Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Carpet Country / Honored 2016 Team Recognition
It was the fall of 1991. Another softball season had just come to an end. While most people were taking a few months to get reacquainted with family and settle back into a more “normal” life without softball, Tim Walker was restless. His Philly Bar and Grill team had just completed a disappointing finish to the season at Nationals, as did all of the Iowa teams. Tim and teammate/friend Brad Van Meter were looking for a “better” fit. They started brainstorming in Walker’s basement coming up with names and making phone calls to guys they wanted to play with, guys who they felt could be compatible off and on the field. By November they had put something together. It included guys from The Skatetown Rollers, Krantmans and their Philly Bar and Grill team. They secured sponsorship from Dan Stalzer, who owned a number of flooring stores throughout Iowa, and by December of that year, the Carpet Country Rollers were born. From the beginning this team got along splendidly. Walker hosted several pre season parties at his home so that the team could get to know one another and formulate a philosophy that they would carry into the season. That 1992 season saw the team have mixed success on the field early. There were some great wins and some frustrating losses, but through all that the team remained unified. There was a huge tournament championship win in LaCrosse over the Eastsider’s in which the team breezed through it undefeated. That year culminated with a second place finish at the state tournament, which was highlighted by a huge comeback in the finals to force an “if” game, only to lose to the Graphic Edge 3-2. The team was not able to attend the National tournament that year as it was held in Arizona and many of the team had already headed back to school for their final year of college. 1993 saw some additions and subtractions. Once again, the team had a year of ups and downs but headed into the Nationals in Marshalltown with much optimism. That was deflated in the first round with a sound 17-1 thumping at the hands of the Miller Taggers. The team rebounded to win their next game which set up a showdown with the defending National Champion, Splinters Sports Club. From the beginning it was a back and forth battle, played in front of one of the largest crowds the Marshalltown Softball Complex had ever seen. The game included Carpet Country LF Red Van Cleave climbing to the top of the fence to take away a HR from the legendary Jack Kelly. To this day it is one of the greatest catches in the history of that complex. The game went to the bottom of the seventh with Carpet Country trailing by two runs. Red Van Cleave led off the inning with a walk, Tim Walker followed with two run home run that hit three quarters of the way up the light pole, estimated to have traveled close to three hundred feet. Marty Freese followed with a double and after they walked Brian Keeney to set up a force out, Brad Van Meter hit the game winning homerun. That game served as a spring board as the team went on to finish fourth, finally losing to Bobby Russ Sr’s ICE team, led by Pat Caputo. Going into the 1994 season, the team made a few more changes to the roster in an effort to improve on their fourth place finish at Nationals. Brian Preston and Scott Goecke were added and brought a new attitude along with a very aggressive base running style that was contagious throughout the lineup. The team enjoyed a very successful league and tournament schedule and headed into the National tournament at Mt Prospect with high expectations. Once again they finished fourth, only this time it was on foreign soil, so it was viewed as another major success. It was in this year that the team also began to form many friendships with their rivals from the east. Friendships that to this day still exist. After the ’94 season the team got together and it was decided that they needed to add some speed and defensive help in the outfield. At that meeting it was decided that they would add former Iowa Hawkeye CF Jay Polson, veteran Rick Barnes from the H & J’s HItmen. These two proved to be very valuable additions early in 1995 as the team got off to a red-hot start, winning the first three “major” tournaments in Iowa. The team headed into the Iowa state tournament feeling like they were the team to beat. It was not to be though because the team lost a hard fought winners bracket final to their arch rival The Graphic Edge, then were upset in the loser’s bracket by H & F Distributing, leaving the team with a third place finish. While disappointed, the team did not waver from their goal to win the Nationals. The rallied two weeks later and won the fourteen-inch inch state tournament, their fifth in a row, and were now poised to make a serious run at Nationals in Mt. Prospect. Labor Day weekend had finally arrived. The National tournament at Mt Prospect was a spectacle to behold and Carpet Country wasted no time in their quest to grab the elusive sixteen-inch championship. They won their first two rounds of games, setting up a matchup with Thee Dollhouse. Carpet Country trailed early but rallied to earn a hard fought one run victory that catapulted them into the winner’s bracket final against Primetime. Primetime came out smoking with Curtis Uidel delivering the big blow - a three run homer into the left center field bleachers. Carpet Country would later fall to Primetime, which set a rematch with Thee Dollhouse. This turned out to be a classic with the teams going back and forth rallying from deficits to take the lead. Rick Barnes was fantastic with a 5 – 5 performance including an inside the park HR that gave the Rollers the lead for good and they held on for a 15-14 victory. Next up, the National Championship game against Prime Time. Playing in the finals at Nationals was a dream come true for many members of the Carpet Country softball team. In their youth they had watched the greats of the game come through Marshalltown when the Nationals were held there. They grew up in the game trying to emulate their style of play, walking in the box, cutting or dumping, going the other way and moving runners. Now they had the chance to show what they had learned to a capacity crowd. The first game was pretty much controlled by the Rollers from the outset as they never trailed and scored a victory setting up the “if” game. The bats that were so hot in the games against Hollywood Casino and Primetime in the first game, had gone silent. Eggs Czarnick seemed to have figured out a way to shut the lineup that had hit so well all weekend down. Primetime held a commanding 5-2 lead heading into the top of the seventh. The first two hitters were retired and the Rollers were down to their final out. The dream seemed as if it were about to come to an end. But the Rollers still had one out. Brian Keeney was next up. He tripled into the right center field gap. Brad Van Meter singled to right scoring Keeney. 5-3. Mike McCune doubled scoring pinch runner Tim Jennings. Ricky Barnes then singled off the first basemen’s mitt scoring McCune and tying the game! Greg Van Cleave followed with another single moving Barnes to second. LF Craig Hughes then hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to first but he hustled all the way down the line and was called safe. Meanwhile Barnes was running hard all the way. He rounded third and headed for home with the go ahead run. The throw came from first as Barnes collided with the catcher as he crossed home plate, SAFE. The impossible had happened. The Rollers had rallied from being down three with no one on and two out to take the lead. Prime Time was retired in order in the bottom of the seventh and history was made. The team played the following year under new Sponsorship and were called the Electric Company. They finished a disappointing seventh at Nationals in Marshalltown that year. After that the team fractured off into different teams with many of the players going on to play significant roles with Grand Slam, Walkers Garage, Stovers, Drink, Monsoon and the Old Timer Tavern. Members of the team were, Brian Preston, Mike McCune, Marty Freese, Scott Goecke, Brad Van Meter, Tim Walker, Kirk Huehn, Craig Hughes, Greg Van Cleave, Brian Keeney, Jay Polson, Rick Barnes, Tim Jennings and Gary Wignall. McCune, Freese, Van Meter, Walker, Van Cleave, Polson and Wignall are all members of the Iowa ASA 16 inch Hall of Fame. Walker and Huehn continue to play to this day.
