Anthony “Tony” Prochenski
Bob Pagorek’s softball career began in 1953 when he was a seventh grader and lasted until 1995. During that time he played the game and managed some of the great teams of the ‘70s and ‘80s. He played in many Chicago Park District leagues, primarily on the Southeast Side, at Calumet City and Dolton and in Whiting, Indiana. He attended St Frances de Sales High School where he played varsity basketball for four years. He got his first taste of organizing in 1958 when he organized a team, bought the shirts and solicited a sponsor for an 18 - and under league at Calumet Park. From 1961 to 1978 he played five nights a week (sometimes playing two games at different parks the same night) and on weekends in senior park leagues, CYO ball and tournaments with such teams as Maggie’s, Honey’s Inn, Van Club, Jack’s Club, Ed’s Sports Club, Continental Bank, ERV and Jenny’s. He played first base for thirty-one years before alternating between first base, pitcher or extra hitter during the last ten years of his career. During those days the season ended on Labor Day at Trumbull Park with thirty-two teams in a single elimination tournament. The entry fee was thirty dollars and the prize was a team trophy and an individual trophy for each player (besides the money bet on the side during each game) and no one left until the champions were crowned. Around 1975 the Eastside team was formed and the team expanded outside its neighborhood to play in tougher competition. Their effort paid off when they won the 1976 Windy City “AA” Tournament. The victory came at a cost, though, because they lost some key players to the “big teams” because of the exposure they received. This setback didn’t stop them, however, because they called upon the young local talent of the Southeast Side and some veteran players to form the Eastsiders. They took the league crown for three years at Bessemer, Calumet and Dolton parks. They then moved on to competing in leagues at Harvey, Blue Island and Kelly parks, along with playing in tournaments all over Chicago and suburbs. In 1982 after losing some players, the Eastsiders and the Condors combined ranks to form the ERV Condors, playing at Harvey, Blue Island and Kelly parks. That year they won the July 4th Holiday Tournament in Calumet City, the thirty-two team Lacrosse Tournament and the ASA Chicago-area Championship in Blue Island. In 1983 he was back with the Eastsiders, playing less and coaching more. From 1976 to 1995 they had some great sponsors - ERV, the 10th ward, Pete’s Hideaway, Lakeside Inn and O’Hara’s. Since his retirement from active softball in 1996, Bob Pagorek likes watching local softball teams play or watching his grandchildren play their sports. He is involved with the Knights of Columbus and has served as Grand Knight for two years. One of his most rewarding moments was volunteering to help with the Special Olympics. He is a retired mechanical supervisor for the Rock Island Railroad (twenty years) and Metra (twenty-one years). He and his wife, Mary Ann, have two children, Bob and Cheryl, and four grandchildren.
While attending St. Rita High School, southsider Brian Panick and some of his buddies joined the Aces, a neighborhood softball team. The Aces went on to become a southside powerhouse during the late 70’s and early 80’s, winning many Chicago Park District league titles. Panick moved on to play for a short time with the Viscounts from Chicago’s inner city, before being recruited to the major level by Hometown Touch. He was soon playing an integral role in making Touch one of the top teams of the 80’s, and the ASA National Champs in 1985. After his success with Touch, Panick and a group of teammates became the core of the Lettuce team. Their contributions helped Lettuce win ASA Championships in 1991 and ‘92. After Lettuce, Brian joined the Bud 45’s and helped that team finish in the top four at the 1994 Nationals. Known as one of the top defensive players of his era, Panick played shortstop and short center, and was widely known to be a class act on and off the softball field. In 2001, Brian resided on the southwest side of Chicago with his wife, Mary, and children Eric and Elyse.
Sink the paddleboat. Rosie dances moves. Just tape it up; it will be fine. These and other sayings are some of the memories that Kim Panozzo retains from her years of playing in the top echelons of women’s softball. After moving from Roseland to the Beverly area of Chicago, Kim Panozzo begged her father to let her play in the boy’s baseball league at Kennedy Park because they did not have girls softball. At a young age, she pitched, caught, and played shortstop with her father as her coach. She moved to playing third base when she switched to softball. She attended Mother McCauley High School where she played volleyball, basketball, and softball, earning all-conference honors for four years in basketball and for three years in softball. Her big break in softball came when she was thirteen and her friend asked her to play that summer for her parents’ team, the Burbank Southfield Sting. While playing for the Sting, Ron Hurry, the coach for Bidayo’s, saw her play and recruited her for what would become a twentyfive year partnership. Ron Hurry took a group of team members from different geographical areas and a variety of backgrounds and molded them into a powerful force in women’s softball. They were successful because Ron took their talent and competitive nature and made them life-long friends and legendary softball players by keeping the core of the team together. Kim Panozzo’s primary team was the Bidayo’s, but she also played with Irish Express and Seldomly Sober. She played five nights a week in Oak Lawn, Blue Island, Worth, Alsip and at Ridge and Kennedy Parks. From the late 1990s to the early years of 2000, the Bidayo’s won the Grant Park Tournament nine of ten years. They also won many ASA and USSSA tournaments during that time period. As a third baseman for the Bidayo’s, Kim was best known for her defense, winning alltournament team awards from the ‘80s to the ‘90s. But she could also hit the ball and drive in runs. During one Metro Tournament at Hart Park in Blue Island, she went thirteen for fourteen for the tournament. She was named team MVP of the Bidayo’s in 1992 and 1995, but she especially remembers the 1992 award because her parents, who rarely missed any of her games, were there to see her receive the award. Her father, who was also her first coach, passed away shortly after she received the award. Besides softball, she also excelled at women’s football. In 2002 she was inducted into the Women’s National Football Hall of Fame. As a member of the Orphan’s, she was selected to two offensive All-American teams and was selected ten times as a First Team All-American Defensive player. She has worked for the Cook County Information Technology Office for twenty-five years as a systems analyst and has given up softball for the much more tame sport of golf.
