Hall of Fame Inductees
Angelo Alesia / Inducted 2011
Angelo Alesia has played softball for thirty-one years and counting. He started playing softball in 1980 with a team of friends and relatives in Addison, the town he grew up in. He attended Glenbard North High School and played basketball and tennis. He then attended Triton College where he also played tennis. During his softball career, he played for many teams, most notably the Flames (his first team), the Blues (the major team he spent the most years with). In 1989 the Blues won their first State title, the Mt. Prospect Classic League title, and a USSSA National title. He played in Iowa for five years with the Graphic Edge and helped them win multiple State championships. He helped the Splinters, Windy City, Flash, and the 45s take second place in ASA National competition. He was also a member of three ASA National championship teams - Splinters in 1991, Hollywood Casino in 1994, and Licorice in 2002. He was selected an ASA First Team All American six times: 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006. He was a Second Team player several other years. Primarily a center fielder and leadoff man, he had great speed and patience at the plate. He hit mostly singles, doubles, and triples, but his patience at the plate allowed him to get on base with countless walks. He recently concluded the 2011 season in the Fifty-and-Over League at Clyde Park by going 77 for 79 with the Takers. He was one of the best leadoff hitters in the game and was a real gentleman on and off the field. Angelo and his wife, Jill, and daughter, Samantha, live in Oswego, Illinois.
Blue Island Park District / Inducted 2012
Blue Island Park District
Blue Island’s Centennial Park was dedicated in the 1930s by the Park District. In 1939 the Citry of Blue Island opened a new ballpark at 123rd and Western in front of three thousand spectators. In 1963 the Blue Island Park District purchased the ballpark and renamed the stadium Hart Park after Mayor John M. Hart. With this acquisition Hart and Centennial Parks began to carve out their place in 16-inch softball history. From league play to hosting national tournaments, these fields showcased some of the best men’s and women’s teams in softball history, and they watched as players who were just starting out learned to play this game so uniquely identified with the Chicago area.
B’ Athletes / Inducted 2015
The B’ Athletes softball team was formed in the Fall of 1992 as an alternative to the negative influences experienced in the neighborhoods where the players lived. The team was comprised of baseball, basketball, football, and track stars from high school and college. For many years, the team played in parks on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Eventually, they became a more experienced team and ventured farther south and west in Chicago and to the suburbs to play in more competitive leagues and tournaments. They took their lumps by playing against stiffer competition, but the exposure to semi-pro softball teams and players improved their play and confidence. They became one of the top black sixteen-inch softball teams in the country and they qualified to play in many national championship tournaments. In 1999, they placed fifth in the ASA Major Nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa. The B’ Athletes were the first team to win the Mike Royko Tournament in Grant Park. They received numerous invitations to play in the No-Glove Nationals at Forest Park and in the televised pro league at Forest Park. They won the Claude Rhodes Tournament and won titles at Blue Island, Garfield Park, Hamilton Park, Ogden Park, and Washington Park. Through their history, Hall of Fame players Randy “Stretch” Lee, Michael Lee, Clayton Jones, Mike Coleman, Ken “Chicken” Hairston, Austin “Spider Ware and Hall of Fame managers Sherman Martin, Jr. and Floyd Glover wore the B’Athlete colors. B/Athletes Roster
|Javon Austin||Freddie Hopkins||Michael McToy|
|Dorian Bolton||Anthony Jackson||Michael Price|
|Howard Bowling||Cody Jackson||James Rodgers|
|Vernon Cade||Garland Jackson||Walter Rodgers|
|Carl Carter||Renard Jackson||John Smith|
|* Michael Coleman||* Clayton Jones||Cornelius Spencer|
|Percy Coleman||Eric Jones||Keith Stallings|
|Michael Colvan||Ernest Jones||Darren Stewart|
|James Daniels||* Michael Lee||Pierre Walker|
|Curtis Durns||* Randy Lee||* Austin Ware|
|Nathaniel Earley||Westley Lee||Raymond Warren|
|Randy Ellis||Ricardo Ligon||Tracy Watkins|
|* Floyd Glover||Ron Mack||William Weatherspoon|
|* Ken Hairston||Marvin Martin, Jr.||Michael Webb|
|Michael Hamilton||Maurice Martin, Sr.||Leroy White|
|Robbie Harris||* Sherman Martin, Jr.||Jeffrey Henry|
Roger “Ozzie” Babilla / Inducted 2015
Roger “Ozzie” Babilla
Roger Babilla has been involved in sixteen-inch softball for thirty-six years as a player, coach, and sponsor. He grew up in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. Like many Chicagoans before him, he played softball first in the street and then moved to a more organized level at many parks, including Lincoln, Hamlin, Horner, River, Wells, and Grant to name a few. He attended Luther North High School and began playing organized softball for the Gents when he was eighteen. He played the game for twenty-five years, mostly at second base or catcher. In 1978, he began sponsoring teams at all skills levels. Ozzie and his business partner, John Wong, opened OJ’s at Clark and Diversey. They took the name from the O in Roger’s nickname and the J in John’s first name. In 1984, they opened Buffoon’s Saloon on Irving Park Road in Chicago. Roger currently owns Augie’s Booze and Schmooze at 1721 W. Wrightwood in Chicago. Hall of Fame inductee Rich Polfus called the men’s O.J.’s team that Roger sponsored a powerhouse that started out playing in “beer games” and blossomed into a competitive team that played in parks throughout Chicagoland. Every summer Roger sponsors ten to twenty teams and he pays the league fees for the S-3 Social Club. Without all of Roger’s sponsorships throughout the years, fewer teams would be playing softball. The O.J.’s women’s team will go down as one of the top women’s teams in sixteen-inch softball history and was honored by the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame in 2001. It began a ten-year run that dominated play in leagues and tournaments throughout Chicago and the suburbs. In 1985, many of the O.J. players continued playing for Ozzie and John when the O.J.s became the Buffoons. Besides sponsoring softball, Ozzie has supported the Misericordia Family and Fest for eighteen years. And has raised over $75,000 in donations. He has also supported the Make-a-Wish Foundation for six years through his Augie’s Golf Outing that has raised over $85,000 in donations. The Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune have recognized his bar for having “one of the best best holiday decorations”. People who know him call Ozzie a loyal, hard-working friend.
Clarendon Park / Inducted 2009
When it was completed in 1916, many considered north side Clarendon Park to be the largest and most practical bathing beaches in the country it lost this status in the 1930s when the Chicago Park District expanded Lincoln Park north to Foster Avenue, eliminating Clarendon’s lake frontage. While it was a great swimming beach and community center, 16-inch softball players remember Clarendon as the Mecca of softball during the 1950s and ‘60s. if you were a player or a fan, you had to be at Clarendon. Although Clarendon no longer sponsors its own leagues, players and fans will always remember it as softball’s greatest park during what many consider to be softball’s greatest years.
Clyde Park District / Inducted 2013
Clyde Park District
Clyde Park District located in Cicero has been the site of softball league for decades. Starting in 1985 executive director Rusty Carlson took the league to the next level by attracting some of the best teams in the game until 1995 with his Super A league and tournaments for men and women. His hard work set the tone for the games to still be played at Clyde for all ages, genders and diverse quality of play.
Dan “Sheik” Carmody / Inducted 2014
Dan “Sheik” Carmody
Dan Carmody was born in October of 1955 in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School and played baseball his freshman year at Regis University in Denver, Colorado before transferring to the University of Alabama. There he was given the nickname Sheik and graduated with a degree in Public Relations in 1979. While in college he started playing softball, but his career really took off after graduation playing for the Lot at the Kennedy and Mount Greenwood parks. He moved to the North Side in 1981, where he played and still plays in the Lincoln Park Leagues. He also played with Clockwork at Oak Park, Kosciusko, and Riis parks. They won the Hamlin Park Tournament numerous times. In 1988 he joined the Raiders and manager Ted Sherman, playing at James and Mather Parks and in various tournaments. The Raiders have played in the Mount Prospect Classic League since 1998. They took third place twice (1995 and 1996) and second 1997 in the Grant Park Tournament. The Raiders also placed third in the “A “Nationals in 1997 and 2007.
In 1995 he pitched the Problems to a second place finish in the USSSA ‘A’ Nationals. He pitched a perfect game for the Problems In ASA qualifier in Joliet. In 1997 he pitched the Franconellos to a third place finish at the A nationals in Brookfield Wisconsin. In 2005 he was the winning pitcher when the Chicagoland All Stars defeated the Iowa All Stars. “Sheik” Carmody is best known for his ability to get a big drop off the mound, his excellent range and his great defensive skills. His favorite play was being the pivot man on the double play. His 6”4 height also helped his defensive skills. He batted leadoff for many of his early playing years. Dan currently plays in the Mount Prospect Classic league with Traffic and coach Nick Gatta. Dan always took pride in being a good teammate and respecting his opponents on and off the diamond. He and his wife, Heather, and their three children, Katie, Callie, and Danny reside in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. He works as an options trader at the CME Exchange.
Eddie Chibe / Inducted 2015
Eddie Chibe played competitive sixteen-inch softball from 1979 to 2008. During these thirty-years, he played on two ASA “A” National Championship teams, one ASA Major National championship team, two USSSA National Championship teams, and five Forest Park No Glove National championship teams. Additionally, his teams won two Hawthorne Park titles, three Melrose Park championships, three Ringelstein Tournament championships, and one ASA State championship. He was named an ASA “A” MVP once and a Hawthorne Park MVP once. He was an ASA “A” All American twice and an ASA Major All American five times. He was named a USSSA All American three times. Eddie still plays in 40 and Over and 50 and Over leagues.
Albert E. Fegan / Inducted 2015
Albert E. Fegan
Albert Fegan was born in Chicago in 1901. When he was a young man, he was offered a job by George Young at the George Young Plant and Company. Founded in 1893, the company, located on Western Avenue in Chicago, manufactured baseball and softballs. On July 21, 1925 at twenty-four years of age, Albert was issued a patent for an indoor baseball. America was discovering the love of indoor games and Albert’s patent solved a major problem with indoor baseballs. The ball was too heavy to be driven in the proper direction or distance when struck by a bat. Albert’s invention lightened the ball’s core to ensure a truer flight. He was awarded a similar patent for the softball on May 25, 1937. On July 20, 1954, he was awarded a patent for a new and novel way to secure the cover on baseballs and softballs. This patent was for the “concealed stitch”, which allowed the stitches to be placed underneath to cover. Prior to this invention, softballs didn’t last very long on the hard surfaces of Chicago’s street and parks. Albert’s invention “hid” the stitches so the ball would last longer. Many softball experts think this was the precursor to the “Clincher” design made famous by DeBeers. In 1952, Albert became president of the George Young Company and opened a branch in Puerto Rico. He eventually closed this branch and moved production to Haiti. In 1962, he reopened a branch in Milwaukee but continued to manufacture softball in Haiti. George Young Company became Lincoln Diversified, a company founded by Albert’s son, Albert Jr. It was located in Elmhurst, Illinois but moved to Florida. Many believe that by moving production to Haiti, Albert was able to keep cost production down so that the labor intensive hand stitched softballs would be affordable for baseball and softball leagues in Chicago and across the nation. The entire softball / baseball industry followed Albert’s lead in moving to Haiti, where they remained for three decades. Albert’s grandchildren have fond memories of working summers in their grandfather’s factory packaging the sixteen-inch softballs that would be used in parks and leagues throughout Chicago as thousands played “Chicago’s game.”
