Hall of Fame Inductees
All Inductees By Name
Edward Zaitz / Inducted 2001 1950-1963 Era
A lifetime batting average of over 600, and his thousand plus homeruns place Edward Zaitz among the great softball hitters of all time. Zaitz began his softball career in 1947 at the age of fifteen, playing for the S&S Bobcats as well as with Swift and Company. In addition to having the ability to play most field positions, Zaitz also achieved an impressive pitching record of 35 and 15. His pitching and batting prowess earned him Most Valuable Player recognition in the Swift and Company League in 1949, the Geske Tournament in 1964 and at the Lake County Tournament. He was instrumental in winning league and tournament championships with the Dr. Carlucci Clowns (two league championships), Mouldy's Tavern (one tournament and one league title), Tenth Inning Tavern (two league titles), Lakeland (one league and one tournament title) and Antioch State Bank (five league titles). Ed has also played on State Championship teams in Wisconsin as well as Illinois. The lure of the Bobcats eventually called him back and he played with them from 1957 to 1961, when he moved to Wisconsin. In 2001, Ed Zaitz lived in Trevor, Wisconsin with his wife Joan. They have two children; Edward and David, and two grandchildren.
Stan “Rabbits” Zajac / Inducted 2000 1950-1963 Era
Stan “Rabbits” Zajac
Stan Zajac began his 16" softball career at the age of sixteen as a left fielder with the Rabbits at Douglas Park. Zajac also played with the Second Federal League, the Spartans, and the Rocky Stars, who were managed by Hall of Famer and legendary manager Frank Holan. When the Rocky Stars and Capital Federals were dissolved, Stan Zajac joined his friend, Hall of Famer Gene Hrabek, as they headed for Ed Zolna's Bobcats. After a stint in the Army, beginning in November of 1958, "Rabbits" rejoined the Bobcats in 1961. He played with them until 1963, when an elbow injury he received in the Army forced him to retire. Stan Zajac worked for Sears Roebuck and Company for thirty years, attaining a managerial position and retiring from there in 1990. In 2000 he resided on the south side of Chicago, still enjoying softball games in Hodgkins and Cicero.
Louis Zielinski / Inducted 2003 1964-1979 Era
“It is an honor to be selected to the Hall of Fame with all the other great players.” After playing with the Cadets for five years, Louis Zielinski and the Cadets learned a hard truth about 16”softball . George Morse at Clarendon would not let them play in the Majors (A League) until they won the B League. So they did what any self-respecting softball team would do, they won the B League. From 1964 to 1966 Louis Zielinski played with the Cadets in the A League at Clarendon, Kosciusko, and Hamlin Parks. He switched to the Beetle Bomb’s in 1967 and to the Rogues in 1968 before joining the Dr. Carlucci Bobcats in 1969. Louis Zielinski was instrumental in leading the Carlucci Bobcats to the World Series title in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That same year he continued playing with the Rogues when they won championships at Kosciusko and James Parks and in the Alderman John Marshcin Tournament, a championship tournament for winners of other park tournaments. 1970 found the Bobcats and Zielinski capturing the World Series title at Waukegan. That year Zielinski joined the Lyon’s 45’s and helped them to the Portage Park title. During the next seven years, Louis Zielinski and the Bobcats won the Kelly Park championship (1975) and a World Series berth at Athens, Georgia. Playing with Lyon’s 45’s, he won four Portage Park titles and the championship at Clarendon Park in 1973. Known as one of the top short centers of his time because of his speed and sure hands, Louis Zielinski, playing with the Rogues, once started a triple play against the Bobcats that ended a late inning rally and clinched the James Park championship. Zielinski was a slot hitter who batted 4th or 5th on most of his teams. Louis Zielinski is a semi-retied printer with Burke Communications in Chicago. He and his wife, Brenda, have a daughter and two grandchildren. He and Brenda live in Niles, Illinois.
Ron “Z” Ziemann / Inducted 1999 1980's & 1990's Era
Ron “Z” Ziemann
A glance at Ron Ziemann’s career reveals a single truth - teams he played on won a lot of championships. Ziemann’s career began at sixteen in Des Plaines when he played in a high school league. He started pitching by default - no one wanted to pitch. Seduced by the lure of big time softball at Clarendon and Kelly Parks, Ziemann’s local team entered a tournament in 1974 and defeated the Dwarfs. This tournament, and the reluctance of his local team to travel to Chicago, helped Ziemmann move to the Amalgamonsters, managed by Mike McGovern. Unfortunately, the Amalgamonsters couldn’t get beyond Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats, so they broke up. Ziemann found national fame in 1982 when Eddie Zolna and a team consisting of former Runts took the USSSA Title. Ziemann then hooked up with the Kelleher brothers and Sports Station in 1985. At 34, he had finished second five times in the Nationals, so the quest for a National Championship became an obsession. Ziemann’s dream came true in 1987 when Sports Station won the ASA National title and the USSSA Nationals. That year he was also selected as an ASA and USSSA 1st Team All-American. After retiring from the game for family reasons, Ziemann returned to the diamond to help pitch Whips to an ASA Championship (1989) and with Lettuce (1992). Besides his 1987 appearance on the ASA and USSSA All-American Teams, the ASA honored him in 1976, ‘78, ‘79, ‘80, ‘91, and ‘92; the USSSA honored him in ‘81 and ‘92. Ziemann attributes his success as a pitcher to two concepts - never give a hitter something he can hit and scout your opponent. Ziemann believes that most batters do not want to walk, so they will swing at pitches outside the strike zone. He and his catchers also looked for weaknesses in individuals by spending long hours scouting them. Ron Ziemann and his wife, Amy, Live in Des Plaines with their son, Jake. Ron manages 25 post offices in the North and Northwest suburbs.
