Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Grace Kenney / Inducted 2016 Frank C. Holan Award
Grace Kenney has been playing sixteen-inch softball in women’s leagues around Chicago for most of her adult life. She played for the team Beer Nuts for over thirty years in leagues at Monroe and Kennedy Park. They won the championship in both leagues. Grace started at the Park District of Forest Park as a scorekeeper for the sixteen-inch league. When the position of league director opened up, there was no one else thought of to fill the position, so she was hired. When she first took the position, the league had started to falter, but her efforts reestablished the Forest Park league as one of the top leagues in the Chicago area. Grace has worked for the Forest Park District as league director for sixteen years. She has been instrumental in running the prestigious No-Glove Sixteen-inch Tournament. She was the co-director for many years but was named tournament director in 2015. During time leading up to the No-Gloves Tournament, Grace regularly scouts teams playing in other leagues and tournaments to see if they will be a good fit for the tournament.
Ken Kamradt / Inducted 2000 1964-1979 Era
Ken Kamradt, a five time All-American at the National Tournament level, and twenty year veteran of the softball wars, epitomizes excellence in 16” softball. As a shortstop with the ERV Strikers, Kamradt helped them win the 1974 ASA National Championship and the 1975 World Series of Softball at Soldier Field. In 1976 he switched to the Bobcats and was instrumental in their regular season 26 and 6 record, as well as their National Championship. A clutch hitter, Kamradt’s trademark move at shortstop was to go deep into the hole and fire a strike to nip an opponent as he crossed first base. All totaled, he has been involved in winning five 16” National Championships. In addition to his record in 16” softball, Ken Kamradt has also won a National title in 12” softball in 1991, four 12” All-American honors, and a 12” Golden Glove Award in 1992. In 2000 Ken lived in Lockport, Illinois, enjoying his new passion; golf.
Vic Kariolich / Inducted 2000 1950-1963 Era
Vic Kariolich began his softball career with Jimmie Rose's Loafers at Roby Field at 59th and Damen. In 1947 he played with Joker's from Harper High School. They competed against such Southside teams as Bonetti's Liquors, Chesty's Spartans and Valerie Florist. His softball career was interrupted, like so many others, between 1951 and 1953 when he served his country in the Korean War. Stan fought in the 2nd Division, 38th Infantry. When he returned home, Stan played with the Jimmie Rose Shamrocks, winning the Chicago-Kedzie League in 1955 with teammates Lefty Hunt, Ray Topolski, Cy Abata and Bill "Willie" Pierucci. In the early 60s, he joined the Whips and played with Butch Gordon and Jake and Willy Schmitz. They played at Clarendon Park, Kelly Park and in the Labor Day Tournament at 103rd and Bensley, where they defeated the Sobies in the final game. In 1968, Vic helped the Madonna Knights of Columbus win the KOC Championship at Kelly Park. Failing eyesight ended Vic's softball career in 1972, after a three month stint with the Bobcats. Vic is the proud father of three daughters, and grandfather of four.
Andrew “Gipp” Karkoska / Inducted 1998 Pioneers 1887-1949
Andrew “Gipp” Karkoska
Born in 1922, Gipp Karkosa played short - center, hit .500, and managed some of the top softball teams of the past forty years: Lake Valley in 1940 - 45 and '45 - '46, Zolna's Tavern from 1948 - 50, and the legendary Bobcats in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. A boxer who never lost a fight and once turned down a pro contract, Karkosa served in the U.S. Coast Guard where he appeared in several acts with Sid Caesar. Karkosa also played for the Bobcats when they won the World Series in 1964 and played basketball with Bob Kennedy of the White Sox and Cubs. Gip and his wife of fifty years, Kay, have two daughters and five grandchildren.
Gary Kasanders / Inducted 2011 Media & Organizers
Gary began playing softball with his when he was seventeen in his hometown of Brookfield, Illinois. He quickly developed a love for the competitiveness of the game and was picked to play on many teams throughout Chicago and the suburbs. He played first and third base for the Lords and the Squires in leagues throughout the Western suburbs and had the pleasure of playing with at least ten current Hall of Fame members. He credits Jim Donato and Bob Fejt as the two coaches who taught him how to play at a competitive level. In 1972 as athletic director, he began organizing men's and women's softball leagues. In 1983, he was promoted to Executive Director of the Westchester Park District. For the past fifteen years, he has organized sixteen-inch and twelve-inch softball leagues and the Pro League for the Park District. During these years, Westchester has hosted many national qualifying tournaments for all levels of softball, including the Westchester Tournament of Champions, considered by many to be one of the premier sixteen-inch tournaments in the Chicago area. Gary and his wife, Linda, live in Darien, Illinois. They have four children: Erin, Christopher, Meghan, and Steven. 11
Steve Kashul / Inducted 2008 Media & Organizers
Steve Kashul serves as the pregame, halftime, and post-game host for the Chicago Bulls, working alongside the play-by-play team of Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington on the Chicago Bulls Radio Network. He is co-owner of Channel Fore, Inc, a media production company that produces the Golf Scene for television and radio. He serves as the principal host of that show. He is also director of membership at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Illinois. He received two Emmy Awards for his work as host of Chicago Bulls Basketball on SportsChannel from 1991 to 1997 and received a Telly Award (recognized worldwide for excellence in broadcast television) in 2006 for his work as host of The Golf Scene. But sixteen-inch softball knows Steve as one of the premier voices of Chicago softball. In 1993, with the help of Les Duncan, Miller Beer, and Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, the Grant Park Old Style Classic was televised from Grant Park. In fact, Steve broadcast games fifteen-years ago from the very place that Barrack Obama gave his historic Grant Park victory speech in November 2008. He also was the voice of the Pro League at Forest Park and Mt. Prospect. Steve later joined fellow Hall of Fame inductee Mike North to broadcast countless legendary games on Thursday night from Grant Park, Mt. Prospect, and Forest Park for the next four years. Additionally, he has appeared on a national scale as the lead announcer and voice of the Senior PGA Tour for CNBC in 2001 and has appeared during live events on the Golf Channel. Kashul has also served as the play-by-play voice for the Celebrity Golf Association’s Professional Golf Tour, Big Ten’s Women’s Volleyball, Illinois High School Association sporting events, and Men’s Professional 16-inch softball. He was a reporter and host for the Notre Dame Football Coaches Show and was a host of The Spirit of Sports, a show focusing on Special Olympics in Illinois. Steve is a featured writer / columnist for the Chicago District Golfer magazine and is a former writer for the Chicago Sun Times, focusing on high school athletics. He has also served on numerous committees, including The March of Dimes, LaRabida Children’s Hospital, Midtown Educational Foundation, Illinois Special Olympics, and the Chicago Cubs Managers Association. He is a graduate of DePaul University in Chicago where he majored in Communications. He was born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois. He and his wife, Cindy, have two sons, Cory and Troy. They live in Naperville, Illinois.
