Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Milan “Mr. Stats” Stevanovich / Inducted 2017 Frank C. Holan Award
Milan “Mr. Stats” Stevanovich
Since 1992, Milan Stevanovich, better known as “Mr. Stats,” has been keeping stats for the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals 16-inch Softball Tournament . He is in charge of compiling and recording player and team stats for each game during the five - day event.
Soon after each game, Mr. Stats posts the results of each team’s hits, runs, and each player’s batting average. These stats help the fans stay up to date on their favorite players and teams. Keeping the stats for all twenty-seven teams and some sixty games is not a small job. His job starts early in the day and lasts sometimes-through midnight. Through his efforts, the fans have a lasting historic and accurate record of each No-Gloves Tournament.
Mr. Stats has also recorded statistics for many ASA and SSA National Tournaments and for the Hawthorne Park District Tournaments. Because of his dedication to the game, he has given the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame the tools to evaluate future inductees, and he has given softball aficionados everywhere a lasting record of Chicago’s great game.
Stover / Honored 2017 Team Recognition
The Stover sixteen-inch softball team was formed in the 1990’s with the majority of the team made up of Coppola brothers and cousins. It also included cousins without the Coppola last name (Langeness and McMurray) and close friends. The Stover name came from a business owner by the name of Roger Stover.
In 2001, The Stover team included Chuck Coppola, Sr., Chuck Coppola, Jr., Cory Coppola, Chris Coppola, Joe Coppola Jr, Joe Coppola, III, Tony Coppola, LJ Coppola, Jim Langeness, Chad Langeness, Sean McMurray, Jay Polson, Mike McCune, Tim Walker, Kevin O’Hare, and John Spinner. In 2001, Stover placed 4th
in Major National tournament in Schaumburg, Illinois. This was the start of eight - years in a row of placing high in the National Major tournaments.
Between 2002-2010 other players joined the team as players retired. These players were critical to Stovers’ success during their eight - year run. These players included Ben Happel, Mike Wood, Kyle Campbell, Marty Freese, Cary Coppola, Kyle Coppola, Chuck Coppola, III, Zach Coppola, Mike Kruse, Pat Kruse, Rob Nevitt, Troy Bluml, Curt McNabb, Luke Lewarne, Alex McMurray, Chris Wood, Chris Le Warne, and Blake Schultz
From 2001-2009 in the four Major tournaments held in Iowa, Stover won four State Major titles, five Bud Open Titles, three Marshalltown Clincher titles and four Urbandale Classic titles. It was rare if Stover wasn’t in the championship game of these Iowa tournaments during these years.
Stover was invited to play in the prestigious Forest Park No-Glove Nationals in the 2000’s. Some years Stover fared better than other years as the “no glove” game was new and challenging. However, they took fifth in 2003 and fourth in 2005. These finishes felt like championship games because Stover was able to play on Sunday in front of the best crowds and against the best teams. The Forest Park weekends were also some of the best of the summers because of the generosity and the welcoming attitude shown by the players, the tournament hosts and the awesome fans. Stover was honored and flattered to be a part of this great tournament and to be playing against the best softball players without wearing gloves.
Stover ASA Majors Accomplishments
- 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,
Ben Happel, Chuck Coppola, Jr., Tony Coppola, Mike McCune
- 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
Stuart Sorkin / Inducted 2017
The Sorkin family has played sixteen-inch softball for decades. Stuart Sorkin's father, Harold, played for years on the West Side and in parks and leagues throughout Chicago. He played with many players who would become Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Famers in the Windy City League, including Jimmy DiVito's championship teams. Stuart’s aunt played for the original Rockford Peaches.
But the real exposure began when his sister, Sandy, met a member of the Shooter team, Art Lurie. As a kid, Stuart frequented Clarendon Park where he watched some of sixteen-inch softball’s great players on teams like the Bobcats, Sobies and Lyons 45's. To this day, he is still amazed that park officials had to shoot the clincher with water to weigh it down to keep players from hitting homeruns over Clarendon’s long fences.
An avid sports fan his whole life, Sorkin excelled in baseball at Niles West High School. He later played sixteen-inch softball and hockey. Over the years, he attended many of softball’s big tournaments that included the famous Lettuce Softball teams and Molex teams and got to know many of its stars.
In 1995, Sorkin purchased another Chicago Institution, Affy Tapple Caramel Apple Company. In keeping with its Chicago roots, Affy Tapple began to support the idea of a Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame because he observed the time, energy and vision that Al Maag, Art Lurie and the many other founding board members had for this Hall of Fame.
To help this dream become a reality, Sorkin and Affy Tapple have supported the Hall of Fame by purchasing dinner-book ads and by donating products for twenty-one years, until the Hall of Fame Museum and the Inductee Park opened in 2012.
Stuart thanks Al Maag and Art Lurie for keeping him involved with another great Chicago tradition – sixteen-inch Inch softball.
Stuart and his wife, Holly, have two children - Sydney and Ryan. They live in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago.
Gillette Strokers /Old Strokes/Leftovers / Honored 2017 Team Recognition
Gillette Strokers /Old Strokes/Leftovers
The Gillette sixteen-inch softball team played in the Grant Park Softball League in the 1950s through the 1960s. They became the Gillette Strokers in the early 1970s. Rumor has it that they won a few Grant Park championships in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but through the ‘70s and into the ‘90s they were a competitive team without a league title (although they did have quite a few second and third place finishes). This drought ended in 2005 when they won the Grant Park Plaza League championship and repeated as league champs in 2008.
In 1991, the Gillette Strokers and some “older” players from the other Grant Park teams – Com Ed, Peoples Gas, and Sears became the Old Strokes. They played in a 39–and –Older-League in La Grange. After their first season playing at La Grange where they won the league championship, the Old Strokes faced a problem – they had too many players. So they split into two teams – the Old Strokes and the Leftovers. As of 2016, both teams still compete in the 39–and-Over–League at Janura Park in Berwyn. In 1998 the La Grange Park District started at 50–and–Over–League that the Old Strokes and Leftovers competed in. The Old Strokes are still playing in a 50-and-over–league in Berwyn.
The Strokers still play in the Thursday night Plaza League at Grant Park. They played in other leagues and tournaments (they won the LaGrange Fall League in 1997), but have primarily played at Grant Park.
Most softball players played the game for two reasons - the competition on the field and the chance to socialize afterwards where lifelong friendships are formed. For that, the Strokers, Old Strokes, and Leftovers thank O’Callahans, Rossi’s, Pippen’s, Streator’s, Hogan’s, Queen’s Paradise, Melody Lane, Kenny’s Pub, Joes Saloon, Harrys Bar, Ryan’s Pub, Waterworks, Cordial Inn and many other “watering holes”. In the early 70s, the Strokers, after one of their Grant Park games, began what would become an annual after game picnic. Stroker Fest started out as a celebration for Stroker softball but evolved into a multi-team celebration every summer with the menu featuring a roasted pig stuffed with chickens to hot dogs and, of course, lots of cold beer.
Through the years, the Stroker softball roster included players from different backgrounds, neighborhoods, races, and ethnicities. Their roster changed slowly but eventually younger players were added to remain competitive with the core of players who had been together for ten-to-twenty years. Many of their more “experienced” players joined the Old Strokes or the Leftovers.
But with all the roster changes, one fact remained unchanged – it wasn’t dominance on the field but camaraderie and team loyalty that led to the longevity of the Strokers, Old Strokes, and Leftovers. The Strokers are already planning on playing into the next decade. They hope to add their sons and grandsons to the roster. The Old Strokes and Leftovers hope to avoid injury so they can play No Gloves Sixteen-inch softball for many more years.