Ray Czarnik / Inducted 2016 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
THE BEGINNING My love for softball started in the early 70's by going from park to ark with my dad to watch my brother Tom "Eggs" Czarnik play this great game of sixteen-inch softball. I remember my first time watching him play at Clarendon Park and was intrigued by the number of people surrounding the field intensely watching the game. I remember listening to some old men behind the backstop saying watch the cut over 3rd, or he will hit the line in right, and sure enough the hitter would hit the ball over 3rd or hit the right field line. I really learned the game from watching the older guys plays. The competitiveness was awesome to watch. But the respect they had for the game and for one another was what inspired me the most. I couldn't wait to get involved. I began playing with my friends from high school in 1977 in a neighborhood league at Wildwood Park. In the winter of 1979 one of my buddies Laury Rose was the owner of Candlelight Jewelers and asked me to run his sixteen-inch softball team that he had sponsored for the past few years in Niles. I was thrilled to be able to run a team and knew this was something I wanted to do. I was able to talk my brother into playing for me and a few other friends of his and with my buddies together we started what would turn out to be a team that was so successful that it gave me the push I needed to take us to the next level. SHOOTERS SOFTBALL BEGAN In 1985 a childhood friend of mine and I were having a few beers when we came up with the idea of starting a team where everyone had a brother that would play on the team. The E.P. Shooters played on Sundays at Brooks Park where everyone who played was related somehow to somebody else. My playing coaching and sponsorship of Shooters softball began. Then in 1990 we moved to Mt Prospect to play and here is where I began a long-standing relationship with Bob Ancona and the Staff in Mt Prospect that is as strong today as it was in 1990. ELECTED OFFICIAL NILES PARK COMMISSIONER (2003-present) I ran for Park Commissioner in Niles for a couple of reasons. First off, I wanted to bring Thor Guard Lightning detection to Niles to protect all participants of outdoor activities from the treacherous storms that move in quickly. Mainly I wanted to put a stop to games where there would be no wavering. I watched many a time where a kids’ baseball game would be going on with lightning in the area and a coach that would say come on one more inning. I didn't want anyone to get hurt. Secondly, I wanted to get softball going again as I have seen a drop-off in participants over the years, especially with the younger group of kids. My son was going to high school and he and a bunch of his friends wanted to learn to play the game but couldn't find any leagues to play in. They didn't want to play in a league where they were over their heads where they would not have fun. I wanted to do something about this. I wanted to come up with something that could work for everyone. We held meetings with team captains and umpires that were involved in our Niles leagues. We shared our ideas to keep this game growing. We changed the way the league prize money was distributed. From a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place payout to a “Per Win" payout where everyone has an opportunity to receive some reward for winning games. Then we changed one of the divisions to a six to twelve foot arch only league where we could attract a more younger group of kids to learn the game and not struggle with the higher arch that most parks had at the time. Today we have a very strong two-division league with one being the six to twelve foot arch and the other being an unlimited arch. We can please everyone. This year we have a new league starting. It is called the “FUTURES LEAGUE” which is an instructional league for high school and college age kids. We will give them the opportunity to learn the game the right way from those who played it the right way. I want the Niles Park District to be known as the Futures League where both boys and girls can learn the sixteen-inch game from the ground up. We want to teach the history of the game and give all kids the opportunity to participate and create lifetime memories as they begin their own journey into the sixteen-inch softball world. REBIRTH OF SHOOTER SOFTBALL In 2010 I put together a group of young kids to play in both Niles and Mt Prospect and dedicated myself to teaching this great game to the next generation that want to carry on this tradition. This has been a very pleasurable experience as I have been preaching the way this game should be played, starting with having the utmost respect to the game and everyone involved. I want them to be disciplined and understand that what we were teaching was beginning to produce results. Seeing them come together to learn to hit the ball to the opposite field and cut the ball over third reminds me of my earlier days. It’s pretty cool to be part of something I saw back in the 70's. I have a simple philosophy: let me and the coaches handle the team details and have the players listen to us, play the game, and enjoy the experience. In the five years leading up to this year, there have been many growing pains along the way. We lost many close games and we lost many games by slaughter too. There were teams that showed us respect and there were others that really could care less and kept piling on the runs. In both circumstances lessons were learned. I kept telling them to put it in the back of their minds, don't dwell on it just never forget. I have seen a group of young kids stick together and become a team. It’s fun to watch now. They are coming into their own. We have been invited to play in Forest Park No Gloves National without being in a play-in game and then knocking out the past year’s champs. They have also won their division in Mt Prospect. Finally, they have gained the respect of their peers. I am proud to play a part of what these kids have accomplished in their short time playing the greatest game in Chicagoland. I am hoping to continue to bring the younger kids into this great game because I never want to see it die. I will keep preaching the right way to play this game. Always!!! FAMILY Without batting an eye, there are only two reasons why I am up here today. First, the Good Lord has given me the opportunity to use what I have learned to contribute and keep growing this great game and second my wife and kids have supported my in my efforts. With a job that demanded much of my time and with softball running a close second, I needed a special person who really understood my life’s goals. Then throw in being an Elected Official and you can just imagine what that was like. You have to make time for the family or it doesn’t work. I thank God for bringing such a wonderful and understanding person into my life. My wife, Kathy, has been by my side in everything I have done and continue to do. My children, Scotty and Shauna, have also been able to see first hand how important a solid relationship really is. I have been blessed to be in a position to be able to contribute in helping preserve this great game that everyone can play. I have enjoyed every jammed finger minute of it. PLAYING, COACHINGAND SPONSORSHIPS: 75 CHAMPIONSHIPS 1980-87 - Candlelight Jewelers Coached and played with my friend Laury Rose owner of Candlelight 1985-2010 - Shooter Softball Sponsored and Coached and played - Mt Prospect and Brooks Park 1998 - 39ers and Rogues - Sponsorship in 2 leagues - Park Ridge and Niles Park District 2011 - GNights Sponsored and Coached - in Mt Prospect and to 4th place finish in Nationals Iowa 2012 - March Shooters Sponsored and Coached - Mt Prospect and Niles Park District 2013 - Monster Shooters Sponsored and Coached - Mt Prospect and Niles Park District 2014 - Shooters Softball Sponsored and coached - Mt Prospect and Niles Park District OTHER SPONSORSHIPS: Prime Time Auto Mart Splinters March Manufacturing 1990-2015 - Mt Prospect Park District Sponsor 2012- Current - Hall of Fame Car Sponsor at the Hole-in-One Golf Outing 2012- current - Hall of Fame -Advertising Sponsor in their Dinner Book ELECTED OFFICIAL: 2003- Present - President of the Niles Park Board of Commissioners OCCUPATION: 1992- Present – President/General Manager River Oaks Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
Percy “BoBo” Coleman / Inducted 2016 Umpires & Managers
Percy “BoBo” Coleman
Percy V. Coleman began his softball career with the Flamingos in 1964 when he was twenty-three years old. His competitive spirit and love of softball and basketball drove him to play these sports at top levels. Percy turned this passion into a championship basketball career at Crane Junior College and Chicago State University where he was an outstanding “high scoring point guard”. He was named a Little College All-American for three years. Chicago State became a credited university and Percy earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As an outfielder and pitcher for the Flamingos, Percy and superstar Billy Johnson partnered to be co - business managers and coaches of the Flamingos around 1970. Their partnership turned the Flamingos into one of the top black softball teams in local leagues and at Major ASA and USSSA tournaments. Percy “BoBo” Coleman has been called one of the greatest black pitchers, players, and managers in sixteen-inch softball. Since early-1975, the Flamingos were the most successful teams on Chicago’s South and West sides since the Brown Bombers of the 1950s. Many former players say that Percy was the most analytical pitcher in softball during his playing days and a real community leader on and off the field. His talents were honed by watching and learning from Tom Bonen (HOF), Ed Zolna (HOF) and his idol, Mike Tallo (HOF). His prolific background and winning records and shutouts in major competition are too numerous to be mentioned. Percy is also recognized and respected as the Chicago Housing Authority Commander of Community Policing. He used his experience in softball and midnight basketball leagues as proactive tools for youth and adults at risk. These programs were designed to help stop and eliminate the harmful effects of drug, gun, gang, and police violence in the black community. He was the guiding light behind the creation of the Chicago Major Sports Association, an institution that brought South and West side teams and business leaders together. He also helped put all the black local leagues under one umbrella with rules and regulations that could be realistically enforced. Percy also brought major sponsors and radio and newspaper editors from the Chicago Defender to the table when he became a sports writer for the Inner City Leagues. With this media coverage, sponsors for Budweiser, Old-Style, Pabst, and R.J. Reynolds supported the Chicago Major Sports League and the Chicago Board of Education for over fifteen years. He was also instrumental in bringing sixteen-inch softball to Chicago Public Schools as a high school sport. Percy’s outreach to other managers (and with the clout of the Flamingos) soon had black and white teams coming to the South and West sides for league and tournament play. This competition showed the softball world that teams other than the Flamingos and the Senators could play top-level softball. Percy and his “best dressed” Flamingos started the first Black World Series at Harvey’s Lou Boudreau Stadium. Over forty teams played in this series. He also helped organize (along with Chicago’s Mayor Washington) the only Black Softball Tournament held at Comiskey Park on August 8, 1983. Percy and the Flamingos have appeared in numerous national tournaments where they claimed numerous championships. Percy was the lead pitcher and was a consistent clutch hitter. He was named an M.V.P. for these efforts. They are the only black team to defeat Ed Zolna’s Bobcats in the Bridgeview “Pro” League State Championship game. In 1974, they received top-ten ranking in the finals rankings by Windy City Softball Magazine. Additionally, he is credited with discovering, developing, and introducing some of the games’ top black players to Major ASA, USSSA, and CMSA tournaments. Percy has many accomplishments as a player and manager. He is also respected as a police commander, pitcher, manager, and administrator for the Chicago Housing Authority’s youth and adult leagues. Percy and his wife, Lena, have three adult children – Jackie, Jeffrey, and Philip Coleman and Percy’s favorite and only granddaughter, Ms. Lauren Coleman, a senior at Dillard University They have lived on the South side of Chicago for over fifty years.
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.
Bob Campbell / Inducted 1996 Media & Organizers
Organizer, Player, Manager Bob had enjoyed the game of softball as a player, manager, teacher and businessman. In 1961 bob started the Buc’s, a young team that enjoyed success for three years at Clarenden Park. In the next few years, he played for Continental Bank, Stoppers and the Bobcats. In 1969 Bob started the Bruins, the next six years they enjoyed great success winning leagues and tournaments including two State titles, two Metros, always top 4 at ASA Nationals. Bob was a three-time All –American and Lifetime 600 hitter. In 1974 Bob was co-founder of the award winning “Windy City Softball” magazine. In 1977 Bob joined deBeer Sports as a promotion and sales director. He designed the first Clincher aluminum bats and produced “A Game for Everyone, 16-inch Softball” Video. Later, he produced two hitting videos. “The Art of Hitting” has become a classic. Bob helped start the miller Pro League and was instruments in the 16-inch Chicago high school program. Today bob enjoys his Sports ministry, sharing his faith and teaching the game.
