Charles Bidwill / Inducted 2012
Charles Bidwill's pioneering spirit, his continued enthusiasm for the game of professional football, and unyielding support place him as one of the guiding lights of the early years of the National Football League. His financial support enabled George Halas to retain ownership of the Chicago Bears in the early days of the Great Depression. He took over the Cardinals in 1932 from Dr. David Jones, a Chicago physician, for the asking price of $50,000 and would subsequently divest himself from his interests in the Chicago Bears. Despite the financial strains he endured, Bidwill remained steadfast in his quest to gain respectability for not only the league but also for his beloved Cardinals. According to his son, Bill who was batboy at Bidwill Stadium on the Southside, Charles loved 16 inch softball. He was a 16 inch softball organizer and early supporter of diversity for women and blacks and led by example. He owned his own stadium that featured two-to-three games each night during the 1930'- 50s. The first game was for the girls...his Bluebirds... then followed by the professional men's Windy City league. The Bluebirds players also participated in the professional baseball "League of Their Own" during World war II. He was also a supporter of diversity of color. He organized the best black team at the time Brown Bombers on tour of western states...with Eddie Rochester, Jack Benny's associate. Many of the those players were on the Harlem Globetrotters, including the great first baseman, "Sweetwater" Clifton, one of the first black athletes to play in the NBA. After patiently enduring several losing seasons in his fifteen years as team owner, he signed Georgia all-America running back Charlie Trippi in 1947 to the biggest contract the NFL had seen- $100,000 over four yearscompleting an ensemble he would dub the "Million Dollar Backfield "- Paul Christman, Pat Harder, Elmer Angsman, and Trippi. In the process, he won a bidding war with the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference to give the NFL a decisive victory over the rival league. Joined by Christman, Harder, Goldberg, and Angsman, Trippi would lead the team to a 10-3 record, capped by a 28-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Comiskey Park to be crowned NFL Champions. Bidwill sadly died on April 19, 1947 at age fifty-one, only a few months prior to seeing his soon-to-be 'dream backfield' take the field. A noncomformist, Bidwill was often referred to as "Blue Shirt Charlie" because he sometimes spurned the traditional white shirt and businessman's shoes in favor of a blue shirt and high boots. He was truly a "working man's" man whose love of the game will remain one of the building blocks of the NFL, the Cardinals and 16 inch softball. Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Ray Czarnik / Inducted 2016
My love for softball started in the early 70's by going from park to ark with my dad to watch my brother Tom "Eggs" Czarnik play this great game of sixteen-inch softball. I remember my first time watching him play at Clarendon Park and was intrigued by the number of people surrounding the field intensely watching the game. I remember listening to some old men behind the backstop saying watch the cut over 3rd, or he will hit the line in right, and sure enough the hitter would hit the ball over 3rd or hit the right field line. I really learned the game from watching the older guys plays. The competitiveness was awesome to watch. But the respect they had for the game and for one another was what inspired me the most. I couldn't wait to get involved. I began playing with my friends from high school in 1977 in a neighborhood league at Wildwood Park. In the winter of 1979 one of my buddies Laury Rose was the owner of Candlelight Jewelers and asked me to run his sixteen-inch softball team that he had sponsored for the past few years in Niles. I was thrilled to be able to run a team and knew this was something I wanted to do. I was able to talk my brother into playing for me and a few other friends of his and with my buddies together we started what would turn out to be a team that was so successful that it gave me the push I needed to take us to the next level.
SHOOTERS SOFTBALL BEGAN
In 1985 a childhood friend of mine and I were having a few beers when we came up with the idea of starting a team where everyone had a brother that would play on the team. The E.P. Shooters played on Sundays at Brooks Park where everyone who played was related somehow to somebody else. My playing coaching and sponsorship of Shooters softball began. Then in 1990 we moved to Mt Prospect to play and here is where I began a long-standing relationship with Bob Ancona and the Staff in Mt Prospect that is as strong today as it was in 1990.
