Milan “Mr. Stats” Stevanovich
- 2001: 4th at Schaumburg, Illinois All-American players: Jay Polson, Mike McCune, Tim Walker, Cory Coppola, Tony Coppola
- 2002: 2nd at South Bend, Indiana All-American players: Joe Coppola, III, Chuck Coppola, Jr., Sean McMurray, John Spinner, Mike McCune
- 2003: 2nd at Marshalltown, Iowa All-American players: Tim Walker, Jay Polson, Marty Freese, Joe Coppola, III
- 2004: 3rd at Chandler, Arizona Mike McCune, Jay Polson, Marty Freese, Joe Coppola, III, Tony Coppola
- 2005: 3rd at Mt/ Prospect, Illinois All-American players: Jay Polson, Mike Wood, Joe Coppola, III
- 2006: 5th at Mt. Prospect, Illinois All-American players: Joe Coppola, III, Tim Walker, Jay Polson, Chris Coppola
- 2007: 2nd at Marshalltown, Iowa All-American players: Joe Coppola, III,
- 2008: 2nd at Crystal Lake, Illinois All-American players: Joe Coppola, III, Tony Coppola, Ben Happel, Mike McCune, Mike Kruse, Pat Kruse
- 2009: 13th at Marshalltown, Iowa All-American players: Ben Happel, Joe Coppola, III
Gillette Strokers /Old Strokes/Leftovers
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.
Team Safari Tigers
Elvira “Babe” Sanfillipo
Like many young people growing up in Chicago, 16" softball became a passion for him early in life. He started playing organized softball at Cornell Park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago when he was in the fifth grade at St. Michael School (starting on the sixth grade team). After grade school he played in the intermediate (or teen) league with his friends at Cornell Park. He attended De LaSalle High School and earned letters in baseball, football and hockey. He also ran track his freshmen year. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lewis University in Plainfield where he played intramural softball and touch football. After graduation he played with the Silhouette SAC team in the adult softball leagues at Cornell and Donovan Parks. He also played with the Chicago Park District team at Grant Park and captained the Chicago Park District co-rec team at Grant Park during the ‘90s, winning the league title for six straight years. He currently plays for the Beeks in the Marist High School alumni league. They have also played at Grant Park and in LaGrange. Throughout his career, he has played on teams that have won championships at each level they have played. When not playing softball, Joe spent many years organizing leagues and umpiring. He started organizing in 1968 when he became a Chicago Park District employee. He was fortunate to learn the tricks of the trade under Edward “Duke” Senka, a great player in his own right. He taught him how to draw up round robin and single and double elimination tournament draw sheets as well as other aspects of tournament and league formation. He has conducted softball, basketball and touch football leagues for all age groups, ranging from grade school through teen and up to adult leagues while serving as the physical instructor at Cornell Park, the playground supervisor at Minuteman Park and as park supervisor at Wentworth and Vittum Parks. While at Cornell Park, he also assisted Jim Venckus in organizing and running the 14th ward Ed Burke Softball Tournament, one of the largest softball tournaments in the Chicagoland area during the ‘60s and ‘70s. As co-coordinating manager of citywide recreation for the Chicago Park District, Joe organized citywide softball and hardball tournaments, ran the Junior Bear Football program, the Cubs Care baseball program, the Silver Skates Speed Skating program at eleven locations and organized four fishing programs. After thirty years with the Chicago Park District, he moved to the Mayor’s office of Special Events in the Sport Development Office. He organized and conducted the Mayor Daley Hall of Fame Softball Tournament at Grant Park and is also the organizer of the Winter Delights Speed Skating Classic and is an assistant organizer of the Mayor Daley Chicago Sport Festival, a estival that draws over 75,000 participants at McCormick Place. He also works with James Rey of the Chicago Park District organizing the popular Mike Royko Memorial Softball Tournament at Grant Park. He and his wife, Christine, have three daughters, Sherry, Wendy and Tammy and seven grandchildren. They live on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Jim was the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Park District of Forest Park from 1965 to 1983. In 1969 he organized the 1st Forest Park Invitational Softball Tournament. Held over Labor Day weekend in 1969, ten all-star teams from the suburbs of Chicago began a tradition that is still considered the most prestigious softball tournament in the Chicagoland area because of the excellent competition and the quality of the facilities. With a background in landscaping, Jim had designed and constructed dozens of baseball fields throughout the Western suburbs. When he came to Forest Park, he transformed those fields into his own “field of dreams.” He hauled in truckloads of brick dust and blue clay from any source available. Because of his efforts, an infielder could never complain about a bad bounce on Jim’s fields. After Jim “built it”, the top teams began “to come” to play historic matches. In the early 70’s the rivalries between the Bruins, Strikers, the Bobcats, and American Rivet attracted thousands to Forest Park to witness softball at its finest. Jim’s organizational skills and field construction techniques moved a few miles south into Bridgeview in the mid 1970’s when Tom Bonen called on him when he was developing the Windy City Softball Stadium in Bridgeview. He also worked with Tom in organizing the - Winston Softball Circuit and World Series at Forest Park. Jim is retired and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has three daughters.