Jerry Kelleher / Inducted 1999 1964-1979 Era
It seems that Jerry Kelleher's appearance on a team yields interesting results -they win championships. With the Strikers he won championships at Ridge, Foster, Kennedy, and Ashburn Parks. The Blazers won the championship at Curie. 1981 was a particularly good year as Kelleher played on two National championship teams - with the Bobcats in winning the 1981 USSSA National Championship and with the Whips in winning the 1981 ASA Nationals. In 1986 Kelleher and the Ducks of Oaklawn took the ASA National Championship. Seven years after their title in 1981, the Whips continued their dominance of softball when they won both the ASA and USSSA Championships in 1988. Besides national championships, Kelleher's career includes numerous individual awards. In 1981 he was selected to the ASA and USSSA National All - Tournament Team where he was also selected as the Most Valuable Player of those tournaments. He received similar honors at the 1981 Mt. Greenwood All - Star Game and in the 14th Ward Tournament. 1988 saw Kelleher capturing Most Valuable Defensive Player honors at the 1988 USSSA Nationals. Jerry Kelleher's career found him playing most positions of the infield, but his main position was at shortstop where he was known as one of the top defensive players in the 1970s and 80s. Kelleher also demonstrated his offensive prowess with a .550 lifetime batting average that made him one of the top r.b.i. men of his era. Jerry and his wife, Maria, have three children. He passed away in 2010.
John Kelleher / Inducted 1998 1980's & 1990's Era
A quiet leader who led by example ... a natural athlete who was one of the best finest hitters in the game, and at turning a double play... a competitor who played his hardest at all levels of competition. These and other accolades from fellow players describe an inductee who many consider to be one of the finest players in the history of the game. John Kelleher began his softball career at the ripe old age of sixteen with his superb brothers ended up with the most National Championship rings in history (13 ASA). He was a textbook example of a pure hitter who could drop a ball in the gap or power one over your head if you tried to play him shallow. With a “sixth sense” for the game, John could effortlessly stretch a double into a triple or turn a double play to save a game. In one tournament at Forest Park, a place where he was named MVP numerous times, John never made an out during a six game stretch. A great ball player at the top of his game also plays with great teams. Kelleher’s stint with the Whips, Strikers, Bobcats, and Lettuce is no exception. With his great contributions, they won numerous ASA and USSSA Championships and were named All American. John Kelleher lives in Naperville, Illinois with his wife and three children.
George Kelleher / Inducted 2010 1980's & 1990's Era
With a pitching record of 2000-plus wins (including two no-hitters) against 700 losses, George Kelleher certainly ranks as one of 16-inch softball's great pitchers. He played for the Raiders ('89), the Stickmen ('73 - '97), Sports Channel ('98), and Crush ('89 - '02). In 1974 he was MVP for the Class "A "Windy City World Series and in 1997 he was the MVP for the Miller Lite Classic "A" World Series. In 1993 he was voted to the All Tournament Second Team for the ASA Nationals. He was a First Team member of the USSSA Nationals each year from 1992 through 1996. In 1991 he was a Class "A" First Team All Tournament player. He also won the national championship that year with the Stickmen. Teams he pitched for won league titles at Kelly, Clyde, Blue Island, Harvey, Armor, and Donovan parks. George also pitched for teams that won tournament titles at Grant Park, Forest Park, and Hawthorne. In addition, the Kelleher family team won multiple championships at Archer Park. George is the fourth Kelleher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Clara, live on Chicago's Southwest side. They have three children - George, Colleen, and Tim.
Thomas Kelleher / Inducted 2004 Umpires & Managers
Having brothers who play softball means that you too will probably follow in their footsteps. For Tom Kelleher that came true in 1963 when he was fourteen and started playing left field with his older brother Bob and the Strikers at Foster Park and other parks on the southside. The Strikers later joined with Mike Tallo and some of the Jesters to play in the Major League at Kelly Park. Tom Kelleher and other younger players formed the Younger Strikers (later to become the Strikers when the older team disbanded) to compete in leagues on Chicago’s southside and at Kelly in 1972. In 1974 the Strikers won the ASA Major Division Championship at Dalton, GA. and Kellher was selected to the All Tournament Team as an outfielder. As a leadoff hitter, he was known as a player who could get on base and play excellent defense. After the Strikers, Tom played with the Right-Ons out of Mt. Greenwood and then played with the Banjo Bruins from 1976 - 78 in Tom Bonen’s league in Bridgeview and at Kelly Park’s Major League. He played with the Stompers in 1978 and 79 at Clarendon Park and Kelly before teaming up with his brothers to form the Raiders. Tom Kelleher started a career with the Whips that lasted for four years (82 - 85) and produced ASA National titles in 1983 and 84 and USSSA titles in 1982, 83, and 84. They took second place in the USSSA tournament in 1985. 1986 saw Kellher switch to manager when he took control of Bud Chicago and guided them to the Forest Park title. In 1987 Sportstation won the ASA Major title at Mt. Prospect and were third in Nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa in 1988. Through 1989 ‘91 he managed the Stickmen and took them to the ASA “A” Nationals in Blue Island. With the “A” title, Tom Kelleher might be the only player to win a Major title as a player and an “A” title as a manager. Tom and his wife, Lynn, have two sons - Vincent and Jim- and three stepdaughters - Linda, Rita, and Bobbi. They have eleven grandchildren and live in Lombard, IL. He works at Quabbin Wire and Cable in sales and customer service.