Flamingoes / Inducted 2015
Great traditions often start with a simple mission and passion. The Flamingos, a world famous African-American sixteen-inch softball team, believed this to be true when they sought out the best softball teams to play “anytime and anywhere.” Under the expert coaching and organizing of Percy Coleman, the Flamingos became such a force in softball on the South and West Sides of Chicago that they were barred from playing in many local leagues and tournaments, including the popular Southside Cocktail “Money” League. During their thirty-year span, the Flamingos became the first black team to win three major national world series tournaments – the 1978 ASA Wisconsin World Series at Racine, Wisconsin, the 1979 ASA World Series Metro Championship at Lou Boudreau Stadium and the 1990 USSSA World Series at Orland Park. In the 1990 championship, the Flamingos played California Gold in the first-ever national championship that featured two black teams playing for the title. Flamingo players have been named national tournament MVPs and have been named to numerous national all-tournament teams. Many have been inducted into the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. Row1: Alvin "Doc" Robinzine, Ike Stratton, Lionel "Fish" Tally, John Hodges, Drake Jones, Sam Taylor, Angelo Mooring Row2: Dwayne "Sonny Simms" Spivey, Larry "Lala" Washington (HOF), Al Scroupa, Willis Miles (HOF), Percy "Bobo" Coleman, Rick "Monday" Ligon (HOF), Wayne Jaskwerski Row3: Billy "Sweet" Johnson (HOF), Monroe Banks, Randy Webb, Mike Brown, Robert "Lefty" Thomson, Andrew "Chin" Page, Carlos Hilliard, Miss Henrietta, Chip Holmes The Real Pioneers and the Flamingos Famous Alumni Papa "Joe" Stratton, Willie "B" Brown, Andrew "Rookie" Brown, and John "Lil John" White
|* Willie "Sweet" Johnson||Andrew "Chin" Page,||Gene “Geno” Gerald|
|* Sam "Gilbo" Taylor||Carl "Carlos" Hilliard,||Roy Culter|
|* Drake "DJ" Jones||Vincent "Vince" Sterling,||Norman Gordon|
|* Larry "Lala" Washington||Robert "Bobby" Crosby,||Jimmy Weatherspoon|
|* Dennis "Punchy" Wallace||Cleophus "Big Juice" Davis,||Joe Jackson|
|* Steve Kirby||Mitch McCullough,||Danny Jackson|
|* Anthony "Tony" Ward||Randy Webb,||Angelo Mooring|
|* Vada "Buddha" Primous||Roland "Rock" Kemp,||Brian Bennet|
|* Jessie Mack||Robert "Lefty" Johnson,||Cody Jackson|
|* Willis Miles||Alphonso "Puncho" Davis,||Leory "Whitey" White|
|* Sylvester “Vesmo” McKinnon||Jonnie Hodges||Howard "Sco" Blakley|
|* Willie "Wicked" Poole||Dwayne "Sonny Simms" Spivey||Vernon Cade|
|* Tom Bonen -||Edward "Lil Juice" Douglas,||Richard Hopkins|
|* Ricardo "Rick Monday" Ligon||Andrew "Rookie" Johnson||Wayne Jaskwerski - RIP|
|* Raymond Johnson||Papa "Joe" Stratton||Al Skorupa - RIP|
|* Donnie Gardner||John "Lil John" White||Chip Holmes - RIP|
|Percy "Bobo" Coleman||Mike Brown||Jerry Jones|
|Alvin "Doc" Robinzine||Michael "Dyke" Johnson||* Clayton Jones|
|Ralph "Dirty Harry" Love,||Ike "Pike Screw" Stratton||Jessie "Shady Jake" - Rip|
|Eddie "Tyke" Taylor,||James Earl,||Samuel "Bump" Woodson|
|Stanley "Stan" Brown,||Leonard "Lenny" Woodson||James "Crow" -Rip|
|Lionel "Fish" Tally,||James Earl||Ron "Dede" Pitts|
|Rod "Carew" Johnson,||Monroe "Cosack" Banks||Donald Woods - RIP|
|Alvin "Duke" Jones,||Michael "Dyke" Johnson||Robert "Blue Carter -RIP|
FORCE / Inducted 2015
FORCE women's sixteen-inch softball team evolved under the leadership of Coach and Founder, Allen Jenkins in 1979. This team of talented women from all neighborhoods of Chicago and the suburbs initially played at Garfield, Columbus, Franklin and Cabrini Parks. Season after season, FORCE dominated play and won league championships at these parks. As the team grew in numbers and prestige, FORCE won league titles at Washington, Grant, Clyde, and Forest Parks. FORCE played and won several NSA and ASA State and National tournaments, including the televised Budweiser Classic at Grant Park. They also won local tournaments in Blue Island, Franklin Park, Country Club Hills, Cicero, Elgin and Harvey, IL. FORCE competed and won various tournaments run by Les Duncan and Tom O'Neil. During their twenty years of play (1979-1999), many players from FORCE were named Tournament MVPs, All Star Team Members and several have already been inducted into the Chicago Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. FORCE were mothers, students, teachers, laborers, administrators, bankers and executives from different professions who came together for The Love of The Game! There were several mother/daughter players and even little girls who grew up with FORCE and later became key players. Some members of FORCE played with Mixed Company's Sixteen-inch Softball Team, a team that has already been honored by the Hall of Fame. Coaches
|Allen Jenkins||Leo Richmond||Willie Harrington|
|Juan Gayden||Henry Barber|
|Jackie Anderson||Tracey Barber||Joanie Bass|
|Tracy “TJ” Booker-Black||Donna Floyd||Vickie Ivory Harbin|
|Johnnie Gains Hairston||Rosetta Henderson||Tara Huff|
|*Christine Hurrins||Faye Lola Jenkins||Connie Johnson Jenkins|
|Regina Towers King||Patty Lindsey||Sherry Lipscom|
|Renette McCurry||Robin Moore||Bridgette Nesbitt|
|*Margaret Olawoye||Gwendolyn Twig Polk||Jan Pope|
|*Lisa Pugh||Rachelle Richmond||Janice Roberts|
|Tamieka Roberts||Sherrick Robinson-Smith||Darnita Spragg|
|Chiquita “ChiChi” Thomas||Earnestine Walker||Shirley Wilbourn|
|Charlene Davis Williams||*Popati Wing||Francine|
Justin Fortuna / Inducted 2015
Justin Fortuna’s softball career spanned forty years. He played with the Bobcats at Clarendon, Kosciusko, and Kelly Parks. He was a member of the Dr. Carlucci Bobcats when they won the ASA World Championship from 1969 to 1972. He was instrumental in coordinating the North Side Bobcats with Eddie Zolna’s (HOF) South Side Bobcats in the late 1960s. Justin’s team was playing at Clarendon Park when George Morse (HOF) mentioned that the Carlucci Bobcats needed players, so Justin brought Bobbie Fiandaca and future Hall of Famers Geno Petramale, Bobby Garippo, Mike Mareno, and Frank Lentine. In 1971, the year the Bobcats won the ASA Nationals, Al Cech (HOF) and Ron Olesiak (HOF) were added to the team. Besides organizing, Justin was also a backup pitcher for the Bobcats. Besides softball, Justin was president of the Athletic Officials Association (AOA). He officiated basketball for the Illinois High School Association and refereed three state championships. Additionally, he officiated baseball and basketball games for the Chicago Public Schools. He was inducted into the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996 and received the AOA Hall of Fame Award in 2005. Justin owned and operated Jay’s Drive-in with locations in Harwood Heights, Schiller Park, and Chicago’s Wicker Park. He passed away in 2000 and is survived by his wife, Muriel, and four children – Virginia, Jay, Frank, and John and twelve grandchildren
Jim Giblin / Inducted 2015
Jim Giblin attended St. Mel High School where he played both football and basketball. In 1960, his family moved to Oak Park, so Jim attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. He later attended Wright Junior College in Chicago. He started playing sixteen-inch softball in the late ‘60s with the Rascals in Oak Park and at Riis Park. From 1970 to the ‘80s, he played with Blue Max at parks and in tournaments through the Chicago area. They won championships at Oak Park, Amundsen, and Bellwood. They won the tournaments at Clyde Park and at Clarendon Park. Jim was named tournament MVP at Clarendon. He helped Blue Max / Spirit win the Forest Park title, Alley win the Kosciuszko championship and Takers win the Kosciuszko and Oak Park titles. Jim was a great leader and a fierce competitor who always competed at the highest levels. He was a great teacher of the game. Defensively, he understood the nuances of the game and always communicated them to his teammates during the game. Offensively, he made sure a hitter always advanced base runners by hitting behind the runners. He taught batters to never hit to third with runners on first and second, to never hit up the middle with a runner on first, and to always split the runners to avoid a potential double play when a ball was hit to the outfield. He coached his son, Jimmy, in Little League from the Minors to Pony League. He played softball in Forest Park with the skills his father taught him. One of his father’s greatest softball moments was playing on the same team with his son. Wherever Jim played, Jimmy was right there by his side. Jim died in 2006 of heart related problems. He married Sue Lloyd in 1970. They have two children – Jodie (Sam) LaBarbera and the late Jimmy Jr. His grandsons, Joseph and Sammy LaBarbera, both wear number nine on their baseball jerseys to honor the memory of their grandfather, Jim, and their uncle, Jimmy. His family and softball community miss him, but his years of teaching and playing assure that his legacy lives on in the many players playing the game today.