Born in July of 1925, Dominick Paparatto attended Morse Grammar School and Crane Tech High School where he excelled in baseball and track. From 1943 to 1945 Dominick served his country during World War II as an aerial gunner in the 15th Air Force stationed in Italy. He began his softball career in 1943 with the Paragons in playground leagues and at Kells Park. After the war he played with the Wilson Jones Company in the Industrial League at Garfield Park, which they won in 1948. Dominick also played with the Mammana Undertakers in 1947 and 48 in the Kells League. He then played with the Gremlins for two years in the O.L.A. Catholic League and at Kells Park, where he remembers pitching a game against “Moose” Skowron of the Yankees, who was playing for the 49ers. Skowron hit a ball all the way to Chicago Avenue. Dominick started his umpiring career in 1952 for “Shorty” Cole when Dominick was sent to umpire at LaFollette Park. His first game was a memorable one against “Moose” Camillo. After that game Dominick was ready to call an end to his short umpiring stint. Fortunately for 16” softball Dominick decided to continue umpiring. When Cole retired Dominick became the chief umpire Humboldt Park, Lafollette Park, Eckart Park, Oak Park, and at Kells Field. Two years later Paparatto became the head umpire at Clarendon Park where he umpired many of the classic battles between the American Rivet Sobies, the Bobcats. Moose Camillo, and Jim Roses. Dominick found that Allied Park, which Bull Brandiso ran, was the toughest park to umpire. Dominick has been married to his wife Mae for 51 years. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. He retired from the Wilson Jones Company in 1989 after working there for 46 years. He now resides in Largo, Florida
Walter “Doc” Papierz
Doc Papierz was born on November 14, 1917 in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood on 43rd Street across from Davis Square. One of ten children, Doc attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and Tilden Branch High School. At that time he started working for the Wilson Stock Yards, a job that lasted from 1941 to 1955 until the company closed its Chicago division. Doc’s connection to softball took a fortunate turn when Ed Zolna’s father got him a job with Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department. He worked there for 21 years until his retirement in 1976 at the age of 58. At 18, after a few drinks at the local saloons, he received the nickname of One Shot Doc, which was later shortened to Doc. Doc Papierz played 16" softball from his early teens until his retirement in his upper 40’s. Besides softball, he also played basketball and bowled until an operation forced him to watch from the sidelines. In answer to that burning softball question of “gloves or no gloves,” Doc remains neutral. He has seen some excellent defensive plays made with gloves. While he claims no favorite player, Doc Papierz does admit to following Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats during their heyday. He and his wife, Jean, have a daughter and a grandson. Doc and Jean will celebrate their 62nd anniversary this January. Doc Papierz truly is a Friend of Softball.
Vern was the "Joe DiMaggio" of the sport and a great consistent hitter.,. once hitting safely in 54 consecutive games. He played 2nd base for 5 champions of the Windy City League, including Kool Vent. He lea his employer the First National Bank to six industrial Chicago American titles. The right hander was an original Chicago American Hall of Famer. Twice named MVP of the Windy City League and chosen to the Allstar team nine times. Deceased.
Pat Pasko grew up in the Bucktown neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest side. Her athletic talents were apparent from an early age. She attended St. Hedwig Elementary School and Resurrection High School where she played basketball, softball, and bowled. She received M.V.P. honors in all three sports before going on to DePaul University to earn her MBA and her teaching degree. She started playing softball when she was fifteen at Shabonna Park with coach Bernie Kadek. She also played at Hamlin, Kosciusko and Lake Shore Parks and at Mitchell Playground. She entered her prime playing years in the late ‘60s when she played for Casey’s Girls, Hidden Cove Lounge, and the Shags, teams that dominated the competition at many North side parks. Pat was a talented left fielder early in her career and moved to pitcher later in her career. She was a line-drive hitter with good power (lifetime average over .600) who could hit to all fields. She also had an uncanny ability to play the hit-and-run. Besides being talented on the field, Pat was also an excellent player/coach of the Slo-Pokes (HOF) during the mid-‘70s. She not only played for and managed them, but she also supported them financially. During their three-year reign, they were considered the finest team on the North side, compiling a record in 1976 of 61 wins and only two losses. That season they won three league championships and won four single day tournaments. She was also a tremendous promoter of women’s athletics at a time when strides were being made in equalizing athletic opportunities for women. She got her teams showcased at Thillen’s Stadium and once played a charity game against the Bobcats during a Jerry Lewis telethon. Besides being an outstanding softball coach and player, she was the head girls varsity basketball coach at Addison Trail High School and was the assistant women’s basketball coach at North Central College. She also coached the boys gymnastics team at Addison Trail and once took them to downstate competition. She also coached the semi-pro 12-inch team, the Chicago Blue Jays. Pat was always a smart and talented player, but her greatest asset was her fierce competitiveness. It was this competitiveness that helped her overcome multiple birth defects on her way to athletic greatness. Unfortunately, the softball world lost a great player, coach, and promoter when she passed away in 1989.