ELECTED OFFICIAL NILES PARK COMMISSIONER (2003-present)
I ran for Park Commissioner in Niles for a couple of reasons. First off, I wanted to bring Thor Guard Lightning detection to Niles to protect all participants of outdoor activities from the treacherous storms that move in quickly. Mainly I wanted to put a stop to games where there would be no wavering. I watched many a time where a kids’ baseball game would be going on with lightning in the area and a coach that would say come on one more inning. I didn't want anyone to get hurt. Secondly, I wanted to get softball going again as I have seen a drop-off in participants over the years, especially with the younger group of kids. My son was going to high school and he and a bunch of his friends wanted to learn to play the game but couldn't find any leagues to play in. They didn't want to play in a league where they were over their heads where they would not have fun. I wanted to do something about this. I wanted to come up with something that could work for everyone. We held meetings with team captains and umpires that were involved in our Niles leagues. We shared our ideas to keep this game growing. We changed the way the league prize money was distributed. From a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place payout to a “Per Win" payout where everyone has an opportunity to receive some reward for winning games. Then we changed one of the divisions to a six to twelve foot arch only league where we could attract a more younger group of kids to learn the game and not struggle with the higher arch that most parks had at the time. Today we have a very strong two-division league with one being the six to twelve foot arch and the other being an unlimited arch. We can please everyone. This year we have a new league starting. It is called the “FUTURES LEAGUE” which is an instructional league for high school and college age kids. We will give them the opportunity to learn the game the right way from those who played it the right way. I want the Niles Park District to be known as the Futures League where both boys and girls can learn the sixteen-inch game from the ground up. We want to teach the history of the game and give all kids the opportunity to participate and create lifetime memories as they begin their own journey into the sixteen-inch softball world.
REBIRTH OF SHOOTER SOFTBALL
In 2010 I put together a group of young kids to play in both Niles and Mt Prospect and dedicated myself to teaching this great game to the next generation that want to carry on this tradition. This has been a very pleasurable experience as I have been preaching the way this game should be played, starting with having the utmost respect to the game and everyone involved. I want them to be disciplined and understand that what we were teaching was beginning to produce results. Seeing them come together to learn to hit the ball to the opposite field and cut the ball over third reminds me of my earlier days. It’s pretty cool to be part of something I saw back in the 70's. I have a simple philosophy: let me and the coaches handle the team details and have the players listen to us, play the game, and enjoy the experience. In the five years leading up to this year, there have been many growing pains along the way. We lost many close games and we lost many games by slaughter too. There were teams that showed us respect and there were others that really could care less and kept piling on the runs. In both circumstances lessons were learned. I kept telling them to put it in the back of their minds, don't dwell on it just never forget. I have seen a group of young kids stick together and become a team. It’s fun to watch now. They are coming into their own. We have been invited to play in Forest Park No Gloves National without being in a play-in game and then knocking out the past year’s champs. They have also won their division in Mt Prospect. Finally, they have gained the respect of their peers. I am proud to play a part of what these kids have accomplished in their short time playing the greatest game in Chicagoland. I am hoping to continue to bring the younger kids into this great game because I never want to see it die. I will keep preaching the right way to play this game. Always!!!
Without batting an eye, there are only two reasons why I am up here today. First, the Good Lord has given me the opportunity to use what I have learned to contribute and keep growing this great game and second my wife and kids have supported my in my efforts. With a job that demanded much of my time and with softball running a close second, I needed a special person who really understood my life’s goals. Then throw in being an Elected Official and you can just imagine what that was like. You have to make time for the family or it doesn’t work. I thank God for bringing such a wonderful and understanding person into my life. My wife, Kathy, has been by my side in everything I have done and continue to do. My children, Scotty and Shauna, have also been able to see first hand how important a solid relationship really is. I have been blessed to be in a position to be able to contribute in helping preserve this great game that everyone can play. I have enjoyed every jammed finger minute of it.
PLAYING, COACHINGAND SPONSORSHIPS: 75 CHAMPIONSHIPS
1980-87 - Candlelight Jewelers Coached and played with my friend Laury Rose owner of Candlelight
1985-2010 - Shooter Softball Sponsored and Coached and played - Mt Prospect and Brooks Park
1998 - 39ers and Rogues - Sponsorship in 2 leagues - Park Ridge and Niles Park District
2011 - GNights Sponsored and Coached - in Mt Prospect and to 4th place finish in Nationals Iowa
2012 - March Shooters Sponsored and Coached - Mt Prospect and Niles Park District
2013 - Monster Shooters Sponsored and Coached - Mt Prospect and Niles Park District
2014 - Shooters Softball Sponsored and coached - Mt Prospect and Niles Park District
Prime Time Auto Mart Splinters March Manufacturing
1990-2015 - Mt Prospect Park District Sponsor
2012- Current - Hall of Fame Car Sponsor at the Hole-in-One Golf Outing
2012- current - Hall of Fame -Advertising Sponsor in their Dinner Book
2003- Present - President of the Niles Park Board of Commissioners
1992- Present – President/General Manager River Oaks Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
Dominic Carfagno / Inducted 1996
Not available at this time.