Columbus James Jimmy Powell Dick Mrugacz
Jim Voss Woody Chartrand Don Meyers
Willie Pepper Dave Ponash Darryl Watkins
Juan Cantu Bobby Koutek Bobby Meyers
Russ Krezel Ronnie Harper Frank Atkinson
Ernie Wiggins Bobby Wiggins Dave Smidt
Jim Quinn Roy Rodriguez Charlie Powell
Jocko Tatum Willie Tatum Tom Donahue
Rob Callahan Dan Radachonski Don Schmidt
Bill Zumbek George Strob Russ Blumhagen
Freddy Riebel Tim James Rich Daniels
Lonnie Bingham Tom Castellarin Darryl Bettenfield
Kenny Philpot Roy Harrison Jim Young
Vinnie Dicosola Curtis Cotton Bill Cavanaugh
Robert Taylor John Robb Maurice "Mo" Davis
Wayne Edwards Anthony Edwards Derek Edwards
Jim Stein Joe Johnson Dave Lemmons
Jeff Lemmons John Strickland Noel Outlaw
Clu. .. Tiny Ice Mike
Sleepy Wizard Tall Bill
Joe Voss Tim Voss James Simms
Les Simms Paul Wukasch Trevor Wukasch
Carol Harris Tina Howell Jean Jeras
Griff McIntyre Warren Watson Kenny Zuncick
Mike O'Mally Steve Tullis Sander Kaplan
Dan Bagley Loyd Boyd Willie Smith
Walter Smith Warren Watson Warren Mitchell
Larry Grabowski Mike Mattuck John Wozny
Matt Bhuemer Emmett Quinn Ron Rak
Bernie Korznewski Bernie Rajkowski Bernie Stefanski
John Dillon Rich Fischer Lee Frye
John Sears Ed Porter Tony Guerra
Ernie Williams Jessie Rosas Ralph Mitchum
Kenny Fukar Turk Hunter Peter Troy
Larry Sullivan Gary Gottschalk Kevin Young
Tom Kelly Wayne Hatch Jerry Tazic
Jim O'Rielly John Caddick Bill Lynch
Bill Redis Chet Matykiewicz Wayne Hatch
Wayne Borawski Odell Humpries Tony Kaldis
Greg Cantrambone Ron Nowitski Joe Dlask
Joe Langraf Drew Stienbach John Blazina
Bill Sherman Andy Griffin John Walsh
Tom Walsh Jim Schulte Ed Duerk
Frank Straka Ed Mantel Rob Robinson
Monroe Bell Fred Kalita Jim Coyle
Dennis Veraveic Mickey Quirk Tony Pearson
Jake Hampton Mark Johnson Bill Pyziak
Bob Pyzik Vada Primus Bob Dicarlo
Denny Conway Jim Glanz Ed Faranauskus
Art Kamps Jimmy Kieth Scott Riemer
Mike Galivan T J Hull Bob Merz
Tom Chebular Chris Pacourek Ladd Dallum
Tim Ozga Tom Nyhan Scott Hulten
John Dudzic Fred Michon Jim Handly
Tom Frank Joe Mullen Jerry Morrisette
Justin Krone Kevin Young Ray Prokaski
Benny Villareal Tom Nacht Guy Manella
Joe Gibson Carl Jacob
Rondo Catelli Robert Hathaway Herman Carter
Phil Zimmerman Marco Bolotin Rich Wronski
Mike Sacharski Rick Fox Mr Wonderful
Steven Heinol / Honored 2018 Wall of Fame
Steve Heinol has been playing big ball since the 1970’s. He played the game before he could drive and needed a ride from his dad Dennis to get to his games. He was known to play hard and loves the game with all his heart. Even a heart attack on the field never stopped him as he continued to play as soon as he recovered. He was known to his teammates as Moe, Hien-dog or Stevie - and there were many teammates during his 40 years of 16” softball! Before retiring in 2017, Steve played for Molex, Playboys, Masterbatters, Jake’s Pizza, Penguins, both the old and new Woodpecker’s, Green Onions, Crabs, Fat Kids, March MFG, Bucket Heads and Bat’s. A versatile player, he started at all infield positions, especially 3rd. Three of his teams have already been honored by the Hall of Fame, Molex, Playboys and March. His appearances in Major and National tournaments are too numerous to list, but his career was highlighted by the Playboys Chicagoland Championship, two Industrial Chicagoland titles with Molex, a First Team All American with March MFG at the Prescott ASA Nationals in the late 90’s and Iowa ASA Nationals Second Team All American with the Fat Kids in 2009.
One of his biggest impacts on the sport is running the Lorden-Heinol Memorial Tournaments raising close to $1 million for cancer research. Players sign up as individuals and play on teams in Mt Prospect each Sepetember.
Beth Schultz Porzelt / Inducted 2018 Women
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.
Julio Sachetti / Inducted 2005 Pioneers 1887-1949
Julio Sachetti was the youngest of six children in an Italian immigrant family and the first of the children to be born in the United States. Growing up in the Italian neighborhoods of Chicago, Julio learned to play softball on the vacant lots and cinder parks of the city. Julio and his teammates from the neighborhood would pool their money to buy a bat and a couple of balls. They played pick-up games in the neighborhoods until they were eighteen when they joined competitive leagues at Garfield and Altgeld Parks during the mid to late 1930s. Julio's main team – the Cal Ads (California and Adams) – were Altgeld Park champions from 1936 to 1939. Julio was the captain of his team and was a natural born leader. He mainly played as a catcher but was also known to play wherever his team needed him. With bulging forearms that were larger than most men's biceps and an "eye to eye" glare at the opposing pitcher, Julio frequently singled or doubled – all while maintaining that defiant glare at the opposing pitcher. Besides being the team catalyst, Julio was responsible for team strategy that often led to some "candid" discussions with umpires. Julio and his two brothers, Louie and Joe, helped build the Chicago subway system, a trade that definitely helped build the "jackhammer forearms" that produced so many memorable hits. At age 25, and like many players of his era, World War II interrupted his playing days from 1943 - 945. He resumed playing 16" after his discharge, competing through the mid 1950s until his retirement from softball at forty. During his years of playing, Julio Sachetti competed against many of the great players in the Windy City leagues, including Lewa Yacilla, Red Hurter, and Sam LaBarbera. With his trademark sayings "Never look afraid" and "Let's single em to death," Julio Sachetti relished many victories against some of the great players in softball history. As a reminder of his passion for softball, his family placed a 16" softball with him upon his death in 1993. Julio never took the easy way in life or in softball and would have been honored on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Julio'�s wife, Mary, and his daughters Judy, Diane, and Liz share in this great honor.
Team Safari Tigers / Honored 2008 Team Recognition
Team Safari Tigers
The Safari Tigers 16-inch softball team was formed in April 1969 by Hall of Fame coach Claude Rhodes. The team was formed to counter the negative influences that prevailed in the Washington Park and Grand Crossing neighborhoods of Chicago. Today, this influence is even more necessary and meaningful. In the early 1970s, the Tigers played in area parks on the Southside of Chicago, but in the early 1980s, they sought tougher competition in leagues further west in Chicago and in the suburbs. At first, like many young teams, they took their lumps playing major sixteen-inch teams, but the players matured, sharpened their skills, increased their confidence, and most importantly, grew together into one of the best sixteeninch teams in the country. They demonstrated their excellence in 1984 and 1985 when they became the first African - American team to play in the ASA Nationals. They took second place both years. In 1989 they won the ASA Illinois State Tournament, won the Southside Cocktail League in 1990 and 1991, and hosted the Nationals in Mt. Prospect in 1992. The team disbanded in the fall of 1993. Clayton Jones Curtis Durns Mike Price Eric Jones Larry McGee Morris Rupert, Jr. Ernie Jones Cedric Walls Sam Woodson Sherman Martin, Jr. Del Morgan Leonard Woodson Michael Coleman Donnie Williams Floyd Neal Ray Warren Wesley Lee Mike Colvin Michael Lee Ken Johnson Claude Rhodes Randy Lee Randy Harris
Saints / Honored 2014 Team Recognition
The Saints sixteen-inch softball team first played in the Darien Park District League in the late 1970s. They were sponsored by Our Lady of Peace Church. Its pastor, Reverend Alphonse Mika, served as their first general manager. Father Al later joined forces with softball veteran Mike Paulo to take a group of neighborhood players and turn them into a premier nationally ranked softball team.
After winning local championships in Darien, Downers Grove, and Westmont and winning several tournaments, Paulo and the Saints made their move to national competition. In 1989 they won the LaGrange Metro, beating the powerful 45s. They then took second
place (losing to Aces) at the ASA “A” Nationals in Indianapolis. In 1992 they repeated their second place finish, losing to Ice at the “A” Nationals. They also earned three other “A” National trophies over their history for top-six finishes.
In the early 1990s, the Saints won ASA and USSSA “A” state tournaments and were a fixture in premier leagues and tournaments across Chicagoland. In 1994, the Super League, featuring many of the top “A” teams in softball, was formed at Clyde Park. The Saints won the inaugural championship. They were invited to play in the Pro League at Forest Park, a league that pitted
the Saints against the best teams in Major softball. After defeating several of the top teams in softball in the Grant Park Tournament, the Saints finished second to the powerful Lettuce team. In 1995 hey finished fifth in the ASA Major National Tournament at Mt. Prospect.
By the end of their two-decade run, the Saints had earned a reputation as a hard-hitting team that always sought out the best competition at the toughest tournaments. Their victories at the local, state, and national levels make them one of the top teams of their era.
John Salovitch / Inducted 2005 1950-1963 Era
Players who played against and with John Salovitch remember him as an imposing right-handed hitter who could hit to all fields for average and power. He played first base with the Kenneth Allen team in the first world tournament finals in 1964 and 1965. He also played first base with a number of other top softball teams at Clarendon, Kells, Kosciusko and other parks in the Chicago area. The Hall Of Fame has lost touch with John Salovitch. We would appreciate any contact information
Israel Sanchez / Inducted 2014 1993-Current
Israel Sanchez was born in Falcon Lasvias, Cuba in 1962. He came to the United States when he was six and attended Von Steuben High School.
He played sixteen-inch softball for
the Thrashers, Red Dog, the 45s,
Windy City, and Sage at parks throughout the Chicago area. He
was selected MVP at Forest Park
twice and was the MVP at the 2001
ASA Nationals. Teams he played on
have won five state titles, seven ASA National titles and five Forest Park No-Glove Nationals championships.
He was the captain of the great 45s teams.
Israel was an ASA All-American twelve times, a USSSA All-American once, and was selected as a USSSA All- Defender player. In 2013, the ASA named him as one of
the top twenty-two players of the past fifty years.