Dan Cahill / Inducted 2005 Media & Organizers
Picking up where Mike Royko and Don DeBat left off, Dan Cahill penned a weekly 16-inch softball column for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1985 to 1993. Every Monday, the Clincher crowd would turn to his popular “ringers, dingers and broken fingers” column to get the softball scoops. No major daily paper has run a softball column since. Cahill became interested in the game at an early age when his father would take him to various local parks to watch the sport. He also remembers seeing the World Series of Softball on Channel 11 in the mid-70s. An avid player himself, Cahill will never forget playing against the legendary 1981 Budweiser Whips in just his third game at age 18-his love for the sport was forever forged. Cahill was one of the founders of Chicago Softball Magazine and contributed stories to the Coors Softball Report and Red, White & Green. He has made several TV and radio appearances promoting the sport.
Anthony T. Calderone / Inducted 2008
Anthony T. Calderone
Anthony Calderone has served as mayor of Forest Park since 1999. A lifelong resident of Forest Park, Mayor Calderone began his public service when he was elected a Forest Park commissioner in 1991. He has a long record of public service to the residents, businesses, and organizations of Forest Park. He has provided services to St. Bernardine parish, the Forest Park Little League, the West Suburban Senior Services (formerly Proviso Council on Aging), Proviso Municipal League, West Central Municipal Conference (past president), Oak Leyden Developmental Services, Kiwanis International, Columbian Club, and the Lions Club. With over thirty years in the alarm and security industry, Mayor Calderone owns and operates Illinois Alarm Service, a Forest Park company. He has served professionally with the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, the Illinois Electronic Security Association, the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association, the American Society of Industrial Security, the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation, and the Electronic Security Association. As mayor, Anthony Calderone has overseen the renaissance of Forest Park. From a newly vibrant downtown corridor along Madison Street to a major redevelopment of the Roosevelt Road corridor, Forest Park stands as a model of urban transformation. Additionally, the residential market is also thriving with increasing home values and with new and tastefully designed developments underway. These efforts have earned the Village of Forest Park the coveted Governor’s Home Town Award and numerous Illinois Main Street awards. Mayor Calerone’s public service efforts have been recognized by the Department of the Army, United Way, Miserecordia, Save a Life Foundation, Illinois Order of the Sons of Italy, the Illinois Crime Commission, the Triton College Foundation, the Italian-American Executives of Transportation, and Seguin Services Inc. He is currently an active board member of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation. Anthony Calderone and his wife, Lois, have two adult children, Augustino and Anthony, Jr.
Nick “Moose” Camillo / Inducted 1997 Umpires & Managers
Nick “Moose” Camillo
Nick Camillo began his softball career in 1937 at the age of twelve. His teammates elected him player/manager of the Imps, a team organized from St Thomas and Spencer Schools. Camillo continued in this capacity until his retirement from 16” softball in 1970, a career that spanned 33 years. Throughout this span Camillo played for teams sponsored by Malizzia’s Lounge, Phil’s Lounge, and the Cherry Lounge. His teams won numerous championships at LaFollette and Garfield Parks and Kells Field. Nick grew up on Chicago’s West Side in the Austin area. He attended Austin High School where he lettered in football for four years. Nick graduated in 1943 and was immediately drafted in the Army where he served with the First Infantry Division (The Big Red One) in Germany and other areas. Camillo was honored with two Purp1e Hearts when he was twice wounded in battle. When he returned from fighting in WorldWar II, Camillo began to do battle on the pitaching mounds of Chicago. He remembers one of the greatest pitchers, James “Sheik” DiNardi and other notables from that era, and pitching before the “drag” step was instituted, but his was the time of battles with Zolna and Reibel. Camillo’s team regularly won championships at Kells’ Field before the appearance of the Sobies. After that they played in some classic matches. Nick also remembers a particularly satisfying win ovet the Bobcats in a big pot game in Melrose Park. Nick also believes that someone at Clarendon and Chicago- Kedzie Parks must have put the softballs in freezers in order to deaden them. Nick’s interest in playing ball did not end with his retirement. Starting in 1072 and continuing for several years, he coached the little League teams at St.Juliana’s and Edison Park, leading them to many championships. .Camillo has been married for 42 years to June. They have four children and one granddaughter. They reside on the Northwest side of Chicago where Nick enjoys plenty of leisure time since his retirement from the City of Chicago Revenue Department.
James Canna / Inducted 2004 Pioneers 1887-1949
Pioneer softball players and umpires remember Jim Canna as a knowledgeable, fair, and dependable umpire whose reputation was always above reproach. A 1938 graduate of Hirsch High School, he began his umpiring career with Jim Allen in the Southwest Umpires Association in 1944 at parks on the southeast side of Chicago, including Avalon, Grand Crossing, and Bessemer. He also officiated at numerous round robin tournaments at 87th Street Stadium and Gill Stadium. In 1948 he joined the Official Umpires Association which was under the management of Jim Edgeworth, one of the most reputable umpires on the southside of Chicago. In 1955 Jim Canna began an eighteen-year career officiating in all the leagues at Grant Park, at Foster, Ridge, Clarendon, and Marquette Parks. He also umpired at O'Keefe Playground and for the playoffs in the Grant park Industrial Leagues. He ended his twenty-nine year umpiring career in 1973. Over that span he remembers calling balls and strikes for such legendary softball players and Hall of Fame members as Emil Flerik, Eddie Zolna, Red Hurter, Sweetwater Clifton, and Lewa Yacilla. Jim also remembers working with Jerry Markbreit. one of the top referees in the National Football League and later the chief rule interpreter for the NFL when Jerry was a young softball umpire. When not calling balls and strikes, Jim Canna referred basketball games for the Chicago Park District during the postwar years. Jim follows his brother, Tony, into the Hall of Fame. Jim Canna and his wife of fifty-eight years, Theresa Marie, have two children – James Canna and Mary Theresa Meadows and four grandchildren. He retired as a supervisor for International Harvester after forty-five years of service. He and his wife live in Lansing, Illinois.
Tony Canna / Inducted 1997 Pioneers 1887-1949
Tony Canna began his umpiring career after World War II in South Chicago and the East Side of Chicago with Jim Allen's organization. Shortly after that he joined Jim Edgeworth and the "Official Empire's Association" which he controlled later in his life. Tony worked with this organization until his retirement from officiating At the , time of his retirement, Tony was the rules interpreter for the Grant Park softball leagues and many other leagues throughout Chicago. Softball players rank Tony Canna as one of the top umpires of the 1940-60 era Umpiring at Grant Park, Grand Crossing, Avalon, Tuley, Bidwell, Foster, and Trumbull Parks, Tony was the arbiter of choice at money games and major tournaments. Tony also played semipro baseball during the 1930s and excelled in basketball. His many friends stand as a testament to his excellent umpiring abilities. Retired from Standard Oil and Kaiser Aluminum, Tony currently lives in South Holland, IL. Since De
Mike Caputo / Inducted 1998 1980's & 1990's Era
Mike Caputo grew up in the Garfield Ridge area of Chicago’s Southwest side. A graduate of the John F. Kennedy High School (class of 1969), Mike spent a couple of years at UICC. He left to pursue a professional baseball career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Mike left hardball to begin a softball career that spanned over 25 years against the best teams of the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Mike began his career with the Nocturnes. He then played for the Bobcats, Whips, Touch, Lyon’s 45’s, and Lettuce. Mike contributed to these teams winning six ASA National Championships, four USSSA Championships, four Forest Park Championships, two Clarendon Park Championships, and many other minor championships. A left handed batting and throwing outfielder, Mike was the master of the punch single. His coaches have called him one of the most fundamentally sound players in the game who combined fierce competitiveness with fine sportsmanship. Mike considers it a high honor to be associated with some of the most gifted athletes in 16-inch softball. Mike and his family live in Chicago.
Pat Caputo / Inducted 2008 1980's & 1990's Era
From 1969 to 1974 Pat Caputo played softball with neighborhoods teams. In 1975 he started a 12-year partnership with the Pirates and also played with the Stompers (‘80 –‘85), the Lords (‘82 –‘84), and with the Stooges (‘88 –‘90). These teams won tournaments at Westchester, Broadview, LaGrange and many other Western and Northern suburban leagues. In 1989 the Stooges were the Life Classic Champions and Pat received his first recognition as a 1st Team All-Star. In 1991 he joined Ice for a five year partnership that included many highlights: in 1991 they won an 88 team state tourney and won the LaGrange League title. In 1992 Ice won titles at Clyde Park, at the Life Classic, and won the ASA “A” Nationals. That year Pat was named a 1st Team All-Star for the Life Classic, won 1st Team All-American honors at the ASA Nationals and was named the MVP for that tournament. In 1993 Ice took third place at the ASA Nationals and won the USSSA World Championship. Pat was named an All-American at the ASA Nationals and was named the top defensive player at the USSSA Nationals. In 1991 Ice won the Hawthorne Park Tournament and Pat was named tournament M.V.P. He joined the Rockers in 1997 and helped them to top four finishes in the ASA Nationals in 1997 and 1998. In 1998 they won the Forest Park Invitational. In 2000 he joined Licorice and helped them to Grant Park championships in 2000 and 2002 and to a major national title in 2000 and 2002. In 2000 he received his second All-American honor. In 2002 the Rockers won the “triple crown” of softball: the Forest Park championship, the Grant Park championship and a major national title. He played with Traffic in 2006 and 2006 and still plays with Windy City. In 1998 and 2005 he received additional honors when he was named to the Chicago All Stars. Pat and his wife, Kim, live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have three children - Patrick, Joe, and Jillian and two grandchildren.