Peter “Uncle Pete” Crnjak / Inducted 1998
Peter “Uncle Pete” Crnjak
Perched on the bleachers with his trademark cigar clenched between his teeth, “Uncle Pete” Crnjak mumbles tips and advice to the players from The Men from Uncle, the 1988 16 inch National Class A Champions who selected their team name to honor him. Pete Crnjak developed his love of softball as a young man. After thirty years of service with Interlake Steel Company, Pete “retired” and became a barkeeper and owner of Pete’s Hide-Away located at 107th and Burley Avenue in Chicago for the past thirty years. Over these many years Crnjak has sponsored such legendary softball teams as the Eastsiders, Whips, Sports Station, Stickmen, The Men from Uncle and many women’s and neighborhood teams. A common sight at many softball tournaments is a player wearing a t-shirt from Pete’s Hideaway. Peter Crnjak is a legend among softball players all over the Chicagoland area. He continues to be a great sponsor and friend of softball. “Chicago’s game” owes a debt of gratitude to “Uncle Pete” and his generous contributions. Since Deceased.
Howie Fagan / Inducted 2009
Howie Fagan has had a tremendous impact on the Hall of Fame from its inception. In fact, one could argue that it was his generosity that led to the first public display of softball memorabilia. Italian Sports Hall of Fame director, George Randazzo, suggested that Howie and Al Maag meet. From that first meeting, Howie understood the vision for the Hall of Fame and indicated his willingness to be involved. He hosted the meeting that organized the Hall of Fame at Hawthorne. Since then, Hawthorne has hosted the inductee dinners, dinners that draw over 500 people each year. He also allowed a display of softball memorabilia to be setup in the building. He has influenced many of the HOF programs and his marketing experience has been vital in getting the Hall of Fame off the ground. He grew up on the South side of Chicago near Rainbow Beach. He decided to attend Mount Carmel High School, a decision he calls one of the greatest he ever made. He was a basketball and baseball star there (and is a member of their Hall of Fame) and then played football at Northern Illinois University from 1957 to 1959. He had never played football, so when he tried-out, Coach Howard Fletcher tested him in practice by running plays directly at him. He made every tackle, made the team and was soon paired with Alan Eck in catching passes from Lew “Golden Arm” Flynn and later from Tom Beck and George Bork. Fagan and Eck were ranked nationally as1st and 2nd in pass reception. In 1960 Howie coached the ends for the Mt. Carmel team that beat Taft in the Prep Bowl. He once had a speeding ticket in Wheaton on the day of a NIU football game. The judge put him in jail because he couldn’t pay the fine until legendary athletic director Chick Evans (not the golfer) showed up and convinced the judge to let him go. They raced back to DeKalb and Howie was able to play the second half. He had a baseball try-out in St. Charles but was only given two at-bats. He pleaded for a third swing and hit a homerun, so he was invited to a rookie camp in St. Louis with the Browns. He went 6-for-12 with three homeruns in Sportsman’s Park and was given a contract. He played in the minors for a while but couldn’t hit a curve ball, so he returned home. Besides baseball, he also played 16-inch softball. Howie is marketing director at Hawthorne Race Course. He and his wife, Nancy, live in the Western suburbs. They have two children, Matt and Sean.
John Garvin / Inducted 2007
John Garvin, a life-long sports enthusiast, graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1948. In 1968 he opened Garv-Inn, a small neighborhood tavern in Berwyn. Even though it measured only a thousand feet in space, it was a huge presence in the softball community because of the teams John sponsored. Since its creation in 1968, John Garvin and Garv-Inn have sponsored as many as fifteen teams a year for the past thirty-nine years. Garv-Inn has sponsored a variety of men’s and women’s teams, ranging from some that played at the highest levels of competition to those that played “D” ball. During the last ten years, Garv-Inn has sponsored several co-ed men’s and women’s teams as well as such notable teams as Crush, Entourage/Binge, Nemesis, Out There, and Mudville, the 2002 “A” National champions. They also sponsored teams in the North / South Tournament at Janura Park in Berwyn and in the Killer “B” Tournament at Clyde Park in Cicero. John loved the players and the camaraderie they shared. Whether they won or lost, he was always thrilled to watch them play. Unfortunately, John passed away in 1990, but his son, Mike Garvin, and Mike Duplancich, coowners of Garv-Inn, continue his tradition of supporting softball teams.