Many softball experts consider Israel to be one of the best first basemen in sixteen-inch softball history. Some have compared his talents at first base to a master chef who can cook a meal with everything in complete synchronization.
Israel was drafted as a pitcher by the Kansas City Royals in the 1982 amateur draft. He pitched at the major league level for the Royals in 1988 and 1990.
He and his wife, Angela, live in Skokie, Illinois. They have three children: Natalie, Brittany, and Anthony.
Elvira “Babe” Sanfillipo / Inducted 2015 Women
Elvira “Babe” Sanfillipo
Babe Sanfilippo is the second of eight children. She grew up in Brighton Park on Chicago’s South Side. Growing up, Babe would gather her brothers and the neighborhood kids and go to the empty lot to play the game she loves. ”Many times we wouldn’t have enough people to play all positions. Right field would be an automatic out. That’s how I learned to hit to the opposite field.”
Babe’s skills were sharpened even further by playing against the best in the game, including sixteen-inch softball Hall of Famers Betty Kollar, Mary Walz, and Janet Carpenter-Galvin.
Babe leads a diverse life. She worked at the Board of Trade where she met her husband, Joe. She has coached t-ball and girls softball and coaches sixth-grade basketball. She also tutors at the Leadershop in La Grange and volunteers with her husband at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
This May will mark Babe’s fortieth year of playing sixteen-inch softball. She currently plays for the Hangovers and the Shooters co-ed team. She has also played for Wilson CC, Les Girls, Carpe Diem, Pretenders, Brats, Blaze, Brat Pack, and Village People.
Joe Sarna / Inducted 2006 Media & Organizers
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 Sarno / Inducted 1997 Media & Organizers
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.
Don Savage / Inducted 2014 Pioneers 1887-1949
Don Savage has been a member of a sixteen-inch softball team for seventy- eight years, from 1935 to the end
of the 2013 season. His teams have won more that forty championships and Don has played in or managed
in approximately thirty-five senior leagues at parks throughout Chicago and the suburbs
Don attended St. Philomena
Elementary School and Kelvyn Park High School on Chicago’s North Side. He attended Ford College and the Freight Traffic College. In 1939, his team, the TNTs (short for dynamite), defeated the Hawks to win the Mozart Park championship in front of more than eight hundred spectators. In 1944 he won the Northtown batting title. In 1944 and 1945, St Philomena won the CYO Senior League title, defeating a South Side team loaded with Windy City players. Saint Philomena was led by brothers Bob (HOF) and Lou Werderitch and Don.
In 1947, they lost in the city semi-finals to an Adduci team that included such legendary softball players
and Hall of Fame members as Nick Branman, Whitey Maytag, Nick Pierucci and many others. Don played
at Northtown, Kosciuszko, LaFollette, and Mozart parks, the top parks in the early days of softball. In the early 1940s and 1950s, Don’s teams always enjoyed competing against some of softball’s legendary players at Mozart Park. In 1973 he arrived at Independence Park
at the last minute. He learned that his team was a man short, so he played with his right wrist in a cast. He had two hits and a walk to help the Bakers win the championship.
Don has been running a golf tournament out of Mozart Park for sixty-seven years. It started in 1946 with his softball players and has grown each year. He is also a member
of the “Ye Old Has-Bens Club” that meets annually at Hawthorne Park. He has organized many trips to Notre Dame and Bears football games and Cubs games. For fifteen years he has participated in the Six-County Senior Games and the Chicago Senior Games, winning over 150 awards in various sports and competitions.
Don thanks Bill Muellner, his first manager (and Chicago Cardinal player), who in 1935 got him involved in the game. He also thanks Mugs Molley at Wildwood Park and Hall of Famers Mike Coyne and Joe Umana for keeping him involved in softball for the past twenty-five years.
Don worked for Gateway Building Products for sixty years. He rose to the position of vice-president. He
and his wife, Theresa, have two daughters – Peggy and Ginny. He has lived on North Tripp his entire life. Don turned ninety-six in 2013.
Santo “Doc” Scavuzzo / Inducted 2002 Pioneers 1887-1949
Santo “Doc” Scavuzzo
In 1936, Santo "Doc" Scavuzzo began his fifty plus year softball career playing second base with Duro-Lite Pencil at Green Briar Park. In 1940, Duro-Lite expanded their competition by winning championships at both Green Briar Park and Sauganash Park. 1947 saw Scavuzzo help the DeSoto Knights of Columbus. In 1948, Scavuzzo joined Rhode's Tavern in the Welles Park League. That year they made a name for themselves when they played the legendary Brown Bombers in a two game money series, winning one of the games. Scavuzzo expanded his range of influence in 1949 when he organized the Hoellen Ball Club at Welles and Winnemac Parks and won championships at both parks. From 1950 until his move to Colorado, Scavuzzo's team competed against and beat some of the legendary teams of the era at some legendary parks. he came in second to Kool Vent Awnings at Thillens Stadium as a member of Town Pumps with Ken Speirs and the great Notre Dame legend Larry Coutre, and won league championships and big money games at Clarendon and Welles Parks. "Doc" Scavuzzo carried his love of 16" softball to Colorado, where he organized and ran a 16" league for three years before organizing a 12" club that won numerous Colorado and regional championships. In 1994, he was inducted into the ASA Hall of Honor in Colorado.
George Schaaf / Inducted 2007 Media & Organizers
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 / Inducted 2006 Umpires & Managers
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 / Inducted 1997 Women
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 / Inducted 2004 Women
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 / Inducted 2001 Umpires & Managers
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.
Jerry Schmitt / Inducted 1999 1964-1979 Era
Jerry Schmitt was a standout at Leo High School (1958) in track and in basketball where he was named Catholic League All Star in 1957 and 1958. He also played baseball with Elks Lodge 1596 in the Connie Mack League because Leo did not have a baseball team. Softball became a lifestyle for Jerry for over four decades as he would often play 15 to 20 games each week. With a reputation as a swift outfielder with tremendous power, Jerry began his softball career in the 50s at Sabina Field. He played with Father Perez Knights of Columbus #1444 for 1960 to 1984. During that time they captured Knights of Columbus State Championships in 1962, 63, and 64. Jerry was named MVP of the Southwest Cook County All Star game in 1963 and 1964. Jerry then played with the Whips, Bidwell, Jones Motors, and Will Climate. In 1964 he played with the Bobcats as they won the first ever World Series of Softball championship. Jerry remained with the Bobcats until 1970 when he switched to the American Rivet Sobies. This change proved fruitful when the Sobies won the World Series of Softball championship in 1974. Besides playing softball, Jerry also crafted a career on the other side of the plate when he began to umpire. He officiated for ten years at Ridge, Kennedy, Graver, and Mt. Greenwood Parks. Jerry has kept in touch with many of his former teammates and rivals by organizing the Old Timers Softball annual night held each year in May. For the past 13 years, close to 300 former softball greats gather to discuss the game they love and played so well.
Robert “Jake” Schmitz / Inducted 2000 1964-1979 Era
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 / Inducted 2002 1964-1979 Era
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 / Inducted 2011
Mark “Schu” Schuller
Mark Schuller's softball career started under the tutelage of Bob Faje and the Squire's Softball Club. They won multiple league titles at LaGrange Park, in Bolingbrook, and Villa Park in the mid-1970s. He played center field four-to-five nights per week and was hooked on this great Chicago pastime called sixteen-inch softball. In 1979, the late Bill Spencer suggested that Mark tryout for Wally Pecs' Register team. They played in highly competitive leagues at Clarendon, Schaumburg, and Evanston. With help from teammates Mark Frighetto (HOF), Gus Contos, and Tom Tuccori, Mark learned the tricks of playing outfield and of hitting the heavy Clincher at Clarendon, which was rumored to be "juiced" with water or milk to keep it from flying over the close fences in left field. In 1981, Hugh Carmichael assembled a powerhouse team of the Rollers/Runts, which included John O'Connor (HOF), and Danny Brichetto They dominated play in the newly formed Mt. Prospect League. They captured the league title and a qualifier to the nationals. They lost to Spats in the 2nd championship game in the Aberdeen, SD ASA Nationals in 1982. Under the sponsorship of Cooper's Sporting Goods, Ken Cooper merged the Runts and a strong nucleus of Hall of Fame players Buddy Doroskin, Frank Mustari, and Paul Brezinski from Coopers into the powerhouse Bud North that dominated play in the Mt. Prospect Classic League. They won titles at Mt. Prospect and Berwyn, the Forest Park "No-Gloves" title in 1987, '88, and '89, and the USSSA State title. Unfortunately they lost to the Ducks in the 1986 ASA National finals in Mt. Prospect. That year Mark received the MVP team trophy from Hall of Fame manager Ken Cooper. In 1991, Mark played in the ASA Nationals in Kingman, Arizona with the Rabbits, a team comprised of players from the North and South sides. This was his last ASA appearance with the team coming up short for a national title. He currently plays for the Doctors (HOF) in Cicero and Berwyn, the Warhawks in North Riverside, and Still Cruisin in Glenview. Mark retired from Citibank and resides in Burbank, Illinois.