Baseball, not softball, was Wally Pecs’ game after graduating from Roosevelt High School. But that changed after several unsuccessful major league try-outs led Wally to look to softball as an alternative outlet for his talents,so at age nineteen he started the Tappers. Two years later he left Tappers to join the Road Runners, a top Northside team. In 1975 he formed the Registers, a name taken from Schmaus Cash Register, where he started working in the early 70s. In 1980, the Registers merged with the Stompers, a powerful team managed by Sal Oliver. Wally took a hiatus from softball from 1984 to 1991 to be a coach to his kids. He coached his son Jeff’s Little League and Pony League teams. He also coached his daughter Tracy’s fast pitch career, and his daughter Kim’s equestrian interests. In 1991, Wally Pecs found his way back to softball as a pitcher with Rich Melman’s Lettuce team. In 1992 he started his third team, the Rabbits, who made quite an impact their first year, when they made it to the Grant Park Championship game. Although they lost that game to Lettuce in the last inning, they still succeeded in making a name for themselves. In September of that year, they defeated the Stickmen twice to win the USSSA Major title in Wisconsin. The Rabbits became Red Dog in 1995 when Pecs changed sponsors. Red Dog continued Pecs’ tradition of winning, by taking the 1998 and 1999 Hall of Fame tournaments. Pecs continued to demonstrate his physical prowess in 1995, when he hit a 270 foot home run at the Majewski Complex, two days after his 50th birthday. In addition to hitting, Pecs frustrated opposing players from the mound for his last 20 years. He’s thrown four no-hitters, including one in the 1982 USSSA Major World Tournament. Despite his two thousand plus wins, and numerous championships over his 37 year career, Pecs’ best memories are of games played with his children. Four seasons playing along side Jeff, and one game on Tracy’s 12” co-ed team, where all three had key hits to help win that game are all particularly good memories. In 2001, Wally had been married to Peggy for thirty years. They have four children; Pamela, Tracy, Kimberly and Jeff.
Pelletier grew-up in Glendale Heights, Illinois and still resides there. He graduated from Glenbard North High School in 1974. He played sixteen-inch softball in the park district with the Pirates and later with the Stray Cats. He worked in various park districts for six years as a scheduler and umpire before staring his career as an umpire in Major Softball. He officiated at the Clyde Park "A" Leagues from 1994 to 1996 and then in the televised Bensenville / Forest Park Pro League from 1996 to 1998. Jerome umpired two finals in the Hawthorne "A" Classic (1995 - 1997), four finals in the USSSA Nationals (1990 - 1994), three finals (two Major and one "A" final) in the Grant Park Classic (1994 to 1997), and eight finals at the Forest Park "No Glove" Nationals (1990 to 1999). He has always treated managers and players with the highest respect. It did not matter if it was a nail-biting one-run game or a runaway twenty run victory, what mattered most was the mutual respect shared between the umpire and the opposing teams. Besides umpiring sixteen-inch softball games, Jerome has officiated high school basketball for twentytwo years. In 2013 he officiated the girl's state final basketball game. He has been employed as a maintenance mechanic and data wire technician for Spraying Systems for twentynine years. He has also served as a part-time firefighter / EMT for the Glenside Fire Protection District for thirty-four years. Jerome and his wife of thirty-two years, Pat, have two daughters - Allison and Lindsay.
For many years, the Doran brothers, Rich, Jerry and John, and Vito Povilaitis of Mt. Greenwood were the nucleus of many youth baseball teams until they began their softball careers by assembling a softball team called the Trumbullies. They played at Mt. Greenwood in 1972 and 1973. Like many young teams, they weren’t as competitive as they hoped, so they set out to recruit new players. John Doran attended Western Illinois University and it was there in September of 1973 that he met Dave “Jake” Jacobson from Park Ridge. Jake suggested they form a union of top players from the North and South Sides of Chicago. Jake recruited top talent from the North Side with Tony Reibel (HOF), Derek Singleton, Bill Spicer and Ron Ziemann (HOF) of the Amalgamonsters. In 1974, they began competing as the People’s Choice.
Both Rich Doran and Sam Taylor of the Flamingos attended Chicago State University, where they were stars on the nationally ranked wrestling team. After Rich saw Sam on the intramural softball field, he knew he had to have him on People’s Choice! It took some time, but eventually Sam joined the team in 1976 and overnight the “Choice” became a force to be reckoned with now that they had one of the best 16 - inch softball players in the City of Chicago!
Sam Taylor also had a pipeline of talent that brought Drake Jones and Stanley Brown from the Flamingos and Odell Humphries into the fold in 1977. These players added to a solid nucleus that consisted of players from other teams: Gary Ringhofer, added in 1979 from the Condors, Angelo Moca (Tahoe), Rich Ladewig and Frank Mioni (Whips), Ron Peltz and Bob Steadman (Renegades), Tom Kevin, Joe Moms and Tom O’Malley.
John Doran landed their first sponsor: the Chicagoland Plumbing Council, a sponsorship that would last from 1976 to 1981. They would make Mt. Greenwood their home park. They would also be sponsored by Tally’s Pub in Ford City Shopping Center and Klehm Nurseries of Arlington Heights.