Bill King / Inducted 1997
When the final out is called on 16” softball and the rankings are made, Bill King admittedly will not rank near the top as a player or a manager, but his devotion to the game and sponsorship are legendary. Bill does, however, enjoy memories of Chicago’s game - the success of the Splinters in the 1997 Nationals, the Straycats, a tough team out of the West Side of Chicago in the 1980’s, and the time his 1968 Hustlers beat Big Herms for the Illinois State Championship at Rand Park in Des Plaines. Besides successful teams, King also ranks his bionic right knee as his trophy of his many softball wars. Bill King has passed his love of the game on to his children Steve and Keeley, both of who are marrying softball fanatics in the next year. He credits his wife Chris with helping him through the many hours of entry fees, postponements, and swollen fingers.
JP “Pat” Malone / Inducted 2001
JP “Pat” Malone
Lots of bars sponsor softball teams, but not many have supported as many as J.P. "Pat" Malone of McGaffer's Saloon in Forest Park. Over 35 years, Malone has spread it around generously to teams competitive and not so competitive. In that time, Pat has become as much a part of the Forest Park softball scene as Clinchers and beer. He sponsors from 10 to 18 teams annually. Certainly Malone expects, like any owner, to be paid back through players patronizing his establishment. And McGaffer's is , indeed, a popular hangout for many area softball players. But his dedication to softball is much more than a business strategy. "He actually goes and sees as many games as possible," notes Terry Collins, the pitcher for the McGaffer's Rockets team. Adds regular Rich "Chubbs" Polfus, "He's just an all around great sponsor. He's helped keep softball alive in the Forest Park area." At last years Forest Park Invitational, Malone sponsored not one, but three teams: the Rockets, the Bats and the Bridgeport Crush. "Softball doesn't work unless there are sponsors like J.P.," says Polfus. The extent to which Malone supports and honors his teams is evident to anyone approaching the saloon from the east on Roosevelt Rd. There on the side of the building , painted on the brick, is a roll call of some of the teams who have called the place home. These include the Moonlighters, McKickers, Knock Outs, Rockets, Flames, Club Orange, Hilltopp, Heads Up, Lite Headed, Ice Nine, Cjiefs, Chili Sauce, Sport'n'Wood, Groggers, Spike the Dog, Bat'n'Brew, Bat Girls, McGaffer's Co-ed and the Screwballs. Inside, over 50 trophies line the upper shelves and cabinet tops high above the bar. Two dozen photographs of past and present McGaffer's teams hang throughout the room. Asked why one dedicates his life to a saloon, Malone thinks for a moment, shrugs, and says "If I didn't have this place, I'd have to stay home at night. It's about the friendships you build up over the years. I've met so many good people over the years." It takes one to know one, Pat.
Robert Emmett “Butch” McGuire / Inducted 2003
Robert Emmett “Butch” McGuire
Unlike any other "Friend of Softball" winner before him, Butch McGuire actually was a friendly acquaintance of Richard J Daley. One of his customers described the social and gregarious McGuire in a 1986 Tribune magazine profile saying, "Butch is 30% businessman and 70% humanitarian." Back in 1962, McGuire's prototypical singles bar-considered to be the first singles bar in America-transformed the saloon experience and how people, especially women, related to it. In creating that first singles bar, McGuire in effect created the template for the sports bar phenomenon that would come a few years later, as both rely on the same demographics that Butch instinctively tapped into in the early '60's. McGuire soon came to have a major impact on several Chicago scenes besides the social scene, including politics, charity and 16" softball-the game as gritty and authentic as the taverns themselves.