Matt Gillen / Inducted 2015
Matt Gillen graduated from Oaklawn Community High School in 1971. He then attended St. Francis University where he played baseball and basketball. After leaving St. Francis, he had tryouts with the Baltimore Orioles, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Kansas City Royals. He started playing sixteen-inch softball after college when he played in a game with some friends. He was asked to bat and promptly struck-out. This moment motivated him to develop his skills in Chicago’s unique game. He started his own team – Magilla’s Gorillas. After playing in local leagues, legendary player and coach Eddie Zolna (HOF) noticed his talents and asked him to play for the Bobcats in a national tournament. Playing with the Bobcats and its list of legendary players, gave Matt the physical and mental skills to play at a national level. He then joined Bob O’Malley’s Phoenix and Cougars teams on Chicago’s South Side and later played for Coopers and Bud North. Matt played shortstop, short center, and second base. He batted over .600, hit more than four hundred home runs, and drove in more than 1500 runs. During his softball career, Matt has achieved numerous team and personal honors. In 1981, he helped the Bobcats win ASA and National titles. In 1984, the Cougars took third place and in 1986, Coopers took second to the Ducks in the ASA Nationals. In 1986, Bud North finished fourth in the ASA Nationals in Mt. Prospect. Personally, Matt won all-state honors in 1979, was an All-American in 1984, 1985, and 1986 and was the MVP of the twelve-inch / sixteen-inch nationals in the 1990s, a tournament where a flip of a coin determined which sized ball would be used. Matt has received all-state honors in the 1990s and in 2001. He made every team he played for better because he was a true student of the game. He stills plays today with the Gamblers, thirty-five years after playing in his first softball game. Matt has coached softball at Mother McAuley High School for ten years. He recently retired from the Chicago Fire Department after thirty-three years of service. Matt and his wife, Tracy, have three children: Trina, Lindsay, and Ashlee. They live on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Grant Park / Inducted 2015
Grant Park has been the host site for sixteen – inch softball in Chicago for over eight decades. The game fosters camaraderie amongst co-workers; it’s an outlet from work and competition and has driven the players of all ages and professions to step on the field to play the game they love. Chicago style softball was played in various locations starting in the 1920’s, but sixteen – inch softball grew in popularity in the 1930’s in Grant Park. Over the years players took up the game in grass areas, behind Soldier Field and the Field Museum and at Butler field, near Jackson and Columbus. The area on the west side of Columbus, known as playing “on the top” was a grass area that evolved into fields in the 1980’s. The Chicago Park District answered the demand for field space resulting in sixteen – inch softball fields covering the south end of the downtown park. Tournaments in 1980’s were a popular spectator sport. One of the most popular tournaments held was the Tournament of Champions. This showcased the 1st place teams from the leagues in Grant Park. The leagues included Park District house leagues and the champs from the various leagues like the Accountant’s, Legal league, Advertising league , Metro, city departments and agencies, to name a few. This was the competition of the best of the best. Many teams have shown longevity in participation in Grant Park. One team in particular held the title for back-to-back years. Commonwealth Edison won the championship from 1990 to 1993 and again in 1995. Teams like Northern Trust, Gillette, CNA, Sun-Time’s, Sargent & Lundy, Bobby McGee’s, Peoples Gas, Railroad Retirement Board, City Engineers, Wild Bunch, KPMG, Mother Hubbard’s, O’Connor and Trans Union participated in the Chicago Park District Men’s leagues and have been around for many years. Women’s Teams rallied with company sponsored teams as Northern Trust, R.R. Donnelley, Amoco, IL Bell/ATT, BCBS and Quaker Oats. In the late 1990’s, as corporate coed leagues grew in size, teams like TNT, Tressler, Grant Thornton, Mesirow Financial, OPCO, Sargent & Lundy, CBOE and UBS crowded the arena in support for 16” softball. Major sixteen – inch softball Tournaments in Grant Park:
- Metro Tournaments, 1960-70, teams played to advance to the National ASA tournament, very often held in Chicago.
- Chicago Classic, sponsored by the Beverage Companies like Old Style and Miller Lite, teams came from all over to play on the lake front. There’s nothing better than just needing a bat, ball, tape for your fingers and beer!
- World’s Largest No Gloves Tournament 1992 attracted over 200 teams playing for the trophy and prizes that included an all-expense trip to Cancun, Mexico!
- The City Wide Industrial Tournament, this was an intense competition that matched teams from all around the city of Chicago.
- LaSalle Street Tournament hosted local teams where “ringer teams” often entered to snatch up the prize money.
- Mike Royko Memorial tournament honoring Chicago's most respected newspaper columnist and softball aficionado, held each September, offered softball players one last summer swing.
- Chicago Sixteen – inch Softball Hall of Fame Tournament consisted of men, women, co rec and men over forty divisions. This coveted tournament held 2004-2007 brought out the best of the players.
- City Wide Youth Championships, culminated the season for thousands of kids from across the city parks. These kids continued to keep the game alive!
- Special Olympics Softball, Chicago Park District Special Recreation athletes perform skills tests and competition. The Special Olympics/Special Children’s Charities celebrated their 45th anniversary in July of 2013. In 2014, 481 athletes participated in softball activity in Grant Park.
- The Chicago Police League played in Grant Park 1950 – 2013. This brought police officers from all over the city to compete and build camaraderie amongst various division of the police force. The league continues to play within the Chicago Park District.
- The Illinois Bell/Metro Softball League ran in Grant Park from 1960-2005. The last league director, Jeff Wilkens (1990-2005) notes that back in 1974 every diamond in the pit, up top and over by Petrillo were full every day with teams. They had fond memories of practicing by the original band shell with many other teams waiting for the late game. They always had a contest about who could hit the Columbus statue. Wild Bunch won the league championship in 1991,1992, and 1995. When the league disbanded in 2005, the team joined the park district men’s league on Thursday nights and continues to play.
- The Chicago Design League continues the tradition 1999-2014. Nic Rotundo, league director, said that Grant Park gave the Chicago Design League its softball home… and in the grandest of Chicago sixteen – inch tradition on Upper and Lower Hutchinson fields. What makes their league unique is that they started out as a loosely organized squatter’s league in Lincoln Park’s South Field where they survived for twelve years but the late 90’s brought about the need to either formalize, or disband. It was at that point they started play in Grant Park. Over the past fifteen years, thirty-seven teams have competed for 15 Crowns determined at their annual Championship Tournament, the culmination of their season and a tradition known throughout Chicago’s design and construction communities. So the ride so far has been tremendous with no end in sight as far as they are concerned… the sixteen – inch tradition is alive and continuing to thrive in Grant Park.
Kenneth “Chicken” Hairston / Inducted 2012
Kenneth “Chicken” Hairston
Ken Hairston played softball for twenty-seven years and competed in 'Major' softball for fifteen of them. During that time he played for the Wild Bunch, Villains, Flashes, the B Athletes, California Gold and Solutions in the most competitive parks in Chicago and the suburbs. As a shortstop and short center, he had a career batting average over .500 and hit forty-five homeruns and drove in more than six hundred runs. Ken was the MVP of the CCBL Tournament in 1978 and 1982, the 1994 USSSA Majors in 1994, and the 2000 Black American Tournament. Additionally, he was named to the 1982 CCBL All Tournament Team, the 1991 USSSA All Tournament Team, the 1994 USSSA Major World Tournament Team, and the 2000 Black American All-World Tournament Team. In 1995 he was invited by the ASA to play on the Pan Am Team. In 2011 Ken and Solutions defeated the Bombers to capture the ASA "A" National Championship. They were the Black National Champions in 2009, '10, '11, and '12. Throughout his twenty-seven year playing career, Ken always played at a high level and always displayed good sportsmanship. He is well known and is respected throughout the softball community. Ken and his wife, Johnnie, live in Jonesboro, Georgia where he now plays twelve-inch softball. Ken and Johnnie have a son, Mike.
David Hardt / Inducted 2015
David Hardt started his fifty-year sixteen-inch softball career in the late forties and early fifties in the Father Jerry League. Top players like Eddie Earle (HOF), Orin Matson, Bill Hall, Geno Petramale (HOF), Jack Zeko, and Jack Lewis played in this league. After the Father Jerry League, David started playing with the Wolves at Portage and Kosciuszko Parks. They also played on Saturday and Sunday in “jackpot” games at Wells, La Follette, Sayre, and Amundsen Parks. They won the John C. Marcin Tournament a few times and beat the Dugouts in 1959 and 1960 for the Portage Park Title. He played in the Daddy-O-Daily League with the Kenneth Allen team. He played with Hall of Famers Tony Reibel, Louie Vine, Wally Mader, Ed Whitman, Gil Muratori, Zeke Crement, and Ed Mulligan, who was the longest softball hitter of his time. He also played for Ron “Beetlebom” Braasch (HOF) at Clarendon Park in the days before park superintendent George Morse (HOF) decide to inject the softball with water to prevent the long home run. He also played with Lewa Yacilla (HOF) and Moose Camillo (HOF) in money games at Clarendon, Wells, La Follette Parks and at Chicago and Kedzie. When they needed an outfielder, they called David because he was fast and had a rifle arm. David led most of his teams in total bases because he could hit down the right field line. He drove in more than 1000 runs and hit more than two hundred home runs. He played nearly every position except first base but favored the outfield. In the Lake Shore Tournament, he went sixteen for seventeen and was selected tournament MVP. David and his wife, Joan, live in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. They have two children – Richard, and Nancy, and three grandchildren, Danielle, Ron, and Dave. The Hardt family tradition of playing sixteen-inch softball now covers three generations. Their son, Rick, played for many great teams and is still pitching for some at the age of fifty-seven. Their grandson, Dave, has played on many championship teams in Chicago and the suburbs. He currently plays for the Road Runners.
Drake Jones / Inducted 2014
Drake Jones started playing serious softball with the Mau Maus when he was eighteen years old and met Stanley Brown while working at the Post Office. They played in the Post Office League, at Washington Park, and in tournaments throughout the city. During one of those tournaments, they played against the legendary Flamingos. Drake hit four homeruns off their top pitcher, Percy “Bobo” Coleman, and hunted down every ball they hit to him the outfield. Unfortunately, they lost that game but after the game, Percy Coleman asked him to join the Flamingos. Coleman promised him that they would play the best teams in the best parks and would be the best-dressed team in any tournament. They played in Prescott, Arizona, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Marshalltown, Iowa. Locally they played in the top parks in Chicago and the suburbs. One of his favorite memories is playing in the first Black World Series at Comiskey Park. The tournament featured over forty teams, was witnessed by 5,000 fans, and was reported by the Chicago Defender newspaper. Other memories include beating the hometown favorite in Marshalltown, Iowa and winning in South Dakota by hitting five back-to-back homeruns in the seventh inning to clinch the victory in front of hundreds of screaming fans. During this period, Drake was working, raising a family and playing basketball, but softball was becoming his passion. The Flamingos won so many local league championships that they were barred from the popular South Side Cocktail League.
