Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Hodgkins Park District / Inducted 2017
Hodgkins Park District
Sixteen-inch softball has been an institution at the Hodgkins Park District since the 1970s. It started with church leagues playing on an old baseball field and quickly evolved into one of the finest homes for “A”, Major, and Pro League softball teams. With its legendary twenty-foot high and two hundred-fifty foot fence and its perfectly manicured infield, great players from across the nation have come to the small town of Hodgkins, Illinois to play the game they love. As one of the founders of the now famous Lite Softball Classic, Hodgkins Park made a name for itself in the world of sixteen-inch softball. Championships were won and memories were made throughout the two-week tournament that is now in it s twelfth year. The Hodgkins Park District installed lighting in the late 1990s. As a result, more games were played and more players participated in their favorite sport. As softball grew in popularity, Hodgkins became involved with the Westchester / Hodgkins Pro League. Over the years, this league showcased many legendary and respected teams in softball. Besides sixteen-inch softball Hodgkins Park has become the home to a wide variety of teams and uses. The Lyons Township Blazers, a girl’s twelve-inch fast-pitch softball organization, has called Hodgkins Park their home for twenty years. The Park district hosts two annual softball tournaments for local middle schools. It has been used as an emergency field numerous times for area junior and high school teams. The University of Akron’s Women’s Softball team twice used the field for practice when they came to play Northwestern University. The Hodgkins Park District has always encouraged young players to get involved in softball for personal development and to ensure the future of the sport. The Park District and its former Executive Director, Ronald Kubicki, have become synonymous with sixteen-inch softball. Without Kubicki’s leadership, guidance, and foresight, softball might never have been played at Hodgkins Park. Originally meant for baseball, it became one of softball’s premier destinations and a place where players and fans could participate in a safe and fun environment.
Howard Blakely / Inducted 1993-Current
Raised on the south side of Chicago, Howard Blakey's softball career started as a member of the Masterpiece softball team in the late'70's. During the 80's and 90's he played with the Flamingos, B Athletes and Bandits. Considered a top infielder in the league, Howard was known for his strong and accurate arm that could hit for power as well as smart situational hitting. In 1987 and 1988 the Bandits named him MVP. His team won many championships at Washington, Grand Crossing, Hamilton and Ogden parks and in other league on the West and South side of Chicago. Howard was also named All American at the 1999 Nationals in South Bend Indiana. Howard and His wife, Eleanor, raised five children. They are now proud grandparents and live on the South side of Chicago. Howard is a sim-truck driver for UPS freight and Eleanor is a homemaker.
Buddy Haines / Inducted 1964-1979 Era
Buddy started playing 16” softball in 1966 with Jeno’s Lounge before moving to Andy Ortolano’s Super Stars and then to the Dwarfs. He played second and third base with the Dwarfs and helped them win numerous tournament and league titles, helping them to a second place finish in the ASA Nationals and twice received ASA All-American honors. In 1975 he became director of softball operations at Grant Park and began running the largest 16” softball industrial league in the country. For two years he was Chicago Park District city-wide softball chairman and created the AH. He was director of the Grant Park Recreation Association Tournament of Champions for fifteen years.
Kenneth “Chicken” Hairston / Inducted 2012
Kenneth “Chicken” Hairston
Ken Hairston played softball for twenty-seven years and competed in 'Major' softball for fifteen of them. During that time he played for the Wild Bunch, Villains, Flashes, the B Athletes, California Gold and Solutions in the most competitive parks in Chicago and the suburbs. As a shortstop and short center, he had a career batting average over .500 and hit forty-five homeruns and drove in more than six hundred runs. Ken was the MVP of the CCBL Tournament in 1978 and 1982, the 1994 USSSA Majors in 1994, and the 2000 Black American Tournament. Additionally, he was named to the 1982 CCBL All Tournament Team, the 1991 USSSA All Tournament Team, the 1994 USSSA Major World Tournament Team, and the 2000 Black American All-World Tournament Team. In 1995 he was invited by the ASA to play on the Pan Am Team. In 2011 Ken and Solutions defeated the Bombers to capture the ASA "A" National Championship. They were the Black National Champions in 2009, '10, '11, and '12. Throughout his twenty-seven year playing career, Ken always played at a high level and always displayed good sportsmanship. He is well known and is respected throughout the softball community. Ken and his wife, Johnnie, live in Jonesboro, Georgia where he now plays twelve-inch softball. Ken and Johnnie have a son, Mike.