Joel Zimberoff / Inducted 2010 Umpires & Managers
Joel Zimberoff played softball for six decades - from the 1940s through the 1990s. He started playing ball at overnight camp when he was just six years old. He attended this camp for nine years and was voted the best player and athlete from ten to fourteen years of age. He played for the Dwarfs from 1959 to 1973, leading them in several offensive categories as he patrolled left field while Hall of Famer Joe "Jake" Jacobi covered center. In fact, Jacobi got his nickname because Joel and Joe were too similar. He coached many youth and women's teams, leading them to many league championships. He was named Manager of the Year as both a Little League and women's league coach and coached all-star teams at both levels. He helped start and helped develop both the Windy City League and Grant Park Tournament. He was also instrumental in bringing sixteen-inch softball as a competitive sport in the Chicago Public High Schools and Catholic High School leagues. Joel helped start and develop the Lettuce Softball dynasty in the '90s as a player and coach. He led them to one national championship and two second place finishes. He was voted MVP of the national championship team, an honor no manager ever achieved. He also played semi-pro football with the Chicago Panthers. He is happily married to Cathy. They have five children, three are his and two are hers. They also have eleven grandchildren and he still helps coach Little League teams. Joel works for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc, the restaurant chain owned by Hall of Famer Richard Melman. They have been best friends for fifty-four years.
Fritz Zimmermann / Inducted 1999 Frank C. Holan Award
Teams that Fritz Zimmermann has sponsored (Splinter’s March, Meadows, Stallions, Lumber Jacks, and others) have competed in and have won league championships in parks in Chicago, the surrounding suburbs, and at national tournaments during the 80s and 90s. The first taste of victory came in 1983 when they won the Thillen’s Tournament. In 1987 they took their first trip to the USSSA Nationals in Highland, Indiana. They won the AA bracket at Mt. Prospect in 1988, took second place at the Forest Park Tournament in 1990, captured fourth at the ASA Nationals and second at the USSSA Major World Championship in Wisconsin. 1992 saw Zimmermann’s string of accomplishments broaden to capture second and fourth place at the ASA Nationals, third at the USSSA Wisconsin Major World Championship, first at the Windy City Challenge, and first at Forest Park. In 1992 his teams took second place at the ASA Major Nationals, fourth at the USSSA Major World, and first at Dale Lee in Iowa. 1994 saw them capturing fourth at the ASA Major Nationals and first at the ASA State Tournament. Finally, his team took fourth at the ASA National Tournament in South Dakota. Besides sponsoring teams, Zimmermann also was a quality pitcher on many of his clubs. Fritz has been a vital sponsor of the Hall of Fame's progress. Fritz Zimmermann is truly a “friend of the game.”
Fritz Zimmermann / Inducted 2009
Fritz Zimmermann has sponsored and played on teams at the major level and at the neighborhood level since 1974. These teams include Splinter’s, March, Meadows, Stallions, Lumber Jacks, and others. His teams have won league championships in parks in Chicago, the surrounding suburbs, and at ASA and USSSA state and national tournaments. Besides being a great team sponsor, he has helped Chicago’s game in other ways. In 2009 his generous donation to the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame provided the necessary funding to complete the Hall of Fame Outdoor Inductee Park in Forest Park, adjacent to the future museum building. He is truly the 2009 Hall of Fame “Man of the Year.”
Hank Zitnik / Inducted 2001 1964-1979 Era
Hank Zitnik began his 30 year 16” softball career in 1950 with Alpines in Harrison Park, helping them win that league five times. In 1957 he joined Kool Vent Awnings, one of the legendary teams of that or any other era. In 1959, he switched to Sports Bench, playing with them and other teams from1959 ro 1960. Hank also played with the Bobcats briefly in 1959 and 1960, then joined the Sobies in a long string of championships from 1967 to 1977. He also helped them win the 1967 and 1968 ASA National titles, four Andy Frain championships, five Clarendon Park championships, and were two time Illinois Champions. With a 550 batting average in the Major leagues, Hank was known as a clutch hitter who drove in runs with doubles and singles, rather that homers. On defense, he was a third baseman who also played outfield and shortstop. His excellent thrird base skills earned him a spot on the 1971 Major All-American Team. Hank Zitnik retired from softball in1980. In 2001, he and his wife, Arlene lived in Berwyn. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Mike Zizzi / Inducted 2010 Umpires & Managers
Mike Zizzi started umpiring in 1982. Since then he has officiated over four thousand games, mainly in the North and Northwest sides of Chicago and suburbs. In 1998 he began umpiring ASA tournaments beyond the local level. He has officiated two Grant Park and Forest Park tournaments, five North / South competitions, eleven State and Metros, and ten ASA National Tournaments. After achieving different umpiring awards, he attained "Elite" status as an ASA umpire in 2006. Mike is the only 16-inch softball umpire from Illinois to achieve this status. He is also a member of the National Indicator Fraternity of Umpires, a peer-driven, nation-wide network. Mike lives on the Northwest side of Chicago.