An integrated team, with a strong desire to win, People’s Choice played all over the city and suburbs and always fared well. Though not always welcomed wherever they went, they thrived on winning and being the enemy. They dominated Mt. Greenwood Park from 1974 to 1992. They won championships in three different decades (70’s, 80’s and 90’s) to go along with numerous championships in Mt. Greenwood. They also won league championships in Arlington Heights, Bensenville, Itasca, Mt. Prospect, Roselle, Schaumburg, Wood Dale and Hamlin Park. Other team highlights include:
1.1979- Record: 83-9
2.1980- Six players named as Mt. Greenwood All-Stars
3.1982- Won all four leagues in Mt. Greenwood (first grand slam in park history)
4.1982- Twelve players nominated for the All-Chicago All-Star Team
5.Won three of four league titles in Mt. Greenwood Park three times
6.Won the Mt. Greenwood Sunday League title fourteen times in a fifteen year stretch
Softball legends and future Hall of Famers Ron Ziemann, Benny Holt, Jack Kelly, Mark Frighetto, Ken Flaws, Steve Prostran and Ken Cooper all played with People’s Choice through the years when their schedules permitted. In 1992, the People’s Choice ended their years of competition by winning the league titles at Mt. Greenwood and Hamlin Parks.
Bobby Perna began playing 16" softball when he was fourteen years old in park leagues at Sheridan, Garfield, and Riis. In 1954, after being noticed by some older players, Bobby was asked to play on one of Chicago's great teams - Kool Vent Awnings. He played with Kool Vent off and on for three years. While with Kool Vent, Bobby developed a reputation as a long ball hitter who hit many tape measure home runs. He played outfield and was known for having great speed and a rocket arm. From 1958 to 1960 Bobby played with Interstate Motors, playing against such legendary players and Hall of Fame members as Eddie Zolna, Bobby Lamont, and Tony Reibel. He developed a reputation as a clutch home run hitter in money games. In 1959 Interstate Motors won the Championship at Kells Park on a last inning three run home run by Bobby Perna. At the ripe old age of 21, Bobby decided to retire from softball to pursue his first love - music. He is currently one of Chicago's great jazz musicians, playing local clubs and such national venues as the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. A resident of Schiller Park, Bobby Perna is married to his wife of 39 years, Angie. They have two children, Bobby Jr, and Deanna. They have four grandchildren.
Kim “Summers” Petersen
“I love the game, and I’ll keep on playing until I can’t keep up with the younger players anymore.” Kim Summers began her softball career playing 14” ball in Markham at the ripe old age of twelve. She continued playing 14” ball until she went away to college at seventeen. Upon her return, she switched to 16” softball in 1974 with McLaurey Pontiac, Fifth Wheel, and Egg and Eye. In the mid 70’s, her speed and great hands in the outfield attracted the attention of Bob Eskew, the legendary coach of Rose and Crown and the rest is history. She played with Rose and Crown until the team disbanded in the late 1980’s. Besides Rose and Crown, Summers also played briefly with the O.J.’s. Throughout her career, Kim Summers was a number two and occasionally a leadoff hitter who was known for being able to get on base or for being able to advance the runner. She loved hitting to right field (perhaps made easier because she was a lefty batting from the right side of the plate). She carried a career batting average over .500 and was known for being able to hit the long ball on a regular basis. While Kim Summers is retired from 16” softball, she stills plays outfield in 11” and 12” leagues. She is an administrative supervisor for Deloitte and Touche in Chicago. She and her husband, Brian, have three children - Adam, Brett, and Eric.
Bob Peterson grew up in Calumet Park and attended Eisenhower High School where he played baseball, and football. He also played football at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He played softball for the Hot Dogs at parks on Chicago’s Southwest side and in Oak Park. He began his umpiring career in 1983 when he attended the USSSA Umpires Clinic run by Les Duncan. He spent his first years officiating the Women’s A League at Peaks Park in Worth. He then moved to umpiring the Men’s Class A Leagues at Bedford Park and at Blue Island. In 1987 he moved to Clyde Park where he gained experience and was offered the opportunity to umpire the ASA Nationals at Mt. Prospect. From 1987 to 2000, he umpired the ASA Nationals nine times and officiated at the finals nine times - five times in Mt. Prospect, once at Blue Island, once at Indianapolis, and twice at Joliet. Besides the ASA Nationals, Peterson also umpired in the Classic “Pro” League, at several Grant Park Classic tournaments, and in various metro and state tournaments. He finished his career at Blue Island in the Men’s A Division. Bob credits Joe Hoffman and fellow Hall of Famers Tom O’Neill, Bud Luchetti, Terry Reilly, and Rusty Carlson for their support and expertise. Besides 16-inch softball, Bob was also involved in creating a fast pitch softball organization through Oak Lawn Baseball. As its past president, he organized ICE Fast Pitch Softball for girls aged 12- 14 in the Oak Lawn and Hometown areas. It started out fielding three teams and now fields seven teams. During this time, Bob also started umpiring high school games for the IHSA and for colleges, a practice he continues today. Bud Luchetti was especially important to Peterson, growth beyond softball. He had the opportunity to coach youth football with Luchetti for the Calumet Park Rams, one of the best football organization in the South suburbs. These teams traveled out of state for 20 years at Thanksgiving to tournaments in Kentucky, Hawaii, Kansas, and California. Bob and his wife of 33 years, Joanne, live in Oak Lawn, Illinois. They have two children, Daniel and Debra.