Santo “Doc” Scavuzzo
George Schaaf grew up in the South Englewood neighborhood of Chicago and attended Chicago Christian High School where he played baseball. He started his thirty-five year playing and organizing career at a young age with the Englewood I Church team and the Calvin Church team. Both teams won their respective leagues most of the years that they competed. He then played for the Bobcats, Shoes, ERV, Moore’s, Alsterda - Ready Paving, Don’s World of Sports and the Calvin Church Reformed League at the top parks around Chicago and the suburbs. He spent the early days of his career at shortstop but moved to become a top defensive pitcher later in his playing days. As a power hitter, he normally hit third or fourth in the line-up. He was selected to numerous all-tournament teams and won many all-star awards. As an organizer, it didn’t take him long to have a positive effect on the game. He started and ran the Holland-American Church League from 1951 to 1957. In the mid-70s he built the Windy City Stadium in Bridgeview. After the stadium was closed, he donated the lights to Chicago Christian High School and donated the stadium seats to the Oak Lawn Park District. He also sponsored hundreds of park district and church teams through his family business, Schaaf Window Company, and coached many men’s and women’s softball teams. He is currently building a new gymnasium for Chicago Christian High School and an athletic complex for Trinity Christian College. George was known as a gracious winner and a good loser. Throughout his playing and organizing days, he taught the game by playing hard and always striving to be his best. As an example of this character, he missed playing in a lot of tournaments (and missed a lot of recognition) because he never played on Sundays due to his religious convictions, but these convictions strengthened his character on and off the field. George lives in Frankfort, Illinois. He has five children, George Jr., Donna, Barb, Linda, and Bob. His wife, June, passed away.
Ron “Binger” Schabinger
Ron Schabinger began organizing the Jackmen in the early ‘80s for league play that began in 1982 and continued into the late ‘90s. During that time they accumulated 878 wins and won nearly forty league championships and twenty tournament titles during their uninterrupted run in leagues throughout the city and suburbs. Although teams that stay together that long often undergo changes in players, in the case of the Jackman, it was Ron Schabinger’s ability to attract the top players of the day that kept them on top. He understood that the Jackmen was an outstanding neighborhood team that followed the tradition upon which 16" softball was formed. When not playing for and managing the Jackmen, he also played for and managed other teams throughout the city and suburbs. Besides managing softball during the summer, Ron also coached multiple sports at Schurz and Prosser High Schools. He was head girls basketball and volleyball coach at Prosser and also organized summer work programs, programs designed to teach students a variety of skills and to take pride in their school. During one summer program, students painted the entire school. Unfortunately the softball community lost Ron Schabinger in 2006 after a short battle with cancer. He will truly be missed.