Charlie Serpe / Inducted 1996 1950-1963 Era
Announcers Bob Elson and Bert Wilson called him "Mr.Softball". He played on the '41 Witt Hanley Yankee, Midland Motors 1948, and Kool Vent '49 championship teams in the Windy City League as centerfielder. Great speed and defensive skills and cannon arm. One of the great players of post-war era. He was rumored to have been late for his own wedding in order to play a softball money game. A very big money player who was always up to the task in the big games. AllStar on '48 team. Born 1925 Since Deceased.
George “Sherm” Sherman / Honored 2011 Wall of Fame
George “Sherm” Sherman
George Sherman began playing softball in 1963 for Durty Nellies in Palatine. He was nineteen at the time and was playing football for Northern Illinois University, so he could not fully commit to the travel necessary to play full-time for Nellies. After college, he became the quarterback for the Lake County Semi-Professional Football Team, further limiting his softball playing time. Even so, besides Nellies, he played for ten other teams, including the Nomads, Bakers, Scrappers, and the Bruins. He also played in tournaments with many North and Northwest suburban teams. But he never forgot his first team and often came back to Palatine to help Nellies win the Palatine league title thirteen times in eighteen years. Many former players think he played first base and hit to right field better than most players in the game. During the first eighteen years of play, he never hit below .500 and had seven seasons of .600 and three at .700. He led the team in homeruns and RBIs for fifteen and eighteen seasons. He was an All-Tournament player in 1979 and was team MVP with Nellies, Corkers, and Dodge Boys five teams. Besides playing softball, George has also organized, managed, and sponsored teams. He organized sixteeninch and twelve-inch leagues for the Schaumburg Park District. He created a senior indoor program (they played from October through April) for fifty-andolder players. He also helped the Palatine Park District organize their softball programs. As a sponsor, his Bars and Volleyball Club has sponsored more than seventy teams of all levels of softball in leagues throughout the Northwest suburbs. George is a member of Round Lake High School's Hall of Fame. He played varsity baseball all four years (all-conference his senior year); football three years (all-conference junior and senior years and all-area and honorable mention all-state his senior year), and two years basketball (all-conference senior year). He was a member of the first Round Lake championship team in any sport – basketball in 1962. He coached boys and girls volleyball at Maine South High School (coached Tom Hoff who would become the captain of the USA Olympic Gold Medal Team in China). He also coached girls volleyball at Elk Grove High School, at Palatine High School (five conference championships and two third place finishes in state competition, and boys and girls volleyball at Lake Park High School (six conference championships and two trips to the state semi-finals. He also was the director of Circus Boys Volleyball Club for eighteen years before retiring. He now plays softball for the So Cal, North County Senior Softball Association. George taught mathematics for thirty-six years before retiring in 2002. He now lives in San Diego, California. He has three daughters – Jodie, Betsie, and Katie.
Shooters / Honored 2015 Team Recognition
During the late ‘60s and ‘70s, the Shooters were considered to be one of the five best teams in Chicago. The North Side had the Shooters, the Dwarfs, and the 45s and the South Side had the Bobcats, the Rogues, and the Sobies. The team members came from Senn, Sullivan, Mather, Roosevelt, Von Steuben, and Amundsen High Schools. They were built on speed, defense, and timely hitting.
Their first year they found success, going 14-6 at Clarendon. Each year they added more power and quickly became one of Chicago’s most dominant teams. From 1969 to 1971, they went 65 – 6, winning numerous games by the slaughter rule and drawing huge crowds at Clarendon Park. They won two Clarendon titles and championships at Terminal Park in Skokie, James Park in Evanston, and Mather Park in Chicago. Their great speed, flawless fielding, and powerful hitting helped them win or finish as finalists in the Andy Frain Tournament, the World Series of Softball at Blue Island, and in tournaments at Mather Park, in Niles, and on the South Side.
The Shooters competed against their North Side rivals, the Dwarfs and Gaffers, and held their own with a nice winning record. They beat the Bobcats 16 – 5 at Clarendon in 1970. They were 0 – 1 against the Sobies, losing to them in the semi-finals of the Andy Frain Tournament. They lost to the Strikers by one run in the World Series of Softball at Blue Island in 1970.
Throughout the years, Shooter players won many softball and non-softball honors, including being named to high school baseball and basketball all-city teams, winning the Chicago Public League batting championship, being named to the Chicago Coaches Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. The Shooters had three college baseball captains, five college baseball players, and five college basketball players.
The Shooters were a great team and a great group of guys. Like the movie “Remember the Titans” softball fans will always “Remember the Shooters”.
Ron Maurer (HOF) Burt Weinberg Bob Bernstein (HOF)
Jack Jacobson Bruce Roth Larry Spiegel
Art Lurie (HOF) Richie Weiner Larry Komar
Jerry Berlin Chris Bakulis Gary Watanabe
Doug Millstone Dave Neiman Gary Lipkin
Ed Fink Jerry Abrams Sandy Issacson
Al Colvin Rich Stucker Ron Goldie
Willie “Steamer” Simpson / Inducted 1996 1964-1979 Era
Willie “Steamer” Simpson
Considered by many softball authorities as the greatest “clutch” hitter and toughest competitors in Chicago softball, he could go long or dump. He batted and threw right handed and played basically outfield or catcher. He spent most of his career with the Bobcats and whenever Eddie Zolna showed up at a money game it was sure that Willie wasn’t too far away. Six times he was the All-American catcher and twice the MYP of the ASA National Tournament. Played on every tournament championship you can imagine including St. Albert the Greats CYO teams and especially eleven ASA National Championships with the Bobcats and Whips. He even played with the professional 12” softball team in Chicago in the late 70’s and was one of the league’s top hitters. His enthusiastic whistling and cheerleading while playing in all the top leagues in Chicago for the 60-70s made him a crowd favorite. The Oak Lawn resident is still active as a very effective pinch hitter and coach for the North Stars. Once showed up in tuxedo from a wedding to get the winning hit. He and Laura have 3 children. Born 1946.
Toncie Siriscevich / Honored 2014 Wall of Fame
Toncie Siriscevich’s fifty-plus year softball career started on the sidewalk by Ward School when he was ten.
He was too young to play at Armour Park or Harden Square, so he and
his friends made bases with chalk and were coached by Frank Stubitch. Three years later, he was playing “sewer softball” (in the street with the sewers as bases) with the older guys by Tooty’s Corner, a local grocery store at 28th and Princeton. When he was fifteen, he was asked to play with Johnny’s “O”, one of the best teams in his neighborhood. They played at McGuane and Donovan parks.
He started playing more competitive softball when Pete Monaco (HOF), manager of the Knights of Columbus St. Albert the Great, asked him to play for them. It was there that he started playing with and against such great players as Willie Simpson (HOF), Ed Surma (HOF), Eddie Surma (HOF), Jim McArdle (HOF), Jack Keller, and others. In 1962 and into the early 1970s, St Albert won numerous state titles and Toncie was selected MVP several times. In 1963 and 1964 he played for Ed Zolna (HOF) and the Bobcats. He continued to play for St Alberts for the next twelve years in the Knights of Columbus League.
At that time, Toncie was asked to
get involved in a softball league in Bridgeport for kids who were not playing baseball. The league was to be called Wallace Softball. Along with men like Nick Spata, Tom Hadley, Ray Houlihan, they secured a lot
at 33rd and Wallace. The league became a success with more than
four hundred kids between the ages of six and sixteen playing softball.
The league continued for fifteen years until houses were built on the lot. The league moved to Donovan Park where play continued for ten more years. Many of the league’s graduates such
as Kevin Annerino, Mark Munnizzi, Tom Duddleston, Perry Mastro, and Chuck Gash went on to play for Crush, Stickmen, Lettuce, Whips, and other great teams. There is still a Wallace team playing sixteen-inch softball today.
Toncie then joined the highly successful Attitude team in the 1990s. He left them and joined Bucketheads in 2002. They finished second to the Miller 45s in the ASA Nationals. The Bucketheads now play as Windy City Softball and have won several nationals titles: ASA Majors in 2010 and the SSA Majors in 2012 and 2013. They also won the Forest Park title in 2013.
Bob Sirott / Inducted 2006 Media & Organizers
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 Skowronski / Inducted 2009 Women
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.
Team SloPokes / Honored 2008 Team Recognition
Although they were only together for a few years, the Slo-Pokes made their mark on women’s softball on the North and Northwest sides of Chicago. Like many great teams, they were a compilation of teams that had played against each other. And like other great teams, they had a strong organizer who could spot and recruit the best talent. Pat Pasko (HOF) was the player / coach, financial supporter, and head motivator for the team. She would hand out Slo-Poke suckers after the game to team members who played exceptionally well. The team wore red, white, and blue uniforms to honor America’s bi-centennial in 1976. During that 1976 season, they won three league championships and four single day tournaments, losing only two games that season. The team played at Kosciusko Park, Athletic Field, Wells, Touhy, Hanson, and Clarendon Parks. One player remarked that she ordered so many championship jackets that year that she started ordering them for her sister and other family members. But like all teams, they some day have to say good-bye to one another. Slo-Pokes broke up because some of the older players began to cut back on their playing and some of the younger players went on to play eleven-inch ball. Two former Slo-Poke players, Jan Wilson and Mary Malpede, were inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame for eleven-inch ball. Mary Kay Schaeffer- Monaghan was inducted into the 16-inch Softball hall of Fame. Many Slo-Poke players continued to give back to the game by becoming teachers and coaches.