Michael Hanas / Inducted 2002 Pioneers 1887-1949
During a 30 year 16" softball career, playing for some of the great Pioneer Era teams at some of the legendary softball stadiums, Michael Hanas has indeed experienced some of the great moments of the early days of softball. Hanas played with such Pioneer teams as Bonnetts, Silhouettes, Whips, Jack O'Lanterns, and the early Bobcats. In Windy City softball, Michael played for Midland Motors, Fewer Boilers, and the Triner Grant Giants. He won MVP honors with the Ford Motor Company and the Good Sportsmanship Award at Grant Park while playing for the former Mayor Daley team. Besides playing in the classic era of softball, Hanas coached mens and womens softball at all levels from grade school through college level in Concord, New Hampshire. He organized youth sports organizations and leadership conferences. He also ran an umpire association for twenty years, featuring many former players as umpires. In addition to playing and umpiring softball, Michael Hanas also organized touch football leagues in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
George Hancock / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
The founder of softball. Hancock was a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade. In 1887 on a rainy Thanksgiving Day while waiting for the ticker tape results of the Harvard-Yale football game at Farragut Boat Club in Chicago, now a land fill south of Soldiers Field, a group of bored young men tied up a boxing glove and started hitting it with a broom handle. The Ivy League Alumni game ended in a high scoring tie as legend has it. After enjoying this indoor form of baseball Hancock designed and wrote rules to formalize the indoor sport. Since deceased.
Denise Hancock / Inducted 2002 Women
Denise Hancock was one of those rare softball players who showed extraordinary talent from her first day on the diamond. Bev Dagenais, who would become Hancock's coach, mentor, and lifelong friend, spotted her playing catch with a neighborhood friend when Hancock was just thirteen. Dagenais asked her if she wanted to play softball and the rest is history. Using the shortest bat in the bag, Hancock was introduced to competetive softball. She went on to become a .600-plus hitter who could place a ball down both lines of the outfield, a skill that led to numerous inside-the-park homeruns. Defensively, she was a solid left fielder with great speed and excellent anticipation to the ball. After graduating from Bremen High School, where she played softball in the early days of high school softball, Hancock began her 16-inch career when she moved from the Babe Ruthies 14-inch League to play with the Pets at Blue Island. She then played with Rays in Calumet City, with Maplewood Inn at Calumet park, and with the Rebels in Blue Island. In 1969 she was named Roookie of the Year. She then won the Babe Ruthies Sportsmanship award in 1971 and was league batting champion in 1974 and 1975 in Blue Island. She retired from playing softball in 1986. Denise is a resident of Hammond, Indiana and works for a brokerage firm in Chicago. She is also an IHSA basketball and volleyball official.
Harry Hannin / Inducted 1996 Media & Organizers
Harry Hannin was the main organizer and president of the Windy City Softball and Basketball Leagues from 1934 to 1949. His 1925 team, the Hannin Did Its, won fifty-five games in a row. These victories inspired the rush to play sixteen-inch softball. Hannin coached legendary DePaul Coach Ray Meyer. Twenty-six future major leaguers, including Lou Boudreau and Bill “Moose” Skowron, played in the Windy City League. It attracted 2,500-10,000 viewers per game and was often the premier event for spectators during that era. Each team had its own home field...Hillburn, Schubert, Bidwell, Parichy, St. Phillips, and Lane Tech to name a few. They had paid attendance of 389,000 over two seasons in the late 1940s at two fields. The players were paid for each game with more going to the winners. Hannin seemd to always have a cigar in his mouth and was often looking to make another deal. Besides organizing softball, Hannin was also the advance man for the Harlem Globetotters and was a boxing promoter. In 1939, Hannin and Leo Fischer of the Chicago Herald American organized the World Tournament of Professional Basketball. The games were played at two locations in Chicago. The tournament marked the first time that blacks and whites competed on even footing for a professional championship. From 1961 to 1962, Harry was the GM for the Chicago Packers, a professional basketball team in Chicago. He is credited with drafting Walt Bellamy, the 6'11" center from Indiana and the 1960 Olympic hero. The Packers are now the Washington Wizards. Harry Hannin passed away in November, 1989.
Ken Hansen / Inducted 1999 Umpires & Managers
A graduate of St. Rita High School and Lewis University where he played basketball, Ken Hansen began his 16" softball career with the Lazy 10 and the Sabers at Lindbloom, Pasteur, and Lawler Parks where they won numerous championships. As a centerfielder and shortstop, Hansen was known as a long ball hitter who maintained a .550 plus batting average from most of his career. When Hansen reached his 30s, however, he realized that his talents were better found behind the plate rather than in front of it, so he switched to umpiring. Hansen first began umpiring in the Industrial Leagues at Marquette and Lindbloom Parks. In the early 70s he joined Tom Bonen's Windy City Softball as assignment chairman for the A,B, and C Leagues at Kelly Park. Hansen also umpired the World Series of Softball Championships at Soldier Field. When asked for his favorite memories of umpiring, Hansen remembers classic matches between the Bobcats and Sobies and the many championships won by Eddie Vrdolyak's Strikers with Mike Tallo. Ken Hansen and his wife, Mary, have ten children and sixteen grandchildren. He and Mary live in Palos Park, Illinois.
