Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Jack “Swifty” Flynn / Inducted 2016 Pioneers 1887-1949
Jack “Swifty” Flynn
In his 2001 biography of Mike Royko, Richard Ciccone quotes Tim Weigel saying that he was disappointed that Royko became a pitcher because according to Weigel “there’s no such thing as a good pitcher.” Although Weigel was a Yale graduate, starting halfback on their football team, and a legendary local sportscaster, apparently he hadn’t been around sixteen-inch softball to realize that there were a lot of great pitchers. And one of those pitchers was Jack Flynn. He pitched for the Rockets, a Canaryville team from 47th Street. Flynn was seventeen in 1950 when he led the Rockets to the championship in the Alderman Clarence Wagner Softball Tournament at Davis Square Park. He later played for the Madonna Council Knights of Columbus and helped them with the 1955 championship with out fielder Jim McCardle (HOF) and Flynn’s coach/pitcher/mentor Tom “Turk” Corcoran. Jack Flynn also pitched for the Burlington Railroad in the Grant Park railroad League and on the South side for the Dutch Reformed Church team called the Shoes in the late ‘60s. He pitched money games almost every Sunday for the Two - 45s with Hall of Famers George Wagner and Jack Lyman. Over the years, he pitched several one run games, a feat almost unheard of in the high scoring world of sixteen-inch softball. In 1957 in has best game, Flynn and his talented teammates came within one out of a rare shutout when Madonna K of C defeated St. Albert the Great at Armour Square Park 17 – 1. He received his nickname at this game. St Albert’s lone run came with two out in the last inning when an infielder’ error allowed the runner to score. Both teams signed the ball for Flynn as a souvenir. A few weeks later, St Alberts won the K of C championship. In a show of respect, they invited Jack and his wife, Dorisann, to their victory party. In 1969, the Flynns moved from Bridgeport to Waukegan where they raised their seven children. They now have twelve grandchildren and a great granddaughter.
Howie Fagan / Inducted 2009 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
Howie Fagan has had a tremendous impact on the Hall of Fame from its inception. In fact, one could argue that it was his generosity that led to the first public display of softball memorabilia. Italian Sports Hall of Fame director, George Randazzo, suggested that Howie and Al Maag meet. From that first meeting, Howie understood the vision for the Hall of Fame and indicated his willingness to be involved. He hosted the meeting that organized the Hall of Fame at Hawthorne. Since then, Hawthorne has hosted the inductee dinners, dinners that draw over 500 people each year. He also allowed a display of softball memorabilia to be setup in the building. He has influenced many of the HOF programs and his marketing experience has been vital in getting the Hall of Fame off the ground. He grew up on the South side of Chicago near Rainbow Beach. He decided to attend Mount Carmel High School, a decision he calls one of the greatest he ever made. He was a basketball and baseball star there (and is a member of their Hall of Fame) and then played football at Northern Illinois University from 1957 to 1959. He had never played football, so when he tried-out, Coach Howard Fletcher tested him in practice by running plays directly at him. He made every tackle, made the team and was soon paired with Alan Eck in catching passes from Lew “Golden Arm” Flynn and later from Tom Beck and George Bork. Fagan and Eck were ranked nationally as1st and 2nd in pass reception. In 1960 Howie coached the ends for the Mt. Carmel team that beat Taft in the Prep Bowl. He once had a speeding ticket in Wheaton on the day of a NIU football game. The judge put him in jail because he couldn’t pay the fine until legendary athletic director Chick Evans (not the golfer) showed up and convinced the judge to let him go. They raced back to DeKalb and Howie was able to play the second half. He had a baseball try-out in St. Charles but was only given two at-bats. He pleaded for a third swing and hit a homerun, so he was invited to a rookie camp in St. Louis with the Browns. He went 6-for-12 with three homeruns in Sportsman’s Park and was given a contract. He played in the minors for a while but couldn’t hit a curve ball, so he returned home. Besides baseball, he also played 16-inch softball. Howie is marketing director at Hawthorne Race Course. He and his wife, Nancy, live in the Western suburbs. They have two children, Matt and Sean.
Robert “Bobby” Fallon / Inducted 1997 Pioneers 1887-1949
Robert “Bobby” Fallon
A veteran of many "softball wars" during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Bobby Fallon began his career playing left field for teams as Jack's Men's Wear, Slow Freighters, Nudo's Dugout, and Bondies. He switched to the other side of home plate in 1949 when he began umpiring for the Jim Allen Group. Robert Fallon probably didn't realize that he was about to embark on a thirty year umpiring-career that found him calling balls and strikes for some of the biggest money matches in the Chicagoland area. Besides umpiring for 16" softball, Fallon also officiated basketball, baseball, and football games at the high school. He was such a respected official that he referred at many high school championship games. He also served as a Big Ten footbal1 referee for 10 years from 1968 to 1979 and officiated many Chicago Bulls games before hanging up his striped shirt and whistle for the more serene seat of the spectator.