John “Beaver” Smith / Inducted 2012
John “Beaver” Smith
John Smith began playing organized softball in 1972 when he was eighteen and playing left field for Orr High School on Chicago's West-side. He was having so much fun playing the game that he loved that he started playing in other leagues in 1974. He played for P&O Express for two years at Garfield Park and Columbus Park. After leaving P&O, he joined the West - Side Devils and helped them win the championships at the Saturday and Sunday Leagues. He then played for the Koreans, the Safari Tigers, and finally to California Gold. They played night ball in the highly competitive league at 75th and Jeffery and then moved on to Lou Boudreau Stadium where the South side - West-side rivalry began. In 1992 California Gold finished fourth in the ASA "A" National Tournament in Marshalltown, Iowa. That same year they finished second in the Men's 16-inch Class A USSSA Budweiser and DeBeer Tournament in Wisconsin. In 1995 John was named to his first ASA "A" Nationals All-American Team. In 1998 the Gold won the Sunday's Best League title at Washington Park. In 2002 John was named the Sunday's Best Night- Life MVP and was named All First Team in the Mike Royko Chicago Park District Tournament in Grant Park. In addition to these honors, John has also been named tournament MVP in several other leagues. With his excellent ability to get on bas, John was known as "Mr. Clutch" and many pitchers feared facing him when the game was close. He was "protected" in the batting order by fellow Hall of Fame standout Steve Kirby, Clayton Jones, and Mike Lee. John and his wife, Brenda, live in Westchester, Illinois. They have a daughter, January Smith.
Team Smoke / Honored 2011 Team Recognition
1985. After playing softball for more than twenty years for various teams in countless parks around Chicago and the suburbs, Gary S. Goldberg and Chuck Martinkus felt it was time to form their own team and bring their combined experience to a product they and everyone involved would be proud of. They acted on two principles: that solid, dedicated individuals would produce a better team than flash-in-the-pan superstars, and that long-tern team building was more important than short-tern success. Throughout the early spring of 1985, Goldberg and Martinkus contacted players they knew would fit in, ran ads in local papers, and relied on word of mouth to assemble a team for the upcoming season. Smoke played in a summer league at Shabonna Park twice a week. Because of the typical growing pains that new teams experience, they had mixed results, going .500 their first season. In 1986 they added a few missing parts and produced a playoff team that was still far from perfect, but most of the players were in it for the long haul, so they weren't discouraged. They played in the 1986 Fall League at Terminal Park in Skokie and found some unexpected results. Their two years at Shabonna and their patience and hard work led to them winning the league title that fall. They went on to win nine Fall League championships in eleven years. They played in the Summer League at Terminal with mixed results. They had a couple of runner-up finishes and won the league title in 1996. In 1997 most of the team broke up. Guys got married, moved out of the area, or moved to other teams. But Goldberg and Martinkus decided to give it one more try. They reconnected with original team members and added new talent to complete the roster. They entered the 1998 season in a "B" league at Dee Park and proceeded to win the summer and fall titles. From 2000 to 2007 they played at Behrens Park in Elmhurst and Lions Park in Villa Park. They were a perennial playoff team and took second a few times in the league championship. They won the championship at Lions Park in 2003 and at Behrens Park in 2006 and 2007. They played in many tournaments around the city and suburbs, including a "geriatric" tournament on the Southeast side of Chicago and in tournaments at Warren Park, Thillens Stadium, and in the first Terry Moran Tournament. From 2004 - 2007, they played in the Villa Park Summer League that was televised by Comcast with Duane Dow as commentator. They were undefeated on the telecasts for four years. They still play indoor winter softball at the Ditka Dome. In 2008 Smoke cofounder Gary Goldberg pitched a perfect game in the Schaumburg Indoor Winter league, a rarity in sixteeninch softball. Smoke recently received a congratulatory letter from Kirk Dillard, Illinois State Senator and avid softball player, upon their being honored by the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame. Smoke Players Gary S. Goldberg Charles Martinkus Art Kamps John Bias Larry Cagle Don Carson Steve Columbus Larry Comstock Jed Curtis Frank Dale Charles Dial Steve Gerber James Glorioso Rade Inovic Bronko Jantz Art Levy Robert McDonald Tony Monaco Chris Nelson Billy Pica Marty Pick Norm Rose Stu Rosen Mike Rossi Jim Schmitt Robert Seidenberg Paul Smith Jeff Spiegel Jerry Thompson Jim Thompson Mark Tomei Marshall Waldo Charles Weidenbach Brian Anderson Greg Boehm Brad Buckholtz Ken Hollingsworth John Hughes Fred Michon Tom O'Malley Adrian Romero Mike Smith Rich Strachura Steve Weissmann Tony Cursio Phil Grandinetti Jayson Judge Kevin Klaibor Lou Rossi William See perennial playoff team and took second a few times in the league championship. They won the championship at Lions Park in 2003 and at Behrens Park in 2006 and 2007. They played in many tournaments around the city and suburbs, including a "geriatric" tournament on the Southeast side of Chicago and in tournaments at Warren Park, Thillens Stadium, and in the first Terry Moran Tournament. From 2004 – 2007, they played in the Villa Park Summer League that was televised by Comcast with Duane Dow as commentator. They were undefeated on the telecasts for four years. They still play indoor winter softball at the Ditka Dome. In 2008 Smoke cofounder Gary Goldberg pitched a perfect game in the Schaumburg Indoor Winter league, a rarity in sixteeninch softball. Smoke recently received a congratulatory letter from Kirk Dillard, Illinois State Senator and avid softball player, upon their being honored by the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame.
Team Smooth Over / Honored 2010 Team Recognition
Team Smooth Over
What started out as fun nights with softball friends and die-hard veteran players, all came together to form the Smooth Over softball team. They immediately established themselves as a team to be reckoned with. In the early-'90s, they emerged as one of the most competitive teams on the South side. They started out playing in park district leagues and then started competing in tournaments throughout the Chicago land area. They were the top-ranked team in the Kennedy Park League for three straight seasons, recording two undefeated seasons. Then, with the sponsorship of Everything's Relative (a day spa), they played in tournaments all over the city, including Alderman O'Connor's on the North side and the Grant Park Tournaments. They won The Best of Western Tournament and the inaugural Ginger Rugai's Y-Me Tournament. They took first place there two straight years. Key players Pat McGuire (HOF) and Julie Iverson (HOF) helped keep the competitive spirit alive. The name Smooth Over was taken from an Anheuser Busch advertising slogan. The team adopted it as their name when Anheuser Bucsh executive and friend, Carol Kelleher, contributed to the sponsorship with team uniforms and bat bags. Soon, the Smooth Over logo became a Kennedy Park symbol and the players adopted it as their sign-off gesture after a key (smooooth) play. After their many league and tournament victories, Smooth Over celebrated at Cullinan's Stadium Club, owned by sponsor Dan Cullinan. Like all great teams, the members of Smooth Over formed lifelong friendships. The teamwork displayed during those wonderful summer days and nights produced lasting memories. In fact, one team member named her business after the team - Smooth Over Sealcoat. Marsha Amraen , captain C Abbie Cronin, C Julie Iverson, 1B Nancy Thrasher, 1B Maribeth Heneghan, SC Janet Varga, SC Connie Varga, OF Betty Kollar, OF Joan Each-Rowan, 2B Janet Each, 2B Pat McGuire, SS Kim Pavelich, OF Eileen Callahan, SC Jen Yoder, 2B Beth Iverson, 2B Lil Warrington, OF Nancy Minasola, 3B Marianne Pilja, OF Kathy Strand, P Meg O'Malley, OF Cathy Cunningham, C Joanna Weinman, SC
Team Sobies / Honored 1999 Team Recognition
Larry Sowa / Inducted 1997 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
Larry Sowa grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago where he started playing 16” softball in the alleys and playgrounds around Kosciusko Park He played C.Y.0 ball for Our Lady of Grace elementary School and played on a number of neighborhood teams during his high school days at Notre Dame in Niles. In the 1960’s and 70s he played first base for Murderer’s Row and CNA Gold, two top notch teams in their era. Later, he organized and played for the Spoilers in the early days of the Mount Prospect Park District softball program. They won the championship in the Meadows Park League, a forerunner of the Mount Prospect Classic League. Larry is currently general manager of Town and Country Distributors, Inc in Itasca, IL. He has been a major supporter of the 16”game since Town and Country sponsored the first ASA Championship held at Majewski Park in 1988. Larry’s comment best summarizes the impact of his, Larry Sowa’s and Miller Brewing Company’s sponsorship of softball, “I am just fortunate to have been in a position to help support a great game which is a big part of the Chicagoland. The Miller Brewing Company deserves most of the credit because without Miller’s financial help, it just would not be possible.