Larry “Muscles” Kelly / Inducted 1996 1980's & 1990's Era
Larry “Muscles” Kelly
He was one of the most feared hitters in the game during the late 1970s and 1980s. He played with the ERV Strikers and Bobcats in the Windy City League in 1976 and ‘77. He was MVP of the Chicago Park District Tourney with the title holder Cats in ‘77. In 1978 he led the Bobcats to one of their last ASA National championships as MVP and batting champion. He played for Mr. Lucky’s and then his career took off with Jim Lang’s Whips as he teamed up for many years with his younger brother Jack. He was known for his tremendous power, but also was a great pinch hitter who could cover the entire field with hits. He had exceptional power to right center for a right handed hitter. He threw right-handed. He was a nine time ASA All-American. His Whips teams won six national ASA championships in 10 seasons and four additional titles in the USSSA. He left one season and he led Sportsstation to a crown in ‘87 as MVP and batting champion. He also led his team to major titles as a MYP at Forest Park in ‘83 and the Budweiser World Series in ‘82. He later won a National ASA title with Lettuce in 1992. He was Player of the Year in Chicago Softball in 1978. Him and Paula have 2 daughters. Born in 1952.
Jack “Stone” Kelly / Inducted 1998 1980's & 1990's Era
Jack “Stone” Kelly
John Wooden once said, “Success is peace of mind in knowing you did your best. “ This quote fits Jack “Stone” Kelly because he always did his best. He began his major league softball career in 1977 with Shoes. From 1979 to 1981 Kelly played with Shoes, Condors, and Mr. Luckies respectively. He hit the jackpot in 1982 when he joined his Hall of Fame brother, Larry Kelly; on what many people say was the best softball team of the 80’s and possibly of all time - the Budweiser Whips. They won four ASA National Titles in 1983, 84, 89, 90 and four USSSA world Titles in 1982, 83, 84, and 87. Kelly took a two-year hiatus to play with Sportstation in 1987 and 1988 before returning to the Whips for two years. He played with March Manufacturing in 1991 and finished his softball career with Lettuce. Kelly won two more ASA Nationals with Sportstation in 1987 and with Lettuce in 1992. Jack Kelly was selected to seven ASA 1st Team All-American Teams and won the Home Run Championship four times in 1983, 84, 88, and 1990; he was also selected as the ASA Nationals MVP in 1983, 1984, and 1990. He also won USSSA MVP honors in 1984, making him MVP in both tournaments that year. Jack Kelly was one of the fiercest home run hitters of all time who was also able to punch the ball in front of an outfielder in one inning and then power the ball over his head the next inning. He played his entire career with strength, guts, and courage. His teammates will always remember him as the guy who could keep the team loose with a joke or prank on another player. If Babe Ruth was know as the King of Swat for baseball, Jack Kelly was known as the King of Swat for softball who spoke softly but carried a big homerun stick.
Ed “Chicagoan” Kelly / Inducted 1999 Media & Organizers
Ed “Chicagoan” Kelly
Born in Chicago in 1924 and raised in the area now known as Cabrini-Green, Ed Kelly began his Chicago Park District career as a teacher at a local park and worked his way up to General Superintendent in 1973. For over a decade Ed Kelly managed the parks and its thousands of employees with the tact and efficiency of another Chicagoan and former softball player - Mayor Richard J. Daley. Before his career with the Chicago Park District, Kelly spent some adventure filled years as a tail gunner with the Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. During his Marine career, Kelly was named to the Al-Service Basketball Team and won the welterweight boxing championship. He called upon these skills and memories when he managed the Park District by reviving the amateur boxing program, expanding the Junior Bears program, and initiating the citywide softball tournament. Kelly also installed closed-circuit television security at Grant Park Garage and lobbied for and presided over the renovation of Soldier Field. Besides his success as the Chicago Park District superintendent, Ed Kelly also had quite a stellar softball career that included stints with Spalters, O'Boyles, and Kool Vent Awnings where he did battle against many of the Pioneer legends of the game. Kelly was player - manager with Spalters when they twice captured the Windy City championship at North Town Stadium. Spalters also won nine consecutive jackpots at Thillens Stadium. He played on championship teams with St Cyr Knights of Columbus, started and ran the Andy Frain Invitational Softball Tournament for twelve years, and won the Grant Park Tournament of Champions with First National Bank. Ed Kelly even conducted baseball schools under baseball legend, Rogers Hornsby. Ed Kelly's dedication to the people of Chicago has not gone unnoticed. He has been voted Man of the Year by over twenty-five civic and private organizations, including the American Legion, Special Olympics, local Teamster organizations, and many senior groups. Kelly is also the Democratic Committeeman for the "Fighting" 47th Ward and has served as Chairman of the Democratic slate-making committee for thirty years. 16" softball players thank Ed Kelly for the opportunities he and the Chicago Park District have created over the past decades.