Albert E. Fegan / Inducted 2015
Albert E. Fegan
Albert Fegan was born in Chicago in 1901. When he was a young man, he was offered a job by George Young at the George Young Plant and Company. Founded in 1893, the company, located on Western Avenue in Chicago, manufactured baseball and softballs. On July 21, 1925 at twenty-four years of age, Albert was issued a patent for an indoor baseball. America was discovering the love of indoor games and Albert’s patent solved a major problem with indoor baseballs. The ball was too heavy to be driven in the proper direction or distance when struck by a bat. Albert’s invention lightened the ball’s core to ensure a truer flight. He was awarded a similar patent for the softball on May 25, 1937. On July 20, 1954, he was awarded a patent for a new and novel way to secure the cover on baseballs and softballs. This patent was for the “concealed stitch”, which allowed the stitches to be placed underneath to cover. Prior to this invention, softballs didn’t last very long on the hard surfaces of Chicago’s street and parks. Albert’s invention “hid” the stitches so the ball would last longer. Many softball experts think this was the precursor to the “Clincher” design made famous by DeBeers. In 1952, Albert became president of the George Young Company and opened a branch in Puerto Rico. He eventually closed this branch and moved production to Haiti. In 1962, he reopened a branch in Milwaukee but continued to manufacture softball in Haiti. George Young Company became Lincoln Diversified, a company founded by Albert’s son, Albert Jr. It was located in Elmhurst, Illinois but moved to Florida. Many believe that by moving production to Haiti, Albert was able to keep cost production down so that the labor intensive hand stitched softballs would be affordable for baseball and softball leagues in Chicago and across the nation. The entire softball / baseball industry followed Albert’s lead in moving to Haiti, where they remained for three decades. Albert’s grandchildren have fond memories of working summers in their grandfather’s factory packaging the sixteen-inch softballs that would be used in parks and leagues throughout Chicago as thousands played “Chicago’s game.”
Bennie Feinblatt / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
The Albany Park athlete was a left handed Allstar centerfielder for Midland Motors and Fewer Boilers. Outstanding defensive player and one of the fastest players in the game. In the service he played ball with the best baseball players in the game. This encouraged him to tryout for the White Sox. They told him to give up softball, work on his swing and come back next year. He said he would make more money playing 16" and never went back to tryout. Since Deceased.
Frank Fiarito / Inducted 2010 Media & Organizers
From 1980 to 1994, Frank Fiarito coached the Panthers to twenty-nine league titles and six hundred wins. The teams finished second, third, and fourth in the ASA "A" Nationals and were runners-up in the eighty-two team USSSA 1989 state tournament. In 1995 he was the USSSA National Rookie Director of the Year for 16-inch softball. He served as the only commissioner of the Pro-League from 1995 to 1999. But he is probably best known as the director of the Terry Moran Annual Softball Tournament from 1995 to 2010. This tournament honors the memory of 2002 Hall of Fame inductee Terry Moran. More than 520 teams from all levels of softball play for the love of the game and to respect the memory of Terry Moran. Frank and his wife, Christine, have three children - Antonio, Isabella, and Sofia. They live in Mt. Prospect, Illinois
Wally “Sweet Lou” Filkins / Inducted 1997 1980's & 1990's Era
Wally “Sweet Lou” Filkins
Wally Filkins began his 16” softball career in the playgrounds of his Burnside neighborhood. In 1975 he entered the “big leagues” when he joined the Eastsiders where he was to play until 1978. In 1978 he joined Mr. Lucky’s, where he teamed up with fellow Hall of Famer, Larry Kelly. Together they formed one of the best first and second base combinations in softball history. Wally stretched the limits of playing first base when he also played a short right field but was still able to cover the put outs at first with his soft hands and great footwork. In 1981 Wally joined Jimmy Lang’s Whips, a move that was to lead to 5 ASA Championships and 4 USSA World titles. In addition, “Sweet Lou” also won national titles with Sportstation in 1987 and two with Splinters Sports Club in 1991 and 1997 for a total of 8 World Championships. Wally has been named to numerous All-American teams and was named MVP of the ASA Nationals in 1989. He has also won - No Glove National Championships at the Forest Park tournament with three different teams- Mr. Lucky’s, The Whips, and Splinters Sports Club. In addition to playing with some of the great players of the game, Wally is also thankful for having had the chance to play with his three brothers - Les, Randy and Keith. Together the 4 Filkins Brothers own 19 ASA National Championship plaques. Wally also compares the 1983 Whips to the Bobcat teams of the 60’s and 70’s. That year they won every tournament they entered and won the ASA and USSA World Titles. They ended that year with a record of 113 wins and just 8 losses. Wally Filkins played his entire career with the heart and tenacity of a true champion. As Vince Lombardi once wrote. “I firmly believe that at a man’s finest hour - his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” This quote summarizes "Sweet Lou’s" love and dedication to 16.