Mary Kay Schaefer-Monaghan
Mary Kay attributes her success in 16” to having three brothers and a bunch of neighborhood boys who allowed her to play in their “pick up” games. Growing up on the Northwest side, Mary Kay spent most of her time at the park district field house playing sports and shattering the myth that girls could not be both athletic and feminine. From 1982- 1983 Mary Kay played softball at the highest level for women. She played for the OJ’s, a North Side team that many experts considered to be the female equivalent of the Bobcats. From 1978 to ‘83 they were the champions for five years at the Ed Kelly Tournament, and World Champions at Welles Park and Revere Park. She also played for a Blue Island team the Rose -N Crowns that took 1st place at Calumet City and won the Chicago Metro Championship, amassing a record of 192- 20 from 1980 to ‘83. Mary Kay batted .541 during this period. She also played co-ed ball with such greats as Willie Simpson and Al Cech. This team placed in the top twenty teams in the nation. With her move to “11 ball, Mark Kay continued her streak of championships. From 1981- 83 her team took the USSSA National title. They were first in the Rockford Tournament in 1980 and took first place in the 16” USSSA Tour at Shabonna Park. In 1980 the team placed in the top thirty at the National Tournament in Kingston, NC. Their success continued in 1981 at Kansas City when they captured the ninth place position in the world. Mary Kay was selected to the All Tournament Team in Illinois and in the City of Chicago that year. Schaefer - Monaghan worked as a physical instructor for the Chicago Park District for six years. She currently lives in Hoffman Estates where she runs her own daycare business. She and her husband Dale have three boys. Their third son, Richard, died in 1988.
Cheryl “Schmally” Schmall-Mikolaitis
To say that Cheryl Mikolaitis started her softball career at a young age would be an understatement. Before playing with the Hickory Hill Spoilers in seventh grade, she honed her skills playing “street ball” against her brothers and many of the boys in her neighborhood, competition that produced the toughness she needed to later compete at softball’s top levels. The Spoilers won the championship of Kasey Meadows Park District four of the five years. She was later recruited to play with the Sulky Inn Favorites and their coach, Roy Logan, at Calumet Park and Blue Island where they won numerous league and tournament championships. She also lent her talents to Rose”N”Crown and Badayos in tournaments during the 80s and 90s. In the 90s she also played with the Worth Sting and helped the Diamond Girls tournament team win the ESPN Miller Lite championship at Grant Park. For her efforts on the diamond, Cheryl Mikolaitis won numerous MVP awards with Spoilers and Sulky Inn. She was also named MVP in the Windy City championships in the 80s. While at the Windy City tournament, she was scouted by the Chicago Ravens semi-pro team, but was too young to make the team. By the time she was old enough to play, the league had folded. Cheryl Mikolaitis contributes much of her success to Coach Bill Lambe for his ability to teach the fundamentals of softball and for driving them to perfect these fundamentals. She remembers playing the Windy City tournaments against the more established teams like Pets and other top women’s teams of the era. Cheryl Mikolaitis was primarily a center fielder, but she also played left field, third base or shortstop. She was known for her speed in the outfield and her ability to hit the cutoff man. She was a leadoff hitter who switched to third or fourth in the batting order later in her career. Although accurate hitting records were not kept , she does have a trophy for an .800 plus batting average with the Spoilers. Cheryl and her husband, Jim, own Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville. They have a son, Dave.
Pete Schmit holds an interesting first in the annals of high school football; he’s the first football player from St. George High School to be selected to an All-State football team. During the 1939-40 season, he and two other players from Mt. Carmel High School were the only players from the Chicago area to be named to the Champaign News-Gazette All Star Team. His football talents paid off as Pete Schmit earned a football scholarship to the University of Iowa, graduating in 1943. Pete served his country in World War II in France and Germany with Patton’s Third Armored Division. After the war, Schmit returned to coach football and basketball at St. George from 1948 to 1961. He then moved to St. Patrick High School, serving twenty five years as Athletic Director. Pete finished his teaching career after six years at Immaculate Conception High School. Before and after the war, Schmit played softball at Thillens and Welles Park in pot games that often offered over five hundred dollars in prize money. Eventually, Pete quit softball playing and took up umpiring to help with the bills of his young family. He began by umpiring games at Welles Park in 1951 with the Brown Bombers, a team that boasted Harlem Globetrotters on its roster. During one of those games, power hitter Sweetwater Clifton hit the longest home run Schmit had ever seen. In 1953 Schmit became Chief Umpire, eventually controlling some eighty umpires at thirty different throughout his career. He also worked and assigned umpires in the Windy City Softball Classic League. Later, he began umpiring baseball and fast pitch softball games, extending his umpiring career to nearly fifty years. In 2001, Pete and his wife Jean lived in Chicago. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.