Dominic Carfagno / Inducted 1996 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
Rusty Carlson / Inducted 2009 Media & Organizers
Rusty Carlson began playing organized softball when he was fifteen. He would continue to play for the next twenty-two years in many leagues and tournaments, with the majority being played in Cicero, and at Kelly and Reece Parks. Besides playing, he also umpired for the ASA and USSSA for over twenty years. He umpired the Hawthorne “A” Classic and the Forest Park “No Gloves Nationals” for more than ten years, calling balls and strikes during the tournament games and for the championship games. He was the softball director for the Clyde Park leagues from 1985 to 1995 where he organized and directed nine men’s and three women’s divisions. The men’s divisions featured teams from Major to DD leagues; the women’s division consisted of A through C leagues, with eight to ten teams in each division. He also organized a boys 18-and-over division. The Major division was won by such legendary teams as the 45s, Jynx, Lettuce, Touch, and the Whips. The Super A league featured such teams as Bridgeport Crush, the Rockers, Stickmen, Safari Tigers, and other great teams. Eventually Major league games were played at Cicero and Forest Parks, with some of the games being played on local television at Forest Park. He also hosted and organized the twenty-four team ASA Women’s National tournament in 1988 in Cicero, won by the Bidayos. Clyde Park also hosted many USSSA and ASA tournaments and qualifying rounds. Clyde Park District had the reputation for hosting outstanding 16-inch softball games every night of the week. While the playing conditions were not always the best, often they were the only park playing during heavy rains due to the determination of park officials, players and coaches.
Dan “Sheik” Carmody / Honored 2014 Wall of Fame
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.
Janet Carpenter-Galvin / Inducted 2008 Women
Janet Carpenter’s lifelong interest in 16” softball began in 1977 when she was only thirteen. Joe Bertucci, the supervisor at Wilson Community Center in Chicago, asked her to play shortstop for the powerhouse Wilson C.C. team. They were so impressed by her defensive skills and talents on offense that they formed a long partnership. Wilson C.C. competed in tournaments and leagues throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, winning championships against such formidable opponents as Rose ‘n Crown, the Angels, Wings, Sulky Inn and Smashed. Janet attended Lourdes High School where she participated in a variety of sports - softball, volleyball, and track. In 2005, she was inducted into the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) Hall of Fame. After Lourdes, she attended Lewis University on a softball scholarship and played softball and volleyball. While there, she set several records that remain unbroken to this day. In 1992, she was inducted into the Lewis University Hall of Fame. After college, Janet pursued her love of the game when she joined the Shinnick’s Bad Attitude, a local neighborhood team. Shinnick’s played three to four nights a week and with Janet’s skills at shortstop, short center, in the outfield and at the plate, they quickly cemented their reputation by winning leagues and tournaments throughout Chicago. She also played for the infamous Desperados, capturing many titles against the Bidayos, Brat Pack and the Misfits. Janet remains active in softball today by playing for Shinnick’s/Symmetry in the 19th Ward Alderman Ginger Rugai’s Y-Me Breast Cancer tournament. Janet currently manages and coaches a 14U travel softball team, The Chicago Rockets and in her spare time also coaches the Chicago Comets Volleyball club. Janet plays an important role in local, regional and national athletics. In 2004 she traveled to New Zealand and Australia to coach the People to People Sports Ambassador program. She has officiated USA volleyball for twelve years and IHSA volleyball for twenty four years. Janet is currently employed by the Chicago Transit Authority, Office of the Inspector General, as its manager of Reporting and Compliance. She and her husband, Jim, have two children - James III, and Julie. They live on Chicago’s Southside.
Rich Catezone / Inducted 2014 Frank C. Holan Award
Rich Catizone started playing softball when he was fourteen. He played on local teams with his friends on the playgrounds in Chicago. He was young and inexperienced and his teams lost most of their games, but he loved the game from the beginning. A few years later, Rich met Hall of Fame manager Nick Camillo. He played with Nick and his friends for a few years as he improved his skills, learned the game, and competed at a more competitive level. As a result, he formed the Travelers and eventually the Check Mates, two teams that regularly played in competitive tournaments. These two teams featured eight players who would eventually be inducted in the Hall of Fame. After his playing days, Rich managed the Penguins, an “A” level team that played in the Windy City Classic at
Grant Park. He also consulted with the management of Flash and Puglise and contributed to their success. Puglise defeated Lettuce in 1999 to win the Forest Park No Gloves title. Rich’s teams have won many games and he has played with and against some of the best players in softball. He hung up his spikes at the age of forty-eight, but he remains close to the game as a spectator and true fan of the game. He is also an excellent scout of talent. In the mid-90s, he was named to the All-Gumbo Team as its Chief Scout by Jimmy Divito, a local radio-host and legendary player on the Blues. As a friend of softball, Rich has been surrounded by players – young and old - who show him the respect and courtesy he has earned from his years of playing and managing and for his passion for the game.
Del Cecchini-Centanni / Inducted 2005 Women
The signs of Del Cecchini - Centanni’s athletic skills were apparent from an early age when she started playing softball at six years old at Bell Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side. She would go on to play with some of the top women’s teams of her day and establish herself as one of the top pitchers in women’s softball before moving to San Diego, California. Her playing allegiance with Bell Park continued into her early teens as she helped them to four city championships by the time she was thirteen. Her passion for softball intensified when she hit her late teens and started playing with Friar Tuck’s, the O.J.s, Yakzees, Fuller’s Pub, McSchnapps and other Northwest Side bars, sometimes driving from one side of Chicago to the other to compete in two or three games a day. On weekends, she often pitched in tournaments for McSchnapps, one of the legendary women’s team of that era. As a dominant pitcher who won 90%-plus of her games, Del Centanni had a pickoff move to second base that caught many runners by surprise. Being a left - handed pitcher who could throw a ball with an unrestricted arc, hitters were not used to the reverse spin and the tremendous amount of ground she could cover defensively. She and her catchers also worked closely to know the tendencies of most hitters. If a hitter did make it on base, she had a pick-off move to second base that embarrassed many base runners. A graduate of Notre Dame High School in Chicago where she played volleyball and basketball, she went on to graduate from George Williams College in Downers Grove, where she played volleyball and basketball. She married Lou Centanni who once played for the Pirates. They have three children - Maria, Louie, and Joey. All are college athletes who have received scholarships for baseball or 12" softball. Del continues to coach 12" travel softball and is currently working at Nativity Prep Academy in San Diego, California.
Al Cech / Inducted 1997 1964-1979 Era
Born in 1942, Al Cech starred as an All-Star shortstop for the Bobcats for many years. A right handed batter and thrower, Al Cech was three times named All-American in the ASA Nationals in 1976-1978. He played on seven ASA National Championships with the Bobcats, C & K Bobcats and Whips. Besides softball, Al Cech excelled at basketball at De LaSalle High School where he played for the city title in ‘58 and ‘60. He also made the Allstate team in 1960. He is in the High School ES Hall of Fame. He received a scholarship to University of Detroit (1965-‘68), where he was a teammate of NBA star Dave DeBusshere. After graduating he was drafted by the St. L Hawks. He played semi-pro basketball in Michigan before returning to Chicago to work at the Chicago Park District. He was a member of the 12” professional Storm team in 1980. He was a coach on the ‘87- ASA champs Sportstation and coached the North Stars on 96. His wife Mary Ann and he have 2 children. He is retired and a security guard at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.
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.