Randy “Tex” Filkins / Inducted 2010 1980's & 1990's Era
Randy “Tex” Filkins
Randy attended George Washington High School where he played baseball and football. He was named to the all-state team in both sports. In 1976 he attended West Hills Junior College where he was named a baseball All-American. He played baseball for Cal State Stanislaus in 1979 and 1980. He was selected an All-American there and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004. He was drafted by the New York Yankees and played in their farm system for three years until an ankle injury sidelined his career. Tex played sixteen-inch softball for Sports Station, Bud Runners, Splinters, Cougars and the Ringers. He played from Mt Prospect to Blue Island all week long. On weekends, he played tournaments. In 1982 he was named MVP at Grant Park, helping Sports Station win the title. He won ASA national titles with Sports Station in 1987 and with Splinters in 1991. Softball tournaments also doubled as family vacations, so it was nice to have his brothers Wally (HOF), Les, and Keith as teammates. The Keith-to-Randy-to-Wally double play combination was a thing of beauty. And many opposing hitters and base runners experienced that beauty. Randy and his wife, Sue, live in Chicago. They have three children - Jason, Casey, and Beau.
Bill Finnegan / Inducted 2006 1980's & 1990's Era
A graduate of Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, Bill Finnegan played basketball and baseball, earning all-conference honors in baseball his senior year. He began his softball career in 1978 with the Magicians, a Park Ridge team made up of a group of young high school friends. During the summer of 1980, after the Magicians had moved up divisions within their league, Bill was noticed by Hall of Famer Tom “Eggs” Czarnik and was asked to join the Runts who were playing in the Mt. Prospect Classic League. After getting the o.k. to play from his girlfriend and future wife, Barb, Bill joined the Runts and started a sixteen-year career in Major 16" softball. After the 1980 season, he played for three years with the Meister Brau Taggers, under the direction of Frank Holan. He then moved to the J-Birds before playing for Meadows and Hall of Fame manager, Dick Cooper. He later played with Bud North, Automart and March Manufacturing, teams comprised of the same core of players, including Tom Czarnik, John O’Connor, Bud Doroskin and Curt Uidl. The Bud North teams of the late ‘80s were one of only two teams to win three consecutive Forest Park championships (1987, ‘88, ‘89). He started his career at shortstop but eventually moved to and finished his career playing third base. Because of his home run hitting power, he was a natural third and fourth place hitter. In fact, while playing with the Taggers, he won the home run hitting contest at the 1986 ASA Nationals at Mt. Prospect. During his sixteen year career playing major softball, Bill Finnegan was named to the North All-Star team every year during the North / South games and earned 1st and 2nd Team All- American honors in at ASA national competitions from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s. He currently resides in Woodbury, Minnesota with his wife, Barb, and four sons, Ryan, Brent, Shane and Austin where he coaches youth hockey. He is responsible for all Minnesota operations for Information Builders, a software company. Although he doesn’t play softball anymore, he will always treasure the memories and friendships he formed over his twenty-five year career.
Leo Fischer / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
This sports writer for the Chicago Herald American had a vision that the sport of softball was going to be important to people of all ages if promoted. His local tournament organizing efforts in the 30s eventually developed into the City Championship and the finals were held at Wrigley Field. Backed by William Randolph Hearst, his publication allowed him to organize the first national softball tournament during the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago's Grant Park. Even though the 55 teams played with different size balls and rules he compromised on a 14" ball. The games began and were seen by over 100,000 people. Note the team entry fee was only 2.50. He kept the nationals going until W.W.II, Eventually he would found/organize the ASA, Amateur Softball Association and served as its first president. Deceased.
Team Flames / Honored 2009 Team Recognition
The Flames are a North side team formed in 1974 out of Fireside Bowl by Tom Nagy. Thirty-six years later they are still together and still winning. They are a Chicago Park District team that played only at Chicago's neighborhood parks. On weekends, they entered various tournaments, mainly to win the prize money. Over their thirty-five years, they have won more than 750 games and forty-five championships. Their record includes: championships at Horner Park, thirteen consecutive championships at Brand Park in the weekday leagues, and the Monday/Wednesday league title at Kosciusko Park three years straight. From 1997 to 2009 they won the Merrimac Park Friday league championship nine times. Flames softball was not only about winning. It was also about keeping it a family affair and having fun. Throughout the years, the Flames were sponsored by neighborhood bars - Oinkers, Red Door, Bob's Inn, the Family Bar, Dugan's and Wee Willy's. They could always be found at one of these bars after a game "replaying" the action.