David Hardt / Inducted 2015
David Hardt started his fifty-year sixteen-inch softball career in the late forties and early fifties in the Father Jerry League. Top players like Eddie Earle (HOF), Orin Matson, Bill Hall, Geno Petramale (HOF), Jack Zeko, and Jack Lewis played in this league. After the Father Jerry League, David started playing with the Wolves at Portage and Kosciuszko Parks. They also played on Saturday and Sunday in “jackpot” games at Wells, La Follette, Sayre, and Amundsen Parks. They won the John C. Marcin Tournament a few times and beat the Dugouts in 1959 and 1960 for the Portage Park Title. He played in the Daddy-O-Daily League with the Kenneth Allen team. He played with Hall of Famers Tony Reibel, Louie Vine, Wally Mader, Ed Whitman, Gil Muratori, Zeke Crement, and Ed Mulligan, who was the longest softball hitter of his time. He also played for Ron “Beetlebom” Braasch (HOF) at Clarendon Park in the days before park superintendent George Morse (HOF) decide to inject the softball with water to prevent the long home run. He also played with Lewa Yacilla (HOF) and Moose Camillo (HOF) in money games at Clarendon, Wells, La Follette Parks and at Chicago and Kedzie. When they needed an outfielder, they called David because he was fast and had a rifle arm. David led most of his teams in total bases because he could hit down the right field line. He drove in more than 1000 runs and hit more than two hundred home runs. He played nearly every position except first base but favored the outfield. In the Lake Shore Tournament, he went sixteen for seventeen and was selected tournament MVP. David and his wife, Joan, live in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. They have two children – Richard, and Nancy, and three grandchildren, Danielle, Ron, and Dave. The Hardt family tradition of playing sixteen-inch softball now covers three generations. Their son, Rick, played for many great teams and is still pitching for some at the age of fifty-seven. Their grandson, Dave, has played on many championship teams in Chicago and the suburbs. He currently plays for the Road Runners.
John “Heck” Hechinger / Inducted 2000 Pioneers 1887-1949
John “Heck” Hechinger
John Hechinger began his softball career with St. Viator Grade in 1942 when they made it to the quarter finals in the St. Ignatius tournament. A left fielder who also played first and third, Hechinger had a lifetime batting average over 600, and hit 350 home runs. From 1942 to 1957 Hechinger's teams won twelve championships on such teams as St. Viators, Ideal Liquors, the 35 Club, the Addison Bears, and Murph's Lounge at Mozart and Riis Park from 1948 to 1950. Hechinger played with Fewer Boilers, Spalter Finance, Leo Rose Clothiers and Kool Vent Awnings at the North Town and Windy City Leagues from 1948 to 1952. He also played simultaneously at Clarendon Park with Town Pump, Marino Brothers, Addison Bears, and the 35 Club. From 1947 to 1950 Hechinger played with St. Cyr Council. They won the City Championship once, and lost twice. While with St. Cyr, John Hechinger played along side Lewa Yacilla, Charley Russo and John Abbatacola as short center. He entered the Counter Intelligence Corps in 1952, and served until 1955. When he came out, he earned his law degree and met Mary, who would become his wife. He went on to play with the Tom Thumbs, with Hall of Famer Bob Lamont, and Knights of Columbus with Johnnie Lattner in center field. During his legal career, John Hechinger served as a judge in the Cook County Juvenile Court, the Criminal Court, and the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court. In 2000, he was "Of Counsel" with the law firm of Rock, Fusco and Garvey Ltd. and lived with his wife, two sons and a daughter in Chicago.
