Calvin Jackson’s 16-inch softball career started at the age of twelve (1961). He was under the tutelage of Mr. Walton in the Madden Park-Darryl Home Park District softball league, located at 3813 South Rhodes. This league had two divisions: the Intermediate (12 to 15 years) and the Senior League (15 to 17 years).
Calvin first played for the Cavaliers. They won the Madden Park-Darryl Home Park championship for three years in a row. His team soon became eligible for the Senior league where they won this championship for the next two years. At the age of seventeen, he was introduced to the Tavern League at Farmers Field located at 49th Dorchester where he played for the Jive Ten.
In 1969, Calvin was drafted into the Army where he continued to play sports. While in the army, he played 12- inch softball and basketball. In 1970, his team won the basketball championship for the Fort Riley, Kansas Army Base where he was stationed. As a member of a tank battalion, he received a medal for sharp shooting and expert shooting. He was honorably discharged in 1971.
He resumed playing softball with the Iron Man in 1971, and continued to play with them (off and on) until 1989. Calvin also played for the Trillionares (1973), the 203 Stars, and the Flamingos (1974), leading them to the playoffs each year. He helped the Senators (1975) win the softball championship and compete in the Nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa. During that year (1975) the Senators won three championships in the Chicago softball league.
Calvin was known for his fielding, his on - base percentage and his outstanding speed. He could play all positions with equal ability. From 1977 to 1980, he played for the Dating Game, Raven and Sandies in the Cocktail League. He also played for the Cook County Highway Department in the Grant Park Industrial League.
From 1982 to 2002, he played with the Bandits, helping them to numerous championships. With the Bandits, he participated in the Nationals at Marshalltown, Waterloo, and Grand Rapids, Iowa and in Racine, Wisconsin.
Throughout Calvin’s softball career, he played in many parks throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, including Tuley, Coles, Princeton, Grand Crossing, Mount Prospect, Blue Island, Washington, and Argo Park. He also had the distinction in playing in the Chicago Tribune North-South Side All-star game. Calvin feels honored to have to have played with Floyd Glover (HOF), Phil Williams (HOF), Leonard McKinnon (HOF), Dan Dumas (HOF), George (Junior) Franklin, Gene Mathis, Donny Gardner (HOF), Willie (Billy Bumstead) Johnson (HOF), Hank Kemp (HOF), and Austin Ware (HOF).
Besides softball, Calvin enjoyed playing racquetball (where he competed at “A” level) and hunting.
Calvin retired from the Chicago Fire Department after thirty years (1977 to 2007) and still resides in Chicago, Illinois
Joseph “Jake” Jakobi
Veto “Vic” Jasaitis
Billy “Sweet” Johnson
Warren “Holmes” Johnson
Lowell “Yogi” Junior
James “Milt” Melton
James was born on August 23, 1936. He grew up on the South and West Sides of Chicago, attended Emerson Grade School, and graduated from Manley High School where he was an outstanding basketball and baseball player. He attended Crane Junior College until he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After his military service, he attended Chicago State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. He then began his career with the Chicago Park District, the United States Postal Service, and finally the Chicago Park District.
James was a solid softball player with the Feather Merchants. He was known for his outstanding knowledge of the game and his fierce competitiveness. As evidence of this, he managed UNK Wild Bunch to an undefeated season.
In 1969 the Chicago Park District assigned James to Washington Park as park supervisor with the mission of improving all the program and activities at Washington. He started an eight-team adult Sunday league. He later convinced the Chicago Transit Authority to move their Sunday league from Grant Park to Washington Park. He also helped convince the Chicago postmaster that a 16-inch softball league was a good idea for its employees. Their thirty-team league played on Saturdays. But with only eight fields available, James had to make fields on the grass.
Besides organizing the leagues, he started an umpire training and development clinic and created Umpires, Inc. Throughout the years, many umpires from this organization officiated at ASA National tournaments.
In 1980, the Chicago Park District re-designed the athletic fields with input from James. The softball fields were relocated to the north end of the park and the baseball fields were moved to the south end. This allowed for the addition of five more softball fields.
The Chicago Park District has recognized James for his outstanding performance in the field of professional recreation administration and for his outstanding dedicated service. To honor his service, the Washington Park Advisory Council installed a memorial stone in the softball area so that players of all ages will know of the person responsible for their “Field of Dreams.” In 2011, the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame honored Washington Park with its Field of Dreams award.
On August 6, 2010, James and Mildred celebrated their 50th anniversary with family and friends. On December 16, 2010, James passed after suffering a massive heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Mildred, his children Terrance, and Lisa, his granddaughter, Niki, and his lifelong friends and beloved umpire league.
