Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Tony Valosek / Inducted 2016 Umpires & Managers
Tony Valosek grew up in Cicero, so he was in familiar territory when he started running a neighborhood team in the Cicero Men’s League. Like most teams of that era, his team was sponsored by local taverns. They were first sponsored by Triners Lounge in Cicero and then later by S & S Lounge, Cabin, and Sportman Lounge in Berwyn and then Dick’s Place in Lyons. They played locally in Cicero but travelled to Chicago on weekends to play money or beer games with teams from Chicago. One of the most memorable games that Tony booked was with a team they had never heard of – Al’s Pals. The agreed to play for $100.00, but when they showed up they learned that ninety percent of the Al’s Pals were Bobcat players, one of the top teams of that era. They beat them 9 – 7 with a bunch of unknown players. That victory sparked a desire to play in more competitive leagues, so with the help of local players Gene Pingatore, Tony Bertuca, Bob Govnat, and other top Cicero and Berwyn players, Gordon Industries (a Christmas tree company) softball team was formed to play at Kelly and Clarendon Parks. In 1966 the Sobies disbanded and because so many players lived in the Western suburbs, they joined Gordon Industries. During the first few meetings at Clarendon and Kelly, Tony Stroupa and Jack Rackovic tried to talk Tony out of playing in those leagues against the Loafers, the 45s, and the Bobcats. Undeterred, Gordon Industries won most of their games and led their leagues at both parks. By winning the Kelly Park League, they qualified for the nationals at Florrisant, MO. It was then that American Rivet picked up the sponsorship and Gordon Industries became American Rivet and started playing in the Windy City, Mount Prospect, and Schaumburg leagues. As a manager, the biggest problem Tony faced was deciding who would play because the American Rivet starters could play on any team and their bench was as strong as their starting lineup. Their lineup featured a few homerun hitters, but they were best known for the three Ds: dinks, dumps, and defense. There wasn’t a team out there that could play defense without gloves like American Rivet. They one lost the nationals in St. Louis to the Bobcats because American Rivet players played the whole game without gloves but Bobcat outfielders used gloves and caught balls they never would have caught without gloves. One of Tony’s most memorable moments occurred when Mike Royko (with the Daily News at that time) called him and asked for five no name players to play with the Daily News team in a charity game against the Bobcats. Tony got him the players and the Daily News lost to the Bobcats by one run. Royko was so excited that they didn’t lose by the slaughter rule that he came back to Sportsman Lounge in Berwyn and picked up the tab for everyone. Tony has managed teams that have played in the top leagues and tournaments throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. He also managed in the Windy City League and in the Iowa Nationals.
Paul “Pee Gee” Van Meter / Inducted 2000 Pioneers 1887-1949
Paul “Pee Gee” Van Meter
When considering the all time greats in the history of 16" softball, Paul "Pee Gee" Van Meter and his teams; the Gas House Gang and the Brown Bombers would have to be placed near the top of the list. A graduate of DuSable High School in 1937, Van Meter was born in 1918. He began his 16" career in 1936, when he played for the Giles Athletic Club. From 1938 to 1940 he played with Whelan Boosters, until World War II interrupted. Paul served with the Army in the South Pacific, until his discharge in 1946. After the war, Paul's softball career took off when he joined the Dawson Boosters, that later became the Gas House Gang. They eventually merged into the legendary Brown Bombers, which featured such Pioneer Greats as Sweetwater Clifton, Danny Dumas, Jim Watkins, Zeke Ireland, Andy Nesbitt, Bill Davis and Norvell Calhoun. Van Meter's presence helped elevate the Brown Bombers to a place in softball history. Jim "Nuggy" Watkins, also a Hall of Famer, says that Paul's defensive skills at third base, and his consistent hitting make him "one of the best in Windy City history." He ended his playing career with Jives – 10 Old Men of the Daddy O'Daily League from 1954 to 1960. Van Meter switched to the other side of the plate when he became one of the top umpires at Meyering Park, once his playing days were over. Paul and his wife, Marjorie have three children; Thomas, Arla and George.