Pat Heraty / Inducted 2007 1980's & 1990's Era
One of the top leadoff hitters of his era, Pat Heraty was known for his precision hitting, a skill that frustrated infielders and outfielders alike. He started his career in 1975 playing for Dino Franch on the Franch & Sons Trucking Team. In 1981 he joined fellow College of DuPage baseball teammate Bob Fogarty’s Magic team. With a strong squad that featured Bill Spingola, Tom Cahill, Mike Ellerby, Bruce Hill and eventually Mark Malouf, Tim Decker and Johnny Morris, Pat gained valuable experience. Magic won several tournaments and Metros, playing regularly in the Major Nationals and at Forest Park. It was during this period that Wayne Page, an old friend, taught Pat how to “cut” a softball. This skill made him a tough out for the remainder of his career. In 1988 Pat and four other Magic players hooked up with Dick Cooper and the Meadows. At that time it was led by Hall of Famer Terry Moran. Heraty stayed with them for two years until Dick Cooper's retirement. Pat then joined Fritz Zimmerman’s newly formed March Manufacturing, managed by Joe Mercadante. For the next two years, he had the opportunity to play with Hall of Famers Pat Moran, Jack and Larry Kelly, and Mark Frighetto. In 1992 he was invited to play for Frank Holen and the Miller Taggers. The camaraderie on this team made 1992 one of the most enjoyable years he would experience playing softball. He then moved to March Manufacturing for two years, rejoining Dick Cooper and Terry Moran in 1993 for a run at the national championship. That team came up a game short when they lost in the title game. In 1994 Dick Cooper went back into retirement and Rick Gancarz took over the reins of the new March Manufacturing team. This was a scrappy team that won the state tournament and finished second in Forest Park, losing 1-0 in the single elimination championship game. In 1995 Pat started what was to be an eleven-year run with Hall of Fame coach Bob Rascia and the 45's. In 1998 Pat helped bring Rick Gancarz to the team and that started the flow of top caliber players like Frank Mustari, Israel Sanchez, Joe Dooley, Rich Villa, Dan Jalowiec, Mike O’Neill, Tony Prochenski, Kurt Uidl, and more recently Mark Holstein, Jeff Berger, Jim Matlock, and Brian Miller to the 45's. In 2001 with the team now stronger than ever, Pat and the 45’s won its first national championship, a victory that Pat will always cherish. Between 2001 and 2005 this powerhouse team went on to win three more national championships, three Forest Park Championships, and an astounding thirty-eight tournament titles during that five-year period. Over the course of his career, Pat has been named to twelve ASAAll-American teams, the All Classic League Team at Mount Prospect, numerous all-star teams, and was honored with the 2007 Terry Moran Sportsmanship Award. Pat credits his success in softball to top notch coaching, great teammates, and the best batting practice pitcher and number one fan, who never complained at how many pitches he threw or how many games he played in, his wife, Mary. Pat considers it a privilege to have played memorable 16-inch softball for the past thirty-three and to have formed life long friendships. At age fifty-three, Pat continues playing with Sal Milazzo’s Windy City Softball Team in hopes of bringing them a national title. Pat thanks the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame committee for his nomination, and thanks his wife, Mary, his son, Tom, and all of his family, friends, and teammates for their support in making this great honor possible.
John Hie / Inducted 2000 Umpires & Managers
It’s been said that great umpires were once great players, and John Hie is no exception. He began his softball playing career at Clarendon Park in 1951. While continuing at Clarendon, his team started the money league at Chicago and Kedzie in the early 50s. John played at Clarendon until 1974, when he switched to the other side of the plate as an umpire, who worked exclusively with Hall of Famer Dominick Paparato. When Dominick retired, Hie took over as chief umpire until his retirement. He was a member of the Umpire Protective Association, and ran clinics and interpretation meetings for fellow umpires. While umpiring at Clarendon, John Hie introduced the “no crash rule” that was later adopted into other softball leagues. In the fall of 1999, John took on a new challenge when he was asked to put together rules and interpretations for the fledgling 16” softball league in the Chicago Public School System. The program was so successful that the league has expanded to include public and parochial high schools. Besides his 16” duties, John has also worked as a high school and college fast-pitch umpire, and has been the chief umpire for Chicago Federal Officers 12” slow pitch league. John’s umpiring skills have also landed him spots in two Hollywood movies; A League of Their Own and Rookie of the Year. In 2000, John lived on the Northwest side of Chicago.
William “Dub” Hill / Inducted 2012 Media & Organizers
William “Dub” Hill
William Hill was raised on the South side of Chicago in the West Woodlawn neighborhood. He attended Mc Cosh Grammar School and Chicago Vocational High School where he played baseball and football. At fifteen, he started playing softball with the West Woodlawn Crusaders as a utility player in the outfield and infield. He played at Langley Field, Washington Park, Mc Cosh Playground and at other parks throughout the city. He was fortunate to have played with Hall of Famers Sweetwater Clifton, Dan Dumas, Bobbie Blackstone, Henry Curry, Leonard McKinnon and other great players. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, became a paratrooper, and obtained the rank of Sergeant 1st Class at the age of eighteen. He was discharged in 1954 and began a thirty-five year career with the United State Postal Service. He also attended Chicago State University where he majored in personnel management. For the last twenty years of his postal career, he worked with the Postal Inspection Service where he received many honors and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and became the officer in charge. He retired in 1989 and became an umpire with James Melton and Pete Dawkins (HOF). He was responsible for revitalizing sixteen-inch softball in the African-American community at Washington Park. In 1999 the league was on the verge of folding because teams weren't signing up due to a lack of leadership. The Sunday League had only twelve teams when he took over. William immediately began making phone calls, knocking on doors, and scheduling meetings with teams and the Chicago Park District to insure that the leagues would continue and to improve field maintenance. He also worked with the park district to install more field lights and to improve the washroom facilities. They also created a new set of playing rules and team schedules. As a result of his efforts, the Sunday League grew from twelve teams to thirty teams, and the weekday league grew to twenty teams between 1999 and 2002,. One third of these teams participated in ASA National Tournaments. In addition, special tournaments such as ASA qualifiers, the He Man, Afro-American Legends, and the Little Ball, Big Ball Tournaments were played at Washington Park. In 2005, the Chicago Park District honored him for producing Steel Gold, the first African-American National Championship team. Mayor Daley also honored him and the team for their outstanding contributions to the community. In 2006 Channel 11 (PBS TV) honored him for keeping softball alive in the community and in 2008, Channel 2 (CBS TV) honored him for his dedication to softball and for building the largest sixteen-inch softball league in the United States. The Washington Park Advisory Council honored him in 2010 for his many years of caring service to the park and for his vision of making Washington Park a focal point for the community. William has been married to his wife, Patricia, for fifty-three years. They have three sons - Steve, Michael, and Joseph.