Eugene “Gino” Petramale
Like many Hall of Fame players who came before him, Gino Petramale started his softball career playing in the schoolyards and streets of Chicago. For Gino, these streets were Taylor and Roosevelt on Chicago’s West Side when he was in his early teens, but unlike many players, Gino also played a game that was foreign to most athletes of that era: he played soccer at Marshall High School and later went on to play with the 1954 United States World Cup Soccer Team in Mexico. In 1987 he was inducted into the Illinois Soccer Hall of Fame. His 42 year softball career took off when he was in his 20s and started playing with the Dugouts, a team he stayed with throughout his career. They played at all the major parks in Chicago, but like many great players, he also lent his talents to other teams. He played in the Father Jerry League from 1953 to 1956. While playing with Kool Vent Awnings at Thillens Stadium in 1963, he was noticed by Eddie Zolna who asked him to play for the Bobcats the next year. He started out doing part-time duty with them but eventually switched to full-time, staying with them until they split-up in 1975. He was a member of the Dr. Carlucci’s Bobcats team that won the ASA Nationals in the ‘70s. Gino played second base and center field and batted leadoff for most of his career. While he did hit a few homeruns, he was best known for his ability to get on base. His efforts and talent earned him a place on the Park Ridge Tournament All-Star team in 1963, and he was selected MVP of the Father Jerry League. He retired from Continental Can after 42 years of service. He and his wife, Pat, have one daughter, Maria Targonski, and three grandchildren. He also has one stepson, Jay, and two step granddaughters and one step great grandson.
Larry Piekarz has worked in the parks and recreation field since 1979. He has worked for the Park District of Forest Park since 1989. He started as Superintendent of Recreation and was named Director of Parks and Recreation in 2007 when Dave Novak retired. He has also served as Commissioner for the Streamwood Park District for ten years and as State Director for the National Youth Sports Coaches Association for ten years. Larry has been involved with softball for over thirtyfive years as a player, umpire, league supervisor, and now as tournament director of the best softball tournament on the planet - the Forest Park No-Gloves National 16-inch Softball Tournament. His love of softball and the tournament shows every year when he and his excellent park district staff and commissioners are often the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave. Larry and his wife, Mary, have been married for over thirty years. They have four children - Joe (Courtney), Tom (Shelly), Betsy and Emily. Larry and Mary are proud grandparents to four wonderful grandchildren.
Larry has worked in the parks and recreation field since 1979. He has been with the Park District of Forest Park for twenty years. He started with Forest Park as the superintendent of recreation and upon Dave Novak’s retirement stepped in as director in 2007. Larry has also served as the commissioner for the Streamwood Park District and as the state director for the National Youth Sport Coaches Association. Larry has been involved with softball for over twenty-five years as a player and umpire He is now the now as tournament director for the Forest Park No-Glove National 16” Softball Tournament. Larry and his wife, Mary, have been married for twenty-five years. They have four children.
Bill “Willie” Pierucci
Considered the greatest hitter of the 40s and the Windy City League. This fast lefty punch hitter lead the Windy City League over 12 seasons on six separate occasions with the top batting average. First played for Hoffmans and then for Salerno Cookies, Fewer Boilers, the title teams of the Witt Hanley Yankees and Midland Motors. Also known for his unique style as he rounded the bases and touched them with his hand. The Tilden Tech star hit .530 in '48, when it was rare if anyone hit .500. All star catcher in '39 and '48, One of the great gentlemen of the game. Born 1920, he and Mary have 2 children. Since deceased.
Bruno Pinkos began his athletic career at age ten playing 17" softball inside the YMCA near Crane High School. At that time, back in 1926, they played the game with an "upshort" position, a position in front of the batter. He began his 16" softball career playing with his close friends, the legendary Werderich brothers at Cameron School. While he was never a great hitter, Bruno was well known as an excellent defensive second baseman, known for his aggressiveness on the field and on the bases. In the late thirties, Pinkos joined with Wickland Motors and Harry Hannin to play in the Windy City League, and helped them to win the Windy City Championship in 1938. About that time he was also making a professional move that would benefit both he and softball. He became a reporter for the Neighborhood Newspapers, a chain that covered the Northwest side, and was eventually promoted to sports editor. Softball benefitted when Pinkos organized a league that grew from sixteen teams to one of the largest leagues in Chicago with 64 teams. The entry fee was fifteen cents per man, and the league games were played at Spencer Coals and Mills Stadium. Bruno later served as president of the Northwest Times League; his first office was inside Irv Mages' first sporting goods store. The Northwest Times League ended with outbreak of World War II. After the war, Bruno played with State Representative Petrone's at Thillens Stadium in 1945 and '46. Pinkos ended his softball career when he began his career with Prudential Insurance, eventually ranking second out of 20,000 salesmen. Bruno lives in Mt. Prospect and has two children and four grandchildren. He still serves as a consultant to Prudential Insurance.