Team Chicago Daily News / Honored 2008 Team Recognition
Team Chicago Daily News
In 1970, Chicago Daily News reporter Don DeBat tacked a note on the newsroom bulletin board asking if anyone was interested in playing 16-inch softball just for fun. That same day, Mike Royko, the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, put his hand on DeBat’s shoulder and said: “Lad, I understand you are starting a softball team. Here’s how we’ll do it.” CHICAGO DAILY NEWS TEAM (1970-1977) With future Media Hall of Famers Royko as manager and DeBat as captain, in its first season the Daily News recruited staffers Bob Billings, Bill Jauss, John Nocita and others and played exhibition games against the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Today and Lerner Newspapers. Besides recruiting these players to start the team, the Daily News team also looked for a sponsor. And what better sponsor could a team filled with media types have than the legendary Billy Goat Tavern? The Billy Goat has sponsored the team for each of its thirtyseven memorable years. Royko reminisced about playing for the Blue Sky Lounge, his father’s saloon softball team,and in 1971 he urged DeBat to organize the Media Softball League, comprised mostly of teams from the daily newspapers, TV and radio stations. The Daily News played a full schedule on Sunday mornings in Lincoln Park for the next three years. Most of the players were staffers, including future Media Hall of Famer Tim Weigel, who made a memorable catch sliding into the Thillens Stadium fence face first in his debut game. In 1973 and 1974, the Daily News won consecutive Media League championships and participated in tournaments and exhibitions. Between 1974 and 1977, the team also played in the Grant Park Industrial League. In 1975, the Daily News won a Grant Park championship, ran off eighteen wins in a row and ended the season in the Tournament of Champions final with a tough 15-12 loss to Environmental Control. With the addition of “Royko’s Legmen,”future Hall of Famers Tom Bonen and Gil Muratori”along with stars Don Garbarino, Clark Bell, Ken Gilard, Jerry Jess, Mike Skowronski, Paul Sortal, Dean Karouzos and Moe Hines, the Daily News posted an overall record of 22-6 record while participating in several Winston “A” Tournaments. The team also played charity games and exhibitions games against world-class teams such as the Bobcats, American Rivet/Sobies, ERV-Strikers, Marauders and Silver Streaks. In 1976, the Daily News beat such top teams as the Warriors in the Mather Park “A” League, and Royko broke his leg in a game, got two hits and continued to play. Another memorable event in team history occurred that year when Royko filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Park District to halt the proposed use of fielder’s gloves in Grant Park’s 16-inch softball leagues and won. Over six years of Chicago Park District Industrial League competition, the team posted a 90-30 record. In 1977, the final season before the Daily News closed, the team played in the Portage Park “B” League against such competition as the Aces, Jokers, Rascals, Alley and Lickers. Over eight seasons, the Daily News record was 133-70 in leagues, tournaments and exhibition games against some of the toughest competition in the Windy City. With the Daily News out of business, DeBat, Jess, Karouzos and several other players formed a Saloon League team at Oz Park in 1978 and won a championship. In 1997, a Daily News Reunion Game was organized by DeBat, and more than twenty-five players from the original team came out for the festivities. Now in his early 60s, Royko pitched and got a base hit even though he hadn’t played in fifteen years. In 1998, less than a year later, Royko passed away. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES TEAM (1979-2007) In 1979, Mike Royko, Don DeBat and other staffers moved to the Chicago Sun-Times, and re-launched the team. Over the next twenty-eight years, the Sun- Times softball team would go on to win more than twenty league championships and several major tournaments. In 1979, after winning eighteen games in a row in the Grant Park Industrial League, the Sun-Times met the CTAin the Tournament of Champions finals and lost 10-7 as Mayor Jane Byrne and husband, Jay McMullen, a Sun-Times reporter, cheered for the CTA. This fine championship team included such Sun-Times staffers as Bob Gorzynski, John Nocita, Clark Bell, Herb Gould, Jim Warren, Dan Gorman and Al Hansen, plus a host of Royko Legmen,Dave and Paul Sortal, Don Garbarino, Sam Gendusa, Steve Loh, Len Cudzilo and Dean Karouzos. In the early 1980s, “Royko’s Raiders,” the Sun- Times Saloon League team, played with the “juiced” ball in the Clarendon Park “B” league against teams such as the Jets, Rox, Scorpions, Hitmen and Alley. In 1983, Royko retired from softball at age 50 to become a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. In the decade of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Sun-Times team, led by player/manager Don DeBat, was a powerhouse in the Grant Park League with such stars as Dan Cahill (Media Hall of Famer), Steve Kus, Glenn Placek, Rob Placek, “AA” pitcher Tommy (Bomber) Horn and two-time Hall of Fame player Al Placek (Playboys), Roger Franzek, Bob Gorzynski, Tony Dudek, David Southwell, Larry Comstock, Mark Masterson, John Nocita, Phil Velasquez, Big John Meyers, John Unhock and many others. In the 1990s Grant Park became an Open Saloon League, and the Sun-Times team emerged as a major tournament force. The DeBat managed team won the World’s Largest Softball Tournament, the Old Style Chicago Classic, in 1993. In 1995, sports reporter David Southwell took over as captain and led a revamped team to another Chicago Classic championship, this time sponsored by Miller Lite. Tommy Horn broke a tie in the seventh inning with a grand slam in the final. As player/manager, Southwell led the team to seven championships until 2004, when advertising executive Bill Wossow took over the league team and Bob Egan ran the tournaments. Since 1995 the Sun-Times won nine championships including two Grant Park Tournament of Champions titles, four Mike Royko Memorial Tournament championships, one Chicago Classic championship, and two league titles at Grant Park. The team qualified for the league playoffs every year and never placed lower than fourth place in the Chicago Classic.
Mike Clifford / Inducted 2005 1980's & 1990's Era
Mike Clifford grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Little Flower High School in 1972. He then went on to Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois where he played baseball. He began playing softball at the major level when he hooked up with Hall of Famer Sal Vasta and the Blues at Kelly Park. He then went on to play for ten years with Bob O’Malley, another great manager, for Phoenix and the Cougars. These were two highly competitive teams at Blue Island where they qualified for the ASA Nationals numerous times, including two fourth places finishes and a third place finish. Mike also had brief stints with the Hot Shots and the Peppers before making a major shift in his playing loyalties. Being a lifetime South Side player, Mike counted teams from the North Side of Chicago to be his biggest rivals; however, the lure of playing for Hall of Fame manager Dick Cooper proved to be too big of an honor and Mike joined Dick and the Meadows. He and long time friend, Chuck DePalma, played with the Meadows for three years. During that time, they won the Mt. Prospect championship twice and were known as one of the most solid and competitive teams of the 1980s. He considers Dick Cooper to be the most influential and honest persons in softball because his emphasis was always on the love of the game and value of sportsmanship. A left-handed batter who played first base, Mike was perhaps best known as a designated hitter who could drive outfielders crazy because of his ability to “dump” a ball in front of an outfielder despite the outfielder’s best efforts. Many players of his era considered Mike to be one of the ugliest .700 hitters because many of his hits never left the infield. He ended his career with a batting average over .500. For his efforts, Mike was selected to three ASA 1st Team All-American teams and two 2nd Team All-American teams. He was also a member of the USSSA World Champion Jokermen and received 1st Team All-American honors for that tournament. Mike retired from softball after 25 years, but has changed to managing Splash, his daughter’s fast-pitch traveling softball team for six years. He is also currently managing his son’s baseball team. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children, Kelsey and Matthew. He is a manager for the United States Postal Service where he and his co-worker, Hall of Fame member Jack Kelly, swap old softball stories. He and his family live in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton
The 6'9 lefty power hitter and first baseman was one of the most famous players in the game. He was a star player around Washington Park before he went to DuSable High School, thanks to the guidance of Dan Dumas. His guidance was not always divine as he would sneak out from Sunday School for big games. Played for the Brown Bombers and Capitol Records team of the Daddy O'Daylie League. He was the key to the two Bomber's Windy City successes in the late 40's. In '48 he took the WCL home run title from Red Hurter with 52. His DuSable High School basketball team was the first black team to win the Public League Championship with a record 45 points. Nate attended Xavier College, was drafted in the Army and served in Europe during WWII. Joined the Globetrotters in '48. So good, he was the first black player in the NBA and unfortunately has never garnered the notoriety Jackie Robinson did in baseball. He averaged 10 points 9 rebounds in seven seasons with the Knicks and one with the Pistons. He always covered the toughest scorer of each team they played. He also played 1st base for a Cleveland Indians farm team. His affinity for only sugar/sweets in his water drink is how his nickname was derived. He drank nothing else. One of the 1st athletes honored in the Chicago Afro American Hall of Fame. 1927-1990.