Robert “Jake” Schmitz
A graduate of St. Rita high school, Joseph “Jake” Schmitz began his softball career at the age of thirteen with the Vipers at Ogden Park and at Byrne Field. He moved to the Blie Hawks in 1953 to ‘54, before he settled into a twelve year stint with the Whips Moaners Club. A short stop who was a fierce and daring base runner, Schmitz has been called one of the finest fielding shortstops in the history of the game. During his career, which many considered the heyday of softball, Jake lead the Whips and the Loafers in the powerful leagues at Clarendon and Kelly Parks. Schmitz led his teams in batting average for his last eight years in the game. Schmitz finished his career with Moore Business Forms, from 1968 to 1976. Throughout his career Jake was known and respected for his aggressive, hard nosed style of play that neither asked for nor gave any quarter. In addition to his superb softball skills, Jake Schmitz also shined on the basketball court at St. Rita. In 1954 his team won the Catholic Light Weight Basketball Championship. He was selected to the All Catholic Team by the Chicago Tribune. Jake had a distinguished career with Continental Can before retiring in 1989. In 2000 he resided in Evergreen Park, Illinois.
William “Willy” Schmitz
Who would have believed that a high school kid who once beat legendary professional bowler Carmen Salvino, would someday become one of the top 16" softball players of his time? The stage was set for this to happen when "Willy" Schmitz began his softball career with the Earle School Midgets at ten years of age. He then moved to play with the Vipers in eighth grade, and with the Panthers after high school. Fortune smiled on Schmitz when he was recruited to play on the Whips/Moaners Club at Clarendon, Kel's and Kelly Parks. Their 6-1 victory over the Bobcats that year gave them the confidence to succeed in the premier leagues around Chicago. After his stint with the Whips/Moaners, Schmitz played first base with Moore's Loafers from 1968 to '78, winning the City Championship in 1970, and competing against such softball legends as Tony Reibel and the Berekis and Abatacola brothers. Willy then played with Shoos in the Industrial League in Burbank in the '80's. He ended his career with Eddie Zolna in '89 at Kennedy Park. Primarily a first baseman, Schmitz also played third base. With a career batting average over .600, Willy was known as a singles and doubles clutch hitter who could always be counted on for the big hit. Willy Schmtz is a retired toolmaker and lives in Evergreen Park.
Mark “Schu” Schuller
George “Sherm” Sherman
Willie “Steamer” Simpson
Ask most Chicagoans what they know of Bob Sirott and they are likely to mention his current assignment as anchor of NBC News at 4:30 p.m. with Marion Brooks, or they might mention his years developing WTTW’s -Chicago Tonight into a one hour newsmagazine, or they might talk about his years as a radio and television journalist with other stations. But mention him to players and fans of 16" softball and they are likely to praise the twenty-five years he has spent promoting and supporting softball on television and radio. He started playing softball in pickup games at Eugene Park in the '60s. In the '70s he started the WLS radio ‘89ers softball team, playing various area teams and in charity games. During the '70s he also was a charter member of the “Radio and Records” softball team. Members of the radio community (off and on air personnel) and record and concert promoters in Chicago would get together on Saturdays at Lincoln Park for pick-up games. One station manager who had just fired one of his disc jockeys ended up on the same team with the fired disc jockey that day. All went well for them that day and at least for one day a week the playing of softball smoothed over radio and record rivalries. Besides playing on teams connected to his radio career, he also started playing in an Evanston league with teams organized by Rich Melman. The "over-30s" leagues of those days have evolved throughout the years into the “anyone who can stand league” that he still plays in today. During the '90s he organized the Fox Things softball team and played around the city and suburbs with the staff of Fox Thing in the Morning, a television show he hosted for seven years with Marianne Murciano (his wife). He also played in the media league at Grant Park and in various celebrity games with a team from Fox. One of the most memorable celebrity games happened at Thillens Stadium in a game pitting media all-stars against former Cubs and Sox players with Michael Jordan playing with the Cubs/Sox team. Michael Jordan hit a double and was going to stretch it into a triple with Bob Sirott playing third. As the throw came into third, all Sirott could think of was somehow injuring Jordan to the point that his career would be ended and he would forever be remembered as the person who dashed the hopes of Chicago. Needless to say, the dreaded collision didn't happen, Jordan slid safely into third and the fate of the Bulls’ championships was assured. As anchor of Chicago Tonight, Bob Sirott promoted softball with stories about the people, places and history of softball. Afew years ago, after interviewing former President Jimmy Carter, Bob showed him a clincher. The former president was so enamored of the ball that he took it back to Plains, Georgia, making him probably the only president who has a souvenir of “Chicago’s game.” He and Marianne Murciano currently host the Saturday Radio Special on WCKG from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. He has interviewed Hall of Fame coach/organizer Bob Campbell about his tips for softball players. These days, during the transition into the weather segment, it’s not unusual for the anchor to ask the meteorologist if it will be a good day for golf on Sunday. Sirott, however, asks if he will be able to get his softball game in. He figures he’s still too young to be playing golf.