Gail “Bucky” Pistello
In the letter nominating Gail Pistello for membership in the Hall of Fame, she is described as a pitcher with a signature knuckle ball that baffled hitters with its ‘dead action’ and could paint the strike zone with pinpoint accuracy. A glance at Pistello’s statistics shows that this claim is not filled with hyperbole. With several no hit and one hit games to her credit, Pistello has also recorded a perfect game. Gail Pistello’s career began at the age of eleven when her father, “Papa” Joe Pistello, founded the first girls 16" softball league at Durkin Park in 1972. Playing seventy to ninety games a summer, Pistello pitched for the Angels from1977 to 1990 in parks across the South and Southwest suburbs. One year the Angels boast a won - loss record of 64 - 7. Besides the Angels, Pistello also played with Ringers at Bedford Park and Swingers at Durkin Park in the 70s and 80s. With a lifetime batting average of .600, Pistello also showed her hitting skills by slugging fifty to seventy-five homeruns during her career. Individual awards were not given out during Pistello’s playing days, so she never gained her deserved accolades. This all changed in 1987 when she switched to 11" softball after the untimely death of her coach, Bill Broukal. Pistello then received three Most Valuable Player awards and was selected to seven All Tournament Teams, two at the national level. With a team of former Rose and Crown players and Angels players, Pistello’s ball skills and leadership qualities carried the team to a third place finish at the Nationals in Jacksonville, Florida. Gail Pistello is a junior high physical education teacher who resides in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Sixteen-inch softball has always been a part of Al Placek’s life. From the early days playing in the parks of Chicago to his days with the Bud 45’s, he always believed that to be the best you had to play against the best. He started his career playing CYO softball with a team from Our Lady of Victory Elementary School at Wilson, Rosedale and Portage Parks. He played baseball, basketball and football at the Latin School of Chicago, earning all-conference honors in all three. He moved up in competition when he was seventeen and joined his father’s team, the Craftsmen at Portage Park. His play against the likes of Lyons 45s, the Dwarfs and Murderer’s Row earned him a reputation as an outstanding defensive shortstop and short-center fielder. He moved up again in competition when he joined the Chicago Mets, a young team that was making its mark against some of the top teams at Portage and Clarendon Parks. After the Mets won the prestigious Men’s Senior “A” League at Portage Park in 1977 (and knocked off the star-studded BBC team in the Norridge Park Tournament), they decided to merge with Gary Kirch’s powerful Playboys team. Al became a part of a team that beat the Bobcats twice in one day, won the City of Chicago tournament, and won the Andy Frain Tournament at Clarendon in 1978. Throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Playboys continued to win prize money in tournaments around Chicagoland, including Evanston’s North Shore Tournament in 1980. They won numerous park league titles at Portage and Merrimac Parks and became one of the toughest teams to beat at Clarendon, playing against the likes of the Bobcats, the Amalgamonsters, the Rollers and the Dwarfs to name just a few. In 1984 Al joined Tom ”Eggs” Czarnik and the Runts as their shortstop. His days with the Runts were some of his favorite years, playing with Hall of Famers “Eggs” Czarnik, Ron Ziemann, John O’Connor and Mark Frighetto. That year they won the state tournament in Wheeling. In the late ‘80s he moved to Bob Rascia’s Bud 45s, anchoring the infield. He also played on teams that won tournament titles with Hall of Famer Wally Pecs, played with softball legend Eddie Zolna at Kelly Park, played shortstop with the Ducks in 1987 when they were the reigning ASA National champions and helped the North All-Stars defeat the South All-Stars by hitting a triple off Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Tallo. He continues to play softball at fifty-five with his brothers, Glenn and Robert. Al Placek works for the City of Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. He resides in the Oriole Park neighborhood of Chicago and has a son, Christopher.
Before becoming an umpire and a softball writer, Irv Porter was a softball player for eighteen years, starting his playing days in the 1960s. Indeed, Porter has played in nine World Tournaments. He recently completed his nineteenth year as an umpire, calling games at seven World Tournaments. Irv Porter’s softball writing career began when W.J. (Mac) McQuarrie, coach and sponsor of McQuarrie’s Catering Women’s Softball team, died in November, 1992. Irv Porter contacted Bill Dwyer of Chicago Metro Softball Magazine about writing an article honoring McQuarrie, a pioneer in the world of women’s softball. His article not only appeared in the next issue of Chicago Metro Softball, but it was also featured in the Illinois USSSA’s tournament guidebook the following year. Chicago Metro Softball Magazine liked Irv Porter’s article so much that they invited him to write an article about umpiring. From that moment on, his byline became a regular feature in the magazine. Although the magazine folded in 1996, Porter was hooked on softball writing, so he did what all dedicated writers do; he started his own publication - Illinois Softball Report in 1997. Illinois Softball Report was the premier softball-reporting source until 2002 when it was converted to a web based magazine. The move to a web based magazine brought numerous benefits to softball reporting. Tournament results could be posted quicker. Color photos and a photo album were added, along with the popular message board that allows players to share softball stories and to get in a few good natured “digs” about other players and teams. Players can also view tournament brackets online so they will always know who they will be playing. Veteran softball players respect Irv Porter for his playing days, his umpiring expertise, and most recently for bringing the exciting game of 16” softball to print and the internet. His expertise has earned Irv Porter numerous awards. He received the Illinois USSSA State Directors Award in 1986, 1991, and 1996; he received the 1990 Illinois USSSA Umpire-In-Chief Award; he received the 1994 Illinois USSSA Distinguished Service Award; the USSSA awarded him the 1996 Dwight Hall “Spark Plug” Award; and the Illinois Softball Report earned the 1999 USSSA Award of Merit.
Beth Schultz Porzelt
As a first baseman for Sulky Inn, Beth performed flawlessly for many years and was named by the Sun-Standard Newspaper as one of the best “first-sackers” in the league who is “wiry and can dig’em out of the dirt with the best of them. As a batter, she was known for her timely hitting and ability to advance the runner when needed.
Beth retired from the game she loved in 2000, but Beth remembers all the great friends that she and her family have made during her years of playing softball.
She just retired as a business analyst in downtown Chicago after 44 years. She and her husband, Al, live in Brookfield, Illinois. They have two sons, Stephan (Lindsey) and Kurt. They also have two beautiful granddaughters, Amelie & Audrey!
Beth Porzelt’s softball career began in the early 1970s in Crestwood when she convinced her father, Joe Schultz, to start a girls’ league that included the surrounding townships of Alsip, Hickory Hills, Oak Forest, and Oak Lawn. Beth played for the Devils, a team that dominated the league for many seasons and earned Beth many MVP awards. She played for the Devils, and her father until she was eighteen when Colleen Logan and other girls Beth met at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island recruited her to play for their team.
While at Eisenhower, Beth played softball and volleyball and was an integral part of the Eisenhower Cardinals conference champion softball team her senior year.