Michael Coleman / Inducted 2008 1980's & 1990's Era
Michael Coleman was eighteen when his father asked him to practice with his tavern team, Boss Larry’s Hustlers. It was during this run that Michael began to hone his softball skills and to prepare himself for his movement into softball’s “major” leagues. The Hustlers played money games against other lounges on the weekends and played in leagues at Columbus Park, at Argo and Summit, and in a highly competitive night league in Maywood. He earned his nickname “Ice Mike” because of his stylish play in the outfield and at the plate. He started out as a long-ball hitting center fielder with a cannon throwing arm. In 1983 the Hustlers played a money game against the Safari Tigers, a young team from Chicago’s Southwest side. After the game, Mike Lee, the captain of the Tigers, asked Michael if he wanted to play for them. It didn’t take Michael long to say yes because of the reputation of the Tigers and because they were closer in age to him. He started out playing right field because Eric “Moon” Jones, the center fielder at the time had a stronger throwing arm and better range. With Michael in right, Eric Jones in center, and Cedric “Secret” Walls in left, the Tigers had one of the strongest outfields in major softball. They would dare runners to try to take an additional base and would then gun them down with their cannon-like arms. The Tigers played in all the major leagues around Chicago and became one of the top teams of the ‘80s. They won the ASA State title in 1985 and were runners-up in the ASA Nationals in 1984 and 1985. After his success with the Tigers, Michael and a few other teammates formed the B-Athletes in 1999. They won many local league championships in the late ‘90s and early 2000s and finished fifth in the ASA Major Nationals in 2003. Michael also moved from the outfield to first base and became one of the top first basemen of his era. In 1995 he was named an ASA All-American, the B-Athletes MVP in 2000, the Claude Rhodes Invitational MVP in 2005, and has been named to several other all-tournament team. Besides playing, Michael has also added leadership and knowledge to some of the up-and-coming teams like the Dogg Pound and his favorite, The Young Guns. In 2000 Michael and his wife of twenty years, Lori, moved to Naperville, Illinois. His daughters, Erica, Essence, and Emerald, would let him know they were at the game by blowing kisses to him between innings. He received a degree in Computer Science from Triton College and a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in 1996 in Management. He has developed software for over twenty years and in 1996 became a computer consultant. In 1997 he started his own consulting company that recently completed a three-year contract with a major telecommunications company. He hopes to enter the field of educational computer consulting.
Team Commonwealth Edison / Honored 2006 Team Recognition
Team Commonwealth Edison
Sixteen-inch softball has always been a game that cut across racial, cultural and socioeconomic barriers. What mattered most was how you played the game. During its twenty-seven years together, the Commonwealth Edison corporate team stood as a shining example of this trait. It was a team comprised of office workers, electricians, meter readers, union employees and management employees that bonded into a championship team that dominated the Grant Park Industrial League in legendary proportion. Grant Park, on Chicago’s lakefront, is home to one of the country’s largest softball leagues. On Monday through Friday nights during the summer months, its sixteen diamonds are home to competition among the approximately 320 company teams that are divided into forty leagues. At the end of the season the forty league champions face off in a single elimination Tournament of Champions to determine the “Best of the Best.” The Edison team played together for over twenty years and had accumulated numerous league championships but had never won the Grant Park title. The trend was reversed, however, in 1990 when they defeated First Chicago 9-3. The next year their quest to repeat as “Best of the Best” (a feat that had never been accomplished) began in dramatic fashion with ABC Channel 7’s Janet Davies and a television crew chronicling their efforts. They swept through the competition during the preliminary games before defeating Northern Trust Bank 14- 11 in dramatic fashion for the championship. The thirty-minute television program aired in late August and featured highlights and interviews with players, coaches and wives. The show successfully captured the pressure of winning back-to-back championships. The next year they defeated CNA Insurance 5-3 and beat People’s Gas 8-7 in 1993, compiling a remarkable stretch of four consecutive titles in the Tournament of Champions. Their streak ended in 1994, but they bounced back in 1995 when they defeated Northern Trust Bank 10-4 for an unprecedented fifth championship in six seasons. Winning the title in an industrial league was impressive, but to repeat in a tournament where the “big guns” played was another story, so Commonwealth Edison entered the inaugural Old Style Classic Tournament in 1992. Billed as the world’s largest 16" softball tournament with 152 teams, Edison went undefeated through the preliminary games before defeating Traffic 6-4 for the championship. Besides the glory of hoisting the trophy, each team member also won trips to Cancun, Mexico and assorted other prizes, such as portable telephones, Cubs tickets and trophies. Team members (and residents of Cancun) will long remember the October 1992 trip to that warm destination. Besides playing at Grant Park, Edison also played in the corporate tournament at Gordon Park in LaGrange. They won the league title for three consecutive years (an unprecedented feat), defeating such teams as Molex, People’s Gas and the Chicago Sun Times. Like many great teams that played together for years, Commonwealth Edison went through personnel changes but always maintained a nucleus of strong players who consistently competed at the highest levels. The fun and camaraderie on the field was equaled by the end of the year team parties where awards were presented and memories were made, memories that will always remind the players and spouses of all the practices, games and great competitors they faced along the way. Phil Williams, Jim Murphy, Dave Ganir, Steve Alexander, Bob Giza, Tony Nevarrez, Willie Alicea, Raul Gonzalez, Mike Niedziela, Mike Andler, Wally Gniady, Stu North, Al Armstrong, Duryea Haralson, John O'Donahue, Wally Bass, Tim Hayes, Phil Polansky, Dave Batinich, Roy Henderson, Tom Polewski, Mike Bennett, Bill Hogarth, Jose Prado, Dave Blazek, Dale Hopkins, Demetre Rials, Bob Bridges, Andy Jungblut, Bob Ryan, Bill Buckley, Gary Kalinsky, Al Sakanis, Mike Carravia, Leo Kelly, Dale Senensky, Rich Carlson, Larry Keslinke, Bob Sarritella, Jim Casey, Len Koelper, Tony Sodoro, Luis Castro, Jerry Lannon, Drew Steinbach, Bill Cavanaugh, Dan Leahy, Jim Swanson, Mike Coleman, Sam Lomonaco, Nate Thurnhoffer, Mike Crews, Bill Lythberg, Nick Tryfonopoulos, Rafael Cuesta, Mike Lopez, Art Tucker, Bob Dapisa, Rick Machain, Manny Villarubia, Tony Decero, Kevin Manson, Andy Wallace, Bob Dion, Mike Mareno, Wilbert Ward, Mike Duba, Ed Mantel, Bill Waver, John Dyer, Wealthy Mobley, Randy Weeda, Jim Evans, Patrick Moran, Chuck Welch, John Folden, Ivan Moreno, Jim Wiggins, Jim Gamble, Greg Morris, Dwight Williams, Ray Geary, John Murphy, Chris Winberg, Bob Geist, Bob McRae, Tim Witkowski, Paul Gianfrancisco, Bill McKinney, Chris Zyla
Mike Conklin / Inducted 1998 Media & Organizers
Current readers of the Chicago Tribune can find Mike Conkin as one of the co-authors of the INC column, but softball fans will remember Mike as the founder and author of “On Softball”, a weekly column in the Tribune during the 1970’s that many experts say revitalized 16" softball in Chicago and the Midwest. As author of this column, Conklin had a front row seat to many classic softball games, local tournaments, and world championships. Mike also edited and was a columnist for Windy City Softball magazine produced in the 70’s by Tom Bonen, Bob Campbell and Al Maag. Additionally, he wrote feature articles on softball for national publications, and co-authored with Ed Zolna Inside Softball, one of the first books to cover the finer points of “Chicago’s game.” Mike Conklin is married to Diane and has two high school aged children, Andy and Sydney. He resides in the northern suburbs.
Team Continental Bank / Honored 2009 Team Recognition
Team Continental Bank
In the 1950s, Continental Bank played in the Banker's league, competing against top banks around the Chicago-area. The league ended play in1959. That year First Chicago defeated Continental in the championship game to earn their first spot in the Grant Park Tournament of Champions. That year they took third place out of thirty-two teams. In 1964 they won the tournament and in 1967 captured fourth place. From 1968 through 1974, Continental won the tournament seven consecutive years. They also played in the Grant Park Industrial League, compiling a record of 126 wins and 6 losses, including league and tournament games. In 1971, they qualified to play in the national tournament in St. Louis. They finished seventh overall with a record of three wins and two losses, losing only to the Bobcats and Sobies.
Ken “Coop” Cooper / Inducted 2006 1980's & 1990's Era
Ken “Coop” Cooper
Ken Cooper’s twenty-year softball career began in 1975 when he started playing for his father and Hall of Fame member, Dick Cooper, on the Meadows Baptist Church team. In 1977 the Meadows moved up to the Rolling Meadows Park District league. After that, he played for the Taggers, the Straycats, Cooper’s Sporting Goods and Splinter’s Sports Group; he ended his career playing for Lettuce Entertain You. Throughout his twenty-year career, he played on teams that won championships at all levels, including the Forest Park No Glove Nationals and tournament titles at Grant Park, Berwyn, Cicero, the Diet Coke W.L.S., tournament titles and the Cedar Rapids tournament. They won league championships at Forest Park, Clyde Park and at the Mt. Prospect Classic league. Additionally, they won U.S.S.S.A state titles and A.S.A. championships at the state and national level. Ken feels fortunate to have played for managers Mr. Coop, Frank Holan, Bob O’Malley, Ricky Burnett, Al MacFarlane, Scott Rossi, Art Mustari, Joel Zimberoff and Rich Melman. He also played with such great players as John O’Connor, Frank Mustari, Angelo Alesia, Paul Brezinski, Wally Filkins, Ken Flaws and Ricky Gancarz, to name just a few. Personally, Ken Cooper has been named to All-American and all-star teams in Mt. Prospect; he was a North All-Star and has earned All- American and All - World honors in national competition. He credits his success in softball to playing with the best teammates, having the best sponsors and coaches, and playing against the fiercest competitors in the Northwest suburbs during the ‘80s and early ‘90s. He lives in Elgin, Illinois with his wife, Jan, and their two children, Jim and Kelsi.