Henry “Hammering Hank” Kemp / Inducted 2000 1964-1979 Era
Willie “Wicked Willie Pool” Kemp / Inducted 2010 1964-1979 Era
Willie “Wicked Willie Pool” Kemp
Willie Kemp aka Wicked Willie Pool, was born in Marigold, Mississippi and raised on Chicago's South side. He attended both elementary and high school at Francis Parker where he excelled in football, basketball, wrestling, and softball. After graduation in the early 1960s, he attended Wilson Junior College and Chicago Teacher's College South (now Chicago State). Wicked Willie Pool started his softball career while in elementary school with neighborhood teams, beginning with the Uncle Austee Stars during the late-1950s and early-1960s. Wicked Willie Pool was still a member of this team when it became known as the 151 Stars, the 203 Stars of 69th Street, and eventually became the legendary Kuppenheimer Senators in the late '60s and early '70s. Wicked Willie Pool was the captain of the Senators from its beginning to its end at the turn of the century. The Senators were the third team to be honored by the Hall of Fame. Wicked Willie Pool played all positions, especially shortstop and first base. He carried a batting average between .800 and .850 and hit so many homeruns that it is difficult to count them. He played next to his brother, Henry "Hammering Hank" Kemp (HOF) for nearly four decades. He also played behind Henry "Hawk" Curry (HOF), who threw to Rick "Rick Monday" Lagone (HOF), while being backed up by Jesse "Mee-Sack" Mack (HOF) and was managed by Floyd Glover (HOF). Wicked Willie Pool also played along side his other brothers, Fred Kemp, Richard Kemp, Roland Kemp, and the late David Kemp. During his playing days, Wicked Willie Pool was one of the most feared hitters in several leagues. He has played against such Hall of Famers as Tony Reibel, Al Maag, Jake Jacobi, Willie Simpson, Ed Zolna, Mike Tallo, and Ed Surma. He also played against Hall of Fame players Gene Mathis, Sweet Willie Johnson, Bobby Blackstone, Donnie Gardner, Austin "Spider" Ware and a host of other top-flight black ball players. Wicked Willie Pool played in leagues and parks all over the Chicago land area. He played at Hart Stadium, Avalon Park, Mount Prospect, Washington Park, and Kelly Park. He played in the Windy City League, the Cocktail League, the Daddy O Daylie League, and the 75th and Jeffrey Softball League. Wicked Willie Pool was named MVP of the South side Cocktail League and the Washington Park Softball Tournaments several times. He also was the MVP of the Avalon Park and 75th and Jeffrey Leagues. He won honorable mention in the 1968 nationals. In 1966 at Clarendon Park, The Kuppenheimer-Senators were the first black team to play in the Nationals. They then made the Nationals in 1968 through 1975, and again in 1983, and 1985. He was selected All-State, All-Tournament, and All-American at Washington Park and was selected an All-Tournament player at Blue Island several times. Additionally, he was an All-Star selection at 75th and Jeffrey, at Windy City, at Hart Stadium, and at Kelly Park. He was also named honorable mention at Kelly. Wicked Willie Pool played softball for five decades from the late-1950s until his retirement in 2006. His team, the Senators, won every championship on the South side of Chicago for ten years in a row. He possessed extraordinary softball skills and always displayed an unwavering high caliber of play. Whenever the game was on the line, Wicked Willie Pool was always unshakeable. Wicked Willie Pool and his wife of thirty-five years, Lucinda, have five children - Kirstie, Karlos, Olivia, Esaw, and Eric. Another son, Kevis, is deceased. They live in Calumet Park, Illinois.
Roy Kindt / Inducted 2007 Pioneers 1887-1949
In nominating Roy Kindt to the Hall of Fame, fellow Hall of Famer, Bob LaMont, describes Roy as someone who was never in the limelight but was someone who had a profound effect on the popularity of 16-inch softball. As one of softball's great managers, he played with some of Chicago's great athletes during the pre-World War II days, earned three battle stars fighting in the Pacific during World War II, and then managed a Hall of Fame team during the 1970s Roy Kindt grew up in the Belmont and Central area of Chicago's West side and attended Steinmetz High School. He played hardball with the Chicago Romans and the Bel Central Cobras. As a center fielder hitting in the number three slot, at seventeen he was the youngest (and possibly the best) player on the team. The Cobras were managed by Johnny Niggling, whose brother Johnny Niggling was known as the New York Yankee killer, and competed against some of the top hardball teams in Chicago: Winkler Motors, Benda Coals, Cole Boosters, the River Grove Nationals, Graylins, and the Giants, a team from Washington Park that featured players from the old Negro League. These players competed for the Kansas City Monarchs, the Birmingham Black Barons, the Memphis Red Sox, and Chicago's own American Giants, who played in the old Chicago White Sox Park. Even though they were beyond their peak playing years, they were still great players. In 1942 Roy left for military service in World War II. He started his twenty-year career in organizing and managing softball teams in the early 60s when he managed the St. Pascal CYO team. He took them to three championships at Clarendon Park and at Grant Park. During the last ten years of his career, he managed the Lyon's 45s, a Northwest side powerhouse and a Hall of Fame team that won numerous league and tournament titles. Because of his managerial skills, they competed against some of the notable South side teams of that era. Roy is retired from softball. He is also a retired accountant for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. He and his wife, Anne, have a son, Tom, a daughter-in-law, Jacque and two grandchildren, Heather and Troy. They now split their time between Chicago�s Northwest side and Arizona.
Bill King / Inducted 1997 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
When the final out is called on 16” softball and the rankings are made, Bill King admittedly will not rank near the top as a player or a manager, but his devotion to the game and sponsorship are legendary. Bill does, however, enjoy memories of Chicago’s game - the success of the Splinters in the 1997 Nationals, the Straycats, a tough team out of the West Side of Chicago in the 1980’s, and the time his 1968 Hustlers beat Big Herms for the Illinois State Championship at Rand Park in Des Plaines. Besides successful teams, King also ranks his bionic right knee as his trophy of his many softball wars. Bill King has passed his love of the game on to his children Steve and Keeley, both of who are marrying softball fanatics in the next year. He credits his wife Chris with helping him through the many hours of entry fees, postponements, and swollen fingers.
