Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
John “Duke” Gregerson / Honored 2016 Wall of Fame
John “Duke” Gregerson
Duke Gregerson’s sixteen-inch softball career started at fifteen when the game captured his heart. He has played more than five thousand games during his forty-four year career. He played with thirty-five different teams. The High Flyers, Coach’s Corner, Slammers, Brentano’s, Wallace Softball, Doctors, Warhawks, Hooligans, and Goons are all teams he played on that won championships. At Schurz High School, he played baseball, wrestled, and was on the speed skating team. Duke played in four national tournaments (one finished in the top five) and played in three USSSA World Tournaments with a second place finish. He has been named to four all-tournament teams, and has played on league all-star teams twice. One of his fondest memories was playing for the Berwyn Like All-Stars. He played shortstop (and was known for his excellent arm) but finished his career at third base and short center. He was a great hitter who could always be counted on to deliver a clutch hit. His lifetime batting average was over .600. Duke played in the top parks and leagues throughout Chicago and the suburbs. He played in the WCKG Tournament at Mather Park, the Oriole Park Tournament, the Alderman O’Connor Tournament at Mather Park, and at Proesel Park in Lincolnwood. Besides playing softball, he also umpired for twelve years. Duke coached little league baseball until his son Lucas started high school. Lucas is currently the closer for the Houston Astros. Besides Lucas, the Gregersons have four other children – Amy, Scott, Lisa, and Heidi. They have two grandchildren – Zoe and Logan. John and his wife, Cindy, live in Park Ridge, Illinois. Duke has a true passion for the game. When asked why he never played at Mt. Prospect, he replied that he always favored playing without gloves and loved playing in the parks across Chicago with his close friends.
Grant Park / Inducted 2014
Grant Park has been the host site for sixteen-inch softball in Chicago since the 1920’s and grew popular in the 1933…when the World’s Fair showcased the game. The game fosters camaraderie amongst downtown co-workers in leagues from lawyers to media people and the site for tourneys on weekends. Including the largest in the history of the sport in the 90’s the Old Style Classic on Sports Channel TV. As the city’s front yard, Grant Park has hosted many sporting events, concerts and historical events, but the heart of the land still holds true to the game that we all love – sixteen-inch softball.
Johny Galvin / Inducted 1998 Pioneers 1887-1949
Bill Rand's, Harry's Owl Club, Nudo's Dugout, the Lapota Steelers, and Cronin's all stand as icons of softball's early days. As a top defensive third baseman who had a reputation as a great power hitter, Johnny Galvin was a leader on these legendary teams. Playing at such early softball parks as Grand Crossing Park and Bill Rand Stadium, Johnny Galvin and his teammates forged a link that connects the Pioneer players to the modern teams of today. Besides being a top softball player, Galvin was also an All American football player at Purdue who had a brief stint with the Baltimore Colts football team and the New York Yankees. He also played football in the short lived (one year) Windy City Football League with the Glen Ellyn Bears and the Spokes. Galvin was the Athletic Director of Argo High School for 30 years. In 1997 they named the football field the John Galvin Memorial Field. Johnny Galvin and his wife, Pauline, live in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Since Deceased.