Jim “Steiner” Stein
Jim grew up in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. In grammar school, Jim, along with a number of his friends from St. Peter Canisius, began playing 16” softball at La Follette Park. During his high school years, Jim’s team finished second or third each year.
The Sunday afternoons of Jim’s youth were spent playing teams from other neighborhood parks. The games were important for two reasons: bragging rights and a money pot. They also helped everyone become better softball players and teammates. Jim graduated from De Paul Academy in 1967. He is a proud Vietnam Veteran and served in the Americal Division of the U.S Army from January 1968 until August 1969.
Upon his return to civilian life, Jim attended college, entered the business world, and was fortunate to meet another West Sider, his wife Anne. In the late 1980s, St. Francis Xavier parish in La Grange started organizing 16” softball pickup games on Sunday afternoons. The Sunday routine of church and softball reminded Jim of the Sundays of his youth and just how much he enjoyed both the game and the camaraderie.
In 1992, Jim Quinn (HOF) asked Jim to play for the Leftovers in the 39 and over the league in La Grange. The Leftovers have never won a championship but have been competitive. The team still plays in that league, which is now at Janura Park. Jim hopes this will be their lucky year.
In 1998, Jim began playing in the inaugural Monday night 50 and over the league in La Grange with the Old Strokes. With Jim catching and playing 3rd base, the Old Strokes won the championship in 1998 and 2003 and still play in that league, also now located at Janura Park.
In the late 1990s, the Strokers began playing in the fall league in LaGrange. They won the championship in 1997 and, again, in 2013, despite their players being nearly twenty years older than their nearest competitors.
By the early 2000’s, Jim was playing softball 3 nights a week. Jim played with the Leftovers on Fridays, the Old Strokers on Mondays and the legendary Gillette Strokers at Grant Park on Thursdays. The Gillette Strokers began playing at Grant Park in the 70’s. Jim considers himself fortunate to have played with them during their championship seasons of 2006 and 2008. The highlight of every season is the annual Strokerfest, a barbecue held after a game in June. Members from other teams stop by to enjoy the festivities and camaraderie.
In addition to playing softball, Jim has served as the league commissioner for the 50 and over the league at Clyde Park from 2013 - 15 and at Janura Park from 2016 - 18.
When not playing softball, Jim volunteers at the Edward Hines VA Hospital. He is the Veterans Food Pantry Coordinator responsible for ordering, pantry set up and distribution. The pantry distributes food products to over 6,500 veterans per year. Jim also volunteers at the Hines VA Hospital Fisher House, an organization that provides no-cost housing to the families of veterans who are receiving medical treatment.
Jim never thought he’d still be playing softball at sixty-nine, but whenever he gets a hit or drives in a run, he remembers being thirty-nine again and all the good times he’s had playing softball. Jim is grateful for the many lasting friendships he has made over the years, a great many of these might never have crossed his path if it weren’t for the GREAT game of 16 - inch softball.
John Westermayer was raised in Des Plaines next to Tomahawk Park, a park that influenced his desire to play softball and baseball because he would listen to the sounds of baseball being played during the summer months. Additionally, the local 16-inch softball “Metros” were played over countless summers in his youth at Tomahawk. There was nothing like being awakened by his mother, smelling his father cooking breakfast each and every weekend during those summer years of his youth, and heading out to watch softball games. Some of the best players he ever saw are still tucked away in his memories.
Like most softball players before him, he started playing in the local neighborhood leagues with his friends trying to compete at the highest level they could. They pushed through the lower leagues all the way into playing at the major level. He played for decades with two of his closest friends - Steve Quarnstrom and Jim Postol. Together they started out playing at Rand Park and Mount Prospect looking for the best competition available.
He played third base most of his carrier on such notable Teams as Custom, Turtles, Sage, Punch, Bucketheads, Bud 45s, Lettuce, and Flashback. During his career, he was a member of teams that won two SSA Major National championships, three ASA Major Nationals championships, and was runner-up five times. His teams also won the Forest Park No Glove Nationals championships five times and finished second twice. He was named the tournament MVP in 2011. John has also won at least one or more championships in all of the following notable tournaments: Westchester Tournament of Champions, The North vs. South championships, Grant Park Championships, and The Windy City Classic. John was also named to numerous 1st and 2nd team All-Tournament and All-Star teams during his career.
John will always be grateful to have experienced the love of the game, the numerous friendships, and the countless memories he cherishes over his thirty- plus years of playing 16-inch softball.