Steve Kirby / Inducted 2009 1980's & 1990's Era
Born in 1951 in Chicago, IL, Steven Jerome Kirby began playing organized 16-inch softball for Medill School Park in the Monroe and Racine Police District league when he was twelve years old. He played second base for Medill School and W.S.O.Express from1963 to 1979 at Garfield Park. He joined the Koreans in 1980, playing in leagues on the South side at Rosenbloom Park and at Lou Boudereau Stadium. He was invited to play with The Flamingos in the ASA 1982 Nationals in Marshall Town, Iowa. The Flamingos finished third and Kirby established himself as a solid player by being selected as a 1st Team All-American and was runner up in the homerun competition with four. One of Steve’s homeruns drove in two runs to tie the score in the last inning followed by another by Sweet Willie Johnson to win the game. In the mid 80s and 90s Steve played for The Safari Tigers in leagues at Blue Island and Mount Prospect. He returned to the West side, playing for California Gold in the Pro League in Forest Park. Because of his efforts, he was selected to play in the North- South All Star Game. During a televised game George Bliss said that Kirby had the quickest bat he had ever seen in 16-inch softball. He was named a 1st Team All American eight times over his career. His trademark was a black bandana on his head. His bat carried the saying, “Hold me level and I will hit the Devil.” Steve and his wife, Dorothy, have three children - Tyree, Kyle, and Diamond. They live in Chicago.
Richard “Richie Commish” Klein / Inducted 2010 Media & Organizers
Richard “Richie Commish” Klein
Richard "Richie" Klein began organizing softball games with the three other grammar schools in his hometown in third grade in 1958. His organizing efforts continued in1978, after his boss and the senior office-leasing executive from a rival firm engaged in some trash talking. A challenge was made and Richard was put in charge of organizing a softball game. He chose a triangular plot at Edgewater and Lake Shore Drive, created a makeshift field, and marveled when 300 people showed up to watch the game. He spotted a need and the next year started the Downtown Real Estate Softball League (DRESL) with four teams. Little did he know that his efforts would eventually draw thousands of people and their families into the game. The league continued to grow and expanded to diamonds along the lakefront. The first fruits of his labor appeared in the early 1980s, when business competitors who had teams in the league, began to toss around an idea to form an association of office leasing brokers. The Chicago Office Leasing Brokers Association ("COLBA") was the direct result of DRESL and is still the premier association for office brokers in Chicago. DRESL started with four teams playing on Friday afternoons in Oz Park in 1979 and by 2005 there were sixteen teams playing along the Chicago's lakefront. DRESL plays every Monday night, from the beginning of May to the second Monday in August. Those sixteen teams represent nearly every major commercial real estate brokerage, management, and development firm in Chicago. Since 2002, companies involved in various businesses relating to office space have been invited to participate in DRESL by sponsoring every Monday night with food, beverage and karaoke for the after party. This has helped forge closer relations with people at all levels in the industry. Young brokers just starting off get to socialize with brokers that have been in the business for thirty years or more. Brokers have negotiated deals, swapped firms and met their future spouses through DRESL For each of the thirty-one years he has been in the league, Richie has sponsored his own team. He played shortstop but switched to pitching after injuries decreased his range. Since the first official year, 1980, his teams have won six championships. He also pitches for Chicago Crush at the UIC on Wednesday nights. He grew up on Chicago's North side and remembers his mother listening to Jack Brickhouse describe Ernie Banks' exploits with the Cubs. Since then he has emulated Ernie's style. He always wears fourteen as his number and has copied Ernie's signature batting stance. He played baseball for New Trier High School in the mid-60s. Richard's two brothers, father and many of his uncles all played competitive 16" softball on the north side of the City. His older brother Mitchell was legendary for his monster home run stroke. Baseball and its wonderful cousin, Chicago 16" softball, has been a constant in Richie's life for as long as he can remember. It has given him a lifetime of great friends and memories. His love for the game is memorialized in his signature sign off from the newsletter he writes after every Monday night, the DRESL DROPPINGS- GOD BLESS AMERICA AND 16" SOFTBALL!!! THANKS RICHARD "RICHIE COMMISH" KLEIN
Willie Klemchuk / Inducted 1996 Pioneers 1887-1949
fter many seasons he was rated the best player in the Windy City League and Mr. Softball in '48. That season the great defensive short center had the most hits in Windy City history with 83. He played on a variety of teams including Aducci's and Witt Hanley Yankees... especially the '47 and '48 Midland Motor championship group. Won 2 MVP's in 13 All star seasons. Right handed batter and thrower. Married to Virginia and one son. Born 1921.
Richard “Chopper” Knorowski / Inducted 2011 1964-1979 Era
Richard “Chopper” Knorowski
Rich "Chopper" Knorowski began his thirty-five year softball career at St. Pascals where he played second base for his grade school CYO team. He continued playing softball during high school. In 1963 he formed the Chantels and played third base. They competed in the Shabona Park League for three seasons from 1963 to 1965. In 1966, Rich and some friends, including Bob Dinkelman (HOF) formed the 69ers. They were managed by Roy Kindt (HOF) and won the Shabona Park League. They also played in Clarendon Park's "B" League and played at Kosciusko Park. His softball career was put on hold in 1967 when he was called to serve his country. He is a Vietnam veteran and is a recipient of the Purple Heart and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Bravery. He was honorably discharged in 1969. Back from the service, the 69ers merged with the Active Screw to form the Lyons 45s. His playing career changed when he was asked to pitch. The 45s competed at Clarendon Park (A League), at Portage Park and at James Park in Evanston. Rich's pitching and great defense helped the 45s win the Portage Park League six of seven years. They played for the championship at James Park and were successful at Clarendon. They were a mainstay in the Andy Frain Tournaments and the City Metro Tournaments, taking second place in 1977. They also won the Elk Grove Village Tournament in 1976. Along with John Straley (HOF) and Greg Burzynski (HOF), they won the Racine, Wisconsin Tournament from 1973 to 1977. Rich then played for the American Rivet Sobies in 1979, the Playboys in 1980, the Jerry Levatino Stones in 1981 and 1982. In 1983, Rich and Bob Dinkelman formed the Bally 45s (later the Bud 45s). Rich pitched and managed this team. They played in the inaugural season at Mt. Prospect and competed at Portage Park. With Rich as the principal pitcher, the 45s won a division title at Mt. Prospect, won the Chicago Metro title, placed fourth in the USSSA Nationals, and won the Ed Kelly Tournament at River Park in Chicago. He also pitched for ten years and won many championships with Second City, a team that played at Hiawatha and Oriole Parks. Over his career, he was a consistent hitter and a tough defensive player. He won seventy-percent of the games he pitched. In 2009, Chopper felt the competitive juices flowing when he went to watch the Elk Grove Village 50-and-Older League. He joined the league and continues to play Monday nights from late April to September. His team, Code Blue, went 18-0 to win the championship in 2011. Rich retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2002 after thirty-two years of service. He and his wife, Susan, live in Bloomingdale, Illinois. They have three children – Julie, Michael, and Amy.