Monica starting playing softball at a local park when some older girls who were looking to put a team together noticed her talents and asked her to play for them. She started playing with the Heartbreakers in a 16-and-under league at Lawler Park. She then played with We've Got Style, Shamrocks, Psychos, and Irish Express. In the late 1980s she joined the legendary Bidayos. As a short center, her teammates remember that a ball hit to her position was most assuredly an out. She had a strong arm that racked up countless double plays and numerous assists as she threw runners out from deep in the hole. Offensively, she batted third or fourth. She was a versatile hitter who hit over 500 hundred homeruns or could "dump" the ball over the infield or hit a line drive to the opposite field. She won 1st team offense and defense honors in ASA Metro tournaments and was selected to numerous USSSA All-tournament teams for offense and defense. She also won the USSSA MVP for offense.
John “Beaver” Smith
Team Smooth Over
From a softball career that began in 1965, and proceeded to winning seven championships with the power house Rose-N-Crown, Toni Paolini ranks near the top in Women’s 16” softball. In addition to the championships with Rose-N-Crown, Paolini also played with their arch rival OJ’s / Buffoons. She played short center for most of her career, and hooked up with Hall of Famers Pat McGuire and Mary Kay Schaefer Monaghan to form some of the best double play combinations in the era. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (where she was inducted into their Basketball Hall of Fame) Paolini has worked for the Chicago White Sox, and was one of the Pioneer players in the Women’s Professional Basketball League with the Chicago Hustle and the Minnesota Fillies. In 2000, Toni Paolini was a recreation teacher for the Lemont Park District, living in Lemont with her husband Jim and daughters Rachel and Amy. She coaches basketball teams and runs basketball clinics throughout the year. She was also a IHSA volleyball and basketball official.
Stanley “Lefty” Stein
Jim “Steiner” Stein
Jim grew up in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. In grammar school, Jim, along with a number of his friends from St. Peter Canisius, began playing 16” softball at La Follette Park. During his high school years, Jim’s team finished second or third each year.
The Sunday afternoons of Jim’s youth were spent playing teams from other neighborhood parks. The games were important for two reasons: bragging rights and a money pot. They also helped everyone become better softball players and teammates. Jim graduated from De Paul Academy in 1967. He is a proud Vietnam Veteran and served in the Americal Division of the U.S Army from January 1968 until August 1969.
Upon his return to civilian life, Jim attended college, entered the business world, and was fortunate to meet another West Sider, his wife Anne. In the late 1980s, St. Francis Xavier parish in La Grange started organizing 16” softball pickup games on Sunday afternoons. The Sunday routine of church and softball reminded Jim of the Sundays of his youth and just how much he enjoyed both the game and the camaraderie.
In 1992, Jim Quinn (HOF) asked Jim to play for the Leftovers in the 39 and over the league in La Grange. The Leftovers have never won a championship but have been competitive. The team still plays in that league, which is now at Janura Park. Jim hopes this will be their lucky year.
In 1998, Jim began playing in the inaugural Monday night 50 and over the league in La Grange with the Old Strokes. With Jim catching and playing 3rd base, the Old Strokes won the championship in 1998 and 2003 and still play in that league, also now located at Janura Park.
In the late 1990s, the Strokers began playing in the fall league in LaGrange. They won the championship in 1997 and, again, in 2013, despite their players being nearly twenty years older than their nearest competitors.