Beth started her women’s softball career with Ray’s Pizza. In her first season, Ray’s won first place against a dominant Pet’s team at Hart Park. They continued their winning streak by capturing the first Windy City Championship and several other championships in the Ethel Stevens Tournament at Hanson Park. Eventually, Ray’s Pizza became the Sulky Inn Favorites, a legendary team considered to be one of the top teams at the time, and went on to win numerous league and tournament championships.
Vada K. Primous
Ray Prost started playing 16-inch softball in 1953 at Riis Park on Chicago's Northwest side. Ray and his brother started a team called the Ball Busters that played in the Forest Park Tournament in 1960. Although he doesn't play there anymore, Ray still has a permanent place outside the right field fence for every No Gloves Tournament. Shortly afterward he started working at O'Hare Airport and managed a team in The O'Hare Softball League. Soon his best friend Willie Simpson (HOF) came to work there and joined Ray's team with others from the Bobcats. That year they won five championships, including the Las Vegas Airline Tournament in 1979, '80, and '81. In 1979, Ray began an association with Ed Zolna (HOF) when Ed asked him to help run the Old Style Bobcats in the first year of the Mt. Prospect Classic League. In 1982, the Cats won the last City of Chicago championship. It was played at Clarendon Park and was televised. Ray later supported many teams and helped start the North Stars and the Candlelight Shooters. He most remembers the years he played with the Levee Softball team from 1978 to 1997 and the boys of summer who came to play for Warren Johnson - Willie Simpson (HOF), Al Cech (HOF), Tom "Eggs" Czarnik (HOF), Rich Paul and the rest of the Levee team. May God bless them all. Ray and his wife, Renee, have been married for forty-eight years. They live in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. They have three married daughters and nine grandchildren. And now Ray spends all of his time trying to keep them happy.
A 1969 graduate of Shurz High School and DPaul University, Steve Postran began his thirteen year softball career with the Road Runners in 1973. The following two seasons he played with Al Maag's Baggers, then the Bakers and the Associates in 1976 before hitting it big with the Bobcats, Amalgamonsters, Runts and Stompers. The championships and all tournament honors began to accumulate for Steve in the late 70's, when he was a member of the Bobcat team that won the Windy City Championship. That game was broadcast by Channel 5 to the largest audience ever to see 16" softball, and Postran was named tournament MVP. That year the Bobcats went on to win the ASA National Championship in Missouri. From 1978 to 1982 Postran helped the Amalgamonsters to two ASA second place finishes and a third place finish in addition to state, city, and metro championships. Steve also helped the Runts to a second place ASA finish in 1982. He was named first team All American each of those five years. In 1983 Steve moved back to the Bobcats and helped them capture the Clarendon Park Championship and was named ROX League MVP. Postran finished his career in 1986 with the Stompers, helping them to a second place finish in the USSSA National Tournament, a fifth place finish at the ASA National Tournament, and bowing out with a career batting average over .600. Steve and his wife, Lynette, have a son, Michael. Steve is an account executive with At&T Media Services in Chicago.
- 1981 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1982 NSA National MVP / All Tournament
- 1983 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1987 Mixed Company MVP
- 1988 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 2001 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2004 Great Lakes National MVP
- 2004 Supreme Challenge State MVP
- 2005 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2005 All-World ASA / All Tournament
- 2005 Queen City Classic MVP
- 2006 All-World NSA MVP
- 2007 Showdown Naptown NSA MVP
Although Joseph Pusateri was one of those kids who loved sports, he always knew from a young age that baseball was his passion. He was influenced by his stepfather who played baseball as a kid and passed his love for the game on to Joseph by taking him to the park to practice hitting and catching. While he loved playing baseball, his introduction into the game was influenced by another sport - soccer. As a student at Von Steuben High School, he wanted to play football, but was steered to soccer by one of his coaches. After capturing the city championship in soccer, he went on to play soccer with a private team, Hamsa, at the Amphitheater in Chicago. Eventually all of his baseball practice paid off when he landed him a spot on his high school baseball team in his senior year. In 1950 he experienced a moment of mixed emotions when his coach recognized his talents and sent him to Paul Revere Park for a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. They were impressed by his skills but delayed in getting back to him, so Joseph enlisted in the Air Force in the fall of 1950. That following spring his mother received a telegram from the Cubs saying they wanted him to come to Florida, but he had already enlisted in the Air Force. Although he served with pride in the Air Force, he always remembered how he could have possibly played for the Cubs. Once he was discharged from the Air Force, he began a softball career that would last until he was sixty-three years old. He first played for Armanetti Liquors at Chicago and Kedzie. During his 40 - plus year playing career, he played with the Playboys at Clarendon, A&M at Park Ridge, Dole Valve for eighteen years in the Skokie Valley League, Moose Lodge at Franklin Park, Clockwork in Morton Grove and Evanston, Vapor Corp in the Skokie Valley League, GPE Controls (Thillens state champs), A&M (Northbrook Invitational champs), and many other teams. He often played for as many as three teams at a time in leagues all over Chicago and the suburbs until his retirement from softball in 1994 (due to a bad hip). As a center fielder on most of the teams, Joseph Pusateri was known for his sure hands in the outfield. In 1976 he carried a fielding average of .989. Offensively he was a top leadoff hitter who hit a lot of doubles and triples because of his speed and ability to hit to all fields. As recognition of his talents, he was named an allstar player twenty-three times, won eighteen batting titles, and played on teams that won eighty-four championships. In 1976 his thirtyfour game hitting streak with A&M at Park Ridge was one of the best hitting streaks of the year. Joseph Pusateri and his wife, Rosaline, have four children and two grandchildren. They live in Niles, Illinois.