Bill Kohl / Inducted 2008 Media & Organizers
Bill Kohl graduated from Morton East in 1969 where he played football. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1973. He started his career in parks and recreation after coaching basketball teams to four titles in five years at Clyde Park, including two undefeated seasons. These teams included ability levels from sixteenand- under to men’s “A” teams. He returned four years later with a different group of players and once again led them to an undefeated record in the “A” league. Except for the seven years he spent running the softball and basketball programs at Clyde Park, Bill has been with the Hawthorne Park District. He started there in the early 1970s as softball director and eventually ran the famed Miller Lite Classic “A” Tournament from 1984 to 2000. The tournament had such parity among the competitors that for the first ten years, different teams won titles. The winners included Hotshots, Titans, Blues, Stooges, Doctors, Storm, BJ’s Pub, Gamblers, High Lites, Stickmen (the only backto- back winners), Ice, Luciano’s, Jynx, and Screwballs. Bill must have connections with the weather because tournament only had one rainout and only three games were affected during the tournament’s seventeen-year run. Bill is currently the co-recreational director at Hawthorne along with Deb Harris and Jim Terracino. They organize grade school basketball and volleyball programs. Jim Terracino also works with Bill during the softball season. Jim was also instrumental in helping make the Miller Lite Tournament a success. Over the years they have also hosted several of the Cicero-Berwyn Life All Star softball games, featuring the best players from each community. They also host police benefit tournaments to aid causes in the community.
Betty Kollar / Inducted 2012 Women
The fourth of five children, Betty Kollar grew up on the Northwestside of Chicago in the Hermosa neighborhood. There she played whiffle ball, league ball, and softball with the kids on the block. But for someone who was destined to become one of the top female softball players of her time, it was important that she lived only one block from Kelvyn Park. There she learned the game by watching the men's leagues and occasionally claiming a forgotten softball. At Kelvyn, she and her friends followed the age-old tradition of learning the game of softball by playing right-field out and using a flattened sixteen-inch ball box or a stick to mark out the base. No equipment needed except a ball and a bat. She played in her first competitive game when she was just twelve in the Chicago Park District Pony Tail League. She and her good friend led the Kelvyn Park team to victory. Her friend played first and Betty pitched (mainly because she was the only one who could consistently get the ball over the plate). She remembers bringing home a ribbon after playing in an all day tournament at Riis Park. In 1973 she received a phone call that would change her life. Another grammar school friend's team was short of players, so she called Betty at five (in the middle of dinner) and asked her to join them at six. Little did she know that that phone call would begin a forty-plus year softball career. That summer she never missed a game and met and became a teammate with some of the legends of women's softball: Mary Kay Schaefer- Monaghan, Pat Pasko, Tony Paolini, and many others. The next summer she joined the OJs and the Slow Pokes and played multiple nights a week for the next forty years. Betty was usually the number three hitter on her team. Besides her great power and ability to hit to the gaps, she rounded each base perfectly and always took an extra base if the defense was slow to react. Teammates remember the excitement she brought to the game as she rounded third base and dove head first into home plate. But great players are not built on offense alone. Like all great players, she had the speed to patrol centerfield. But she had the instincts of a great player. She knew how to break on the ball. She knew the perfect route to take to either make the catch or cut off a possible extra base hit. She knew when to dive and make the catch or hold-up on it. And her great arm and ability to always know where the runner was made her one of the best outfielders in women's softball. Besides softball, Betty also played twelve-inch softball in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and eleven-inch softball in tournaments all over the Midwest. Her eleven-inch team, Precision, played out of Kenosha. In 1984 they placed fourth in Nationals. Besides playing softball, she also competed in the Illinois Women's Soccer League and played soccer in Germany where her team went undefeated at 11-0. She graduated from Lane Technical High School and played basketball at UIC on a scholarship. She completed a Board of Governors Degree at Chicago State University in 2008. Since 1989 she has worked as a FedEx courier in downtown Chicago. In 2012 she received the Blainey Butler "Love of the Game" award at the Bucks for Burns Annual Softball Tournament. She currently plays for the Hangovers. She still plays the game that she loves. Betty lives in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago with her partner and a dog and two cats.
Edward “Dooner” Koss / Inducted 2002 1950-1963 Era
Edward “Dooner” Koss
Like many great players of his era, Eddie Koss had a traditional Chicago softball upbringing. He attended St. Ann Grade School and St. Ann High School. He played sports as a boy at Union League Boys Club, and honed his athletic skills by playing and defeating many top teams from other Boys Clubs in Chicago. By 14, Koss was already playing softball with players 10 years older and impressing them with his skills. In one game early in his career, he made two one handed diving catches - with each hand - to stem rallies. From 1952 to '63, Eddie played with and against some of the greatest names in softball history. His move from the outfield to short center occurred when their regular short center didn't show up for a game. Being without a short center, his manager asked Koss to play that position and the rest is history. As a hitter Koss was known to be so accurate with the bat, he could place a ball anywhere he wanted along the right field line. His hitting was so respected that teams in the Windy City league invented a special defense against him. Despite their efforts, Koss maintained a .700 seasonal average. Koss' hitting and fielding skills were noticed by Frank Holan who asked Eddie to play for the Rocky Stars (later to become Treiner's Lounge). With them he played with some of the softball greats - Ed Surma, Clyde Starry, the Bereckis brothers and John Hornacek. After Treiner's Lounge, Eddie played with Interstate and hooked up with future Hall of Famers Frank Lentine, Dennis Migala and Tony Reibel. Later in his career Koss moved to Hanover Park and played with Johnson's Decorators (later called Omega Sports) for 15 years in the West and Northwest suburbs. He then joined a 14" league and was selected to their All Star team for ten straight years. He was also named MVP of the league's tournament the year his team won the championship. Eddie and his wife, Jane, have three sons - Dan, Tom and Dave - and seven grandchildren. Eddie is retired from Canteen Vending and living in Bartlett.