Flamingoes / Honored 2015 Team Recognition
Great traditions often start with a simple mission and passion. The Flamingos, a world famous African-American sixteen-inch softball team, believed this to be true when they sought out the best softball teams to play “anytime and anywhere.” Under the expert coaching and organizing of Percy Coleman, the Flamingos became such a force in softball on the South and West Sides of Chicago that they were barred from playing in many local leagues and tournaments, including the popular Southside Cocktail “Money” League. During their thirty-year span, the Flamingos became the first black team to win three major national world series tournaments – the 1978 ASA Wisconsin World Series at Racine, Wisconsin, the 1979 ASA World Series Metro Championship at Lou Boudreau Stadium and the 1990 USSSA World Series at Orland Park. In the 1990 championship, the Flamingos played California Gold in the first-ever national championship that featured two black teams playing for the title. Flamingo players have been named national tournament MVPs and have been named to numerous national all-tournament teams. Many have been inducted into the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. Row1: Alvin "Doc" Robinzine, Ike Stratton, Lionel "Fish" Tally, John Hodges, Drake Jones, Sam Taylor, Angelo Mooring Row2: Dwayne "Sonny Simms" Spivey, Larry "Lala" Washington (HOF), Al Scroupa, Willis Miles (HOF), Percy "Bobo" Coleman, Rick "Monday" Ligon (HOF), Wayne Jaskwerski Row3: Billy "Sweet" Johnson (HOF), Monroe Banks, Randy Webb, Mike Brown, Robert "Lefty" Thomson, Andrew "Chin" Page, Carlos Hilliard, Miss Henrietta, Chip Holmes The Real Pioneers and the Flamingos Famous Alumni Papa "Joe" Stratton, Willie "B" Brown, Andrew "Rookie" Brown, and John "Lil John" White
|* Willie "Sweet" Johnson||Andrew "Chin" Page,||Gene “Geno” Gerald|
|* Sam "Gilbo" Taylor||Carl "Carlos" Hilliard,||Roy Culter|
|* Drake "DJ" Jones||Vincent "Vince" Sterling,||Norman Gordon|
|* Larry "Lala" Washington||Robert "Bobby" Crosby,||Jimmy Weatherspoon|
|* Dennis "Punchy" Wallace||Cleophus "Big Juice" Davis,||Joe Jackson|
|* Steve Kirby||Mitch McCullough,||Danny Jackson|
|* Anthony "Tony" Ward||Randy Webb,||Angelo Mooring|
|* Vada "Buddha" Primous||Roland "Rock" Kemp,||Brian Bennet|
|* Jessie Mack||Robert "Lefty" Johnson,||Cody Jackson|
|* Willis Miles||Alphonso "Puncho" Davis,||Leory "Whitey" White|
|* Sylvester “Vesmo” McKinnon||Jonnie Hodges||Howard "Sco" Blakley|
|* Willie "Wicked" Poole||Dwayne "Sonny Simms" Spivey||Vernon Cade|
|* Tom Bonen -||Edward "Lil Juice" Douglas,||Richard Hopkins|
|* Ricardo "Rick Monday" Ligon||Andrew "Rookie" Johnson||Wayne Jaskwerski - RIP|
|* Raymond Johnson||Papa "Joe" Stratton||Al Skorupa - RIP|
|* Donnie Gardner||John "Lil John" White||Chip Holmes - RIP|
|Percy "Bobo" Coleman||Mike Brown||Jerry Jones|
|Alvin "Doc" Robinzine||Michael "Dyke" Johnson||* Clayton Jones|
|Ralph "Dirty Harry" Love,||Ike "Pike Screw" Stratton||Jessie "Shady Jake" - Rip|
|Eddie "Tyke" Taylor,||James Earl,||Samuel "Bump" Woodson|
|Stanley "Stan" Brown,||Leonard "Lenny" Woodson||James "Crow" -Rip|
|Lionel "Fish" Tally,||James Earl||Ron "Dede" Pitts|
|Rod "Carew" Johnson,||Monroe "Cosack" Banks||Donald Woods - RIP|
|Alvin "Duke" Jones,||Michael "Dyke" Johnson||Robert "Blue Carter -RIP|
Tim Flanagan / Inducted 2010 1980's & 1990's Era
When Tim Flanagan was a kid, his father would take him to Kelly Park at night to watch softball games. He remembers the excitement of the crowd and the major-league atmosphere on those hot summer nights. Little did he know that some day he would be roaming the outfield at Kelly and other parks. During his twenty-year softball career, Tim Flanagan played with some of the greatest teams of major softball during the '80s and '90s but also played with at least seventeen local teams around Chicago's Southwest side. His entrance into major softball began when he was playing for the Beavers in the early-'80s at Kelly Park and Mike Tallo asked him to play for Otto's. He filled in for them in tournaments, and was part of the team that won the Forest Park title in 1981 and also the Chicago Park District championship at Clarendon Park. It was there that he first experienced the intensity of the competition and the talent at the major level of softball. He played with the Viscounts (78-79), Beavers (80-81), Stickmen ('82-'84), Ducks ('85), Touch ('86-'89), Lettuce ('90), Bud 45s ('91-'95), and Swingtown ('96 and '97). All totaled, he has played in fifteen ASA Nationals. In 1987 Tim and the Normandy Park Crush took second to the Whips in the USSSA Nationals. In 1991 he helped Lettuce finish second to Splinters. He helped Lettuce win Forest Park in 1990 and '91. In the early '90s he and Hall of Famers Larry La La Washington, Randy and Mike Lee helped the Safari Tigers win the popular 4th of July He-Man tournament. In 1989 he was named MVP of the NSA World Championship while playing for Touch. In 1982 he was the Davis Square Tournament MVP with the Shamrocks. He was an ASA First Team All-American with Lettuce and a Second Team All-American with Touch and Bud 45s. Besides playing softball, Tim worked with Tim Maher (HOF) on the Chicago Softball Magazine in 1987 and was on the initial advisory board and planning committee for the Hall of Fame. Tim played football for St Rita in the Prep Bowl in 1972 at Soldier Field beating Morgan Park Academy. In 1973 he represented St. Rita in the Catholic League All-Star game played at Comiskey Park. He was a four-year starter in baseball at St. Xavier University and played in nine National Invitational Touch Football championships in St. Louis, MO from 1978 to 1987 with the Chicago Beavers and the Chicago Saints. Despite all the great moments of playing major softball, Tim most fondly remembers playing the outfield with his youngest brother, John, when they played for Bud 45s and Swingtown. In 1999, Tim received the Cook County Superior Public Service Award in the category of Outstanding Public Safety employee. He received the award for his work with street gangs on behalf of the Cook County Adult Probation Department where he has been employed for the past twenty-nine years. He would like to thank his beautiful wife of thirty-two years, Debby, and their three sons, Dan, Brian and Sean for their patience, love and support throughout his playing years.