Eddie Zolna / Inducted 1996 1964-1979 Era
The only Chicago softball player ever inducted in the ASA Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, his Bobcat teams won 12 ASA National Titles including the very first ASA National Championship in 1964. In total Zolna played and directed teams to more wins and tournament victories in the history of the sport including several World Championships through the Windy City World Series of Softball and USSSA venues. He has pitched in more than 5,000 softball games during his 6 decade softball career. His legendary Bobcats teams of the 1960s and 70s were one of the most dominating teams during the era. “Eddie Z” as he is known began playing organized softball in 1947 on a major level. Batted left and threw right. At 19 years of age he played in the fabled Windy City League for Rush Liquors. He also played for the Weinberg Studebakers in the equally recognized Northtown League. He played for the fine St. Albert the Great CYO and Jimmy Rose teams in the 50’s. His first Bobcat team began playing locally in the early in the 50’s and the powerhouse really got untracked in the late 50’s as they won 8 city softball titles. He was a three time MVP and six time All-American pitcher in the ASA Nationals. His team won the first National Tourney in 1964 over the Kenneth Allen team at Northtown Stadium. Ed is very proud of his ‘76 team that lost their 1st tourney and went on to win 18 out of 19 for the year. Zolna was one of the first players to use a glove in ‘71 when rule changes were made to allow more teams from out of state to play. He also ran the Chicago entry with Joe Pepitone in the pro 12” League that came in 2nd. Since his playing and managing days Ed has been fortunate to be a coach on 6 ASA National crowned teams with the Whips and Lettuce. He still enjoys playing and coaching with the ‘96 ASA National Champion Lettuce. In 1989 Ed was inducted in the Illinois Softball Hall of Fame as the first 16 inch player so honored. He was also inducted into the Amateur Softball Association’s Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK in 1989 as the only 16 inch player in the nationally acclaimed institution. He authored a book on softball in 1980 with the celebrated Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Conklin, “Mastering Softball” by Wintrop Publishing. Since 1986, he has also written a weekly softball column for the Daily Southtown newspaper, as well as numerous other articles and stories on softball in Chicago. He was a color TV commentator for the 1977 Windy City World Series of Softball on NBC TV. He was a frequent contributor to the Windy City Softball’s radio talk show in the 1970s. Born 1929 in Chicago. Also a superb bowler. Married to Lorraine with 4 children and has 7 grand children.
Jayne Zolna / Inducted 2007 Frank C. Holan Award
So what do you do during the summer when you’re the daughter of one of softball’s great players? Well, you go to a lot of softball games, of course. Jayne Zolna started attending her dad, Eddie’s, games when she was ten. She was the batgirl when her brother wasn’t there. When she got older, her dad gave her the cardboard top of the softball box so that she could keep score. She saw and scored many great games at Clarendon and Kelly Parks. She never received perfect attendance honors at school because of the Labor Day national tournaments the Bobcats played in. They won thirteen of them, so her father would let her stay home on the Tuesday following Labor Day to celebrate these Bobcat victories. At Kennedy Park her duties expanded when her dad taught her how to chart the hitting tendencies of opposing batters. Jayne had the privilege of watching the children of many great players turn into great players themselves. She also saw some of softball’s greatest characters. She once had to wash Jeff Hornacek’s (before his basketball days) Bobcat’s jersey because his father wouldn’t let him bring it in the house. His father, John (HOF), played first base for the Cat’s legendary foe, the Sobies. She watched future White Sox pitcher Kevin Hickey play the outfield and she traveled on Ron Olesiak’s (HOF) motorcycle from Kennedy Park to Lake Shore Park for Sunday double-headers. Ron would become an NBA referee. She also found two friends in Rich Melman (HOF) and Joel Zimberoff during the heyday years of the Lettuce Entertain You teams. In 1976, when her father was hospitalized, she helped Bobcats manager Bo Joens when they won the nationals in South Dakota. Jayne graduated from Providence High School. She lives in Frankfort with her parents, Ed and Lorraine, and works at a market research firm in Mokena. She thanks the Holan family for this honor. With this award, she joins her father and her uncle Eddie Zaitz as members of the Hall of Fame.