Bob “Hober” Hobson / Inducted 2000 1964-1979 Era
Bob “Hober” Hobson
A veteran of over 2,500 games, with a batting average near 700, Bob Hobson hit over 1,200 home runs in his distinguished career. Hobson began big time softball with the Spartans, playing with the likes of Jerry Witrey, Jerry Dowling and Jim Madden. They won 10 championships and twelve tournaments on the Southeast side. Hobson then went on to play on the first integrated team sponsored by Verve Records, in the Daddy O’Daily League. In the 1960’s, Hobson and other teammates formed Butch McGuires under the direction of the colorful Jack “Whitey” Johnson and Frank “Tuna” Winston. They won over twenty five tournaments and eight championships at some of the top parks of the era. Later in the 60’s, they formed the Frogs, and won two championships. Bob also played with the Bobcats, and had two World Series appearances in St. Louis. After that, he played for Aurelio’s Pizza, amassing more twelve championships and eight more tournaments to his record. Hobson attributes his success to the teamwork of his fellow ball players. In 2000, he resided in Oak Forest, Illinois with his wife, Judy. They have three children.
Bob Hockenbrough / Honored 2009 Wall of Fame
Bob Hockenbrough started playing softball when he was boy growing up in Brookfield. Today, at seventy-four and two knee replacements later, he’s still playing softball in Berwyn. He played baseball at Lyons Township and played softball for the Bruins. He then joined the Army where he played baseball and basketball. After his discharge, he played for Rado’s in the Brookfield League, and later played for Al’s Radiator, Al’s Sports Shop, and Shakey’s Pizza. He currently plays for Al’s in a fifty-and-over league in Berwyn. In fact, he has so much experience that some young players asked him to pitch for their team. Besides playing the game that he loves for 60-plus years, Bob also started a 39-and-over and a 50-and-over league in La Grange. He convinced park officials in La Grange to alter their rules on playing by allowing players to move in and out of the game. Players will play a few innings sit and inning and then re-enter the game. This rule change lets older players continue to play the game that they love. Throughout his career, Bob played mostly all positions, but the last few years he switched to pitcher. He and his wife, Karen, live in Brookfield, Illinois. He is a retired machinist for Reynolds Aluminum and can’t wait for the new softball season to start.
Joe Hoffmann / Inducted 2009 Umpires & Managers
Joe Hoffmann started umpiring in the late 1970s at Mt. Greenwood Park, but the lure of playing was too great, so he returned to playing softball. In 1984, however, he returned to umpiring for the A.S.A. During his seventeen-year career, he called balls and strikes for the Blue Island Major League for six years, the Mt. Prospect Classic League for two years, the Clyde Park Major League for four years, and the Super Pro League for one year. He also umpired and was tournament director (along with Bob Ancona) in the ASA National Qualifier tournaments for ten years. His experience qualified him to umpire some of softball’s high-pressure games. He officiated eight ASA National tournaments and was assigned to the championship game each time. As the umpire co-coordinator for six ASA tournaments, he rated and graded his fellow umpires as they worked every game of the Nationals. He was also tournament director for six Metro tournaments. Joe and his wife Joan, live in Tinley Park, Illinois. They have two children - Joe and Julie.
Frank Holan / Inducted 1996 Umpires & Managers
He has spent over 32 years as a top pitcher, manager and organizer in the game. His first team organized was the Rocky Stars (1946-60). The Rocky Stars dominated the Second Federal League which Holan founded by winning 10 of 12 titles during the 40s and 50s. They were also one of the best in the Alderman Petrone League at Kells Park. He then managed the Miller Taggers from 1977 through 1993. They are a proud charter member of the Classic League in Mt. Prospect. His days as manager with the Miller Taggers saw a record of 860 - 382. His team won the USSSA World Tourney in 1990 & 1991. The Miller Taggers were consistently good playing in 13 USSSA venues and 10 ASA Nationals, finishing as high as 4th, twice. They won quite a few leagues and tournaments including 2 road trip wins to the LaCrosse Event. He has been a writer and columnist on softball for many years including a newsletter in the 50s. Frank is considered to be the top historian of the Chicago softball game during the last 50 years. He is currently writing a book on the history of Chicago softball and researching title, tournaments, and stars of the past. He was elected as the first 16 inch manager to the USSSA Hall of Fame in 1996 and will be inducted in March, 1997. Named Man of the Year in Softball in 1994. His wife Jeanne and he are very proud of the fact that he coached his 4 sons on the Taggers. Born in 1924. Since deceased.