Sal “Buddy” Ganir / Honored 2012 Wall of Fame
Sal “Buddy” Ganir
Buddy Ganir grew up on the North side of Chicago in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. He is a 1960 graduate of Lake View High School where he was captain of the football team and a three-year starter at fullback. Buddy began his softball career in 1957, playing playground softball against other neighborhood teams. Two years later, he joined one of the greatest North side teams of the era - the Dwarfs. Through the '60s and most of the '70s, the Dwarfs kept the same neighborhood nucleus as they moved-up in competition at Clarendon and Kelly Parks against such great teams as the Bobcats and the Sobies. Buddy was known as a hardnosed pitcher with a big personality and distinctive style. From 1968 to 1973, he pitched the Dwarfs to twenty-five park district titles. Bedsides pitching, he also played catcher and third base. As a hitter, he could hit "from line to line." Over his long career, he drove in over 2500 runs and hit more than 200 homeruns. He carried a lifetime batting average of .500. Buddy was instrumental in keeping the Dwarfs team together. They continued to play at Clarendon Park and Mt.Prospect through the '80s and into the 2000s. Through his efforts, the Dwarfs were the first team to win the Clarendon Park title in five different decades - from the '50s into the '90s. In the late '90s through 2003 (he retired in 2003), the Dwarfs reached a milestone in softball when many of the sons of the original members began playing next to their dads, extending the legacy of the Dwarfs to six decades. In 1997, Buddy pitched the Dwarfs to championships at Hamlin Park in both the Tuesday and Thursday night leagues. Buddy also played for Peoples Gas from 1968 until his retirement from the company in 1999. During those years, the team won so many yearly league championships that they earned an almost standing invitation every year to the Grant Park Industrial Tournament of Champions. In 1998, Buddy pitched Peoples Gas to the final game of the tournament, beating such great teams as the Sun Times, Northern Trust, and Continental Bank. They beat the team from Conrad Hilton 14-12 in the final game to secure the title. Buddy and his wife, Sandy, have two sons, David and Darren and three grandchildren: Madison, Jacob, and Dominic. He retired from Peoples Gas after thirty-five years of service. Buddy now spends his time playing golf and watching his granddaughter and sons play softball. They live in Rosemont, Illinois.
Lee “Donnie” Gardner / Inducted 2005 Umpires & Managers
Lee “Donnie” Gardner
A 1964 graduate of Du Sable High School in Chicago where he played baseball and football, Donnie Gardner began playing softball in his church league when he was only twelve years old. During his career, he would go on to play and manage for 32 years in over 2100 games; he would win 56 championships and would be named manager of the year seven times with two of the top softball teams of his era - the Flamingos and the Flashes. During the early days of his career he played with the Huns, Royal Sportsmen and Westside Dodgers before joining the Flamingos in 1969, helping them to two important firsts: their first Metro Tournament Championship and an appearance in their first national tournament at Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He took over as manager of the Flamingos in 1971 and guided them to numerous titles and national honors, including metro championships and appearances at national tournaments in Dalton, Georgia and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He managed the Flamingos through 1978 when he made the heart breaking decision to resign as manager. In 1980, he formed the Flashes as player/manager and quickly led them to the Woodridge Metro title their first year. With the Flashes he had the chance to play in his fourth national tournament and manage in his third national, taking third place. In 1982, the Flashes won the Downers Grove Metro and played in the nationals at Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 1985 they placed second at Washington park and played in the “A” Nationals at Aberdeen. The next year they won the Washington Park tournament, and Donnie took his last trip to the nationals, playing at Mt. Prospect, Illinois. He gave up softball in 1990 to coach baseball and basketball. He also played with the Challengers, City of Chicago, Rollerball, the Senators, and the Demons. Donnie credits Pete Dawkins, Phillip Ghent, Bill Clark, and Joe Stratton as his biggest influences for playing and managing. He and his wife, Emma, have three children - Donnie Junior, Stephanie, and Christopher. They live on Chicago’s South Side.
Bobby “The Grip” Garippo / Inducted 1997 1964-1979 Era
Bobby “The Grip” Garippo
A perfect nickname, for Bob because he owned one of the best pair of hands that ever played this game. Before gloves were used, he played as though he had mitts on both hands; spearing line drives righty or lefty. With Bob at third, smart pitchers would jump as far as they could toward the third base foul line to deliver an inside pitch to give Bob as much action as possible. In his mid-teens; he would be seen playing with the "Older Greats" such as. Lewa Yacilla, Moose Vamillo, and Missy Miceli, who recruited Bob for money games. He was also recruited by the New York Mets. With a lifetime batting average well over .600, clutch hitting was definitely his forte. If you check the record, he was usually second behind Jake Jacobi in batting average most seasons in league play; as a member of Stompers, Rouges and most of all Bobcats. In 1969 he was a nationals MVP and earned 3 All-American Honors as he played on 6 ASA championship teams. He averaged 150-200 games a year. Bob is married and has 2 children. His land development business and golf take up much of his time today He owes his success to his dad. He passed away in 2010.