Even though they were shutout in local competition, they gained a lot of attention in “major” softball and began playing more white teams. They started out against The Zolna Bobcats but were soon playing Coopers, the Dwarfs, the Sobies, Miller Taggers, and the Eastsiders. And white teams began playing more black teams, including the Unknown Wild Bunch, Outcasts, Safari Tigers, and Mark Thompson’s Bobcats. In the late 1970s, Percy Coleman diversified the Flamingos when he recruited Tom Bonen (HOF), Wayne Jawerski, and Al Scroupa. Drake played outfield, fist base, and catcher. He earned “super star” status because of his offensive and defensive talents. Drake consistently hit over .500 and could throw runners out at all bases from left field with his “rifle” arm. He was selected to ten major league all-star teams, received eight Golden Hands awards for his defense, and was named an MVP on ten teams. He was recognized as the greatest Flamingo outfielder with no other player coming close to his talents. He often ate ice cream and drank pop while chasing balls down. Sometimes he even caught some behind his back. For over fifteen years, Drake had a front row seat to sixteen-inch softball history. He witnessed super teams playing with great players and being managed by super managers. His memories go on-and-on, not just with the Flamingos, but also with the Mau Maus, Flashes, the Senators, L.A. Posse, the Gladiators, and Third Rail, his CTA team. Drake and his wife, Bernice, live on Chicago’s South Side. They have seven children: Drake, Jr, Chernise, Joshua, Solomon, Jamal, Jemel, and Jessica.
Rick “Bundy” Lasky / Inducted 2011
Rick “Bundy” Lasky
Rick Lasky was born in Chicago but attended Lyons Township High School in LaGrange where he wrestled and played baseball, earning all-conference honors his senior year. After graduation from high school, Rick played in a Senior Babe Ruth Summer League in Brookfield and after winning the State Championship was playing in the Regional Tournament in East Lansing, Michigan when Dave Dombrowski, Farm System Administrator and scout for the Chicago White Sox, discovered him. Dombrowski invited him to spring training in 1980. Rick met Ron Kittle on the plane ride to Sarasota and the two became roommates during spring training. After negotiations with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals didn't pan out, Rick left professional baseball. He started as a Police/ Fire Communications Officer for the Justice Police Department, served as a Police Officer in Willow Springs and became a Firefighter Paramedic in Bedford Park. Rick worked his way up through the ranks in the fire service retiring in September of 2011 as Fire Chief of the Lewisville, Texas Fire Department and is proud of his work with his friend John Travolta on the movie "Ladder 49." He began playing softball for the Ghost Riders in the Woodridge Park District and very shortly after began playing for Ledo's Touch of Class (Hodgkins Park District), playing for Coach Ron Kubicki for several years. He then moved to the Barrel of Fun (Worth Park District) and then to Sports Station (Mt. Greenwood and Kelly Parks). He was selected as a Second Team All-American in the 1984 national championship, was a member of the South All-Star Team from 1985 to 1988, and was a member of the 1987 All-American Team, the year Sports Station won the ASA National title. Rick played 1st base, 3rd base, and catcher. He was known as one of the top long-ball hitters of the game. In his 18-years career, he hit over 150 homeruns and drove in over 400 runners. During the Berwyn Tournament in 1986, he hit a homerun that bounced into the concession stand window. It shattered a mustard container and scattered the concession stand workers. He once hit three homeruns in a tournament in Racine, Wisconsin while playing for Ledo's Touch of Class. But his most memorable homer might have been the one he hit off Mike Tallo (HOF) that won the Harvey Metro Tournament and put Barrel of Fun into the Nationals. Rick and his wife, Jami, live just north of Dallas in Lewisville, Texas. They have two children, Rick a US Navy Corpsman attached to the Marines, and Emily an All-Conference high school softball player who will be attending The University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio on a softball scholarship. Although retired as fire chief, Rick is a nationally recognized and highly sought-after author and speaker on leadership, fire safety and education.
Michael Lopez / Inducted 2011
Mike Lopez started playing softball when he was eleven at Mitchell School at Ohio and Leavitt in Chicago. He ran track at Ridgewood High School for four years. In 1987, he started playing Major softball with Sports Station, a team he was honored to play for. They won the ASA Nationals that year. He then helped three other teams win ASA National titles: the Whips in 1989 and 1990; Lettuce in 1992, '93, '96, and '98; and Licorice in 2000. He also helped Lettuce win the USSSA World Title in 1994. He won the batting title at the ASA Nationals in 1989 and 1994. He was an ASA 1st Team All American seven times: 1988, '89, '94, '95, '98, 2000, and 2003. He was voted to the ASA 2nd Team All-American five teams. Mike and his wife, Maria, have two children – Michelle and Michael. They live in Villa Park, Illinois. Mike gave up the game of softball with a few good playing years left so he could coach his children in softball and golf.
Mt. Prospect Park District / Inducted 2008
Mt. Prospect Park District
Mt. Prospect Park District’s first involvement with major 16-inch softball came in the late 1970s when the district’s Meadows softball fields hosted a Winston Cup tourney. In 1982 they expanded its summer softball leagues from four to fifteen, then Rick Pyle and Bob Ancona started a softball league that attracted most of the major Chicago teams. In 1983, at the suggestion of Dick Cooper, the league became known as the “Classic League.” On average, the district has 100 recreational softball teams playing in twenty different leagues each summer. A team from the Classic League has won the ASA and SSA Men’s Major National Championships almost every season.
Magic / Inducted 2015
In the summer of 1969, three friends – Hilde Diaz, John “Sweet Daddy” Wojtasik, and Ron “Orca” Michalowicz – recruited their neighborhood friends from Summit to form a sixteen-inch softball team called the Argo Sinners. That year they began playing in the Bedford Park and Summit Park leagues. Like most new teams in their first year of competition, things didn’t go so well. So the following year, they decided to recruit players from outside of the neighborhood and changed their name to The Gentleman. Their play improved as a team but not fast enough. So in 1971, they changed their team name to the Marauders and changed a few players as well. They played another average year in 1972 and again tweaked their roster and changed their name to the Magicians. It finally paid off when they won their first championship in Bedford Park. Ready to defend their title in 1973, they shortened their name to Magic and the team never looked back. From 1973 to 2013, Magic won many different league titles and even won some leagues multiple times at Bedford Park, Summit Park, Bridgeview, Burbank, Lyons, Oak Lawn, Darien, Hickory Hills, Westmont and Valley Forge. But as they were hitting all strides, the league (s) they were playing in either folded or the level of competition declined. Around 1987 or 1988, Magic began playing in the La Grange League. They had success in this league and won a few league titles. In 1992, as age began to take its toll, Magic joined the Friday night La Grange 39 and Over League. They won numerous league titles during the fifteen years they played in La Grange. In 2002, the league moved to Janura Park in Berwyn. Magic won that league six of seven years and in 2013 went undefeated with a 19 – 0 record. During the years, Magic won tournaments at Washington Park, Hale Park, and Bogan and Summit Parks. Their biggest tournament wins were at the USSSA Recreational Metro in Hodgkins, and they were four-time winners at Furlan’s in Trevor, Wisconsin. As players have come and gone, Magic teammates have formed many long lasting friendships and many families have bonded. The majority of these friendships are still going strong today. Magic is not just a softball team but also a family. Fathers and sons, uncles and nephews, brothers, cousins, and childhood friends have all played together at one time or another. Some are still playing today. Magi’s values of friendship, family, fun, and loyalty and their “never give up” attitude had never wavered. Those values are still strong today. Congratulations to Hilde Diaz, Ron “Orca” Michalowicz, Keith “Breeze” Rehr and Bobby “Jaws” Jaworski on having played with Magic for forty-plus years. Tommy Tomlinson and Rick Regep have played for fifteen years. These six guys keep the Magic tradition alive. John “Sweet Daddy” Wojtasik and Bob “Croc” Crokenower recently retired after forty-plus years with the team. Frank Batura, Mike Stawski, Paul Zaitz, Pete Zaitz, Joe Fabian and Gary Klonowski recently retired after fifteen years with the team. Magic thanks the sponsors who have supported the team throughout the years – Marian’s Bar, Damar-Kaminski Funeral Home, Bella’s, Luetje’s Village, Smilin’ Goat, Foran Funeral Home, Brewskee’s, and Junior’s Bar and Grill. Magic would like to acknowledge the following players who have played for or are currently playing with Magic
|Hilde Diaz||Frank Batura||John “Sweet Daddy Wojtasik|
|Ron “Orca” Michaowicz”||Mike Stawski||Paul Zaitz|
|Pete Zaitz||Keith “Breeze” Rehr||Bob “Jaws” Jaworski|
|Joe Fabian||Gary Klonowski||Rick Regep|
|Tommy Tomlinson||Bob Bellany||Bob “Croc” Crokenower|
|Aleco Julius||Brad Kerzich||Eddie Zambo|
|Robert Wojtasik||Kerry Mecca||Scot “Wesco” Wesolowski|
|Lupe Diaz||Paul Volk||Chuck Bedlow|
|Ray Bedlow||Dan Telford||Jason “Lil Orca” Micvhalowicz|
|John Bagel||Rich “Pup” Bagel||Mark Scharlow|
|Jack Kamin||Tom Mazurski||Charles Richardson|
|Tony “Ozzie” Giglio||Tony Davis||Danny Athern|
|Jack Hogan||Larry Lenz||Nate “Dino” Brown|
|Kenny Menke||Bryan Fry||John Pelagrino|
|Tony Kabella||Bill “Rookie” Lang||Ron Risden|
|Dave Plesha||Tom Neputy||Darren Neputy|
|Brain “Coach” Udaykee||Eddie Chibe||Brad Moriaity|
|Kevin Salkeld||Paul Wetzig||Mike “Doc” Snell|
|Mark Munizzi||Jim Homa||Rolan Czik|
|Dennis Strzelczyk||“Big Dave” Sramek||Bobby Rehr|
|Gary Lewis||Mark Perecich||John Strxelczyk|
|Rich Hennessey||Bill Hickey||Mick Malmon|
|Chuck Gach||Buddy McFadden||Korky Wesolowski|
|Dean Folcar||Dan Gernatis||Don Schultz|
|Bobby Alquist||Louie Delfiacco||Allan Tomnitz|
|Mark Ksiondra||Pat Strossner||Nino Perovich|
|“Pappa Joe” Zaitz||Joe Winnek||John Svetich|
|Bob Barta||Jimmy Glorioso||Ed “Rocko” Rokosic|
|Bob Habel||Howard Habel|
Carl Maniscalco / Inducted 2015
Carl Maniscalco’s softball career spanned over twenty-five years, beginning when he was in grade school. Although he attended Queen of Angels Elementary School, he was frequently found at the playground of Waters Elementary School starting in the 1970s. It is there that he found his love of softball. This love continued through his high school years. When he was not starring as an “All - Area” basketball player at Gordon Tech High School, he could be found playing softball for the Stooges, Rox, and with friends on other teams in men’s leagues throughout the Chicago area. Upon graduating from Gordon Tech High School in 1976, Carl played point guard for coach Dick Versace at both Jackson Community College and Bradley University. After college, Carl returned to Chicago and continued to play softball with the Jets, Fusion, and Storm. During these years, Carl won several neighborhood tournaments and league championships, starting at short-center and shortstop and as the “table setter” in the lineup. In 1989, Carl joined the Blues and manager Sal Vasta (HOF). They won the USSSA Nationals by defeating the Whips. He then joined the legendary Dick Cooper (HOF) to win two Mt. Prospect Classic League titles. In 1994, Carl was reunited with Sal Vasta and for the next three years, Carl helped them win the 1994 ASA National title with Hollywood Casino, the 1995 Forest Park No-Gloves Nationals with Thee Dollhouse, (in a thrilling nine-inning victory over Rich Melman’s Lettuce) and the 1996 Grant Park Tournament with Sportschannel. In 1997, Carl joined Ron Kubicki (HOF) and Stan Patek (HOF) of Pugliese. In 1998, they won the ASA Illinois State championship and in 1999 they defeated Lettuce to clinch the ASA Major Nationals title. It was during this time that softball became a family event for the Maniscalcos. Carl hung up his bat and glove in 2000 and moved his focus to coaching his sons in basketball at Queen of Saints Elementary School and at St. Patrick High School. He continues to coach with the Illinois Wolves AAU team and at GordonTechnical High School. In 2010, Carl was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame for his basketball career. Currently, Carl is an S&P Options Broker at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a position he has held for over thirty years. When he isn’t working, he spends time with his wife of thirty-five years, Coyla, and their three sons and daughter-in-law, Jack (Allison Pawlicki), Anthony, and Sam. Softball gave Carl an outlet for his fierce competitiveness, but just as important, if not more so, allowed him to build lifelong friendships with his teammates and managers.