William “Sweet Billy” Holford / Inducted 2002 1964-1979 Era
William “Sweet Billy” Holford
The year that "Sweet Billy" Holford began his 16" career in 1972 with the Strikers and the Kelleher brothers at Foster Park, they entered the Kelly Park league, where they were routinely beaten by most of the teams. With determination and pride however, they returned in 1973 and won a few more games. 1974 proved to be their year as they won the Windy City Championship with a season record of 140 - 30. Their championship string continued into 1975 when they won he Winston World Series. When the Strikers broke up in 1976, Holford joined the Bobcats, helping them to national championships in 1977 and '78. Of the many titles Holford was a part of, he remembers the 1980 title with Whips, because they entered the tournament as underdogs and had to beat some top teams to win that title. The Whips then went on to win national titles in 1981 and '83. Although he banged out over 550 homers in his career and was known as a gap hitter, Billy says that defense was his forte. A second baseman who also played short center or third (especially with the Whips) Holford was always counted on as a solid fielder because he remembered hitter tendencies and was often able to predict their hitting spots. William Holford is a retired diesel mechanic who lives in Mokena with his wife, Lynn. His current passion is rebuilding classic Chevy Chevelles.
James Holmes / Inducted 1997 Pioneers 1887-1949
James Holmes is known as a superb left hand hitter and right fielder who played with some of the top leagues on the Southside. Holmes played in the top division at 49th and Dorchester and in the Southside Cocktail League. Holmes interrupted his 16" career with a three year stint in the Marine Corps. Once he left the Marines, Holmes managed the Ironmen for ten years. He also managed the Unknown. Bunch who won the Black World Series in 1984. Holmes later went on to manage the L.A. Posse, an excellent team, for about five years. In addition to his softball skills, James Holmes also played football for eight years with the Chicago Panthers of the Central State League. Holmes is married and is the father of three sons.
Ben “The Thumper” Holt / Inducted 2001 1964-1979 Era
Ben “The Thumper” Holt
Ben Holt is recognized by softball experts as one of the greatest power hitters of all time. A 347 foot homerun at Clarendon Park, and another, hit during the Hamms Homerun Hitting Contest at Comiskey Park, that eventually landed in the upper deck, are just two examples of his legendary hitting power. Holt originally played with the Big Banjo Bruins, and helped them achieve a 27 and 5 record during the regular season, hitting 513 (41 of 80) with seven homers and 46 RBI. A top defensive catcher, he received honors as a Windy City All-Star in 1976, and was a first team All-American with the 1977 World Champion Bobcats. Ben’s softball career spans three decades. In addition to the Bobcats and Bruins, his resume boasts such legendary teams as the Dwarfs, the Storm, Fire, Beetlebombs and American Rivet. When he wasn’t playing softball, Ben Holt was an Olympic power-lifter at Sayre Park. In 2001, Ben lived on Cicero, and had two children; Anita and Ben.
Tom “Bomber” Horn / Honored 2014 Wall of Fame
Tom “Bomber” Horn
Tom “Bomber” Horn is one of the greatest mound magicians in sixteen- inch softball history, a defensive master who won nearly one hundred championships at every level and was beloved by friends and foes alike. Horn’s dad Bernie pitched for the Lyons 45s (a team honored by the Hall of Fame) and his mother Helen persuaded him to become a teacher/ coach for the Chicago Public Schools, where he has influenced thousands of students over the last thirty years. His wife Darlene and children Samantha and Brian were forever supportive and inspirational. Horn’s influence was felt early at storied Clarendon Park with the upstart Rox, who catapulted to prominence. Horn evolved as a defensive genius while winning loads of titles with Storm, Fusion and Jackmen, among a myriad of neighborhood teams constantly recruiting the unassuming leader. What Bomber lacked in power, he made up for with uncanny placement with his bat and his ability to make everyone on his team more confident and happy. Bomber was a blast to play with. And fun to watch. Horn was picked up by two-time national champion Lettuce Entertain You, but remained loyal to his company team, the Chicago Sun-Times, both are honored in the Hall of Fame. Bomber won the major division and corporate divisions of the Chicago Classic at Grant Park simultaneously. In the corporate playoff he showed what sixteen-inch softball is all about. In a late-inning nail-biter the batter hit a dribbler down the first base line for a sure hit, but Horn kicked the ball soccer- style to his first baseman to make the out and end the inning. He routinely made putouts at second by
“hiking” the ball between his legs and made incredible one-handed stabs on liners. While pitching in the televised Pro- League at Forest Park, broadcaster Mike North called Horn one of the best defensive pitchers in softball history. His Major Softball Teams Lettuce- 1998 National Champions, Old Style Classic 2, Mount Prospect League, Forest Park, and Open Tourney Champions. Licorice- 2000 National Champions, Mount Prospect Champions, Open Tourney Champions, Miller Taggers. 1990 USSSA Worlds Champions, 1991 USSSA World Champions, Metro Champions Touch, Iowa Tourney Champions, Final (4) in major tournament. Metro Champions Rabbits, Major Winning Record, Metro Champions. Neighborhood champions, Chicago Sun-Times fifteen championships, League eight championships, Royko Tournament five championships, Old Style Classic two championships, City Engineers three championships. Storm ten championships, Fusion eight championships, Jackmen seven championships, Rox seven championships, Flinstones five championships, Flames five championships, Doggie Style four championships, Jump four championships, War Pigs four championships, Trips three championships, Pebbles three championships, Shinnicks three championships, Strokers three championships, Magicians three championships, Nemesis two championships, Clap two championships, Vigilantes championship, Bomber Ball, Web 13.