By the early 2000’s, Jim was playing softball 3 nights a week. Jim played with the Leftovers on Fridays, the Old Strokers on Mondays and the legendary Gillette Strokers at Grant Park on Thursdays. The Gillette Strokers began playing at Grant Park in the 70’s. Jim considers himself fortunate to have played with them during their championship seasons of 2006 and 2008. The highlight of every season is the annual Strokerfest, a barbecue held after a game in June. Members from other teams stop by to enjoy the festivities and camaraderie.
In addition to playing softball, Jim has served as the league commissioner for the 50 and over the league at Clyde Park from 2013 - 15 and at Janura Park from 2016 - 18.
When not playing softball, Jim volunteers at the Edward Hines VA Hospital. He is the Veterans Food Pantry Coordinator responsible for ordering, pantry set up and distribution. The pantry distributes food products to over 6,500 veterans per year. Jim also volunteers at the Hines VA Hospital Fisher House, an organization that provides no-cost housing to the families of veterans who are receiving medical treatment.
Jim never thought he’d still be playing softball at sixty-nine, but whenever he gets a hit or drives in a run, he remembers being thirty-nine again and all the good times he’s had playing softball. Jim is grateful for the many lasting friendships he has made over the years, a great many of these might never have crossed his path if it weren’t for the GREAT game of 16 - inch softball.
Team The Stompers
Mike Stout began his softball career in 1981 with Phil’s Kids, a local team from Melrose Park, playing in leagues in Bellwood, Broadview, and Franklin Park. A meeting with lifelong friend, Jimmy Donato, gave Mike his first taste of competitive softball when Jimmy asked Mike to Play for the Lords, forging an alliance that would last twenty years. In 1983, the Lords won their first Metro championship in Lisle, earning them a spot in the national tournament in Harvey. They learned from the experience when they finished fourth and fifth in the following two years. These successes established the Lords as one of softball’s top teams of that era. During the mid ‘80s Mike was selected to play in every North / South All-Star game during the years they were played. In 1985, Mike hit a three run homerun in the last inning to cap a great comeback by the North and give then bragging rights for the next year. The following year Mike was selected as MVP of the game. In 1978, Mike joined brothers Eric and Kurt Kiesel to make the J-Birds one of the top teams in Mt. Prospect’s Classic League. In 1990, they took fourth place at the Major Nationals and Mike was selected to one of his many 1st Team All-American Teams. Mike joined the Miller Taggers and Hall of Famer Frank Holan in 1991, helping them to a USSSA National title and winning the tournament batting title and being named the tournament MVP. He then moved to Bob Rascia’s 45s for the last eight seasons of his career in 1994. They took the major national title at Schaumburg in 2001. While playing for the 45s, Mike played with some of the greatest players of that era, many of the old rivals. Mike and his wife, Liz, live In Glen Ellyn, Illinois with their three children - Eric, Chris, and Elise. Mike is President of Sales for Strikeforce Bowling in Cicero. While he has retired from playing, Mike continues to give back to baseball by coaching traveling baseball and 12" softball.
Jack “Just One More Shot” Stout
Renee “Scrunch” Strasser
Born in 1933, Tony Struppa played softball for fifteen years and later organized one of the best 16" leagues in Chicago. Tony earned All-City honors for baseball and football while playing at Gage Park High School. He played first base for the city team in the Herald- American Prep All - Star Classic in Comiskey Park. After playing football for Purdue University in 1951, he transferred to Witchita State where he became a five major letter winner in football and baseball. Tony Struppa’s softball career included a four - year stint with the Comets at Byrne Field (now Lindbloom Park) from 1958 to 1962. He then moved to the Whips Moaners club in 1963 at Harper High and Gage Park. Tony was an excellent first baseman who could field his position with the best players of his day. He was also known for his power and his ability to hit to all fields. Throughout his career Tony’s teammates included some of the best players of the day, including Hall of Famers Vic Kariolich, Jake and Willy Schmitz, Robert “Butch” Gordon, Eddie “Champ” Surma and Jerry Schmitt. Tony worked for the Chicago Park District for 39 years. While park supervisor at Clarendon, he ran some of the city’s premier leagues. He was later promoted to Director of Security and was nominated for the city’s Superior Public Service award. Tony met his wife of 40 years, Rosemary, at Gage Park High School. They have three children, Sharon, Mark, and Mary Kay. Tony Stuppa passed away in 1995.
