, Ziemann’s local team entered a tournament in 1974 and defeated the Dwarfs. This tournament, and the reluctance of his local team to travel to Chicago, helped Ziemmann move to the Amalgamonsters, managed by Mike McGovern. Unfortunately, the Amalgamonsters couldn’t get beyond Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats, so they broke up. Ziemann found national fame in 1982 when Eddie Zolna and a team consisting of former Runts took the USSSA Title. Ziemann then hooked up with the Kelleher brothers and Sports Station in 1985. At 34, he had finished second five times in the Nationals, so the quest for a National Championship became an obsession. Ziemann’s dream came true in 1987 when Sports Station won the ASA National title and the USSSA Nationals. That year he was also selected as an ASA and USSSA 1st Team All-American. After retiring from the game for family reasons, Ziemann returned to the diamond to help pitch Whips to an ASA Championship (1989) and with Lettuce (1992). Besides his 1987 appearance on the ASA and USSSA All-American Teams, the ASA honored him in 1976, ‘78, ‘79, ‘80, ‘91, and ‘92; the USSSA honored him in ‘81 and ‘92. Ziemann attributes his success as a pitcher to two concepts - never give a hitter something he can hit and scout your opponent. Ziemann believes that most batters do not want to walk, so they will swing at pitches outside the strike zone. He and his catchers also looked for weaknesses in individuals by spending long hours scouting them. Ron Ziemann and his wife, Amy, Live in Des Plaines with their son, Jake. Ron manages 25 post offices in the North and Northwest suburbs.