Mike Marchinski / Inducted 2015
Mike Marchinski was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago. As a child of the 50’s and 60’s, two things were inevitable: Mike was a long - suffering Cub fan, and he spent every leisure moment playing 16-inch softball. Mike’s first venture into organized ball came as an eighth grader playing for Our Lady of the Angels parish in the C.Y.O. (Catholic Youth Organization). While in high school, Mike and his friends developed their skills at Kosciuszko Park before making the jump to the big time in the Portage Park “A” League. It was during this time that Mike was spotted by Bob DiCherie whose “Bakers” team needed a 3rd baseman for a game under the lights at the Bensenville VFW. The evening was a success and following the game Mike accepted an offer to become a full time member of the Bakers. While maintaining an active role with his high school friends at Portage Park, Mike was ready to embark on a softball journey that would carry him through the better part of the next three decades. After a few years, the team became known as the Chicago Bakers and manager Danny Cocco moved Mike from third base to the pitcher’s mound. At this time, Mike was also a key member of his highly successful Fel-Pro Inc. company softball team, winning fourteen divisional titles, ten tournament championships, three Thillen’s Tournament titles, and achieving a perfect 35-0 season in 1988. Softball was truly his passion. A typical day would see Mike work an 8-hour day and put on his Fel-Pro uniform for a 5:30 game in Skokie. After the game was well in hand, Mike would hop into his car, change into his Baker uniform while driving and arrive at Portage Park just in time for a 7:00 game. After another victory and another change of clothes, Mike would finish his day with a game under the lights in Bensenville. Mike’s biggest concern at this time was getting a flat tire. His trunk was so full of all of the different uniforms and equipment that he needed for the different teams, he had no room for a spare. One of the highlights of Mike’s softball career came in 1975 when he played short center for Josef’s Restaurant at the 16 - inch ASA National Tournament in Marshalltown, Iowa. After losing the first game, the team roared back from the loser’s bracket to win ten straight games and claim the championship with two victories over Danan’s Inn from Pell Lake, Wisconsin. Mike was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and received First Team All American honors. The Bakers joined forces with the Amalgamonsters and continued to play at the highest level of competition at Clarendon, Kelly, and Portage Park while playing in as many tournaments as they could fit into their schedule. Mike contributed greatly to the success of the Amalgamonsters, highlighted by another First Team All American selection as the Amalgamonsters captured 2nd place at the 1976 ASA Nationals in Sioux Falls, SD, and another 2nd place at the 1979 ASA Nationals in Harvey, IL. Mike achieved his greatest softball victory in 1977. While coaching the Fuller’s Pub women’s team, Mike met his wife of 36 years, Toni. They were married in October of 1978 and have three children. They moved to Vernon Hills and Mike’s softball career was gradually moved to the back burner as he watched his children compete in their own sports. Oldest son Michael played volleyball and soccer for Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Philip was the starting catcher at Lewis University in Romeoville, and daughter Christine played volleyball for Ole Miss. Mike concluded his active softball career in Libertyville, playing several years for the Knights in a neighborhood league. He retired from the game in 2000 and now enjoys the game of golf but the memories of his time on the diamond will last forever.
Tom “Oscar” McClelland / Inducted 2015
Tom “Oscar” McClelland
Before moving behind the plate to call balls and strikes, Tom McClelland played with some of the top teams of sixteen-inch softball. He grew up in the Norwood Park neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He started playing sixteen-inch softball in seventh grade at Immaculate Conception Elementary School. He played outfield and pitched for the Bobcats in Eddie Zolna’s (HOF) last year as a manager. Tom played at the Major level (as an outfielder and then as a pitcher) for twenty-two years with the Mets (four years), the Playboys (eight years), the Taggers (seven years), and Lettuce Entertain You (three years). He pitched the second no-hitter in the history of the USSSA Nationals in 1986 with the Meister Brau Taggers. He went 31-4 pitching for Lettuce in 1992, the year they took second in the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals, and won the ASA State Tournament, the ASA Nationals, and numerous league titles. In 1997, he was the oldest person (at forty-five) selected as a 1st Team All-American in the ASA Major Nationals. Tom has umpired over 1800 softball games at all levels of competition, including ….
- Thirty-six ASA Major Qualifiers
- the Grant Park Tournament (1993 to 1998)
- the Illinois State Tournament (1993-1998, 2000-2002, and 2004-2013)
- the winners’ final bracket and championship games on the Forest Park No- Glove Nationals (2000-2002 and 2004-2014)
- the Championship game of the Chicagoland Classic Tournament (2002, 2004- 2006, and 2009-2014), including ten championship games
- the Westchester Tournament of Champions (seven championship games)
- Major League softball at Mt Prospect Classic League (1993 – 1998 and 2000- 2014), the Forest Park “Pro” TV League (1996 -1998, and league in Bensenville, Lisle, LaGrange and Westchester /Hodgkins.
- the Forest Park Major League (2010-2014)
Sylvester “Vesmo” McKinnon / Inducted 2015
Sylvester “Vesmo” McKinnon
Sylvester McKinnon played with the Ironmen for 1961 to 1971. In 1961, they took second place in the Grant Park Major Tournament. From 1972 to 1979, he played with the Flamingos. In 1974, they took third place at the nationals held in Dalton, Georgia. In 1976, they played in the nationals in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 1978, they played in the nationals at Marshalltown, Iowa. He played with Flash from 1979 to 1986. In 1980, they competed at the nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa. In 1982, they competed in the nationals in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Sylvester also competed at Kelly Park and Mt. Prospect with the Ironmen, the Flamingos, and Flash. He played right field, first base, and catcher. He was selected MVP of the Grant Park Major League in 1967. In 1973, he was MVP at Cold Park.
Molex / Inducted 2015
John Krehbiel Sr., the founder of Molex in Lisle, IL, always had a passion for employee morale because he believed that employee engagement was vital to Molex’s success. So he started company picnics, social activities, and he created a profit sharing plan, long before other companies even considered it in the 1950s. Mr. Krehbiel believed that sports activities were also important for company cohesiveness, so Molex supported and sponsored a bowling league, tennis and soccer competitions, marathon runners, a twelve and sixteen-inch softball team, and other sports activities. . In 1979, Molex played in its first sixteen-inch softball tournament. The Molex team would go on to win dozens of tournaments and leagues in the Western suburbs. They were considered one of the best teams in Western suburbs and, after winning the Chicagoland Industrial championship two years in a row, were one of the top corporate teams in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, Molex played in the top leagues, the Forest Park TV Pro-League in the 9's, and many times earned a top ten spot in national competitions. Softball was also played internally as morale building events between Molex divisions and groups. Molex not only sponsored sixteen-inch and twelve-inch softball corporate teams but was also a corporate sponsor of the game. They purchased advertising copy in every Sixteen-inch Hall of Fame dinner book and were the first major sponsor of the Hall of Fame museum. Their sponsorship was instrumental in building the indoor Hall of Fame Museum in Forest Park, Illinois. Directly, they sponsored the industrial/corporate display at the Hall of Fame Museum, a display that features historical information and memorabilia on softball teams from Continental Bank, Northwestern Railway, and the Sun Times/Daily News. The Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame honors Molex, the global electronics leader, with its 2nd President's Award for its consistency and commitment to the game of softball.
Stan Patek / Inducted 2015
Stan Patek started managing sixteen-inch softball at the Major level in 1996 when he started as assistant manager with Sportschannel. He managed the Gamblers in 1997 and then moved to Puglise from 1998 to 2002. He then managed Bucks (2002), Bucketheads (2003 and 2004), Impact (2005 through 2007 and 2010 to 2014). He was assistant manager for Hype in 2008 and took over the top spot in 2009. Stan managed teams to three ASA Major Nationals second place finishes, one SSA Major Nationals runner-up, one ASA Major Nationals third place finish, one ASA Major Nationals fourth place finish, three Forest Park No-Glove Nationals second place finishes. His team won two ASA State Championships. In 1999, Puglise beat Lettuce to win the ASA Major Nationals title. That same year they beat Lettuce again to win the Forest Park Non Gloves title. In 2000, Bucks beat Licorice to win the No Gloves championship. He has a sixty-five percent winning percentage. In 1999, Stan was the Terry Moran Award recipient. Stan and his wife, Chris, live in Brookfield, Illinois.