John Garvin / Inducted 2007 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
John Garvin, a life-long sports enthusiast, graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1948. In 1968 he opened Garv-Inn, a small neighborhood tavern in Berwyn. Even though it measured only a thousand feet in space, it was a huge presence in the softball community because of the teams John sponsored. Since its creation in 1968, John Garvin and Garv-Inn have sponsored as many as fifteen teams a year for the past thirty-nine years. Garv-Inn has sponsored a variety of men’s and women’s teams, ranging from some that played at the highest levels of competition to those that played “D” ball. During the last ten years, Garv-Inn has sponsored several co-ed men’s and women’s teams as well as such notable teams as Crush, Entourage/Binge, Nemesis, Out There, and Mudville, the 2002 “A” National champions. They also sponsored teams in the North / South Tournament at Janura Park in Berwyn and in the Killer “B” Tournament at Clyde Park in Cicero. John loved the players and the camaraderie they shared. Whether they won or lost, he was always thrilled to watch them play. Unfortunately, John passed away in 1990, but his son, Mike Garvin, and Mike Duplancich, coowners of Garv-Inn, continue his tradition of supporting softball teams.
James Gemskie / Inducted 2002 Umpires & Managers
James Gemskie began his softball career in 1949, playing around Chicago's Northside. From 1949 through 1953, Gemskie also played football for DePaul Academy, winning All State Honorable Mention. He then went on to play football for three years at St. Ambrose, earning a degree in Political Science. After a knee injury later ended his softball career, Gemskie switched to the other side of the plate when he joined the Umpires Protective Association in 1960, and began umpiring high school baseball and Chicago Park District softball games. In 1970 he was appointed UPA's Chief Umpire, and held that position until 1998. During his tenure as Chief Umpire, Gemskie was responsible for the umpires at leagues around Chicago and the suburbs, including the Classic League in Evanston. Overall, Gemskie dispatched 115 umpires (including his three daughters) to more than fifty leagues in and around Chicago. Gemskie was fortunate to be behind the plate for some classic matches between some of the greatest teams during softball's golden era. However, Gemskie claims that one of his toughest assignments was umpiring the Hearing Impaired League during the early 1980's, because of their reliance on the signed word rather than the spoken word. When not umpiring, James worked for the Chicago Board of Education as a teacher, counselor, and coach for 35 years. He currently coaches wrestling, 16" softball, and baseball at Amundsen High School in Chicago. Two of Gemskie's fondest memories in softball involve his daughters. One is umpiring with daughters Michele, Maria, and Valerie in the North Shore Women's Softball League in Evanston The other is coaching Amundsen High School's softball team against a formidable opponent, Walter Payton College Prep, and their formidable coach - his daughter Valerie. In addition to their daughters, James Gemskie and his wife, Josephine, have three grandchildren, and reside on Chicago's Northwest side.
Jim Giblin / Inducted 2015
Jim Giblin attended St. Mel High School where he played both football and basketball. In 1960, his family moved to Oak Park, so Jim attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. He later attended Wright Junior College in Chicago. He started playing sixteen-inch softball in the late ‘60s with the Rascals in Oak Park and at Riis Park. From 1970 to the ‘80s, he played with Blue Max at parks and in tournaments through the Chicago area. They won championships at Oak Park, Amundsen, and Bellwood. They won the tournaments at Clyde Park and at Clarendon Park. Jim was named tournament MVP at Clarendon. He helped Blue Max / Spirit win the Forest Park title, Alley win the Kosciuszko championship and Takers win the Kosciuszko and Oak Park titles. Jim was a great leader and a fierce competitor who always competed at the highest levels. He was a great teacher of the game. Defensively, he understood the nuances of the game and always communicated them to his teammates during the game. Offensively, he made sure a hitter always advanced base runners by hitting behind the runners. He taught batters to never hit to third with runners on first and second, to never hit up the middle with a runner on first, and to always split the runners to avoid a potential double play when a ball was hit to the outfield. He coached his son, Jimmy, in Little League from the Minors to Pony League. He played softball in Forest Park with the skills his father taught him. One of his father’s greatest softball moments was playing on the same team with his son. Wherever Jim played, Jimmy was right there by his side. Jim died in 2006 of heart related problems. He married Sue Lloyd in 1970. They have two children – Jodie (Sam) LaBarbera and the late Jimmy Jr. His grandsons, Joseph and Sammy LaBarbera, both wear number nine on their baseball jerseys to honor the memory of their grandfather, Jim, and their uncle, Jimmy. His family and softball community miss him, but his years of teaching and playing assure that his legacy lives on in the many players playing the game today.