Rick Pyle first became involved in softball during 1964 by organizing and playing on an intramural team at Glenbrook High School in Northbrook and continuing that summer in the Park District Teen League. He continued playing on and managing various teams into the early 1980s, but his real love for the game was in organizing all levels of play while working for park districts. In 1970 thru 1972 he was the Tournament Director for the Northbrook Park District Annual Tournament of Champions. He moved to the Mt. Prospect Park District in 1972 and met local team managers Frank Holan, Jack Olson, Herb Teichert, Ken Doktor, John Ewert and Scott Rossi. They collectively had aspirations to raise the level of competition to a higher level and Rick was "all in" to make this happen. He created a local Classic League, increased team opportunities and along with Jack Olson started offering several competitive tournaments. With this success, the search was on for additional opportunities and new facilities were required. Fellow staff member Bob Ancona (HOF) and Rick worked tirelessly, and with the tremendous help of the park district attorney, Mike Hogan, identified property of the Metropolitan Sanitary District, where a new sewage treatment plant was under construction. After eighteen months of back and forth negotiations, the park district received a lease for the desired property. Bob and Rick measured out the fields during a snowstorm and designed the conceptual complex on a cocktail napkin at a local sandwich shop. That facility is now known at Majewski Metro Park and is adjacent to the Northwest Tollway. The softball/soccer complex couldn't have been completed without a generous donation from Everett Weaver of the American Colloid Corporation, which provided funding for lighting the fields. Jack Olson, Bob and Rick met in 1981 to set in motion a series of meetings with the top teams to form a top flight "Classic League" for the 1982 season. And the rest is history. Rick ended his park district career after nearly forty years. His career included new softball complexes at Mt Prospect, Freeport and Streamwood. Getting paid to help organize a sport he loved made all the odd hours of work all worthwhile. He spends his retirement years between Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin.
One of eleven children growing up in Oak Park, IL, Phil played all sports. As quarterback and halfback at North Austin Boys Club football at Amundsen Park, he led each team to a Pop Warner championship.
Phil started high school at Oak Park & River Forest where he quarterbacked an undefeated freshman team. After his family moved to Texas, they returned to Chicago, where he attended and played his senior year at Taft High School. His team won the Public League Championship in 1972- 73 and played in the City of Chicago Prep Bowl. This championship team was just elected into the Taft High School Hall of Fame. He graduated from Elmhurst College where he played football and was co-captain. He played safety and punter. He led the team with a single season of 111 tackles and seven interceptions, both school records at the time.
Upon graduation, he started playing 16 – inch softball with his college buddies on the Den and Alley teams. They played at Amundsen & Kosciuszko Park. He then helped start the “Titans” with Tom Eukovich. They started playing at Sayre Park, Berwyn and later at Kelly Park. He then went on to play for ten years with the Blue Max team led by (HOF) Frank Holan Award winner Jimmy Giblin. His teams won the Amundsen, Bellwood and La Grange leagues and placed at Portage Park. They also played in the tough Kelly Park and Clarendon Park leagues. The Blue Max won the Andy Frain tournament championship at Clarendon Park beating a (HOF) Billy Bereckis led team. Phil led the team in hitting when the Blue Max won the tournament championship at the Cicero Clyde Park Suburban Life tournament. Another highlight was playing with the Blue Max in the Berwyn tournament where the Blue Max lost to the Bobcats 8-7. The Blue Max played in the Metro Championship at Lou Boudreau Field where they eventually lost to the champion Stickman. Phil also played with his brother Tony on the Jets in Hamlin and Wells Parks with (HOF) Carl Maniscalco.
Concurrently, Phil played on the Blue Max infused team called Spirit in the Forest Park House League where they won three championships and automatic bid entries into the prestigious 16 - inch No Glove Tournament. He also played on the Clan that won the league three years later. He played on the highly ranked Josephs team, which included the (HOF) Jimmy Krause. Josephs went on to league championships at Melrose Park, Bensenville. The Josephs team placed fourth in the Forest Park tournament and also participated in many tournaments up at Trevor, WI.
Phil then hooked up with (HOF) Manager – “Chubbs” Polfus and the HOF team Takers from Oak Park. Also on the team were (HOF) Stan Bachaus and Wall of Fame player Jimmy Walsh. The Takers went on to win Kosciuszko and Oak Park, leagues. Currently, Phil is still playing three nights per week in the over 50 leagues. Phil played on The Takers with (HOF) Angelo Alesia in the Clyde Park 50 - and – over – league where they won four consecutive championships.
Phil now plays with the Crush team run by Mickey Ballestri (HOF) at La Grange and won the 50 - and – over – league and championship. Phil also plays with the March Manufacturing Doctors in the Berwyn 39 and over - league where they won the Berwyn league and championship in 2016 and 2017. The team was run by (HOF) Ray Topps. Phil plays with the team “Still Cruisin” in the Glenview league with HOF players Wally Pecs, Mark Frighetto, Tim Decker, Jerry Rhea and Stan Bachusz. They finished tied in the regular season for first place in 2016.
Phil would like to thank his teammates and his brother Tony for their competitiveness and friendships. He would like to thank his bride, Jan, for forty years of support, patience and love! Phil and Jan live in Elmwood Park. They have two terrific sons and daughters-in-law, Daniel (Anna) and Jason (Jen) and are blessed to have three terrific grandchildren, Tessa, Lukas, and Joseph.