Joseph W. Strzelczyk
Military veteran Joseph W. Strzelczyk is best known as a "team player" who has spent much of his life working with young people as a baseball coach. That passion to help others moved him to seek public office in 1990 when he was elected to a position of Trustee in the Village of Summit, serving two terms. In 1997, Strzelczyk has elected as Summit's Mayor and is currently seeking re-election to his 4th term in office. Strzelczyk's public service began in 1978 working as a Special Recreation Instructor for the Chicago Park District. "I enjoy public service and I enjoy working with people, especially young people and senior citizens," Strzelczyk explains. My background gives me a wide range of experience that helps me as the Mayor of Summit to maintain the village as one of the best in the Chicagoland suburbs." But before that, Strzelczyk launched his own business as a young man working as a self-employed "trader" at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange in 1976 where he also owned a prestigious Trading Seat. Strzelczyk is an experienced writer, working for the Daily Southtown beginning in 1985 writing columns on softball and sports, and later writing articles for the popular Chicago Softball Magazine beginning in 1987. He hosted the popular "Let's Talk Softball" on Cable TV for Jones and Multimedia and Metrovision cable systems, and was a sports commentator for 1570 AM sports radio's "Miller Sports Report" in the 1980s. He also coached for the North American Pro Softball league in 1980. Strzelczyk continued his writing avocation, completing background reports that are used in court judicial proceedings for Cook County and he also worked as a county probation officer. Strzelczek served honorably in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, 1962-1963, and served five years in the US Army Reserves until 1968. As Mayor of Summit, Strzelczyk said he is committed to the goals of the Democratic Party. "I am a proud Democrat. And I have always strived to carry the ideals of the Democratic Party throughout my career. For me, Democrats were always the people who helped people, the Party that looked out for the Working Man and Woman. Democrats work together to make our communities strong so that we can live the American Dream and our children can have an even brighter future," Strzelczyk explained. "I was instrumental in helping the Village of Summit become a Pro-Union and Labor shop. This has helped our people raise families with job security with a fair wage. As a lifelong resident of Summit, I celebrate our working class roots and families working towards the great American Dream. I will continue to do everything in my power to help those families and especially the children of Summit achieve those dreams." Strzelczyk says his key achievements include reducing the village debt and making Summit profitable in the last two years, for the first time in more than two decades. His tough management of finances and public spending is reflected in his frugal office surroundings in his own office. Strzelczyk said that he is most proud of attracting new businesses to Summit including Advance Auto, Family Dollar, Portillos, Summit Cold Storage and LaFinka, a new restaurant. He was able to also bring in Krispy Kreme Donuts, which unfortunately closed several years ago. A key to the community's success, he said, is "making people believe that they can achieve what they seek and also that we can fight and defeat crime." During his term in office, crime has made a steady decline. Describing himself as a "straight talker," Strzelczyk is proud of the balance and diversity in the community with strong representation from many of the regions ethnic groups including Albanians, Hispanics, African Americans and Whites. Over the years, he has secured more than $2.5 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding which he has used to improve streets and strengthen the Village's infra-structure. In 2001, under his direction, Summit was able to bring in a 78-unit, $14 million Senior Housing Development. And last year, Summit was included in the revenue sharing agreement with the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which this year brought in more than $604,000 in added revenue to off-set the burden on taxpayers. The Stompers won the Kelly Park division title in 1975. They were the Forest Park runners-up in 1978 and won the championship in 1980. In 1984 and 1986 they took second place at the USSSA Nationals and won the title in 1985.