Matt Gillen / Inducted 2015
Matt Gillen graduated from Oaklawn Community High School in 1971. He then attended St. Francis University where he played baseball and basketball. After leaving St. Francis, he had tryouts with the Baltimore Orioles, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Kansas City Royals. He started playing sixteen-inch softball after college when he played in a game with some friends. He was asked to bat and promptly struck-out. This moment motivated him to develop his skills in Chicago’s unique game. He started his own team – Magilla’s Gorillas. After playing in local leagues, legendary player and coach Eddie Zolna (HOF) noticed his talents and asked him to play for the Bobcats in a national tournament. Playing with the Bobcats and its list of legendary players, gave Matt the physical and mental skills to play at a national level. He then joined Bob O’Malley’s Phoenix and Cougars teams on Chicago’s South Side and later played for Coopers and Bud North. Matt played shortstop, short center, and second base. He batted over .600, hit more than four hundred home runs, and drove in more than 1500 runs. During his softball career, Matt has achieved numerous team and personal honors. In 1981, he helped the Bobcats win ASA and National titles. In 1984, the Cougars took third place and in 1986, Coopers took second to the Ducks in the ASA Nationals. In 1986, Bud North finished fourth in the ASA Nationals in Mt. Prospect. Personally, Matt won all-state honors in 1979, was an All-American in 1984, 1985, and 1986 and was the MVP of the twelve-inch / sixteen-inch nationals in the 1990s, a tournament where a flip of a coin determined which sized ball would be used. Matt has received all-state honors in the 1990s and in 2001. He made every team he played for better because he was a true student of the game. He stills plays today with the Gamblers, thirty-five years after playing in his first softball game. Matt has coached softball at Mother McAuley High School for ten years. He recently retired from the Chicago Fire Department after thirty-three years of service. Matt and his wife, Tracy, have three children: Trina, Lindsay, and Ashlee. They live on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Bill Gleason / Inducted 1997 Media & Organizers
Bill Gleason is an icon in Chicago as a media journalist. He has been a gifted writer for the Herald American, Sun Times. a - Southtown Economist for over 50 years. But - be best known for being on camera... “The Sportswriters on TV” is an opening line that we have heard 200 times. Usually with a cigar and opinionated he is speaking on behalf of Chicagoans as though they were with him in a bar.
Floyd Glover / Inducted 0 1964-1979 Era
Floyd Glover's softball career started with the Indians and fellow Hall of Famer Henry Currie. His playing days took a turn for the worse, however, when he suffered a back injury while in the Marine Corps. That injury put an end to his days of playing competitive softball. The injury didn’t put an end to his passion for the game, so he spent a lot of time in the early ‘60s watching games in the Daddy-O-Dailey League at Meyerling Park. That league showcased some of the great teams and great players of the time. In 1970 he was approached to serve as commissioner of the Chicago South Side League, a league that featured some of the best black teams of that era. He ran the league from 1971 to 1974. In 1975 he switched to manager when he took the reins of the Senators, featuring Hall of Fame player Henry Currie, Rick Monday and “Hammering Hank” Kemp. That partnership stated some classic softball games between the Senators and the Flamingoes at Kelly Park. In 1975, he took the Senators to their first Nationals. They captured third place that year at Marshalltown, Iowa. In the ‘80’s and ‘90s he managed the Dating Game, Flash, the Bandits the Windy City Bombers, and a re-organized version of the Senators called the Senators Siege. In all of the years Floyd Glover managed, his teams never finished below third place in any of the leagues where they competed. He is retired from the insurance business. He and his wife, Doris, have four children and six grandchildren. They live on Chicago’s South Side.
Babe Godlewski / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
Played in the Windy City League for 11 seasons, Member of American Gear, and best seasons were with Midland Motors. Was in the Murderer's Row lineup with Hurter, Paul Camaratta, and Moose Migon. Right hander was a '48 Allstar at shortstop... .and premier long ball hitter. Also played for the Chicago Police Dept. Since Deceased.