Ken Speirs / Inducted 1999 Pioneers 1887-1949
With a softball career spanning 40 years, Ken "Kenny" Speirs remembers getting hits off the legendary Lewa Yacillo and Sheik DiNardi. He started his career at Waters Park on the Northwest side of Chicago. He also played at Welles Park, Thillen's Stadium, Clarendon Park, Chicago and Kedzie, and one year with Fewer Boilers and the legendary Eggs Bromley. One of the top ten hitters every year at Norttown and Clarendon Parks, Speirs led the team in doubles and batted second or third with every team. He started his career at third base, moved to left field where he earned the nickname "Spider" for his remarkable hands. He later took over at short center when a teammate was hurt. He never left that position as he became one of the best shortcenters in the game. Speirs remembers playing four games on Sunday - CYO Ball, two pot games in the afternoon, and a night game at Thillen's. His team won the CYO championship three years in a row with the Queen of Angels. With the Alderman Hoellen Boosters Speirs dominated Welles Park for ten years. At Nortown Speirs played with Town Pump where he was runner up to such teams as Midland Motors, Kool Vent, and Spalters. Kenny Speirs played at Clarendon into his 40s where he won the league championship with Warm Friends, Ryan's Jungle, and others. He also was runner-up to the Bobcats two years in a row while playing at Chicago and Kedzie. He was invited to the Cub's school at sixteen while a student at Amundsen High School. Ken served with the Navy Amphibious forces for two years in the Pacific Theatre and served in Korea for a year. He retired in 1984 from Illinois Bell Telephone after 34 years of service. Ken and his wife of fifty years, Caye, have seven children and 16 grandchildren.
Jimmy Spidale / Honored 2003 Wall of Fame
As a young boy Jimmy Spidale often ventured to Kells Field to watch the greatest softball teams of the 50s and 60s duel it out in some classic matches. Little did he know that some day he would join the ranks of softball’s elite players and managers. He joined the Nocturnes in 1965 playing second base and short center for them and launching a thirteen-year partnership. During his tenure, the Nocturnes won numerous league and tournament titles. Many consider them to be one of the best teams of that era. In 1981 Spidale’s career took a twist when he became the manager of the Stooges, the neighborhood team that was consistently ranked among the top ten teams in Chocagoland 16” softball. During Jimmy Spidale’s sixteen-year association with the team, the Stooges won over fifty tournaments, captured the Broadview League championship for six years in a row, won the tough Clyde Park A League, clinched eight Metro championships as well as the Hawthorne Park championship and the Life Newspaper Tourney. With 1,000 plus wins against only 200 losses, the Stooges were always a threat in the Forest Park Tournament and in the Labor Day A.S.A. championship series. They were always known for their excellent defense, great team speed, consistent roster, and superb pitching. In fact, in August, 1993, the Chicago Sun Times called them “The neighborhood team that plays big time ball.” Jimmy Spidale is an attorney living in Broadview, Illinois. He and his wife, Mary, have two children, Mike, who plays centerfield for the Winston-Salem Warthogs, a White Sox minor league team and a daughter, Julie.
Team Splinters / Honored 2010 Team Recognition
Total: 155 wins against 39 losses
ASA Major National Champions in 1991 and 1997
ASA Major National Runners-up in 1990, 1994, 1995, and 1996
Forest Park Records
1992 - First Place
1994 - Second Place
Sixteen members of Splinters have been inducted into the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame
Toni Stachon-Paolini / Inducted 2000 Women
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.
Clyde Stary / Inducted 1999 1964-1979 Era
A veteran of the Korean War where he was awarded the Korean Service Medal with three Battle Stars, the U.N. Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Republic of Korea Unit Presidential Citation, Clyde Stary returned to the States to take part in the softball wars of Chicago. During these softball wars, Starry, an All Star shortstop and short center, and the Bobcats won Chicago Metropolitan Championships in 1967, 68, and 69. They were City of Chicago Softball Champions in 1966, 67, and 68. They placed second in the ASA National Championships in 1966, 67, and 68 and won the ASA Nationals in 1964, 1965, and 1969. Starry and the Bobcats also won seven City Softball Championships, including consecutive years in ‘66, ‘67, and ‘68. They also won Chicago Metropolitan Championship during those years. Besides the Bobcats, Clyde Starry also played with Bud’s Tavern, Colonial Lounge, Triner’s (Tigers) Lounge, Rocky Stars, Shakey Jakes, Gravers, and Sportsman’s Lounge. A graduate of Farragut High School where he played baseball, basketball, and football, Clyde Starry was playing professional baseball when his career was interrupted by the Korean War. Clyde worked at General Motors for 21 years and for the Village of Downers Grove for 12 years, retiring in 1994. He and his wife, Mary have two children, Mike and April.
Stanley “Lefty” Stein / Inducted 2006 Pioneers 1887-1949
Stanley “Lefty” Stein
Stanley Stein ranks as one of the top left fielders and hitters of the 30s and 40s. He started playing softball at seventeen and quickly made a name for himself. He was the leadoff man for North Shore Congregation (a Hall of Fame team honored in 2005), Judge Shillers and the legendary Windy City Teams which included the Triplex Yankees, Midland Motors, Witt Hanley Yankees, Chicago Mail Order, and Senate Florals. He was the lead-off hitter for Witt Hanley in 1941, a team that the Softball News on September 12, 1941 called the greatest collection of softballers ever to be assembled on one team. In 1937 he led the league in hitting and one year was the second leading hitter in the league with a .619 average. He continued to be one of the top leading hitters throughout his career. Playing with such softball greats and Hall of Fame members as Art (Lefty) Goldfedder, Red Hurter, Lewa Yacilla, Whitey Maytag, Jimmy DiVito, and James "Sheik" DiNardi to name a few, Stanley Stein was a true pioneer and star of the game. His speed and ability to get on base earned him a place as one of the top players of his era and beyond. He worked for International Harvester and Sara Lee. Stanley Stein passed away in 1998. He leaves behind his sons, Fred, Joel, and Jerald, and two grandchildren, Michael and Jamey.
Jim “Steiner” Stein / Honored 2018 Wall of Fame
Jim “Steiner” Stein
Jim grew up in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. In grammar school, Jim, along with a number of his friends from St. Peter Canisius, began playing 16” softball at La Follette Park. During his high school years, Jim’s team finished second or third each year.
The Sunday afternoons of Jim’s youth were spent playing teams from other neighborhood parks. The games were important for two reasons: bragging rights and a money pot. They also helped everyone become better softball players and teammates. Jim graduated from De Paul Academy in 1967. He is a proud Vietnam Veteran and served in the Americal Division of the U.S Army from January 1968 until August 1969.
Upon his return to civilian life, Jim attended college, entered the business world, and was fortunate to meet another West Sider, his wife Anne. In the late 1980s, St. Francis Xavier parish in La Grange started organizing 16” softball pickup games on Sunday afternoons. The Sunday routine of church and softball reminded Jim of the Sundays of his youth and just how much he enjoyed both the game and the camaraderie.
In 1992, Jim Quinn (HOF) asked Jim to play for the Leftovers in the 39 and over the league in La Grange. The Leftovers have never won a championship but have been competitive. The team still plays in that league, which is now at Janura Park. Jim hopes this will be their lucky year.
In 1998, Jim began playing in the inaugural Monday night 50 and over the league in La Grange with the Old Strokes. With Jim catching and playing 3rd base, the Old Strokes won the championship in 1998 and 2003 and still play in that league, also now located at Janura Park.
In the late 1990s, the Strokers began playing in the fall league in LaGrange. They won the championship in 1997 and, again, in 2013, despite their players being nearly twenty years older than their nearest competitors.
By the early 2000’s, Jim was playing softball 3 nights a week. Jim played with the Leftovers on Fridays, the Old Strokers on Mondays and the legendary Gillette Strokers at Grant Park on Thursdays. The Gillette Strokers began playing at Grant Park in the 70’s. Jim considers himself fortunate to have played with them during their championship seasons of 2006 and 2008. The highlight of every season is the annual Strokerfest, a barbecue held after a game in June. Members from other teams stop by to enjoy the festivities and camaraderie.
In addition to playing softball, Jim has served as the league commissioner for the 50 and over the league at Clyde Park from 2013 - 15 and at Janura Park from 2016 - 18.
When not playing softball, Jim volunteers at the Edward Hines VA Hospital. He is the Veterans Food Pantry Coordinator responsible for ordering, pantry set up and distribution. The pantry distributes food products to over 6,500 veterans per year. Jim also volunteers at the Hines VA Hospital Fisher House, an organization that provides no-cost housing to the families of veterans who are receiving medical treatment.
Jim never thought he’d still be playing softball at sixty-nine, but whenever he gets a hit or drives in a run, he remembers being thirty-nine again and all the good times he’s had playing softball. Jim is grateful for the many lasting friendships he has made over the years, a great many of these might never have crossed his path if it weren’t for the GREAT game of 16 - inch softball.
John Stock / Inducted 2014
John Stock played softball for twenty- five years with some of the top
teams of his time. He started playing neighborhood softball when he was fifteen in the schoolyard at Chopin Grammar School. He later played in the league at Smith Park.
As his skills grew, better teams
noticed him and he soon found
himself playing “Major” softball with
the Playboys. In 1978, the Playboys were an exceptional team. They won league championships at Portage, Indian Road, Clarendon, and Kelly Parks. They also won the championships of the Windy City League and the Blue Island League. The highlight of that year was winning the Andy Frain Tournament.