Ken Flaws / Inducted 2001 1980's & 1990's Era
After graduating from Richards High School in 1973 (where he was an All-Area basketball player), Ken Flaws started his softball career with Scotch Mist, a team sponsored by a local tavern. Ken's career really took off in 1975 when Ed Zolna saw him play in Dolton, and recruited him to play with the Bobcats. A shortstop who also played most middle infield positions, Flaws helped the Bobcats win four ASA Nationals from 1976 to 1979. Over the next twenty years, his skills helped three other teams win National titles; the Whips in 1980, Splinters in 1991 and 1998, and Lettuce in 1999. Ken Flaws best remembers the 1991 National title won by the Splinters, when they came out of the losers bracket in Kingman, Arizona to win the Championship for the first time. In 2001, Flaws worked as a stock trader. Ken and his wife Luanne have three daughters; Breanna, Jannelle and Teigan.
Emil Flerick / Inducted 2004 Pioneers 1887-1949
A 1943 graduate of St. Rita High School, Emil Flerick played 10", 12", and 16" softball in the Herald – American Tournaments in the late 1930 and early '40s. Like many men of his era, he entered the Navy but played basketball and softball during his years of service. He was discharged in 1946 and resumed his softball career with Stony Tires, Knob Hill, and the legendary Kool Vent Awnings in the Windy City League. He also played with the Jugheads at Sox Park. When Windy City disbanded in the late 1940s, Emil Flerick played at Thillens Stadium (formerly the Northtown League) with the Weinberg Studebakers. That year Emil Flerick hit enough homeruns to place him in the top five in the league; he also batted .528 for the year in helping Weinberg Studebakers to a second place finish. Flerick teamed up with Hall of Famer Vern Parry and switched teams to join the First National Bank of Chicago in 1950. First National is remembered as the only team to retire the Erickson Trophy of Grant Park by winning it for three consecutive years. First National won the City Tournament in the 1960s. Besides playing with Vern Parry, Emil Flerrick also played with such legendary players as Tom Pilot, Art Chickenowski, Wes Alhgrim, Bill Haig, John Incardone, and other Windy City players, many of whom are current Hall of Fame members. Emil and his wife of fifty years, Mel, have two children – Paul and Ken and seven grandchildren. He retired 1985 from First National Bank as an Assistant Vice-President after thirty-five years.
Mike Flynn / Inducted 2003 1980's & 1990's Era
Chicago resident Mike Flynn's softball career began back at Sherman Park at 55th and Racine. Flynn went on to play with some of the best teams in Chicago, including the Gage Park Bulls, the Scramblers, the 49er's, Vis-men, The Big Banjo Bruins, Silver Streaks, Strikers, and Touch. Most of his career, though, was spent with the ZZRight Ons, Jays and Stickmen. It was in 1991 that Flynn enjoyed his greatest achievement in softball, winning the ASA Class A Nationals title in Blue Island with the Stickmen. After that season, Mike decided to retire from the game to allow more time to watch his son, Patrick grow up and play sports. Now 21 years old, Patrick is a baseball player at Xavier University. A 22 year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department, Flynn and his wife, Celine, still live in Chicago.