Arthur “Lefty” Goldfeder / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
Arthur “Lefty” Goldfeder
His .760 batting average was the highest in Windy City League competition. A Chicago American Hall of Famer in center and left field, his total hits record stood for 14 years until '48. He was 66 for the first 100 at bats in his rookie WC season in 1934. Played for Hannin Did Its, and Adducci's. The best chop hitter in the game.. rarely thrown out on grounders to the pitcher.. .due to his speed. He started at Logan Square Ball Park. Played on the Judge Ellars, and the Six Pointers who were the Chicago American City Champs from '33 to '35. The finals were held at Wrigley Field. Played for the top industrial team in '38. Born in 1911.
Jack “Goldie” Goldstein / Inducted 1997 Pioneers 1887-1949
Jack “Goldie” Goldstein
As trainer or the American Gears professional basketball team, Jack Goldie had a foot . :... - guaranteeing that their team would have a cab ride home after the game. He would tear a ten du when the cab driver arrived at the game, telling him that he would get the other half when he renirn - them up after the game. It never failed! Besides being a trainer for the American Gears, \vhtire responsible for the physical conditioning of George Mikan, Stan Patrick, and Dick Triptow, Jack was also :iarr for the Chicago Bears during their summer training camps in 1941, 42, and 43 until the regular trainer. Lotshaw, was finished with his duties as trainer for the Chicago Cubs. Besides having been the "dapper - dan" of professional trainers, Jack Goldie also worked as a softball urnpn as umpire - in - chief of the Windy City League and called ball and strikes for the National Girls Professional League and the North Currency circuit. As stated in The Dynasty That Never Was, Jack Goldie was "a great guy to have around." Jack Goldie is deceased.
Robert “Butch” Gordon / Inducted 2004 1964-1979 Era
Robert “Butch” Gordon
At sixteen years of age, Robert “Butch” Gordon started his softball career at Sherman Park in an unusual way: he presented a phony birth certificate so he could play with the Calumet Council of the Knights of Columbus. He was later recruited by the Crusaders and played with them from 1958 to 1960. In 1961 he started a twelve year career with the Whips / Moaners at Chicago and Kedzie and Clarendon Park, helping them to championships at both parks. “Butch” Gordon played right field with Whips / Moaners. He was known for having an excellent arm and for being a long ball hitter. In 1973 he switched to the Sobies, playing with such great players as Jake and Willie Schmidt, Vic Kariolich, and Eddie “Champ” Surma. Robert Gordon and his wife, Karen, are both retired Chicago Police Officers living in Hometown. They have four sons - Michael, Mark, Joel, and Matthew and seven grandchildren.
Curtis Granderson, Sr. / Honored 2014 Wall of Fame
Curtis Granderson, Sr.
Curtis Granderson was born in Tchula, Mississippi. He developed a love for baseball at a young age watching his older brothers play. He began playing the game once he was old enough to swing a bat. He graduated from Tchula Attendance Center High School where he played baseball and basketball. He then attended Coahoma Junior College and played basketball for them before transferring to Mississippi Valley State University, where he earned a degree in physical education. Curtis retired from the Chicago Board of Education where he taught physical education and served as dean. He was a respected disciplinarian for over thirty- four years. He also coached football, basketball, track, volleyball, and softball. In 1974 Curtis organized the South Side Devils sixteen- inch softball team. They changed their name to the Hot City Rollers and Travelling All Stars in 1980. He has managed, coached, and played with them for nearly forty years. He has coached more than 150 players and the All Stars have played in parks all over Chicago. Thy have called Washington park their home since 1980. Although they have never won a championship, they have made the playoffs on numerous occasions and have played in state and national tournaments. In 2012 they competed in a national qualifying tournament. In 2013 they played in a national tournament at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 2013 they were honored as a team by the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. Curtis brings the same passion to coaching his team that he brought to teaching his students. He wants his team
to win, but he also wants to mentor his players into becoming responsible and productive men. He has helped his players find jobs and better housing and has encouraged many of them to return to school to complete their college education. The team participates in Thanksgiving Day foods drives and other charity events through Life Choices We Make, a youth foundation founded by one of the team members. As a coach, he encourages team cohesiveness by hosting at least two or three events each year for team members and their families. To help support his beloved university, Curtis was instrumental in organizing the Mississippi Valley State University Suburban Alumni Chapter of Illinois. He served as its president for more than twenty-three years. He is also an alumni hall of fame member and a board member of the MVSU National Alumni Association. He is an active member of the Master Masons, Royal Arch, Knights of Templar, Sublime Prince of 32nd Degree, Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of Mystic Shrine and a Grand Inspector of 33 degree Masons. He is also an active member of the Illinois and American Association of Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance. Curtis and his wife, Mary, have been married for thirty- five years. They have two children – Monica and Curtis, Jr. When he is not coaching, he loves to travel to watch his son play professional baseball.