Vic Kostecki / Inducted 2002 1950-1963 Era
Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Victor Kostecki developed the skills that would ultimately lead to his playing 16" softball during the Golden Years of softball with one of the premier teams in the game. He graduated from St. Rita High School in 1948 where he lettered in football. He played one year of college football before he was drafted into the Army and was eventually sent to Korea. Upon his return, he played for Ford Aircraft in the Industrial Leagues and then joined Frank Holan's Rocky Stars. After the Rocky Stars, he played at Chicago and Kedzie, with the Treiners. From Treniers, Vic and teammate Clyde Starry went on to a long and fruitful career with Ed Zolna's Bobcats. From 1956 to 1973, Kostecki played center field for the Bobcats. A left handed hitter, Vic was never known as a long ball hitter. His job was to "set the table" for the big hitters that came after him. Besides the Bobcats, Kostecki also played with the Chicago Fire Department. He considers playing with some of the legendary Bobcats players, at some of the top Chicago softball parks to be one of the great honors of his life. He also honors his opponents who inspired all players to play their hardest. A retired Chicago firefighter, Victor Kostecki and his wife, Jeanette, now live in Payson, Arizona.
Jim Kraus / Inducted 2007 1980's & 1990's Era
Jim Kraus has always loved sports. As a boy, you could always find him at the park playing baseball with his brother Joe. This interest in baseball led him to be a starting pitcher at Proviso East High School. He started playing softball in the early ‘70s with Spirit, a team made-up on high school friends, at Forest Park. Though he pitched in high school, he switched to playing first and third base. In 1975, Jim was asked to play for Cecelia (managed by Rich Huska). He stayed with them for five years before Otto’s (managed by Chris Baraglia) took over as sponsor. In 1980 he played in his first national competition. It was a memorable beginning when he hit a homerun in his first at-bat. Otto’s broke up after the 1981 season and Jim moved to the Whips. In 1982 the Whips won the USSSA Nationals. During his time with the Whips, Jim was named MVP in the Forest Park Tournament, hitting .600 for one of the tournaments. Over the years he had the opportunity to play with many great players. He played in many ASA and USSSA Nationals and in several Forest Park championships, his favorite tournament. Jim continued to play with the Whips until he retired from softball in 1992. He works for School District 87 in Berkley, Illinois. On the weekends he works with longtime teammate Wally Filkins and WF Decorating. He resides in Addison, Illinois with his family.
“Kro” Krolicki / Inducted 2009 1964-1979 Era
Mike Krolicki started playing 16-inch softball with the Vanguards at Kelly Park after he quit playing hardball when he was fifteen. After they disbanded, he joined the Marauders, and helped them win the Lawndale Park title twice. Because of their success, they played in the Chicago Park District City Tournament where they faced the Bobcats. They lost to them then, but later Mike would help the Bobcats win numerous titles in 1976. They won the city and ASA sponsored state tournament and the ASA national tournament. Mike was selected to the ASA All-Tournament Team. Additionally, they won thirteen of fourteen Winston Tournaments and the Forest Park Tournament. That year Mike also won the home run hitting contest at Comiskey Park. He hit seven of ten balls into the stands from second base. He got to meet Bill Veeck and was given a tryout with the White Sox. He also played with the Nocturnes, Frogs, Stompers, and Impalas. In 1985 he helped the Stompers win the USSSA championship and was selected to the USSSA All-Tournament Team. Mike played third base and short center and was well known as a versatile hitter who could pull the ball for a home run or hit a line drive into the gap. Besides 16-inch softball, Mike also played 12-inch pro ball. He played for Milt Pappas, Joe Pepitone and “Jungle” Jim Rivera. In 1980 he was an all-star with the Chicago CNA. He is a Chicago firefighter and lives on Chicago’s Southwest side.
Ronald “Colonel” Kubicki / Inducted 2000 Media & Organizers
Ronald “Colonel” Kubicki
Ron Kubicki started his career in 1972 in church leagues, followed by a stint with Touch of Class and Barrel of Fun. In 1988, Kubicki and fellow Hall of Famer Wally Filkins wrote a new page in softball history when they began to organize and coach the defending National Champion Sportstation team. From that point on there was no looking back as Kubicki went on to coach a Who’s Who of ‘80s and ‘90s teams; the Whips (‘89-‘90), Prime Time (‘92-‘95), Miller Lite Splinters (‘96-‘97), Puglise (‘98-‘99) until they became Bucks in 2000. Ron’s dedication to his teams and his unique understanding of 16” softball, have lead to appearances in eleven National Championship games. In addition to coaching, Kubicki is also an outstanding organizer, having organized the Life Area Classic with Larry Randa, and the Miller Lite / Hodgkin’s Park District Major Softball League in the summer of 2000. That league has awarded over $14,000 in prize money. Ron also coached seventh and eighth grade softball in LaGrange, Illinois. As former teammate Frank Mustari said about Kubicki, “Ron’s dedication and sportsmanship have made him one of 16” softballs true Hall of Famers.”