In 1984 he played for the Lords, but was told by their coach that he wouldn’t pitch for them in 1985 because they were going to play with their neighborhood guys. He gave John
his blessing to look for another team. John did and joined the Hometown Touch. That year he pitched the Hometown Touch to the ASA Major National Title, beating the Safari Tigers. After the championship game, that coach told John that letting him go was the biggest mistake he made.
John credits the high honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame to his great teammates and all of the people who believed in him along the way.
John lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Team The Stompers / Honored 2007 Team Recognition
Team The Stompers
The Stompers were started in 1976 when a bunch of friends from the Gailwood neighborhood got together together to play a team from another park in the area. They were successful, so one of their players entered them in the Amundsen Park League. Unfortunately they didn't have a team name when they registered, so the park director gave them the Stomper name. They won the Amundsen League several years in a row and also won the 30th Ward Tournament for eight consecutive years. They then moved to the more competitive leagues at Kells Park and then to the Clarendon Park League. In 1975 they played at Kelly Park, a league that many regarded as the best in Chicago at that time. They won their division and were then invited to play in Tom Bonen's Windy City League. At this time, they were ranked as one of the top ten teams in the city. They also played in the Blue Island Softball League and qualified for the ASA Nationals.
Team Stooges / Honored 2008 Team Recognition
Chicago’s game characteristically mirrors the city that created it – it’s brash, bold, loyal, and smart. It possesses a never say die attitude. From 1981 to 1996, no team better exemplified these traits than the Stooges, the team that in 1993 the Sun Times called “The neighborhood team that plays big-time ball.” The Stooges were known for their excellent defense, great team speed, consistent roster, and superb pitching. Consistently ranked among the top ten teams in Chicagoland softball, the Stooges won over fifty tournaments, captured the tough Broadview League championship six years in row with a 28 - 0 record in 1993, won the tough Cicero-Clyde Park League twice, and won eight Metro championships as well as the Hawthorne Park championship and the West Suburban Life Newspaper title. Additionally, the Stooges were always a threat in the Forest Park “No- Glove Nationals” and in the ASA Nationals. The Stooges were born partly out of the 1977 state baseball championship won by players at Proviso East High School. The team members all lived within ten blocks of each other in suburban Broadview. The Stooges were always known for the passion for the game and their camaraderie. Win or lose they were honorable opponents who many times “popped the trunk” and shared the contents of their coolers with friends and opponents alike. Over the Stooges, sixteen-year run, their children were born and many of their parents passed away, strengthening the bond of friendship and neighborhood ties. Talent and athleticism were important to the Stooges, but loyalty to the team was more important. The Stooges always played the game with the best traditions of “neighborhood” softball. They played with passion and intensity and earned the respect of their opponents. Teammates and opponents fondly remember their “hit-and-run” mentality to this day. On behalf of all the players, their manager, Jimmy Spidale, thanks the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame for the great honor of being recognized for their great record, for their competitive softball, and for their dedication to neighborhood softball. Scotty Berg Mark Gershak Joe Pigaro Joey Briza Marty Gershak Al Ruegger Bobby Caponi Rich Hennesey Bobby Russ, Sr. Pat Caputo (HOF) Timmy Kutt Bobby Russ, Jr. Rick Carnavale Odell Humphrey Randy Russ Tommy Connelly Steve Kus Danny Scheid Danny Conway Sonny Leon Jimmy Seno Kevin Cooney Tony Ledoux Jimmy Spidale Larry “Zeke” Cushion Bobby Lopez Michael Spidale Sammy Daddano Ron Matriciano Rocco Taglia Bill “Red” Davis Mike Mazza Dave Tassi Joe Donato Billy Miller Jim Wangler Ray Donato Jimmy Moore Ken Wisz Michael Eleuteri Russell Nisivaco Ken Floody Chris Olson Virgie Gerin Mark Panek (HOF)
Mike Stout / Inducted 2005 1980's & 1990's Era
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 / Inducted 1998 Frank C. Holan Award
Jack “Just One More Shot” Stout
With video camera to his eye and his trusty Nikon at the ready, Jack Stout can be found prowling the first base fence at many championship softball games. As the official photographer of the 1997 Nationals and 16 inch Softball Hall of Fame dinner and unofficial photographer at legions of other games, Jack has been recording games since he got a camcorder in 1985, as well as taking team photos during that time. After playing 12 inch ball in Pennsylvania and in the Air Force, Stout took up the 16 inch game when he moved to Chicago in 1953. He developed a love for the game after playing in industrial and church leagues. His involvement increased twenty years ago when his sons began playing Chicago's game (Mike, HOF 2005). Jack's library includes videotapes of thousands of games, audiotapes of Tim Maher's Softball Report radio show for seven years, as well as thousands of team and individual pictures, many which have appeared in the Illinois Softball Report and grace many a player's trophy shelf. He retired his camera in 2009 after some health issues, but still loves the game. Jack Stout is truly a friend of the game.
John Straley / Inducted 1998 1964-1979 Era
With the nickname of Dr. Power, it’s no wonder that John Straley was known for his towering home runs. Yet he was also known as a punch hitter who followed Wee Willie Keeler’s adage “hit” em where they ain’t. Straley could drop a single or double in between outfielders who were pulled back out of respect for his power, or he could power one over the heads of a pulled in outfield. A native of the Northwest Side where he still resides, Straley played 16-inch softball for twenty years, most of those years with the Lyons 45’s, a team sponsored by 45th Ward Committeeman, Tommy Lyons. During these years he and the 45’s won their league championship eight times. In 1967 John joined and helped the Sobies claim the Championship during the World Tournament in St. Louis, The next year one of Straley’s favorite memories includes a stint with a team from Active Screw when they defeated the Sobees in 1968 for the Andy Frain Championship. John also played for the Sobies in one of the ASA championships. He remembers playing against such softball greats as Jake Jacobi of the Dwarfs, Willie Frencl of the Bobcats, Bill Bereckis of American Rivet, and the great Bobby Lamont of the “old” Bobcats. Perhaps Greg Brzynski, former manager of Lyons 45’s said it best when he spoke of Straley’s accomplishments, “ John is the heart of our team. Not only is he one of the finest hitters in the game, but he is also a great team player.” John Straley has worked for Colbert Packaging for thirty years. He is currently a computer tactical scheduler.
Don Stramaglia / Inducted 2015
Don Stramaglia, who was born and raised in Evergreen Park, began his sixteen-inch softball career at the age of twelve. During the summer of 1949, he joined the Evergreen Athletic Association League and played for the Methodist Church. Later, he won two consecutive championships with the Evergreen Park Central School in seventh and eighth grade.
Besides softball, Don excelled in many other sports. At Blue Island High School, he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball all four years. In 1955 at the age of eighteen, he received his first MVP award while playing in the Southwest Cook County All-Star game. He was drafted into the military in 1956, but his love of the game continued when he played fast-pitch softball for the Fort Bliss team. His team won the championship of the Fourth Army Softball Tournament and Don received another MVP award.
After his military service, Don played with the Parkers and the Queen of Martyrs Knights of Columbus team. They won the Mt. Greenwood League title for nine consecutive years. The Queen of Martyrs team also won many South Suburban Knights of Columbus league championships. In 1959 and 1961, Don was named MVP of the Southwest Cook County All-Star Game. In 1961, he also was named MVP of the McKiernan Park All-Star Game. In 1964, he played with the Queen of Martyrs ASA District 10 Championship Team.
Throughout the fifties through the nineties, Don played with the Bobcats, Harcrest Construction, Shoes, Turners Tap, Don’s World of Sports Stars, Express, and People’s Choice. Teams he played for won over fifty league championships. In 1986, Don’s World of Sports took second place in the USSSA “A” State Tournament. Don was not able to participate in many national tournaments because he coached football for thirty seasons.
After forty-five years of playing softball, Don retired in 1993. He carried a lifetime batting average over .600, hit over five hundred home runs, and drove in more than seven hundred runs. He now enjoys spending time with his wife, Sheri, his children Donnie, Bob, Dan, Mike, and Gina and eighteen grandchildren and seven and counting great grandchildren.
Renee “Scrunch” Strasser / Inducted 2014 Women
Renee “Scrunch” Strasser
Renee Strasser started playing baseball at age nine in a boys Little League team in Alsip, Illinois. She was one
of three girls allowed to play in the league. When Little League officials wouldn’t let them advance to the
next level of competition, they joined Alsip Park District’s sixteen-inch softball for girls.