Anthony Portincaso / Inducted 2012
Tony Portincaso started playing softball in 1981 with the Masters, a team from the Northwest-side of Chicago. They played in Norridge and Niles and at Hiawatha and Oriole Parks. He got a taste for competitive softball while playing in a couple of games at Clarendon Park. In 1984 he joined Pegasus, a team comprised of some neighborhood friends. Pegasus honed their softball skills by playing in leagues at Indian Road, Riis Park, Norridge, Evanston, and Franklin Parks. They then joined the competitive Mt. Prospect league, a move that would start Tony's competitive softball career. Pegasus won their first Metro title in 1990 at LaGrange by beating the Eastsiders. This victory earned them a slot in the ASA Major Nationals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Pegasus returned to the ASA Nationals in 1991 by playing in the "A" Division at Blue Island. They returned to the Major Nationals in 1992 at Mt. Prospect where they finished sixth. In 1993 Tony joined the 45s and stayed with them until 2000. In 1996 the 45s won their first Forest Park title and took second in the 1998 ASA Major National Tournament at Cedar Rapids. Although he started out playing first base for the 45s, he switched to short center in the late '90s. There he became one of the top players at that position. He would play there for the rest of his career. In 2001, looking for his first Major National title, Tony left the 45s to play for the Bucks. They ended up taking second place to the 45s in the ASA Major Nationals in Schaumburg. However, Tony was selected as a 1stTeam All-American. He was selected as an ASA 1st Team All-American twice and was an ASA Second Team All- American twice. The next year he rejoined the 45s and stayed with them until 2006. In 2003, while with the 45s, Tony won his first ASA Major National title. They went on to win National titles in 2004, 2005, and 2006 in Chandler, AZ and Mt. Prospect. Needing a break from the commitments of major softball, Tony played for Punch in 2007, but he was back with the 45s in 2008. He played with them in 2008, 2009, and 2011 (they didn't field a team in 2010). Tony and the 45s won five Forest Park Titles - 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009. As the decade came to a close, Tony could look back at numerous National titles, All-American honors, and a lifetime of friendships and memories. Tony and his wife, Diane, have two children: Gabrielle and Joseph. They live in Bloomingdale, Illinois.
Vada K. Primous / Inducted 2015
Vada K. Primous
Vada Primous grew up on the South Side of Chicago at 59th and Prairie and 73rd and South Shore. He attended Senn High School on the North Side of Chicago where he played football and baseball. He was named Most Athletic his senior year. After high school, he attended Triton Junior College, leaving after one year to work to support his family. In the early 1980s, he began his sixteen-inch softball career at Rainbow Beach, which was on Chicago’s South Side. With raw talent and keen interest in the game, he was asked to join Deathwish in 1986, coached by Carey Goins. During his time with the team, Deathwish won two Blue Island Class “A” championships. In 1993, they finished third in the USSSA State Tournament and took sixth in the USSSA “A” Nationals. Vada earned All-Tournament honors. He then played with other highly competitive teams across the city. While a member of the Flamingos in the 75th and Jeffery League, they won two league titles. He was named league MVP in 1990 for his outstanding play and sportsmanship. He was named to the USSSA State Title First Team in 1990 and 1998. The Flamingoes placed fourth at a tournament in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Vada received First Team honors. Vada played with California Gold in the pro league at Forest Park and won a Garfield Park title. He played with the Untouchables in the Forest Park / Hodgkins Pro League. He was considered a top player in the league and helped the team win a Garfield Park title in 1998. He led the team in home runs, RBIs and batting average. That year they finished in the top six in Cedar Rapids and Vada received All-Tournament honors. He then played for the co-ed team Sloan and helped them win the Broadview League title in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. He led the league in home runs and RBIs in three of those years. Defensively, he played all infield positions. His commitment to softball lasted many years and through all those year he respected his teammates and opponents, whether his team won or lost. He thanks his wife, Renea, and their three sons, Jerome, Tyrone, and Daniel for being his biggest fans. Vada and his family live in Lynwood, Illinois. He is currently a deputy with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
Lisa Pugh / Inducted 2015
Lisa Pugh grew up at Cabrini Green, an inner city housing project on Chicago’s North Side. She was the seventh child of nine (one brother and eight sisters). When she was ten, she began playing baseball with the neighborhood boys. They called her a tomboy but they changed their tune when she struck out some of the boys. She started playing sixteen-inch softball at fourteen while working for the Chicago Park District at Stanton and Seward Parks in Chicago. She credits gym instructors Janice Roberts and Johnnie Croskey for teaching her the fundamentals of hitting, throwing, and pitching. She realized her love for the game when she watched her father watched baseball. She knew she couldn’t play baseball, so softball became her passion. Her elementary school teachers told he how athletically gifted she was. She played volleyball, softball, and basketball at Lincoln Park High School, but softball was always her first choice. She travelled with her first team, BIG 50, around Chicago seeking better competition. They won several league titles with coaches Mr. Lee and Ms. Epps. She the moved to the top ranked team Force after graduating from high school in 1981. She had heard the hype about the team but couldn’t play for them sooner because she wasn’t eighteen. She was nervous about joining them because they were older, but she was sure with her skills and confidence she would contribute to their success. In 1982 she joined her husband, Trez van Pugh in Okinawa, Japan. She worked at the USO and was approached by a co-worker who asked if she played softball. Lisa was a member of Dependent Wives, a military organization for the wives of soldiers. On her first day of practice, she discovered that they played with gloves, an unheard of development for a sixteen-inch softball warrior. So she started a sixteen-inch tournament and got six teams to participate. The players called their participation in the tournament challenging and one of the best experiences of their lives. When she returned to the States in 1987, she resumed her softball career. She played on several women’s and co-ed teams and played at parks throughout the Chicago area. She played third base, second base, shortstop, short center, left and right field and catcher. She is a consistent hitter who has the knack for hitting the ball to the gaps in all parts of the field. She has been named to numerous all-tournament teams and has been selected MVP many times.
- 1981 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1982 NSA National MVP / All Tournament
- 1983 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1987 Mixed Company MVP
- 1988 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 2001 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2004 Great Lakes National MVP
- 2004 Supreme Challenge State MVP
- 2005 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2005 All-World ASA / All Tournament
- 2005 Queen City Classic MVP
- 2006 All-World NSA MVP
- 2007 Showdown Naptown NSA MVP
Ray’s / Inducted 2000
Ray Linz Sr., owner of Ray's Tavern in Calumet City, IL was the proud sponsor of RAY'S Women's 16" Softball Team from 1972-1980. The team was formed in 1972 from a recreational group of women's power volleyball players. Although the members came from various teams, they shared a common bond -- a competitive nature. Of the original RAY'S team members, only three had any organized softball experience and none of them had ever played 16" softball because it was not offered for women yet. They ranged in age from the mid 20's to the early 40's. They diligently practiced as to develop a competitive skill set and eventually evolve into the first powerhouse team in women's 16" softball in the south suburbs. They credit a lot of their success to the fine coaching staff which consisted of: Jon Hanford, Vito Perniciaro, Vic Bruegmann, batboys Kevin Poczes and Ricky Booth and the huge support of sponsor Ray Linz Sr. Over the eight years that RAY'S competed, there were several undefeated seasons, numerous championships and many of the players went on to play for other very successful teams. As a result of their tenacious attitude, RAY'S proudly attribute their success to TEAMWORK -- which was adopted as their team motto. With the pride of winning and success came a reputation for excellence that has never been surpassed. RAY'S Women's Softball will forever represent what can be accomplished through commitment, hard work and the vision shared by each woman whose name appears below. We are grateful to the Chicago 16" Hall of Fame for this great honor! Connie Coster-Bruegmann*, Dorothy Watroba, Rene Sterbenc, Diane Poczos, Nora Hanford, Jeanette Hektoen, Cindy Freeman, Thelma Chumbley, Joy Bonic Burgess, Kathy Marcinkevich, Cheryl Broholm, Liz Danielewski, Maria Smierciak, Dee Hancock*, Sherry Vidal, Cheryl Foy, Connie Froida, Sharon Ridgley, Dorothy Horton, Trudy Patterson, Chris Ciechna, Barbara Boersma, Sandy Bolda, Sharon Enright, Barbara Gilson, Sue Kroll, Gayle Pfeiffer, Joanne Rehn, Marcia Schiller, Lisa Root, Cheri Guiterrez, Gail Livingston*, Colleen Schutz, Margaret Hardy, Lynne Robinson, Sharon Zatarga, Barb Banske, Jane Fredianelli, Judy Mathys, Peggy Rossi, Jeanie Bonin, Nancy Schutz
Ringers / Inducted 2015
Co-Founder: Jim Dorgan Co-Founder: Emil Smicklas Managers Jim Dorgan (1968-1989) Emil Smicklas (1968- 1986) Paul Rowan (1982-1993) Tim Daniher (1989-1993) In the summer of 1968, after playing mostly pick-up games on the Southwest Side of Chicago at a local park, Graver Park, Jim Dorgan and Emil Smicklas decided to form a team and challenge different neighborhood teams to a softball game. The name of the team was called G.P.A.A. (Graver Park Athletic Association). GPAA played one game in the summer of 1968 against the Brown’s Bombers from the St. Margaret of Scotland Parish/neighborhood. The following summer G.P.A.A. played numerous games against teams from Beverly, Morgan Park and other areas on the Southwest Side. These games were met with tremendous enthusiasm and over the winter of 1969/1970 led to the forming of the Graver Park Softball League, which is still is in existence today. During one meeting prior to the start of the 1971 season, while the rosters were being exchanged, one of the other managers asked Dorgan “what‘s with all the Ringers on the team?” The name stuck and G.P.A.A. became the Ringers in the 1971 season. The Ringers won the championship of the Graver Park League from 1971 through 1976 and again from 1978 through 1981. In the late ‘70s, and early ‘80s, the Ringers wanted to gauge their talent against better competition by playing in leagues at Ridge Park and Mount Greenwood Park as well as in numerous tournaments. The Ringers success continued at this level, with a continuing winning record each year and numerous championships. In 1982, Dorgan and Smicklas decided that they wanted more than just to be the best team in the neighborhood. They wanted to take it to the next level and play the best teams in the city, and also compete on a national level. They knew that in order to do that they would need better players than they had on their current roster. The decision was made to approach Pat “Big Red” Kilheeney and Paul Rowan who managed a team called the “Carpetbaggers,” a neighborhood rival who beat the Ringers for the Graver Park championship in 1977. After some discussion, both sets of managers agreed that they were tired of beating up each other and so their goal became to compete citywide and nationally. And so the Ringers sixteen-inch softball team, comprised of players from three or four local teams, was formed in 1982 on the South Side of Chicago with the goal of competing in local leagues, in city tournaments, and eventually at the national level. Their first year, the Ringers took second place in the Kelly Park “B” League. In 1983, they defeated the heavily favored reigning champs, Tahoe, at the Oak Lawn Metro to qualify for the ASA Nationals, fulfilling their dream of playing in the ASA Nationals sooner than expected. The Ringers competed in leagues in the ‘80s and ‘90s at Blue Island, the Mount Greenwood “A” League, and at Kelly, Kennedy, Ridge, and Graver Parks. They won several championships and ASA Metros over those years and competed in several more ASA National Tournaments at the Major and “A” levels. In 1985, Tim Daniher threw a perfect game against a strong Stickmen team. They finished tenth in that tournament. In July of 1985, they won Round Four of the Coors Light Tournament in Blue Island and the following week defeated the Playboys at Kelly Park to win the Chicago Park District title. In 1987, they won the Ninth Annual Bill Bonnette Tournament at Marquette Park. In the 1990s, Paul Rowan asked Tim Daniher to help him manage the Ringers and the success continued. Besides winning park championships and tournaments under the Ringer name, they also won the Recreational Division of the Sun Times 16-inch Classic as All Mixed Up. They also took ninth place at the 1994 “A” Nationals in Blue Island as This Is It. The last year the Ringers played was 1994, as family and raising children took over as a priority for the majority of the team. Fellow softball players knew the Ringers for their competitiveness and skill on the field. These efforts were rewarded when several players were named to the Chicago Softball Magazine All Lionhearted Team. Every time they took the field, Ringer players demonstrated what sixteen-inch softball is all about – giving the game everything they had on the field and celebrating with family and friends off the field. The following people were pieces in the puzzle that lead to this honor by the 16” Softball Hall of Fame. Jim Dorgan, Emil Smicklas, Paul Rowan (HOF), Tim Daniher, Tim Sparrey, Pat Kilheeney, Joe Chancey, Scott Clifford, Larry Carmody, Bob Schaab, Don Antonsen, Kevin Cronin, Pete Kean, Chuck Kreisl, Ted Rauen, Steven Rauen, James McCann, Tom McCann, Mike Carroll, Tom Finnegan, Gerry Klein, Pat Doherty, Jim Barry, David Kelly, Jim Richert, David Richert, John Foran, Barry Quane, Jim Sullivan, Dick Lennon, John Calvano, Dave O’Rourke, Gilly Lindgren, Ed Eber, Sean Dunleavy, Mike Connolly, Mike Lyman, JerryClemens, Tom Naughton, Ron Gardner, Bill Hogan, Mike Mahoney, Bill Andre, Pat Quane, Ed O’Connor, Larry Daly, Tom Schaab, Mark Nielsen, Joe Toner,Tom Murphy, Bob McClelland [HOF], Paul Hermanson, Joe Marassa, Bob Andre, John Buckley, George Oliver, Keith Filkens, Rick Bruesch, Frank Mioni [HOF], Dan Klimpson, Pat Connolly, Randy Filkens [HOF], Casey Janota, John Avants, Matt Biondic [HOF], Steven Biondic, Tom Makowski, Steve Shoper, John Melvin, Bruce Rogers, Mike Rogers, Dave Jorgenson, Bill Dart, Rich Ladewig [HOF], Tim Hooker, Bob Burns, Milo Davis, Mike Britvich, Tim Kelly, Tom Kelly, Art Melvin, James LaPan, George Murphy, Jamie Daw, Bob Choate, Rick Simnick, Greg Galotta
Mark “Schu” Schuller / Inducted 2011
Mark “Schu” Schuller
Mark Schuller's softball career started under the tutelage of Bob Faje and the Squire's Softball Club. They won multiple league titles at LaGrange Park, in Bolingbrook, and Villa Park in the mid-1970s. He played center field four-to-five nights per week and was hooked on this great Chicago pastime called sixteen-inch softball. In 1979, the late Bill Spencer suggested that Mark tryout for Wally Pecs' Register team. They played in highly competitive leagues at Clarendon, Schaumburg, and Evanston. With help from teammates Mark Frighetto (HOF), Gus Contos, and Tom Tuccori, Mark learned the tricks of playing outfield and of hitting the heavy Clincher at Clarendon, which was rumored to be "juiced" with water or milk to keep it from flying over the close fences in left field. In 1981, Hugh Carmichael assembled a powerhouse team of the Rollers/Runts, which included John O'Connor (HOF), and Danny Brichetto They dominated play in the newly formed Mt. Prospect League. They captured the league title and a qualifier to the nationals. They lost to Spats in the 2nd championship game in the Aberdeen, SD ASA Nationals in 1982. Under the sponsorship of Cooper's Sporting Goods, Ken Cooper merged the Runts and a strong nucleus of Hall of Fame players Buddy Doroskin, Frank Mustari, and Paul Brezinski from Coopers into the powerhouse Bud North that dominated play in the Mt. Prospect Classic League. They won titles at Mt. Prospect and Berwyn, the Forest Park "No-Gloves" title in 1987, '88, and '89, and the USSSA State title. Unfortunately they lost to the Ducks in the 1986 ASA National finals in Mt. Prospect. That year Mark received the MVP team trophy from Hall of Fame manager Ken Cooper. In 1991, Mark played in the ASA Nationals in Kingman, Arizona with the Rabbits, a team comprised of players from the North and South sides. This was his last ASA appearance with the team coming up short for a national title. He currently plays for the Doctors (HOF) in Cicero and Berwyn, the Warhawks in North Riverside, and Still Cruisin in Glenview. Mark retired from Citibank and resides in Burbank, Illinois.
Shooters / Inducted 2015
During the late ‘60s and ‘70s, the Shooters were considered to be one of the five best teams in Chicago. The North Side had the Shooters, the Dwarfs, and the 45s and the South Side had the Bobcats, the Rogues, and the Sobies. The team members came from Senn, Sullivan, Mather, Roosevelt, Von Steuben, and Amundsen High Schools. They were built on speed, defense, and timely hitting. Their first year they found success, going 14-6 at Clarendon. Each year they added more power and quickly became one of Chicago’s most dominant teams. From 1969 to 1971, they went 65 – 6, winning numerous games by the slaughter rule and drawing huge crowds at Clarendon Park. They won two Clarendon titles and championships at Terminal Park in Skokie, James Park in Evanston, and Mather Park in Chicago. Their great speed, flawless fielding, and powerful hitting helped them win or finish as finalists in the Andy Frain Tournament, the World Series of Softball at Blue Island, and in tournaments at Mather Park, in Niles, and on the South Side. The Shooters competed against their North Side rivals, the Dwarfs and Gaffers, and held their own with a nice winning record. They beat the Bobcats 16 – 5 at Clarendon in 1970. They were 0 – 1 against the Sobies, losing to them in the semi-finals of the Andy Frain Tournament. They lost to the Strikers by one run in the World Series of Softball at Blue Island in 1970. Throughout the years, Shooter players won many softball and non-softball honors, including being named to high school baseball and basketball all-city teams, winning the Chicago Public League batting championship, being named to the Chicago Coaches Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. The Shooters had three college baseball captains, five college baseball players, and five college basketball players. The Shooters were a great team and a great group of guys. Like the movie “Remember the Titans” softball fans will always “Remember the Shooters”. Shooter Players Ron Maurer (HOF) Burt Weinberg Bob Bernstein (HOF) Jack Jacobson Bruce Roth Larry Spiegel Art Lurie (HOF) Richie Weiner Larry Komar Jerry Berlin Chris Bakulis Gary Watanabe Doug Millstone Dave Neiman Gary Lipkin Ed Fink Jerry Abrams Sandy Issacson Al Colvin Rich Stucker Ron Goldie
John “Beaver” Smith / Inducted 2012
John “Beaver” Smith
John Smith began playing organized softball in 1972 when he was eighteen and playing left field for Orr High School on Chicago's West-side. He was having so much fun playing the game that he loved that he started playing in other leagues in 1974. He played for P&O Express for two years at Garfield Park and Columbus Park. After leaving P&O, he joined the West - Side Devils and helped them win the championships at the Saturday and Sunday Leagues. He then played for the Koreans, the Safari Tigers, and finally to California Gold. They played night ball in the highly competitive league at 75th and Jeffery and then moved on to Lou Boudreau Stadium where the South side - West-side rivalry began. In 1992 California Gold finished fourth in the ASA "A" National Tournament in Marshalltown, Iowa. That same year they finished second in the Men's 16-inch Class A USSSA Budweiser and DeBeer Tournament in Wisconsin. In 1995 John was named to his first ASA "A" Nationals All-American Team. In 1998 the Gold won the Sunday's Best League title at Washington Park. In 2002 John was named the Sunday's Best Night- Life MVP and was named All First Team in the Mike Royko Chicago Park District Tournament in Grant Park. In addition to these honors, John has also been named tournament MVP in several other leagues. With his excellent ability to get on bas, John was known as "Mr. Clutch" and many pitchers feared facing him when the game was close. He was "protected" in the batting order by fellow Hall of Fame standout Steve Kirby, Clayton Jones, and Mike Lee. John and his wife, Brenda, live in Westchester, Illinois. They have a daughter, January Smith.
John Stock / Inducted 2014
John Stock played softball for twenty- five years with some of the top teams of his time. He started playing neighborhood softball when he was fifteen in the schoolyard at Chopin Grammar School. He later played in the league at Smith Park. As his skills grew, better teams noticed him and he soon found himself playing “Major” softball with the Playboys. In 1978, the Playboys were an exceptional team. They won league championships at Portage, Indian Road, Clarendon, and Kelly Parks. They also won the championships of the Windy City League and the Blue Island League. The highlight of that year was winning the Andy Frain Tournament. In 1984 he played for the Lords, but was told by their coach that he wouldn’t pitch for them in 1985 because they were going to play with their neighborhood guys. He gave John
his blessing to look for another team. John did and joined the Hometown Touch. That year he pitched the Hometown Touch to the ASA Major National Title, beating the Safari Tigers. After the championship game, that coach told John that letting him go was the biggest mistake he made. John credits the high honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame to his great teammates and all of the people who believed in him along the way. John lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Don Stramaglia / Inducted 2015
Don Stramaglia, who was born and raised in Evergreen Park, began his sixteen-inch softball career at the age of twelve. During the summer of 1949, he joined the Evergreen Athletic Association League and played for the Methodist Church. Later, he won two consecutive championships with the Evergreen Park Central School in seventh and eighth grade. Besides softball, Don excelled in many other sports. At Blue Island High School, he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball all four years. In 1955 at the age of eighteen, he received his first MVP award while playing in the Southwest Cook County All-Star game. He was drafted into the military in 1956, but his love of the game continued when he played fast-pitch softball for the Fort Bliss team. His team won the championship of the Fourth Army Softball Tournament and Don received another MVP award. After his military service, Don played with the Parkers and the Queen of Martyrs Knights of Columbus team. They won the Mt. Greenwood League title for nine consecutive years. The Queen of Martyrs team also won many South Suburban Knights of Columbus league championships. In 1959 and 1961, Don was named MVP of the Southwest Cook County All-Star Game. In 1961, he also was named MVP of the McKiernan Park All-Star Game. In 1964, he played with the Queen of Martyrs ASA District 10 Championship Team. Throughout the fifties through the nineties, Don played with the Bobcats, Harcrest Construction, Shoes, Turners Tap, Don’s World of Sports Stars, Express, and People’s Choice. Teams he played for won over fifty league championships. In 1986, Don’s World of Sports took second place in the USSSA “A” State Tournament. Don was not able to participate in many national tournaments because he coached football for thirty seasons. After forty-five years of playing softball, Don retired in 1993. He carried a lifetime batting average over .600, hit over five hundred home runs, and drove in more than seven hundred runs. He now enjoys spending time with his wife, Sheri, his children Donnie, Bob, Dan, Mike, and Gina and eighteen grandchildren and seven and counting great grandchildren.