John Hornacek / Inducted 1999 1964-1979 Era
Like thousands of others before him, John Hornacek began his 16" softball career at the age of 17 in the parks of Chicago. However, unlike most of those thousands, John went on to become one of the top first basement with one of the legendary teams in softball - the Sobies. John began his playing career with the Rocky Stars in 1955 at Kells Park. He then played for Triner’s Lounge from 1960 to 1965. In 1965 Triner’s became the Sobies from 1966 to 1971. In 1971 the Sobies became American Rivet. John’s outstanding fielding skills, combined with his clutch hitting, propelled the Sobies to 16" World Softball Championships in 1966, 1967, and 1968. John attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier from 1956 - 58. He transferred to Illinois State University where he played basketball and baseball. John taught at Marshall High School in Chicago from 1961 to 1963 as a physical education teacher and as an assistant basketball and baseball coach. John then moved to St. Joseph High School in Westchester as Dean of Students from 1963 to his retirement in 1998. John has referred high school basketball for the last 35 years. He worked the Illinois State Basketball Tournament in 1989, 90 and 91. In 1991 he officiated the championship game. John and his wife, Sue, have four sons - Jeff, Jay, Jim, and John. They are the proud grandparents of eight grandchildren.
Team Hot City Travelling All-Stars / Honored 2012 Team Recognition
Team Hot City Travelling All-Stars
In 1974 a team known as the South Side Devils began playing sixteen-inch softball. In January of 1980 they officially changed their name to the Hot City Rollers/ Travelling All-Stars (founding members Melvin Robinson, Michael Lamar Jordan, Robert Common, and Curtis Granderson) after meeting with Henry Hoskins, owner of the Hot City Lounge on Chicago's South side. They played year round and won championships in basketball, softball, and bowling. For over thirty-five years, the All-Stars played in parks all over Chicago and Illinois. They have called Washington Park their home since 1980. They started playing when the Washington Park League was pretty small. Now it is one of the largest sixteen-inch slow pitch leagues in the Midwest. Besides playing softball, the All-Stars also help out their community by taking part in Thanksgiving Day food drives and other events for charity and by working with Life Choices We Make (www.lifechoiceswemake.org), a youth foundation In 2012, twenty-plus players and six coaches competed in national qualifiers and in several leagues. Since its inception, more than one hundred players have worn the Hot City uniform. In 2010 they celebrated thirtyyears together and retired uniform number 00 in honor of Michael Lamar Jordan, a founding member who passed away. They also honor other deceased members, Melvin Robinson, Tony Shaw, Greg William, Roscoe Jack Davis, and Mike Gardner.
Gene Hrabak / Inducted 1997 1950-1963 Era
Gene began playing softball at the age of 13 in Cicero. At 16 he played for Sams Tavern, Wolak's Lounge, Triner's All - Stars, and Murphy Motors. In 1947-48 Gene played Midwest semi-professional ball with Cole-Lenzi. Gene's softball career was interrupted when he served in the Korean War for 2 years (1951-53) as a forward observer, a position that earned him the Bronze Star. After leaving the service, Gene played softball with several local teams until joining the Bobcats in 1955.Gene played shortstop and third base with the Bobcats until 1966. Gene was the Director of Recreation for the Clyde Park District until he accepted a position at Morton West High School. He retired from Morton West in 1992. Gene has been married to Carol for 43 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Odell Humphrey / Honored 2002 Wall of Fame
Odell Humphrey was an exceptional athlete who was also blessed with a gift that made him one of 16" softball's great first baseman; big soft hands. Odell started playing basketball in his native South with Dallas Cowboy great Ed "Too Tall" Jones. After high school, Odell moved to Chicago and started playing 16" softball in the Industrial League at Marquette Park in 1970. Humphrey's skills were immediately noticed and he then went on to play with Ten Most Wanted and later with Toro's. People's Choice and Hall of Famer Rick Monday at Kely Park. Humphrey moved to the suburbs in the early '80's to play with the Connectors, who later became Irving's Red Hots. While with the Red Hots, Humphrey hit some tape measure home runs and made stellar plays at first base to help the Red Hots capture championships at Broadview and LaGrange. That year they also finished second Crush at Kelly Park. In 1989, Odell and the Red Hots again finished second to Crush, but this time it was at the USSSA World Tournament where Humphrey and four other teammates earner first team All Tournament honors. Besides the second place finish to Crush, Humphrey and the Red Hots took fourth in 1989 and second place in 1988 at the Lite Classic Tournament. In 1990 the Red Hots and Humphrey won it all when they captured the USSSA World Tournament in Merrillville, as Humphrey was named both Offensive Player and MVP of the tournament. In the '90's Odell hooked up with Stooges and helped them take first place at the Clyde Park League in Cicero. He also played with the Rockers in the Pro League and with the Knockouts for over 20 years at Forest Park, winning that league and numerous play-offs. Humphrey's quote about softball sums up what many great players feel about the game. "Friendships made that last a lifetime." Odell Humphrey works for Kraft Foods in Chicago, where he live with his wife, Thelma. They have a daughter, Theresa.