Dick Cooper / Inducted 1997 Umpires & Managers
The world of 16” softball received a great player and talented organizer in 1938 when Dick Cooper started playing 16” at Hayt Playground, Clark and Granville in Chicago. Dick started with Hawks at Hayt and then played with the Aces at Ace Laundry Company Field. Service in World War II from 1943- 46 put a halt on Dick’s career due to a lack of players overseas who knew the of 16” softball. Instead Dick played 12” “Kitten Ball” for the Army Engineers in New Guinea. Once the war ended, Dick played in Chicago leagues from 1947-1958 when he moved to the suburbs. There he played from 1958 to 1976 in a highly competitive church league for Meadows Baptist Church in Rolling Meadows. This team, which played in Rolling Meadows and Arlington - Heights, allowed Dick to manage and play with his three sons and his son-in-law and it became the nucleus of the team that later moved to Mt. Prospect in 1984. During the 1970s Dick also played for A.G. Becker and Company in the Grant Park Broker’s League on a team managed by Karl Dotzel. During the 1980s and 90s Dick Cooper’s teams put together an admirable series of accomplishments. Cooper’s Sporting Goods placed 2nd in the Nationals in 1986; the Meadows won the Mt. Prospect Classic League in 1986 and 1987 (winning 15 and 19 consecutive games respectively, a record for the number of consecutive victories in the Classic League.) Cooper returned to managing in 1992 when his March Manufacturing won the C1assic League Championship and placed 2nd in the ASA Nationals in 1992 and ‘93. In 1994 Dick Cooper was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Onesti’s Softball City. Additionally, winning the Terry Moran Memorial Tournaments in 1995 and 1997 proved to be a fitting climax to a fulfilling softball career. Dick Cooper will best be remembered by his players as a devoted leader whose unique style included loyalty to his players first and the pressure of winning second. Since deceased.
Connie Coster-Bruegmann / Inducted 2000 Women
Connie Coster-Bruegmann’s softball career began with a bang at the age of twelve, in 1958. She received a special exemption to play shortstop in an adult women’s 12” fast pitch league. She went on to Thornton Fractional South High School, where she earned multiple awards and letters, culminating in her winning the prestigious Senior Athlete Award for excellence in academics and athletics. After graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in education, Connie was introduced to 16” softball. In 1972 she co-founded a team from Ray’s Tavern that won numerous league championships. She then moved on to join the Rebels, and the legendary Angels, playing shortstop and short center until 1987. Her many batting and MVP titles helped her teams win championships at the league through national levels. In addition to excelling at softball, Connie and her teams have won titles in women’s power volleyball, and have won two national championships in touch football. Connie has coached at the junior high and high school levels, and has worked with the Boy and Girl Scouts as a waterfront director and sports coordinator. In 2000, she and her husband Vic lived in Iron River, Wisconsin.
Larry Coutre / Inducted 2005 Pioneers 1887-1949
Larry began his softball career as a young teenager playing with Durso's at Green Briar Park on Chicago's Northwest side, winning several championships including the prestigious Knights of Columbus City Championship. He then played for Hall of Fame member Doc Scavuzzo with Alderman Hoellen's at Welles Park, Clarendon Park, and Thillens Stadium. His skills at center field and clutch hitting skills helped make them the team to beat of that era. Larry Coutre was a left - handed hitter who always hit in the top of the batting order because of the dual threat he brought to the plate. He could hit to all fields, or he could punch a ball down the third base line, utilizing his speed to get on base. When the bases were only 45 feet apart, opposing fielders rarely were able to throw him out and when the bases were lengthened, he still beat out most infield hits. Besides his speed, Larry could also hit the long ball. In fact, many veterans of the era remember him as being one of the top homerun hitters of his time. After graduating from St. George High School in 1946 where he played football, Larry played for Notre Dame from 1946 – 1950. He played with the College All-Stars against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field in 1950. After graduation, he played with the Green Bay Packers in 1950 until he joined the army. After his discharge in January of 1953, he rejoined the Packers and then played one year with the Baltimore Colts. Larry Coutre's softball career came to an end when he became an F.B.I. agent stationed in Knoxville, Tennessee. He and his wife, Marcia, have six children – Christine, Scott, Jeff, Linda, Matthew, and Janine – and two grandchildren. They live in Boca Raton, Florida.
Michael Coyne / Inducted 2004 1950-1963 Era
A few years ago, the Chicago Public Schools made 16” softball a varsity high school sport. What many might not know, however, is that softball was a Catholic high school sport in 1955, and Mike Coyne played it. In his senior year at St. Gregory’s, Mike was the captain of his 16” softball team. That year they won the Catholic Parish League Championship. Mike Coyne was then picked to play with Alderman Hollen’s in the “A” league at Clarendon Park, the majors of softball during the 50s. From 1955 to 1967, Mike and his teams won championships at Clarendon and other parks with Hollen’s (1955 and 1956 at Clarendon and Wells), Kohler’s Jewelers (1959 at Clarendon and Wells), Ray-Lyn (1961 at Rogers Park), Eddy’s Bleachers (1962 North Loop champs), the Dwarfs (1963 at Wells and 1964 at Chase), and with S&N Jewelers and Joe Umana (1965 at Clarendon and Wells.) However, the most satisfying championship was winning the Midwest Tournament of Champions in 1962 when Eddy’s Bleachers played a team put together by Eddie Zolna. Eddy’s Bleachers beat Zolna’s team 25 to 23 in a game that saw six lead changes. Mike Coyne that night had five hits, including a three run homer and two doubles. The victory was especially sweet for Mike because Eddie Zolna had dropped him earlier in the season. From 1968 through 1990 Mike Coyne played with numerous teams including Flories, Ed Kelly’s, Tom Green’s and Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, Kolski’s Boosters (Mike also managed the team), and Hennessee’s. They won championships at parks ranging from Kelvyn Park to Hamlin Park. For ten years, he pitched 12” softball with Chicago FBI agents in the Nationwide FBI Tournament. He lead them to numerous championships with his pitching and hitting and was selected to the Columbus FBI Softball Hall of Fame. In 1991 at age 55, Mike Coyne pitched for Brothers at Oriole Park, leading them to championships in 1992 and 1993. From 1994 to 2003 he played with Chicago Hitmen (later Coyne Financial) at Indian Road. They won the title in 1996 and 2003. A Chicago police officer for 32 years, Mike Coyne also used his softball expertise from 1962 to 1989, leading various police districts to championships in the Chicago Police League and winning the Illinois Police Statewide Olympics in 1980 and 1989. Throughout his 48-year softball career, Mike Coyne played all infield positions and switched to pitching during the last fifteen years of his playing days. He was known as a gap hitter who could hit to all fields but who favored hitting to right center. Mike Coyne was a Chicago Police officer for 32 years. He now does public relations for Coyne Financial, family owned mortgage brokerage firm. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Bridget, Mike, and Bill - and nine grandchildren.
Tom Cramsie / Inducted 2005 Pioneers 1887-1949
A 1939 graduate of De LaSalle High School where he played basketball and football, Tom Cramsie began his softball career at Horace Mann School at 80th and Jeffrey Avenue on Chicago's Southeast Side. Like many neighborhood teams, they kept the same nucleus as they battled other Southeast and South Side teams. Sponsored by Aidner Paints, Kromelow Insurance, Wee Folks Diapers, and O'Halleran's. Tom Cramsie played against such legendary teams as Sweet Water Clifton's Brown Bombers and teams organized by Tilden Teach and Notre Dame graduate Lou Rymkus during the late 1940s. He played in the Windy City League with the Douglas Senators in 1940 and 1941 and in tournaments at Grand Crossing and other parks on the South Side. World War II interrupted Tom Cramsie's softball career from 1942 to 1946 when he joined the Marines and served in the Pacific on Guam. Upon his discharge, the White Sox signed him to play with their Waterloo, Iowa team during the spring training in 1946. After the White Sox released him shortly after spring training, he went back to work for American Forge and stayed with them for 38 years, retiring in 1978 as vice president of sales. He then worked in the wire business for ten years before retiring completely. As a shortstop, Tom Cramsie had the reputation as one of the surest hands in the game at the time. One of his competitors, George McGuire, swears he never saw Tom make an error or bobble a ball. He was known as an above average hitter who could hit to all fields. Playing against Hall of Fame pitcher, Lewa Yacilla, he remembers when the pitch was not arced as much as it is today. Hesitation was the dominant move by pitchers back then. He retired from softball in the late 50s. Tom and his wife, Lorraine, live in Orland Park. They had six children, eighteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Zeke Crement / Inducted 2002 1964-1979 Era
Zeke Crement played his first game as a seventeen year old at Clarendon Park. His first at bat was a home run, a shot that began a 29 year softball career with some of softball's great teams, and started Zeke's reputation as one of the longest ball hitters of his era. Zeke played with Active Screw at Clarendon and Kosciusko Parks and played with the Lyon's 45's at Clarendon, Evanston, Portage and Kelly Parks. In 1969 Crement helped the Dr. Carlucci Bonbcats win the World Championship at Sheboygan, Wisconsin. In 1979 and 1985, he played in Metro, Illinois State, and World tournaments. Besides carrying a lifetime batting average over .600 and leading his teams in homeruns, Crement was a top notch shortstop, blessed with a strong arm and a range that cut down many would be runners. He and his wife, Mary, had two daughters and a son. Zeke passed away in early 2002.