LeRoy “Bobcat Lee” Sutter / Inducted 2015
LeRoy “Bobcat Lee” Sutter
Born in 1919, Lee Sutter played pickup games with his three brothers in Gage Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side. He then joined Tony’s Tigers in the Nightingale League. Because he was 6’3’ and had big hands, he was a commanding presence at first base. His softball career was interrupted by World War II. He served in the Coast Guard from 1941 to 1946. Married in 1945, Lee and his wife, Ruth, raised four children. In 1960, while watching his son play softball at Kelly Park, he saw Eddie Zolna (HOF), a friend from his early years. From 1960 to 1979, Lee and Eddie Zolna were inseparable in playing, coaching, and instructing younger players. He also played first base on several occasions. During this era, the Bobcats won the first national tournament in 1964 and then won the title nine more times. “Bobcat Lee’ assisted Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats with his knowledge and experience. He was a liaison with the American Softball Association (ASA) and with Chicago sportswriters Mike Royko and Bill Gleason.
James “J.T.” Tencza / Inducted 2015
James “J.T.” Tencza
James Tencza has been involved in sixteen-inch softball as a player and coach for forty-five years. He started playing softball in 1964 at McKinley Park on Chicago’s South Side. He also played at Mark White Park (now McGuane Park). He started out playing centerfield but switched to shortstop after a knee injury. After his fifth knee injury on the same knee, he decided to give up playing and switched to coaching in 1985 with Mick Ballestri. During his career, teams he played on or coached racked-up three ASA “A” National second place finishes with the Scooters in 1995 and Crush in 2001. Flash took second in the ASA Majors in 2004. His teams won two ASA Major titles – 2008 and 2009 with Flashback. In 2011 Flashback won the SSA title. In 2010 they took second in the ASA Majors, losing to Windy City. His teams were equally successful in the Forest Glove No-Glove Nationals. Crush was runner-up in 2001 and Maxim took second in 2006. Flash won the title in 2005. Flashback won the No-Glove title three years-in-a-row from 2010 to 2012. His Chicago Police Department team won the City of Chicago championship more than twenty times.
Traffic / Inducted 2014
Traffic is a classic neighborhood softball team from the Riis Park area that evolved into a consistent top- fifteen team. They started playing in a Sunday league at Riis Park in 1986. In 2011, they took second in the Westchester Tournament of Champions and finished fifth in the Forest Park No Gloves Nationals in 2013, proof that twenty-seven years later, Traffic is still competitive. Led by two different managers – Dean Pritt and Nick Gatta – Traffic has always had a strong core of dedicated and loyal players. Eight of the players on the 1992 team that won the televised 150-team Old Style Tournament grew-up within four blocks of each other. Throughout the years, players have come-and-gone, but the team has always competed at the top level while still maintaining that neighborhood feel. In its twenty-seven year history, Traffic recorded many victories and made countless memories.
• Won over 900 games • Won thirty league and tournament titles • Rank second all-time in Classic League victories • Played in twenty of the last twenty-one Forest Park Tournaments • Played in seventeen ASA National Tournaments • Won six USSSA / ASA Qualifier championships • Won two ASA Metro championships • Went 67-17 in neighborhood league and tournament competition in 1989 • Won the Old Style Classic in 1992 and took second in 1993 • Took second in the ASA State Tournament (2005) and third (2001) • Won the ASA “A” Championship in 2009 and took second in 1999
Washington Park / Inducted 2011
Located on Chicago’s South Side, Washington Park was named for President George Washington and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Du Sable Museum of African-American History, the Lorado Taft Sculpture, the Fountain of Time, and The architecturally significant Richard L. Jones National Guard armory are all located inside the park’s boundaries. The park hosts the largest sixteen-inch softball league in the country with teams playing on thirteen diamonds. The park has also hosted a number of ASA qualifying tournaments, the Claude Rhodes Tournaments, the Black American Softball Tournaments, and in 2006 it hosted the Gay Games Softball Cultural Festival.
Westchester Park District / Inducted 2015
Westchester Park District
Mayfair Park in Westchester has been the host site for sixteen-inch softball leagues and tournaments for over fifty years. The Suburban Life Classic was was one of the first tournaments to be played on them. Recently Westchester hosted baseball tournaments, state police softball tournaments, IHSA twelve-inch state tournaments, ASA sixteen-inch and twelve-inch ASA qualifying tournaments, SSA tournaments, state police tournaments, and the final games of the SSA “A” Nationals. Westchester is also the proud host of the Tournament of Champions, one of the premiere sixteen-inch tournaments held each year.
Anthony “Tony” Ward / Inducted 2015
Anthony “Tony” Ward
Tony Ward’s obsession with sixteen-inch softball began at the age of eighteen when he started playing for the Kings in the Black Olympians League at Madden and Ellis Parks on Chicago’s South Side. They won that league and that lit the fire for Tony to play softball every summer. The Kings later became the Budweiser Kings. For several years, they played at Rosenblum Park at 75th and Jeffrey. After the Budweiser Kings, Tony joined the legendary Flamingos. They won numerous leagues and tournaments and won the USSSA World Series of Softball in Harvey and the USSSA Nationals in Orland Park, Illinois. He then joined the Safari Tigers and later managed and played for Clique. They won numerous tournaments around the Chicago area. He later became a pivotal member of the California/Steel Gold team that defeated Lugnuts to win the 2005 ASA “A” Nationals. Prior to winning this title, they won the 2003 Hall of Fame Classic at Grant Park and the 2003 “A” State Championship. Through his work as a track inspector for the CTA, Tony played for the 3rd Rail team which is in an employee league. They have won eight championships in twelve seasons in that league. While playing for the Safari Tigers, Tony was fortunate enough to be mentored by Claude Rhodes (HOF), a legendary figure in sixteen-inch softball. To honor Claude’s memory, Tony created the Claude Rhodes Tournament and quickly shaped it into a top tournament in the Chicago area. For fifteen years, this tournament has featured many national championship teams. With Tony’s guidance, the Claude Rhodes Tournament has positively impacted sixteen-inch softball. As a player, Tony mainly played second base but also saw time in the outfield and at third base. In 2000, he was named to the 1st Team at the NSA World Tournament. In 2005, he was named to the 1st Team in the East/West Classic in Indiana. He was a high percentage, over the top hitter who laid balls over the infield with accuracy. As a manager, he compiled a record of 183 victories against 70 losses. Tony continues to coach softball. He also served as an advisory board member of the SSA and the Super Sunday Softball League. He has two children – Anthony, Jr. and Taylor Ward. He is retired from the Chicago Transit Authority and lives in Willowbrook, IL.
Ray “Doc” Warren / Inducted 2015
Ray “Doc” Warren
Ray Warren played for the Safari Tigers from 1974 to 1993. In 1984 and 1985, they finished second in the ASA Major Tournament. In 1993, they won the Illinois title in Blue Island. He coached the B Athletes when they won the ASA title for Illinois. They placed fifth in the ASA Major Nationals in 1999. They also won the South Side Cocktail League and hosted the nationals in Mount Prospect. The B Athletes won the First Mike Royko Memorial Tournament, the Leukemia Research Preseason Tournament, and the Heritage Cup Championship. Ray and Sherman Martin coached Dogg Pound to a fourth place finish in the ASA Nationals. In 2011, Solution, managed by Jerry Brown won the ASA “A” Nationals. Ray played right field and won a number of best defender awards. He has three children – Nicole, Kateka, and Eric. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Paul “Paulie” Wukach / Inducted 2015
Paul “Paulie” Wukach
Paul Wukach has been involved in sixteen-inch softball for forty-five years as a player (having pitched four official and documented no-hitters) and as a manager, and organizer. He started playing softball because of the influence of his uncle Wally “Stormy” Dazur. “Unc” organized “pickup” games at Palmer Square in the Logan Square neighborhood. The kids would mark off foul lines with sticks and use pieces of cardboard for bases. Paul’s uncle would pop the trunk on his old Plymouth and the kids would grab bats and balls, and the game would get started. As he watched his uncle, who many years later coached the Meister Brau Taggers, a team run by legendary manager Frank Holan (HOF), he began to develop his organizing and managerial skills. In the early seventies, Paul started and managed his own team, sponsored by M and M Lounge, in the Elmhurst Park District. Over the years, he has assembled a long and still growing list of many talented to be counted on to make positive contributions to his individual teams. He prefers the steady ball player to the player who might have more talent but who also brings distractions to the team. He has pitched and played second base for the Beavers at Chopin and Riis Parks (1976-1980), the Shooters at Independence and in the Clarendon “B” League, the Thirsty Whale at Riis Park and in Bensenville, the teams Machine, Tribe, Knockouts, and Spillage in the venerable Forest Park “A” Leagues (1978 – 2002), the tournament team Connectors (1979 – 1985), the Demons in Broadview (1985 – 1987), the Silver Threads at Portage Park (1984 – 1988), Deadliners in Oak Park and Chopin Park (1994 -2003), Leftovers at La Grange and Berwyn (2004 – present), Exit at Clyde Park / Cicero (2008-2012), and lastly, the Strokers at La Grange and Janura Parks and in Berwyn (2007 – present). As a manger, Paul put together teams based on the right mix of age and experience. He balanced his teams with young players who are vital to the game’s continuation and success and older players who might have lost a bit of foot speed or can’t “rip” line drives and “blue darts” like they used to but nevertheless supply the team with poise, instruction, and inspiration. He has managed Maloney Cadillac, Parade, Knockouts, Pride, Frozen Rope, and Exit. He still plays with and against many of his former players in the Over-50 Monday Night League at Clyde Park and in the Thirty-Nine-and-Over League on Friday night in Berwyn. Paul and his lovely and understanding wife, Janet, live in Elmhurst, Illinois. When they met thirty-eight years ago, Paul was able to convince her of his deep and committed love for her by cutting back from seven teams that season to five teams. They have two children – Trevor and Lydia. Trevor plays center field in Grant Park and at Westchester, and Lydia in an occupational therapist in Portland, Oregon. Life has been good for Paul and he remains very grateful.