FORCE / Honored 2015 Team Recognition
FORCE women's sixteen-inch softball team evolved under the leadership of Coach and Founder, Allen Jenkins in 1979. This team of talented women from all neighborhoods of Chicago and the suburbs initially played at Garfield, Columbus, Franklin and Cabrini Parks. Season after season, FORCE dominated play and won league championships at these parks. As the team grew in numbers and prestige, FORCE won league titles at Washington, Grant, Clyde, and Forest Parks. FORCE played and won several NSA and ASA State and National tournaments, including the televised Budweiser Classic at Grant Park. They also won local tournaments in Blue Island, Franklin Park, Country Club Hills, Cicero, Elgin and Harvey, IL. FORCE competed and won various tournaments run by Les Duncan and Tom O'Neil. During their twenty years of play (1979-1999), many players from FORCE were named Tournament MVPs, All Star Team Members and several have already been inducted into the Chicago Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. FORCE were mothers, students, teachers, laborers, administrators, bankers and executives from different professions who came together for The Love of The Game! There were several mother/daughter players and even little girls who grew up with FORCE and later became key players. Some members of FORCE played with Mixed Company's Sixteen-inch Softball Team, a team that has already been honored by the Hall of Fame. Coaches
|Allen Jenkins||Leo Richmond||Willie Harrington|
|Juan Gayden||Henry Barber|
|Jackie Anderson||Tracey Barber||Joanie Bass|
|Tracy “TJ” Booker-Black||Donna Floyd||Vickie Ivory Harbin|
|Johnnie Gains Hairston||Rosetta Henderson||Tara Huff|
|*Christine Hurrins||Faye Lola Jenkins||Connie Johnson Jenkins|
|Regina Towers King||Patty Lindsey||Sherry Lipscom|
|Renette McCurry||Robin Moore||Bridgette Nesbitt|
|*Margaret Olawoye||Gwendolyn Twig Polk||Jan Pope|
|*Lisa Pugh||Rachelle Richmond||Janice Roberts|
|Tamieka Roberts||Sherrick Robinson-Smith||Darnita Spragg|
|Chiquita “ChiChi” Thomas||Earnestine Walker||Shirley Wilbourn|
|Charlene Davis Williams||*Popati Wing||Francine|
Forest Park / Inducted 2010
"No Gloves. Never Had 'em. Never Will." This motto of the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals speaks volumes about the traditions surrounding this tournament. In July of 2011, they will sponsor their 43rd No-Gloves Nationals Tournament. It wasn't always called the No-Glove Nationals, but softball players have always regarded it as one of the top tournaments around both for the quality of the competition and for the tradition of playing Chicago's game without gloves. Here is the chronology of how this tournament evolved. 1969: First Tournament held with Fred O'Connor as the tournament director and Jim Sarno as the Director of the Park District and tournament founder. The Maywood Agents won the tournament. 1971: The Strikers tame the World Champion Bobcats 9-1 with Mike Tallo holding them to one run. 1974: The Bobcats win the tournament in their third try in a slugfest with the Bruins. Final score: 23-17. The tournament covered nine days and drew 15,000 fans, with 5,000 attending the final game. Dave Novak joins the park district staff in grounds maintenance. 1975 - 1985: Tournament held as a single elimination format with thirty or thirty-two teams. 1986: Willie "Steamer" Simpson first recorded tournament MVP. The format shifted from a weeklong tournament to the current three-day weekend tournament. 1987: Tournament moved to last weekend in July. Sidekicks Bar and Strohs Beer are the first sponsors. Mark Frighetto named as the MVP. 1989: Format changed to sixteen-team, double elimination. First reference to No-Gloves Nationals. Superintendent Larry Buckley's first tournament. 1990: Whips win their fourth tournament (83,'84,'85, and '90). 1992: Tournament field increased to twenty teams, double elimination with the top four teams getting a bye. 1993: Old timers game held between the Bobcats and American Rivet Sobies, Eddie Zolna and Tony Reibel organize the teams. 1994 - 1995: Tournament changed to thirty-two team, single elimination format. 1996: Format changed back to twenty-four team, double elimination format. 1999: Ten-Year Anniversary of Larry Buckley as Superintendent of Parks and the person responsible for the beautiful condition of the ball fields. 2000: Championship game broadcast around the world over the Internet by George Bliss. 2004: $330,000 ball fields renovation completed. 2005: Jim Sarno, tournament founder, passes away in August. 2007: Tournament dedicated to Lorraine Popelka who passed away on June 24, 2007. Lorraine volunteered at every tournament. 2009: Play-in games added to determine the final spot in the tournament. 2011: 43rd Tournament will be held and Larry Buckley will celebrate his 22nd year of caring for the most famous diamonds in 16-inch softball.
