Dennis “The Greek” Andritsis
William “Willie” Abbatacola
Richard “Cy” Abata
Jim “ack ack” Acanfora
The Alley Softball Team was formed in 1973 and consistently played at a high level of competition for more than 25 years. The team’s roots however date back even further to 1965. The team was formed as an outgrowth of Our Lady of Victory Parish’s youth sponsored softball program. Many of the original players started playing in the 5th grade in the youth League at Wilson Park and later participated in C.Y.O. as 7th and 8th graders finding modest success ( two city wide 2nd place finishes). The original members continued to play C.Y.O. Softball throughout their High School Years and beyond. The Alley played for the City wide C. Y. O. finals as seniors winning three Championships(1977,78,79).
The team was made up of various High School athletes who competed in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. They attended Lane Tech H.S. , Weber H.S., Gordon Tech H.S., Loyola Academy, Fenwick H.S. and St. Patrick H.S.. Some members went on and played College Football.
In 1973, The Alley played at Wilson Park and Indian Road Park winning both League Championships. The following year they were invited to play at Clarendon Park’s 21 and under Saturday League and played in the championship game losing to the Aces. The following year they won the Clarendon Park Saturday League.The team played at Riis Park winning the Friday League in 1974. Also in 1974, The Alley played at Independence Park winning their respective division and participated in the Tournament of Champions. They continued to play at Independence Park winning their Division as well as the Park’s Tournament of Champions in 1976.
In 1977, The Alley was invited to play in the following: Clarendon Park Tuesday and Thursday League (League Championship in 1978), Clarendon Park’s Midwestern Tournament ( 2nd place) and Kelly Park Tournament (Semis). They also played in the Portage Park Monday and Wednesday league.
In 1979 The Alley moved to Kosciuszko Park’ Monday and Wednesday League. They won their respective league championships and put together a streak of four consecutive Tournament of Championship titles (79, 80, 81, 82).
In 1980 The Alley moved up in competition by playing in the Portage Tuesday and Thursday League where they played against some very good teams and made the playoffs each year. They also played in the Clarendon Monday and Wednesday League and won the league championship in 1986. They continued to play at Portage and Clarendon into the early 90’s. They also played at Dunham Park winning the Championship in 1989 and the Hiawatha Park Friday League winning the Championship in 1982. In the early 90’s the team played at Dee Park in Des Plaines until 1998.
The Alley played in many tournaments throughout the years including The City of Chicago Metro Tournament, the Andy Frain Tournament and the Midwestern Tournament at Clarendon Park, (finished 2nd in the Midwestern Tournament in 1977) Windy City Tournaments at 95th and Harlem (Championship in 1979), James Park’s North Shore Tournament in Evanston(semis 1985), Forest Park(semis 1985), Trevor, Wisconsin (Championship 1986) , Elk Grove (Championship 1978), Paul Revere Park and Hansen Park (Championship in 1981).
Through the years, this group became a close knit family sharing many significant family events from Weddings, Births of Children, Road Trips, Holiday Celebrations, and any thing else that occurred in every day life. Many original members continued to play together in various Recreational Leagues including the Elk Grove 50 and over and currently the 60 and over Leagues.
Team members include: Player/Managers: Russ Schulberg, Dan Zittnan, Mike Chiaramonte, Billy Mueller, Charles Hagstrom, and Mike Amato.
Also: Bob Laskowski, Jim Gorski, Bob Sobczewski, Steve Citko, Ron Buzinski, Pete Brown, Tom Shoewe, Carl Mucha, Jim Lobus, Mike Huber, Mike Swiatowiec, Al Grember,Jim Hielscher, Bill Schretter, Gary Machjer, Dave Musolf, Roger Musolf, Billy Green, Gary Palicki, Jim Bolger, Jim Maraviglia, Bobby Cook, Gene (Gator), Dan Hennessey, Jerry Shaw, and Tom Levar.
Ron Amazzalorso grew up at 96th and Avenue N, a street referred to as “Goat Street” because goats were once raised there. Avenue M was referred to as “Cow Street” for the same reason. Many discussions at local bars debated which of these nicknamed streets produced the better athletes.
Ron and his friends were gym rats and everyday weather permitting, they would gather at Piotrowski Park, to choose sides for a 16-inch softball game. Mr. Janess, the park supervisor, would distribute the softballs and bats for the pickup games. Everyday Ron and his friends hoped that Mr. Janess would hand out the new softballs. Because Ron would hang around each day after the games to help with cleanup, he became Mr. Janess’ favorite and was often able to score a new softball with Mr. Janess telling them “this is the last time I do this.”
Their lives revolved around sports at the park and at other sites around the city. They would load-up Mr. Janess’ car (sometimes putting guys in the trunk if they couldn’t fit inside the car) and compete at other parks, winning championships and making positive memories. These days inspired Ron to become a park supervisor, a position he held for thirty years with the Chicago Park District.
Ron graduated from George Washington High School in 1965, received his draft notice six months later, and ended up in Viet Nam. He returned home in 1968 and started his softball career with neighborhood teams and then competed at Calumet Park when it formed a league that featured some of the best team on the South Side. Bobby Mantai, a top player on the South Side, recruited Ron to play with his team 3 Star Erector for a tournament the following Saturday. They were undefeated through the weekend as was the softball team E.R.V. These two powerhouse teams entered the seventh inning with one out and Ron on second base. Bob Bradich, a power hitter, hit a long fly ball to right field, Ron tagged-up, and beat the throw home to score the winning run. From that day forward, 16-inch softball ran through Ron’s veins.
His career with the Eastsiders began when his team was playing them in the Calumet Park League championship game when Ron impressed their manager John Maribelli with a couple of hits, a homerun, and a throw to second that ended the game, securing the championship by one run. He went on to play five decades for the Eastsiders.
In 1978, the Eastsiders needed a pitcher, so Ron switched from centerfield to pitcher. He honed his skills and learned the tricks of the trade and defensive skills. The Eastsiders began playing in leagues and tournaments throughout the South Side and suburbs. They went on to win the championships of many leagues and won over one hundred tournaments. He started playing five days a week in two games a night on Tuesday and Thursday with late games in Blue Island and Harvey. He also played in tournaments on weekends. Besides the Eastsiders, Ron also played for Pete’s Hideaway, Huns, Lakeside Inn, T.J.’s, Speed, Indios, O’Hara’s, Little Rays, and ERV 10th Ward.
Ron played centerfield because he was fast and had great hands. He batted fourth behind Tom Newman. (HOF) He hit for power but could also hit to all fields for a high average. He played at Calumet Park in the Veterans Tournament in 1976 and hit three home runs to help his team win the championship. He received the MVP award for his efforts. He was also named to All Star Team in the men’s league in Harvey in the 80’s.
Ron played on a great team, never let the team down, and formed many long-lasing relations. Five decades later, the core of the team still gets together to rehash old memories. Ron thanks his wife, Fran, for the many sacrifices she made and his daughter, Nikki, for coming to his games when his wife worked weekends. He thanks God for his health. Ron is a retired supervisor for the Chicago Park District. His wife, Fran, is a retired nurse.