Team Sulky Inn Favorites
Edward “Champ” Surma
“Champ” Surma began his five decade softball career with Ray Topolski on the Chicago- Wolves, playing at Sherman Park in the late 40’s and early 50’s. He also played with the Crusaders, one of the top Southside teams and in many round - robin tournaments on Sunday afternoons. The Korean War interrupted Surma’s softball career when he served with the Airborne’s 187th Regiment Combat Team from 1951 to 1954. While in Korea, Surma played on the regiment football and baseball teams. He competed for the Far East football championship against the First Marine Division in Tokyo. A long-time employee of American Can Company, Surma played for the company team in the Gage Park Industrial League during the 60’s and 70’s, winning many park championships and appearing in three finals in the Chicago Park District Industrial Tournaments in Grant Park. Besides playing for American Can Company, Ed Surma also played for the three time ASA National Champion Sobies from 1966 to 1968. He was named tournament MVP on the 1966 team, going 21 for 24. Besides the Sobies Surma also played for the Whips, Moaners, Sportsman’s Lounge, Silhouette Lounge, Father Perez KC’s, and Rand Bowl of Des Plaines. Surma’s successes continued in the 70’s when he played for the American Rivet’s, a team which won three Forest Park titles and the first World Series of Softball at Ray Hart Stadium in Blue Island. He also played with American Rivet teams that won many Andy Frain tournament titles. To add to his busy schedule, Surma also played with Dr. Carlucci’s Bobcats ASA Championship team in 1970. In a typical summer, Surma would play in 150 to 200 games, travelling from Harvey to DesPlaines, His career ended in the 80’s with Al’s Pals and the Frogs. Besides finding success on the diamond, Surma has also been featured in print and television features. Mike Conklin, Bill Gleason, Don DeBat and Mike Royko have written stories about “Champ” Surma. Tom Weigel featured “Champ” in a television special titled “Hooray for the Little Guys.” Surma and his wife Mary are the parents of two sons and two daughters and proud grandparents of eight.
LeRoy “Bobcat Lee” Sutter
David “Smokey” Swiatek
A graduate of Brother Rice where he played baseball (winning the Catholic League and earning MVP honors), Smokey then moved on to St. Xavier where he played outfield and earned a degree in criminal justice. He started playing softball in 1976 with the Right-On’s in Kelly Park’s major league. He then played for the J’s and the Bobcats (during their final year at Mt. Prospect) and the Beavers. Legendary pitcher Mike Tallo of the Whips approached Smokey about playing with the Whips and the rest is history. A quick defensive player who could play wherever he was needed, Smokey was a left handed leadoff hitter who could hit to all fields and carried a career batting average over .500. Swaitek’s offensive and defensive prowess helped Whips to two ASA National Championships in 1983 and 1984 and two USSSA Championships that same year. Smokey earned 1st Team USSSA All Tournament honors in 1985. Playing with Sportstation from 1986 to 1988, they won the ASA Nationals in 1987. Additionally, Whips won the Forest Park Tournament for five consecutive years from 1982 - 1986. Smokey remembers his first National victory in 1983 at Harvey when the Whips emerged from the loser’s bracket to beat the Stray Cats in a close game as one of his greatest softball moments. After 28 years, Smokey retired from softball in 2004. He ended his career playing at Wentworth and Valley Forge Parks with Tom Mulqueeney’s Scooters and Dan Byrne’s Buzzards. Smokey is a member of the Brother Rice and St. Xavier Baseball Hall of Fame. He lives in Chicago and has been a police officer with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for 25 years. He has given up the softball bat to take up golf, a hitting game of a different variety.
Frank Szczech, one of the top leadoff players of his era, could do what all great hitters could do - he got on base. He was capable of driving the ball through the holes in the infield or over the heads of the infielders into the outfield gaps. His hitting and excellent speed made him a top singles and doubles hitter. With his excellent defensive play at shortstop, short center, and second base, Frank Szczech was a complete ballplayer. Frank was recruited by Gene Hrabek to play with the Bobcats in the Daddy-O-Daylie League in the early 60s. His softball career was interrupted from 1964 to 1966 when he served in the Army in Europe. Once he returned from Europe, he played with a variety of teams at parks throughout the West suburban area. 1970 proved to be a memorable year for Frank Szczech when the Bobcats went undefeated in the ASA Nationals to beat the Dwarfs for the national title. Frank was selected to the ASA All Tournament Team that year. In 1971 Frank Szczech and Bill Bereckis reformed the former Sobies team into the Sobies / American Rivet. During his career with Sobies / American Rivet, he was selected to the ASA National All Tournament Team in 1971, 1972, and 1973. Throughout his career, Frank Szczech was selected to six All Tournament Teams, and played on teams that won one ASA National title, four Andy Frain titles, three Forest Park championships, five Clarendon championships, one Windy City title, and numerous other championships in Chicago and around the suburbs. Frank Szczech lives in Cicero, Illinois.