Justin Fortuna / Inducted 2015
Justin Fortuna’s softball career spanned forty years. He played with the Bobcats at Clarendon, Kosciusko, and Kelly Parks. He was a member of the Dr. Carlucci Bobcats when they won the ASA World Championship from 1969 to 1972. He was instrumental in coordinating the North Side Bobcats with Eddie Zolna’s (HOF) South Side Bobcats in the late 1960s. Justin’s team was playing at Clarendon Park when George Morse (HOF) mentioned that the Carlucci Bobcats needed players, so Justin brought Bobbie Fiandaca and future Hall of Famers Geno Petramale, Bobby Garippo, Mike Mareno, and Frank Lentine. In 1971, the year the Bobcats won the ASA Nationals, Al Cech (HOF) and Ron Olesiak (HOF) were added to the team. Besides organizing, Justin was also a backup pitcher for the Bobcats. Besides softball, Justin was president of the Athletic Officials Association (AOA). He officiated basketball for the Illinois High School Association and refereed three state championships. Additionally, he officiated baseball and basketball games for the Chicago Public Schools. He was inducted into the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1996 and received the AOA Hall of Fame Award in 2005. Justin owned and operated Jay’s Drive-in with locations in Harwood Heights, Schiller Park, and Chicago’s Wicker Park. He passed away in 2000 and is survived by his wife, Muriel, and four children – Virginia, Jay, Frank, and John and twelve grandchildren
Roxanne “Rockey” Fox-Gurra / Inducted 2001 Women
Roxanne “Rockey” Fox-Gurra
“Rocky” Fox’s powerful hitting first attracted attention when she was still a teenager. The talented first baseman would go on to post a career 550 plus batting average against the best competition around. Roxanne began her softball career as a youngster playing in the streets of Oak Lawn. As she got stronger, and her hits began bouncing off neighbor’s houses, she wisely switched to organized softball. A true power hitter with the strength to make the ball literally “bounce off her bat”, Fox-Gurra found success when she was selected MVP for the Markham Babie Ruthies when she was just sixteen years old. Her prowess as a clean-up hitter in various line-ups added to her defensive strengths at first base, earned her MVP honors in 1972, ‘73 and ‘74 in the Southfield Khoury League. In 1975 she was MVP in the Southfield Baseball All-Stars and with the Bedford Park District. Her big break came when she was picked up by the Flames, who eventually became the Angels. Manager Bill Broukal brought Roxanne into the top echelons of women’s 16” softball. In 1980, the Angels forged a record of 57 and 8, and won championships at Oak Brook and Bedford Park. They took second in Blue Island, Blue Island Metro, McHenry and Marquette Park. In 1981 they went 53 and 8, and won championships in Calumet City, Blue Island and McHenry. In 1983 Fox-Gurra was named a League of Champions All-Star. In 2001, Roxanne was living in Lockport with her husband Mitchell and stepchildren Erin and Kyle. She had spent the previous 24 years as a nurse at Little Company of Mary Hospitals.
Tom Frangella / Inducted 1998 Umpires & Managers
Umpiring a minimum of 18 to 20 softball games per week in some of the top leagues in the Chicago area, Tom Frangella has the respect of many of the top players in 16-inch softball. According to Ed Zolna of the legendary Bobcats “ He’s the best umpire, and coming from me, that’s a compliment.” Bob O’Malley of the Cougars states, “ Tom is one of the best. He’s fair. He doesn’t take anything from anybody. But he doesn’t take a hard guy attitude.Frangella’s career began at Grand Crossing Park, Avalon Park, and Russell Square and 62nd and Springfield Avenue before he moved to Grant Park. He umpired at Kelly Park until six or seven years ago. Frangella remembers when Zolna’s Bobcats ruled the world of 16 inch. During his last few years of umpiring, he remembers the Whips, the national champs who played at Kelly Park and in the Blue Island league. Besides softball games, Frangella has also refereed high school football and basketball games, worked briefly in the American Basketball Association, and part-time in the National Basketball Association. A former building engineer, Frangella has nine children and numerous grandchildren.
Willie Frencl / Inducted 1998 1964-1979 Era
Softball critics from the 60’s and 70’s claim that Willie Frencl, a clutch left-handed hitter and pitcher, was considered by to be the toughest single out from the left hand side of the plate during his era. His baseball and softball career began after graduating from Reavis High School in 1957 where he was selected as Outstanding Senior Athlete. Willie Frencl was signed by the Chicago White Sox as a pitcher and outfielder. He lasted in the minor leagues for two years before he was released. During that time he struck out 17 batters in a 7-inning game, 21 batters in a 9-inning game, and 12 batters in 4 innings of relief pitching. Frencl began his softball career with the Mice in the Normandy Park League. In 1959 they won the park championship where Frencl played against Eddie Zolna of the Bobcats. After that game Zolna convinced Frencl to play for the Bobcats, a partnership that spanned some 16 years and produced a plethora of titles and championships. In 1962 Frencl was the Batting Champion of the Daddy-O Daily League. He was selected to the ASA All American Team in 1970 where he also received the Slugger Award for total bases. Once again in 1972 he was picked to the ASA All American Team and was awarded honors as their top catcher. In 1976 Willie Frencl switched to the Amalgamonsters where his team won the Windy City League and took runner-up honors in the ASA Nationals. Frencl was also selected as Ist Team Catcher that year in the Windy City League with a batting average of .506. Willie Frencl retired from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District after 28 years. He resides in Chicago with his wife, Carol, where they live near their three children and their first grandchild.
Paul Frerking / Inducted 2007 Umpires & Managers
Like most 16-inch softball players, Paul Frerking began his softball career playing in local park district games with his high school friends. He grew up in River Grove and attended East Leyden High School where he was named allconference in basketball and football. He moved into the major levels of softball when he played with the Amalga Monsters, Bobcats, Budweiser Whips, Relatives, and Sportstation. He was a member of Sportstation when they won a national title, with the Whips when they won two nationals, and with the Bobcats for seven national titles. His favorite playing moment occurred when the Relatives beat the Bobcats at Forest Park. In 1985 he started a twenty-two year umpiring career that took him from calling balls and strikes at Forest Park, Grant Park, and at Mt. Prospect to a twenty-year career officiating at ASA National tournaments. Besides his career at the ASA Nationals, he umpired for twenty-one years in the Mount Prospect Classic League. He officiated ten times at ASA Major championship games and is the only umpire to have achieved both the National Indicator Award and have a plague in the ASA Hall of Fame. Besides umpiring, Paul has officiated in the Arena Football League and has coached high school baseball and football. He and his wife, Lura, live in Chicago with their children, Cody and Dakota. He is a teacher in the Norridge Elementary School District.