At age eleven Renee was selected
to play on the Alsip Cardinal’s traveling team. Upon entering the women’s division as a teenager, she was recruited by Ron Hurry to play for the Oak Lawn Bidayos. When she was not playing for the Bidayos, Renee was traveling the United States competing in eleven-inch softball as one of Bill Brokall’s Angels. She began her softball career playing shortstop and switched to center field as a teenager. Renee also competed in fast pitch softball at Moraine Valley and at Indiana State University as a scholarship player. When she joined the Bidayos, she claimed left field as her
Anthony Struppa / Inducted 2005 1964-1979 Era
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 / Inducted 2012 Media & Organizers
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 / Honored 2004 Team Recognition
Team Sulky Inn Favorites
The Sulky Inn Favorites began as a true Cinderella story when a team sponsored by Ray’s Pizza and coached by Roy Logan, Ray Martino and John Szczecina and dressed in t-shirts, bib overalls, and tennis shoes played at Hart Park in Blue Island. The older teams began chanting E-I-E-I-O when they saw their “uniforms.” But this chant would later be turned against their detractors at the end of the tournament when the Hart Park crowd started chanting it with every hit and run scored, and when Ray’s Pizza went on to defeat the mighty Pets for the title. The next year (still without full uniforms) the upstart Ray’s Pizza defeated the Flames for the first ASA Women’s Windy City 16 inch Softball Tournament. With full uniforms and a sponsor - Papa John’s of Sulky Inn from Harvey - the next year opened as a match made in heaven. Maryann Forgue, Theresa DeLorenzo, Beth Schultz, Marie Liston, Pam Lutz, Colleen Logan, Lynn West, Chery Schmal, Michelle Eggerman and Nancy Logan, along with Valerie Smith, Katie Fahey, Jamie Eggerman, Bea and Trish Liston and Donna Logan made up the team that became one of the top three women’s teams during their era. Their success came from hard work, extraordinary talent, and a commitment to keeping its players. They didn’t go out and scout younger player but stayed loyal to the nucleus that started the team. Good friends who wanted to play softball took precedence over politics and ringers. Playing in three to four leagues and the major tournaments and winning Metros, Windy City, and many top titles in women’s softball, the Favorites were not the most powerful team in the leagues. In fact they were quite small compared to other teams. There were no superstars or long ball hitters on the team, but the Favorites won their games because of determination. Often they had to fight their way out of the loser’s bracket and had to play all day in order to reach the championship game With their small roster they often played with broken fingers, separated shoulders, and other injured body parts. They played through the pain because they loved playing together and molded themselves into a family on and off the field. Much of the credit for their success was due to the coaching of Roy “Henry” Logan, one of the founders of the Calumet Park Girls Rainbow Softball League. With four daughters and a passion for sports, “Henry” Logan had no choice but to help start the league. As his daughters grew out of the younger leagues, so did Logan. He treated each of his players like his daughter and loved every one of them. He was a wonderful person who dedicated much of his life to the team. While it’s difficult to remember all the wins and losses, perhaps the words of Neil Diamond put the magic of Sulky Inn in perspective: “ Where it began, I can’t begin to know it; but then I know it’s growing strong. It was in the spring, then spring became the summer. Who’d have believed we’d come along.” The Sulky Inn Favorites with its coach, its friendship, its loyalty and its family atmosphere were truly a league of their own. In memory of Roy Logan. Thanks, Henry.
Edward “Champ” Surma / Inducted 1996 1964-1979 Era
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.
Phil Sutera / Inducted 1999 Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award
Born into a family of six on December 18, 1923, Phil Sutera attended Mark Twain Grammar School and Thomas Kelly High School at 42nd and California. Phil Sutera’s softball career began early at the age of sixteen when he played 14" ball against Ted Klusinki, a future White Sox player. In 1942 he played softball at ‘lyde Stadium with Red Hurter. He managed a Little League team in the 50s. Like many young men of his day, Phil Sutera answered the call of his country when he served for four years in the Marine Corp after graduating from high school. During his time in the Marines, Sutera served in Zambia, Mendinowia, the Phillipines, and Bejing, China. Despite his duties, he still managed to play 12" and 14" softball. While he is a true softball fan, Sutera’s past also includes a stint at football. He played offense and defense - full back and linebacker - on a semi-pro team. He also played on a semi-pro baseball team near a quarry where the left fielder had to retrieve the ball when it went in the water. When it comes to softball, Phil Sutera is definitely a member of the “no glove” contingency. His favorite player is Willie Frencl of the Bobcats. Sutera remembers Frencl as the only player who could hit the awning on a house - a street and two sidewalks away from Normandy Park. High on his list of favorite parks is Hodgkins and Forest Park. He feels that Forest Park has all the facilities treat the players like they are at home. He likes such young teams as Ice and the Blues because they play with their hearts. Sutera also feels that the modern game is faster and a little faster. Years ago players would wipe out a position player, but today’s players know they need to work the next day, so they avoid unnecessary collisions. Sutera feels that getting the Daley Award is the highest level of softball achievement. He is truly a Friend of Softball. Since deceased.
LeRoy “Bobcat Lee” Sutter / Inducted 2015
LeRoy “Bobcat Lee” Sutter
Born in 1919, Lee Sutter played pickup games with his three brothers in Gage Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side. He then joined Tony’s Tigers in the Nightingale League. Because he was 6’3’ and had big hands, he was a commanding presence at first base.
His softball career was interrupted by World War II. He served in the Coast Guard from 1941 to 1946. Married in 1945, Lee and his wife, Ruth, raised four children. In 1960, while watching his son play softball at Kelly Park, he saw Eddie Zolna (HOF), a friend from his early years. From 1960 to 1979, Lee and Eddie Zolna were inseparable in playing, coaching, and instructing younger players. He also played first base on several occasions.
During this era, the Bobcats won the first national tournament in 1964 and then won the title nine more times. “Bobcat Lee’ assisted Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats with his knowledge and experience.
He was a liaison with the American Softball Association (ASA) and with Chicago sportswriters Mike Royko and Bill Gleason.
Herb Sweetow / Honored 2018 Wall of Fame
Herb Sweetow grew up in Chicago and learned the game in Chicago Park District’s Jensen Park. He was also captain of his high school basketball team at Roosevelt High School and was awarded All-City honors. In 1942, World War II was demanding the full attention of our country. Many of the men who played 16-inch softball in the Chicago area were valiantly fighting and defeating the Nazis. For those 18 years and older, the game needed to be put on hold. Yet, during this year, the Chicago Park District sponsored what is believed to be the largest 16-inch soft-ball tournament in the history of the game. There was an astounding original field of 400 teams vying for this prestigious citywide title; The Chicago Parks Junior Championship. Herb Sweetow, was the captain of the Jeeps of Jenson, from Jenson Park, playing Shortstop and Pitch-er, leading the team to victory throughout the tournament.16-inch softball was the premier sport at that time, but opposing teams were not friendly to each other. During this tournament, there was fierce competition as winning was on everyone’s mind – win the war, win your sport, just win! As a result, when the Jeeps of Jenson team inad-vertently came to an elimination game without a bat, the opposing team refused to loan one of theirs. Herb’s team was not deterred as they played the first 5 innings with a child-sized bat borrowed from a boy at the park, scoring enough runs to take the lead. When the boy had to re-turn home with his bat and the opposing team still refused to lend them a bat, they used a tree branch - allowing them to finish the game within the rules and win. On June 30, 1942, the Jeeps of Jenson won the 16-year-old division of the tournament! In 1945, the team also won the 18-year-old division.
Upon return from his honorable service in WW2, Herb came back to the game he loved; 16-inch softball. His adult athletic career as a pitcher was mostly with Old Menn at Terminal Park (conveniently located across the street from his home), dominating the Terminal Park League, along with games at Clarendon Park and Thillens Stadium. As a pitch-er, Herb was in a league of his own. Famous for his knuckle ball, he could underhand the pitch with absolutely no spin. His curve ball, be-tween the legs pick offs to first and second, and even a fastball from time to time, successfully confused and frustrated the batters.
At the age of 83, he moved away from the park. A lifelong athlete, now he bowls, and continues at the age of 90, to work on his game and im-prove his score. Herb Sweetow, was an astonishing softball player, a veteran, and an athlete of the utmost integrity. He was amongst the best of his generation; a group of athletes that not only grew up with the sport, but were responsible for growing the sport.
David “Smokey” Swiatek / Inducted 2004 1980's & 1990's Era
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 / Inducted 2004 1964-1979 Era
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.
Stan Szukala / Inducted 2001 Pioneers 1887-1949
Stan Szukala's career can be divided into three phases; before World War II, after World War II, and behind the plate as an umpire. Before World War II, Stan played with such memorable teams as Champagne Velvet, Tripp Inn, Alderman Brody, 4-11 Café and the Touhy Club. After World War II he moved to Northtown Currency and Champagne Velvet with Mike Vukovich and Bud Schrke. Stan moved to umpiring in 1948 and worked some of the great games at Clarendon and Northtown Parks. In addition to a great career in softball, Stan Szukala made his mark in basketball starting on the DePaul University squad from 1937 to 1940. He was team captain his senior year, when DePaul posted a 22 and 6 record. He was also co-captain of the College All-Star team that defeated the Harlem Globetrotters in Chicago Stadium before a crowd of 20,000 fans. Szukala, the game's MVP, hit the winning basket in overtime. Stan played professional ball with the Chicago Bruins in the National Basketball league for two years before he entered the military service. He was a key player in Camp Grant's record of 58 and 6, and won All Army honors as captain of the 34 and 4 Valley Forge General Hospital team. Upon his discharge from the Army, Stan rejoined the National Basketball League, playing for the Chicago American Gears for two years, and leading them to the 1947 National Championship. After retiring from professional basketball, Stan Szukala worked in trucking and public relations for thirty years. He retired from the transportation industry in 1979, and in 2000 he lived in Chicago.