Grant Park / Inducted 2015
Grant Park has been the host site for sixteen – inch softball in Chicago for over eight decades. The game fosters camaraderie amongst co-workers; it’s an outlet from work and competition and has driven the players of all ages and professions to step on the field to play the game they love. Chicago style softball was played in various locations starting in the 1920’s, but sixteen – inch softball grew in popularity in the 1930’s in Grant Park. Over the years players took up the game in grass areas, behind Soldier Field and the Field Museum and at Butler field, near Jackson and Columbus. The area on the west side of Columbus, known as playing “on the top” was a grass area that evolved into fields in the 1980’s. The Chicago Park District answered the demand for field space resulting in sixteen – inch softball fields covering the south end of the downtown park. Tournaments in 1980’s were a popular spectator sport. One of the most popular tournaments held was the Tournament of Champions. This showcased the 1st place teams from the leagues in Grant Park. The leagues included Park District house leagues and the champs from the various leagues like the Accountant’s, Legal league, Advertising league , Metro, city departments and agencies, to name a few. This was the competition of the best of the best. Many teams have shown longevity in participation in Grant Park. One team in particular held the title for back-to-back years. Commonwealth Edison won the championship from 1990 to 1993 and again in 1995. Teams like Northern Trust, Gillette, CNA, Sun-Time’s, Sargent & Lundy, Bobby McGee’s, Peoples Gas, Railroad Retirement Board, City Engineers, Wild Bunch, KPMG, Mother Hubbard’s, O’Connor and Trans Union participated in the Chicago Park District Men’s leagues and have been around for many years. Women’s Teams rallied with company sponsored teams as Northern Trust, R.R. Donnelley, Amoco, IL Bell/ATT, BCBS and Quaker Oats. In the late 1990’s, as corporate coed leagues grew in size, teams like TNT, Tressler, Grant Thornton, Mesirow Financial, OPCO, Sargent & Lundy, CBOE and UBS crowded the arena in support for 16” softball. Major sixteen – inch softball Tournaments in Grant Park:
- Metro Tournaments, 1960-70, teams played to advance to the National ASA tournament, very often held in Chicago.
- Chicago Classic, sponsored by the Beverage Companies like Old Style and Miller Lite, teams came from all over to play on the lake front. There’s nothing better than just needing a bat, ball, tape for your fingers and beer!
- World’s Largest No Gloves Tournament 1992 attracted over 200 teams playing for the trophy and prizes that included an all-expense trip to Cancun, Mexico!
- The City Wide Industrial Tournament, this was an intense competition that matched teams from all around the city of Chicago.
- LaSalle Street Tournament hosted local teams where “ringer teams” often entered to snatch up the prize money.
- Mike Royko Memorial tournament honoring Chicago's most respected newspaper columnist and softball aficionado, held each September, offered softball players one last summer swing.
- Chicago Sixteen – inch Softball Hall of Fame Tournament consisted of men, women, co rec and men over forty divisions. This coveted tournament held 2004-2007 brought out the best of the players.
- City Wide Youth Championships, culminated the season for thousands of kids from across the city parks. These kids continued to keep the game alive!
- Special Olympics Softball, Chicago Park District Special Recreation athletes perform skills tests and competition. The Special Olympics/Special Children’s Charities celebrated their 45th anniversary in July of 2013. In 2014, 481 athletes participated in softball activity in Grant Park.
- The Chicago Police League played in Grant Park 1950 – 2013. This brought police officers from all over the city to compete and build camaraderie amongst various division of the police force. The league continues to play within the Chicago Park District.