Bill “Lefty” Hunt / Inducted 1997 1950-1963 Era
Bill “Lefty” Hunt
Bill Hunts distinguished softball career began in the 1940s with a team from the May Club. He also played for the Club Marquette and Red Circle in the neighborhood leagues and with Fewer Boilers in the Windy City League. Born and raised on Chicago's Southwest Side, "Lefty" Hunt is remembered as being one of the top left-handed first baseman of his era who was a power hitter to right field who could also go to the opposite field with line drives. As the third hitter in the lineup Hunt chalked up many RBI's during his long career. Veteran players of Hunt's time remember some classic big money games between Hunt's team and their rivals, the Snipers, another Southwest Side powerhouse. Perhaps the most memorable of these games was a 15-14 loss to the Snipers with a pot of over $1500. Since Deceased.
Christine Hurrins / Inducted 2003 Women
Christine Hurrins began her softball career in 1969 when she organized the Flaming Stars. In the mid-70’s she then went on to play with the Lady Sluggers and the Lady B C Handlers championship teams, receiving MVP honors. From 1979 to 1983 she was a member of the First Chicago Corporation’s Industrial and Inter-Bank championship teams in Grant Park, again earning MVP honors. She broadened her horizons in the early 80’s when she entered the Chicago’s Best League in Washington Park. She first played as a Buster and then joined the Rookies championship team. From the early 80’s to 1990 she was a member of six championship teams ‘ the Rookies at Washington Park, Mixed Company at Dunbar Park, First Chicago Corporation at Grant Park, Shenanigan’s at Lake Shore Drive Park, Force at Forest and La Grange Parks, and the Spoilers at Country Club Hills. In 1990 Christine Hurrins and Force won the USSSA 16” State Tournament. Christine was known as a top defender with excellent hands who primarily played left field but also filled in at the other outfield positions, third base, and catcher. With a lifetime batting average over .450, Christine Hurrins was also known to be able come up with a big hit in the clutch. She continues to play in the USPS 16” Women’s Softball League with the Lady Sluggers, recently taking second place. Christine Hurrins works at Midway Airport Concessionaires and resides in Chicago. She has five children, Dan, Nathaniel, Adrienne, Sarah, and Christine, and two grandchildren, Raeqwan and Jemonie.
Joe Hutmacher / Inducted 1999 1950-1963 Era
Educated at De Paul Academy and Loyola University, Joe Hutmacher's athletic career started as a basketball player at DePaul Academy where his team took second to Marshall High School in the 1948 City Championship game. He then went on to player for three seasons at Loyola University. His 16" softball career took him to Thillens Stadium from 1949 - '51 where he played with Martin Jewelers and Hall of Fame inductee Ed Kelly. In 1955 Hutmacher switched to the Alderman Freeman's and O'Boyle Transfer. He hooked up with Hall of Famer Tony Reibel and inductee Ken Speirs to win the title at Clarendon Park twice. Hutmacher also played with Kool Vent Awnings at Chicago-Kedzie. He remembers coming in second frequently to Eddie Zolna for the championship. From 1957 to '62 he joined North Center Athletic Club with Tony Reibel at Welles, Hamlin, Portage, and Linden Parks until his retirement from the game in 1970. Hutmacher then switched to the other side of the plate for 23 years when he began his umpiring career. He umpired at Clarendon, Hamlin, and Grant Park every night with two games on Sunday. He retired from umpiring in 1994. Unlike many athletes who played different positions, Hutmacher played first base for most of his career. Batting third or fourth, he was known as a long ball hitter who hit tape measure home runs. His production totals dropped, however, when the legendary "water" ball was introduced at Clarendon. Of all the players he encountered during his 31 years playing career, Joe Hutmacher especially remembers the hitting of Ed Earle and Moose Skowron before he turned to pro baseball.