Sal Vasta / Inducted 2002 Umpires & Managers
Growing up on Chicago's Northwest Side as a Sox fan, Sal Vasta experienced first-hand the taunts of cross-town rivalry. But his introduction to 16" softball through the CYO program quickly made him realize the unity of playing Chicago's great game. He began the Blues softball team in 1969, playing in various parks around Chicago. Year after year they honed their skills until they eventually made it into the "A" and Major leagues of softball. The team's hard work paid off in 1989 when they won the USSSA World Tournament. From 1969 until the Blues disbanded in 1991, they won over two-thousand games and numerous tournaments, including titles at the league, metro, state, and national levels. In 1985 Sal made his switch to softball fanatic complete when he added umpiring to his managing and playing responsibilities. After the break-up of the Blues in 1991, he officiated at over one-hundred games a season at all levels of softball competition. In fact, he may be the only Hall of Fame member who has played, managed, and officiated in both the ASA and USSSA national tournaments. After his two-year hiatus from manging, he returned with a new purpose - to win the Grant park Classic, the No Glove Nationals at Forest Park, and the ASA Nationals. In 1994 the team from Hollywood Casino won the ASA Nationals; the Doll House won the Forest Park Nationals in 1995, and Sports Channel won the Grant Park Classic in 1996. Although Sal Vasta has retired from softball, he still participates in sports as the Director of Umpires for the Elmhurst Baseball Leagues for the past seven years and coaches his son's little league team. He also officiates over one-hundred high school and college basketball games and referees high school football games each year. He and his wife, Debbie, live in Elhurst with their sons, Mike and Danny.
Louis S. Vine, Jr / Inducted 2011 1950-1963 Era
Louis S. Vine, Jr
Louis attended Crane Technical High School. He played organized softball from 1950 to 1958 at Garfield Park. He also played industrial softball for Dole Valve where he was an employee. He played with the Golden Keys at Kels Park at Chicago and Kedzie from 1958 to 1959. He then joined the Beetle Bombers with Ron Brasch (HOF) as manager for a seven – year stretch from 1960 to 1967. From 1967 to 1972 he played for the Rogues/ Blues with Vito Maggerise (HOF) as manager. He retired from softball in 1972 after the Rogues/Blues disbanded. During his playing days, he enjoyed many highlights. He played for the Beetle Bombers in the first world championship that was sponsored by Alderman Kenneth Allen. The game was televised from Thillens Stadium. They finished second to the famed Bobcats. He played in the perfect game tossed by Lewa Yacilla (HOF) and played on the Daddy O'Daily Travelling All-Star team. From 1964 to 1966, the Beetle Bombers won the Alderman John Marshcin Tournament. He also helped the Rogues win the Evanston tournament. He hit an estimated 200 homeruns and during his industrial career batted over .600 and led the A/B league in hitting six times. He was one of the best centerfielders of his day and was nicknamed "the Claw" by teammate Ed Mulligan (HOF) because of his ability to hang on to any ball that touched his hands. He once played over 100 games without making a single error. Lou was such a standout fielder that when he played for other Major teams, they would often move their regular centerfielder to a corner outfield position. Besides playing softball, he was a standout amateur boxer and bowler. He has three A.B.C. sanctioned 300 games and carries a career average over 200. He and his wife, Patricia, have been married for forty years. They have five children: Lorrie, Karen, Susan, Louis III, and Cheryl (deceased) and many grandchildren. He retired from Teamsters Local 705 in 2005 after thirty-five years of employment. He lives on Chicago's Northwest side and enjoys playing table tennis and walking his rescue dog, Bianca. He also advises his son's sixteen-inch softball team.
Frank “Squeeks” Vodicka / Inducted 1998 Pioneers 1887-1949
Frank “Squeeks” Vodicka
Playing for the Bill Rands in the Windy City League at the ripe old age of fifteen, Frank Vodicka began his softball career as the youngest player on that team and possibly in the entire league. Vodicka's entry into 16-inch softball seemed preordained when he was born directly across from Cornell Square at 50th and Wolcott. A short -center with the reputation for being a solid defender who could also hit to all fields, Vodicka played George Young 16 inch yellow ball during the 30s and 40s. In 1937 he was honored by being interviewed by Frank Reynolds and Bob Elston on WBBM radio. Besides the Bill Rands, Vodicka played for such legendary teams as Midland Motors, Dust Motors, Stoney Tires and the John T Dempsey's and was managed by such great managers as Lewa Yacilla, Bill "Happy" Parillo, Bill Newbaur, Ray McDonald, and Chester Matykiewicz (Whitey Maytag). Frank's championships include two in1941: the Greater Chicago Hotel Tournament with the Hotel Shermans, and the Grant Park Industrial Tournament with Joslyn Manufacturing; Mayor Kennely's Civic Award in 1944, the Fewer Boilers Herald American Tournament in 1945, and the Trinor Grant Giants, the Robeys, and Silhouette Lounge. Born in 1922, Frank Vodicka lives in Oak Lawn, Illinois.