- The Illinois Bell/Metro Softball League ran in Grant Park from 1960-2005. The last league director, Jeff Wilkens (1990-2005) notes that back in 1974 every diamond in the pit, up top and over by Petrillo were full every day with teams. They had fond memories of practicing by the original band shell with many other teams waiting for the late game. They always had a contest about who could hit the Columbus statue. Wild Bunch won the league championship in 1991,1992, and 1995. When the league disbanded in 2005, the team joined the park district men’s league on Thursday nights and continues to play.
- The Chicago Design League continues the tradition 1999-2014. Nic Rotundo, league director, said that Grant Park gave the Chicago Design League its softball home… and in the grandest of Chicago sixteen – inch tradition on Upper and Lower Hutchinson fields. What makes their league unique is that they started out as a loosely organized squatter’s league in Lincoln Park’s South Field where they survived for twelve years but the late 90’s brought about the need to either formalize, or disband. It was at that point they started play in Grant Park. Over the past fifteen years, thirty-seven teams have competed for 15 Crowns determined at their annual Championship Tournament, the culmination of their season and a tradition known throughout Chicago’s design and construction communities. So the ride so far has been tremendous with no end in sight as far as they are concerned… the sixteen – inch tradition is alive and continuing to thrive in Grant Park.
Sally Gregory / Inducted 2006 Frank C. Holan Award
Most of us can point to one or two people in our lives who helped shaped the direction we were taking. For many ball players on the Southside, including Hall of Fame members Bobbie Blackstone, Henry Curie and Dan Dumas, that person was Sally Gregory. Her family came to Chicago in the early 1900s. She demonstrated an interest and talent for sports early in life, playing both softball and basketball in college. Unfortunately, while attending Alabama State College, she sustained a serious knee injury that hampered her ability to run, but that didn’t end her desire to remain active in sports. “Miss Sally”, as everyone affectionately called her, returned to the Southside of Chicago to coach young boys and girls on the play lots and schoolyards of the city. She found sponsors for her teams and drove her teams to and from games in her 1941 Ford pickup truck. She also took teams to watch games in the Windy City softball league. As a member of St Marks Methodist Church, she developed and coached basketball and softball teams. In 1949 the St Marks softball team became community champions of the Southside. In 1951 the St Marks Apaches won the Chicago Herald American junior softball championship. In 1952 and 1953 the St Marks basketball team won the church league championship. Miss Sally also coached a young ladies baseball team that gave the legendary Bloomer Girls and Music Maids some competitive games. Unfortunately, Miss Sally Gregory became ill and died in 1972. Shortly after her death, St Marks created the Sally Gregory Memorial Fund to honor her twenty-five years of unselfish dedication towards the betterment of the young men and women of St. Marks Methodist Church. She will always be remembered for the positive impact she had on the lives of many young people from Chicago’s Southside.
Joe “Geetz” Gucwa / Inducted 1996 1950-1963 Era
Joe “Geetz” Gucwa
Considered to be one of the finest first basemen ever, no one can recall Joe Gucwa, the 6'3" star, ever committing an error in a game. Born in 1937, his love for the sport began when he led his Catholic grammar school to two league-winning titles. Joe attended Kelly High School and played as a tackle on the football team. He started with the Bobcats at twenty years of age and played twelve seasons with that great team. He played on three ASA National Championship teams. Joe was known as good long ball hitter who batted cleanup in his early years. His fondest memory is playing in the 1964 Nationals at Thillen's Stadium which was televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Joe and Christine have two children and two grandchildren. Joe is deceased.
Paul Guenther / Inducted 2008 1964-1979 Era
Paul Guenther began his twenty-six year softball career in the early ‘60s playing in the park leagues of Berwyn and Cicero. Although he spent most of his career playing second base, he could play any infield position with skill. When he moved to the Sobies, he was a great asset because he could also play any outfield position. Paul was not the biggest or the strongest player, but he was blessed with excellent speed and sure hands, skills that any team would love to have. Besides his excellent defensive skills, he was also a great hitter who could drive in runs with singles and doubles. He helped the Sobies / American Rivets teams to two state titles, two Chicago Metro championships, three Chicago Park District titles, and the 1974 Windy City Chicago championship. They also won the Clarendon Park title five times, took four Andy Frain titles, and won three world championships. Paul and his wife, Bonnie, live in Las Vegas, Nevada with their daughter. 16