Mark Frighetto / Inducted 2006 1980's & 1990's Era
After completing a successful baseball career at the University of Illinois at Champaign, Mark started his softball career in 1976 with the Bakers at the behest of Danny Cocco. In the late ‘70s, the Bakers merged with Mike McGovern’s Dwarfs to form the Amalgamonsters. Even though the Amalgamonsters never clinched a national championship, with Hall of Fame players Larry Kelly, Ron Ziemann, Pat Moran and Steve Prostran, they were a dominant force within the traveling leagues at Kelly and Clarendon Parks. In the ‘80s Mark moved to the Runts, Coopers Sporting Goods, Bud North and Automart, teams made-up of the same core of players along with Hall of Fame players John O’Connor and Eggs Czarnik. Mark’s reputation as the premier short center of his era began to take shape during this time. His skills helped the 1987- 89 Bud North teams win three consecutive championships at the Forest Park Tournament, one of only two teams in the thirty-seven year history of the tournament to accomplish this. In the early ‘90s, Mark became an integral part of Fritz Zimmerman’s March Manufacturing, a dominant force in the emerging Mt. Prospect League. In 1995 while with Primetime, he had the unfortunate distinction of being a member of the only Chicago-area team to lose an ASA Nationals championship to an out of state team (Carpet Country of Iowa). In the late ‘90s Mark joined up with Wally Pecs and Red Dog to capture the championships at the only two 16" Softball Hall of Fame Tournaments ever held. When Mark joined Bob Rascia’s Miller 45s in 2001, he began a quest for that elusive ASAtitle. That dream became reality in 2001 at Schaumburg when Miller 45s captured the ASAcrown. They also won ASANational Titles in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 at Marshalltown, Chandler, Arizona and Mt. Prospect. During his four decades playing 16" softball, Mark was named to numerous North Side All-Star Teams, was named to the First Team All Mt. Prospect League (as voted by players), was the Forest Park Tournament MVP in 1987, earned ASA Second Team honors twice and was named First Team All-American three times. He played on teams that took second place at the ASANationals eleven times and won five ASA titles. Mark credits Danny Cocco and Mike McGovern for giving a former hardball player a shot at big time softball, Wally Pecs for his years of friendship (admittedly strained at times due to their competitive nature), and Bob Rascia for helping to make his dream of national titles come true. More importantly, however, he credits his wife, Nancie, their children Reid and Reese, and the rest of his family for their patience and understanding as he played Chicago’s “crazy” game. Currently, Mark works for Glenview State Bank as vice-president of Commercial Banking/Commercial Real Estate and resides in Arlington Heights.
Jim Fuller / Inducted 2005 1964-1979 Era
Jim Fuller started a 43 year softball career in 1959 that would bring him successes that few players ever dream of: he would play with some of the most notable teams of his era, including the Dwarfs, Lyons 45s, and American Rivet, he would be a part of teams that would win numerous league championships, three ASA National Championships (1970, 1978, and 1979), and he would be selected as a first baseman to the 1970 ASA All - American Team. But despite having played with the “big boys” of softball, Jim remained loyal to such local teams as the Gurney Gaffers, the Stones, Fuller’s Pub, Stars, Wolves, and Shooters, teams that won numerous local championships during four decades of softball. In 1963, he helped the Dwarfs capture the B - League title at Chicago and Kedzie. Three years later, in 1967, the Dwarfs won the Andy Frain championship at Clarendon Park. He also was part of the championship of the traveling league at Clarendon, Kelly and James Parks, beating the Bobcats in a one run game. Jim Fuller was known as a long ball hitter who once hit five homeruns in one game. When outfielders caught on to his power, Jim became a line drive hitter. Mostly a first baseman with a unique style, he also played shortstop and third base. Besides his talent in softball, Jim Fuller was a part of the Schurz High School city championship team in 1962. He received a football scholarship and played two years at The University of Tennessee at Martin. He also won the 1967 heavyweight title in Golden Gloves competition. Jim and his wife, Suzie, have one child, Erik, and five grandchildren. He has three children from a first marriage - Tony, Tom, and daughter Teri. He owns Fuller’s Pub on Chicago’s North Side and coaches little league teams throughout the Chicago area.
Kenneth Furlanetto / Inducted 1998 1950-1963 Era
Beginning his baseball career at Austin High School from 1952-1953, Ken Furlanetto went on the play softball for the Trojans and Interstate in the early 1950s and for the Cherry Lounge in the 60s and 70s with Moose Camillo as manager. He played all over the Chicagoland area at Kell's Park, Kedzie and Chicago and at Clarendon and Sheridan Park. Ken's defensive skills at first base were punctuated by his characteristic stretch to nip a runner at first base. At 6'0" inches Ken usually hit from the fifth position and could usually reach an extra base because of his excellent speed. A former Melrose Park police officer, Ken still lives in Melrose Park.