Walter Kuczwara / Inducted 2008 Frank C. Holan Award
Every softball player has a great story about being late to a game due to a traffic jam or arriving at a game and changing in the car. Well, this year’s Holan Award winner was a great player who also became one of the greatest statisticians of softball. The catch? He never drove a car and traveled by public transportation to most of his games. Walter Kuczwara started his eight-decade softball career at St. Catherine Grammar School and in parks around Roseland. He served two years in the navy during World War II and started playing sixteen and twelve-inch softball upon his return in 1946. He played outfield, first base, and catcher with such teams as American Legion Post 49, Flea’s Tap, Rainbow Lounge, Michigan Lounge, Three Aces, Kenneth Allen, and the Dwarfs. During the 1954 season he hit for a .595 average with 176 hits, seventy-six doubles, twenty-one triples, and nine homeruns. He played for Burnside Steel the year they boasted a record of forty-five straight wins. In 1967, while playing for Pat’s Coiffure, the team won the Andy Frain Tournament and the “B” Tournament at Clarendon Park on the same day. Statistics show that Walter hit .545 at Clarendon that year. That same year he organized an All-Roseland Tournament that featured the champions of Pullman, Gately, and West Palmer parks. Fittingly, his West Palmer team won the tournament. During his playing career, he won four team-batting titles and played on teams that won twenty-five championships. After twenty-eight years as a player/manger of numerous teams and after recording over 3000 hits, Wally Filkins convinced Walter to keep stats for the Whips during their great championships runs in the ‘80s, for Sports Station in 1987, and for Lettuce in 1993. His efforts have made him a legend in major softball with teams that he kept stats for winning twenty-five championships and eight national titles. Besides keeping stats for softball, he spent thirteen years researching lost or unreported RBI stats of minor league baseball teams of the late 1900s, 1920s, and 1930s. He used the library inter-loan program to meticulously examine microfiche newspaper stories of minor league games. His efforts uncovered 139 missing RBIs Lou Gehrig had while playing for Hartford in the Eastern League. The corrections have been noted in baseball magazines. Walter worked for Burnside Steel for twenty-five years. He lives on Chicago’s Southeast side.
Rollo Kuebler / Inducted 2008 1950-1963 Era
Rollo Kuebler’s love of softball began early when he was in grade school at Audubon School on Chicago’s Northside. He started playing fast-pitch with teams during the late 1930s, but switched to playing sixteen-inch ball with Witt’s Audubon’s, a group of neighborhood kids playing at Welles Park. They won numerous championships during the early ‘40s. He was a top defensive player at third base and left field who consistently hit over .500. In November of 1945 he entered the Army and served until May, 1947. Once he was discharged, he joined Hub Vagabonds, a team made-up of older players from the Damen and Addison neighborhood. They played in many profitable money games throughout Chicago. He then joined Martin Jewelers and Spalter Finance at Northtown Stadium where they competed in many wonderful seasons. After leaving these teams, he played with the legendary Alderman Hoellen’s at Welles and Waveland Parks. He also played club softball with North Center A.C. and with the Alderman Charlie Fleck All Stars at Hamlin Park during the 1950s, where they won numerous championships and Rollo batted over .500. He later played with a team comprised of bowlers from Arlington Lanes. He helped them to win the championship at Arlington Heights Park District. He finished has career with his son’s team. After suffering through a losing season, shifted player positions and the next year won numerous titles, including one at Mt. Prospect. During his many years playing softball, Rollo played with some of the games great players, including Tony Reibel, Don Dulbis, Joe Neuman, Bob and Joe Campbell, Joe Hutmacher, and Bud Gehrke. Rollo played basketball at Lakeview High School from 1941 to 1945. He then played at Loyola from 1947 to 1951. In 1949 Loyola (with Hall of Famers Joe Hutmacher and Eddie Earle) were runners-up in the N.I.T. Tournament, losing to San Francisco 49-48. Rollo worked in the metal industry as a salesman who supplied metal to stampers and spring makers. He and his wife, Golden, live in Arlington Heights, IL. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
Alex Kuhn / Inducted 2005 Pioneers 1887-1949
Al Kuhn, who grew up on the North Side of Chicago and attended Senn High School, will be remembered as one of the great pioneer of 16" softball. He played with North Shore Congregation in 1937 with Stanley Stein, Morris Pomeroy, and Hall of Famer Ben Branman. In later years he played with in the Windy City League with Stony Tires and Martin Jewelers where he worked for many years. He also played at Waveland Park in big money games. He played his last game in 1957 in the Bnai Brith League for Cinema Lodge and died in December of that year. At 5'9" and built like a fire plug, he had great speed and power and could hit a single or the long ball. He primarily played catcher or first base. He will always be remembered as a player who loved the game so much that he would often take time off from work to play with his children and friends.
Team Kuppenheimer / Honored 2001 Team Recognition
Kuppenheimer Clothing Company joined the Grant Park Industrial League in 1960. After a year of learning hard but valuable lessons about playing 16” softball in one of the top leagues in Chicago, they came fighting back the next year, capturing third place in the Continental Division. Kuppenheimer grew from a fledgling team in 1962 into a ball club that won the Continental Division nine times by 1970, captured five city wide tournaments, routinely earning berths in the Nationals and Softball World Series. In 1968 Kuppenheimer took third place in the Nationals held in St. Louis, as Chicago area teams finished first, second and third for the first time in the National’s history. Kuppenheimers Roster; Henry “Hammer”Kemp Fred Kemp Edward “Spike” Carter David “Mule” Kemp James “Kang” Carter Willie “Pool” Kemp Clarence “Smoky” Caldwell Richard “RD” Kemp Bob Clopton Roland “Rock” Kemp Henry “Hawk” Currie Jessie “Mizac” MacEmbry Reginald “Cowboy” Mason Reginald “Wolf” Fagan Mitch McCullough Sylvester McKinnon Butch Dantley Manuel Washington Reginald Gordon Scottie Wiggins Williams Raymond Johnson Fred Thomas Donnie Gardner Vincent Sterling Floyd Glover Ben “BJ” Joseph *Raymond Watkins *William “Shipper” *Marcus Fikes *Hugh “Bird” Jackson *Alonzo “Smiley” *Thornton Barnes *Arnold “Devil” Binkley h* indicates deceased as of 2001