Peter “Uncle Pete” Crnjak / Inducted 1998 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
Peter “Uncle Pete” Crnjak
Perched on the bleachers with his trademark cigar clenched between his teeth, “Uncle Pete” Crnjak mumbles tips and advice to the players from The Men from Uncle, the 1988 16 inch National Class A Champions who selected their team name to honor him. Pete Crnjak developed his love of softball as a young man. After thirty years of service with Interlake Steel Company, Pete “retired” and became a barkeeper and owner of Pete’s Hide-Away located at 107th and Burley Avenue in Chicago for the past thirty years. Over these many years Crnjak has sponsored such legendary softball teams as the Eastsiders, Whips, Sports Station, Stickmen, The Men from Uncle and many women’s and neighborhood teams. A common sight at many softball tournaments is a player wearing a t-shirt from Pete’s Hideaway. Peter Crnjak is a legend among softball players all over the Chicagoland area. He continues to be a great sponsor and friend of softball. “Chicago’s game” owes a debt of gratitude to “Uncle Pete” and his generous contributions. Since Deceased.
Team Crush / Honored 2010 Team Recognition
Crush started out in 1978 when a bunch of high-school friends put together a team and started competing at McGuane Park. In 1979 and '80 they won the 18 and under title at McGuane. The next year they played in the Donovan Park Open League, made the playoffs, and then took second to the Stickmen the next year. Mick Balestri joined the team in 1982 and brought five players from DiFoggio Softball to create a Crush team that was ready to play at more competitive levels. In 1983 they beat the Stickmen to win the title at Donovan Park. In 1985 they won the inaugural Henry Murillo, Jr. Tournament at Mount Greenwood and went to their first USSSA State Tournament, finishing second to the Taggers. The next year they took third at the ASA Nationals in Iowa City and won the Blue Island Class "A" League with a 17-0 record. In 1987 they were ranked number one by the Sun Times and won what was their greatest tournament victory when they won the prestigious Budweiser Metro Park District Tournament. This tournament featured 116 teams. Crush beat the Safari Tigers 4-1 in the televised championship game. The team finished that season with an 80-20 record with six tournament championships. In their thirty-three year history, Crush has racked up an impressive record. They won titles in the Kelly Park USSSA Major league three times and in the Clyde Park Super 'A' League six times, as well as over 30 league and tournament championships at Armour Park, Boyce Park, Donovan Park, McGuane Park and Normandy Park. They placed in the top ten at the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals four times (5th in 1999, 6th in 2000, 2nd in 2001 and 5th in 2008). The Crush played in over 20 ASA State Tournaments with a 3rd place finish in 1991 and a 2nd place finish in 1999 and were top ten finishers at the ASA Nationals thirteen times, including National Runner-up six times (1988, 1990, 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2008). They finished five times in the top seven at the NSA World Series. They took third twice in the USSSA "Major" Division and won the first and last USSSA "A" titles (1989 and 1995). In addition to being a competitive team, they also contributed to the softball community by running the Jimbo's Crush Spring Classic tournament for 18 years in Bridgeport before moving the tournament to Clyde Park in 2008. Crush has been sponsored by Jimbo's Lounge, Studio 31, DiFoggio's Plumbing, Tito's, O.N.I.A.C, Hometown Distributors, Scoreboard Inn, Beginnings, McGaffer's, Garv Inn, Tapp City, Jose Cuervo and Top Notch.
Thomas “Durke” Curran / Inducted 2006 Pioneers 1887-1949
Thomas “Durke” Curran
Thomas J. Curran was born and raised at 46th and Union in the Canaryville neighborhood of Chicago. He attended Tilden Technical High School where he was a member of the basketball team that captured the 1946 City championship. He got his start in 16" softball playing with the Gaels Athletic Club, winning the 1944 and 1946 championships at Fuller Park and taking second place in 1946 at Ogden Park. In 1947 and 1948 Tom Curran played with the Collins "700" Club and the Madonna Knights of Columbus. In 1949 and '50 he played with the S.S. Bobcats, the predecessors of the legendary Zolna Bobcats. They won the Back of the Yards title in 1949. He took a short break from softball when he entered the Army in 1951 and served in Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division. For his time in Korea, Thomas Curran was awarded the Bronze Star and the Korean Service Medal with three battle stars. After his discharge from the service, he played for the Daley-Hamburgs (the future mayor was Chicago city clerk at this time) and the Madonna Knights of Columbus before retiring from softball in 1953 due to family commitments. Players from the Pioneer era remember Tom Curran as one of the top pitchers of his time. He is one of the first to use the hesitation pitch and perfected the pickoff play to second base. As a hitter he normally batted sixth and favored line drives to right center field. He was a Chicago police officer for thirtythree years (retired in 1988) and is now a Cook County Sheriffs Deputy assigned to 26th and California. He and his wife, Barbara Ann have four children, Dr. Mary Jo, Barbara Ann, Tommy and Kevin (deceased). They live in Orland Park, Illinois.
Henry “Hawk” Currie / Inducted 2001 1950-1963 Era
Henry “Hawk” Currie
Henry "Hawk" Currie, as he is affectionately called by friend and foe, began his softball career in the early 1950s at Madden Park, one of the most talent laden parks of that time. He won his first softball medal when the Aces took third place in the Chicago Park District Junior tournament. In 1961 he left Madden Park for the allure of Meyerling Playground, to play with the Sweets All-Stars. His teammates included softball legends Sweetwater Clifton, Dan Dumas, Lawyer Bratton, Zeke Ireland and fellow 2001 Inductee, Bobbie Blackstone. They won the Daddio Daily League that year, in a no hit shut out pitched by Bobbie. The following season, their already strong team was bolstered by the addition of Tony Reibel and Bill Hall. Henry worked for Kuppenheimer Clothing, and, as part of their team, played in nine Grant Park Industrial League Continental Division championships from 1962 to 1977. They also won five city tournaments during that span. In 1968, Kuppenheimer finished third in the ASA 16" Nationals in St. Louis. Currie was named Most Valuable Player, the first Black 16" player ever to be so honored. By the 1970s, Currie was playing with the 151 Stars, who eventually merged with several Flamingo players to form the Senators. For ten years the Senators and Flamingos waged softball wars beyond compare. In 1975, the Senators won every tournament on the south side. That year, before the largest crowd ever to watch a National game, the gloveless Senators lost to a glove wearing team from Oregon. Henry Currie lives with his wife Annie, and is the father of six boys and two girls.
Tom “Eggs” Czarnik / Inducted 2003 1980's & 1990's Era
Tom “Eggs” Czarnik
Tom Czarnik began his major softball career in 1976 playing second base and pitching with Murderers Row in the Clarendon and Kelly Park leagues and with the Nocturnes at Kelly Park. Except for a brief stint with Mike McGovern’s Amalamonsters, the early 1980’s found Tom Czarnik joining some high school friends to play with the Rollers, a Northwest side team playing in some of the top leagues. When top-level softball moved to Mt. Prospect, Czarnik joined Cooper’s Sporting Goods, which evolved into Splinter’s Sports Club, sponsored by Al McFarlane. The 1990’s saw Tom Czarnik joining Rich Melman’s Lettuce teams, considered to be the powerhouse teams of the 90’s. Czarnik ended his full time playing career in 2000 with the Miller 45’s. Besides playing in the major leagues, Tom Czarnik never forgot his neighborhood roots. He was a fixture on such neighborhood teams as the Outlaws (Oriole Park), Candlelight Jewelers (Niles), and Music in Motion (Glenview). On the mound Tom Czarnik was known as a fierce competitor and a dedicated Redman chewer who would spit on the ball and chew on a loose seam in order to get an advantage over the hitter. In fact, many in softball consider Tom Czarnik to be one of the top ball and strike pitchers in the history of 16” softball. Besides his pitching prowess, Czarnik was also a top defensive player and a good clutch hitter who could place a ball down either foul line. His skill was quickly noticed at the national level where he was selected to twelve All-American teams. He won three national championships, and was named major nationals MVP three times (1986, 1991, and 1996). He was also named to the first team All-Mt. Prospect League team, an honor bestowed on him by his peers in recognition of his twenty years of league play.