Sal Milazzo / Inducted 2014
As a kid, Sal Milazzo remembers
watching his dad, Nick Milazzo,
play sixteen-inch softball at Saint
Bonaventure Elementary School in
Chicago. Sal had the opportunity
to play softball in the intramural
program at Northern Illinois
University. After the championship
game his senior year, he was asked
to pitch for the Willoughby Elrod
Raiders at Rogers Park. He played
with them in 1986 and also played with a group of friends in the DPs in the C-League at Mt. Prospect.
After playing with several teams over the next few years, he joined the Road Work team in 1989. In 1994, Sal joined the Bats, a team that competed at the ASA “A” Nationals for two years before moving up to the Major level. In 2001, he moved to the Bucketheads (they became Windy City in 2006). Windy City won the ASA Major title in 2012 and 2013, the ASA Major title in 2010, and the Forest Park No Gloves championship in 2013.
In 2005, to help Bob Ancona, athletic director at Mt. Prospect, plan the ASA tournament to be held at Mt. Prospect, Sal served as a member of the Major Nationals Committee. In 2006, he joined a players’ committee
to assist the ASA in its efforts to encourage more participation in sixteen-inch softball. Over the next few years, this committee focused on seeing the game
from the perspective of the younger player and the recreational player. The committee wanted to build stepping- stones for new teams to grow at their own pace and eventually play more competitive softball.
In 2010, the committee formed
the SSA (Slow-pitch Softball Association) and hosted its first “A” and Major National Tournaments
with a format that allowed the top six finishers in the “A” bracket to get paid bids to the Major Nationals
that year. In addition, the SSA developed “Restricted
A” tournaments. It also separated Major and “A” teams by brackets in “Open” tournaments. In doing this, the SSA was able to reduce tournament entry fees, increase awards, and grow participation through tournament sponsorships. Through these efforts, participation in SSA Major and “A” Tournaments has increased considerably.
Sal attributes much of the success of the SSA to great sponsors like Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You, the hard working board members that have worked tirelessly to promote and grow our game, and the acting SSA commissioner, Joel Zimberoff.
Sal and his wife, Janet, live in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. They enjoy spending time with their children, Savannah, and Brett.
Terrence O’Brien / Inducted 2006
A native of Chicago, Terry O’Brien grew up playing softball for many teams, including the Scorpions and Muskrats from 1972 to 1988 in leagues and tournaments at parks throughout Chicago and the suburbs, including Clarendon, Wells, Mather, and Pottawatomie in Chicago, James in Evanston, Majewski in Mt. Prospect and at Forest Park. As president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and chairman of its Real Estate Committee, Terry has truly been a friend of softball in a variety of ways. He granted leases for softball fields to park districts throughout Cook County; he helped establish Majewski Park, home of many softball championships, and recently negotiated the transfer of Thillens Stadium, the jewel of amateur baseball and softball, to the Chicago Park District so that it will remain a Chicago icon. He graduated from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio in 1978 and has worked in the environmental field with various consulting firms for twenty-seven years, most recently with K-Plus Environmental in Chicago. He was elected to a six-year term as commissioner of the Chicago Water Reclamation District in November of 1988, the third generation of his family to work for the MWRDGC. He was re-elected in 1994 and 2000. He currently serves as president of the Board of Commissioners and as chairman of the Judiciary and Real Estate Development Committees. Because of O’Brien’s guidance and extensive knowledge of the environmental field, the MWRDGC has been able to deliver streamlined services to the citizens of Chicago and Cook County at the least possible cost to taxpayers. In fact, it is one of the few governmental agencies in Illinois to have an AAA bond rating. Under his direction it has targeted pollution in Lake Michigan and local waterways and has funded the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), a program started in 1985 that prevents polluted sewer water from mixing with the drinking water supply in Lake Michigan. Since its inception it has treated over 800 billion gallons of water that would have been discharged into Lake Michigan. The system’s final tunnel is under construction and is scheduled for completion early next year. In 2004 a flood bill was passed largely due to seven years of effort by O’Brien. This bill gives the MWRDGC the responsibility for dealing with flooding issues in the many Chicago communities that do not have the expertise to deal with local flooding problems. He has also established a tollfree number for citizens to report illegal dumping into sewers and waterways. He is a member of numerous professional, trade and community organizations. He and his wife, Julie, live in the Edgebrook neighborhood of Chicago. They have three children, Kevin, Therese and Patrick.
Patrick O’Connor / Inducted 2002
Growing up in Chicago, Patrick O'Connor learned the game of 16" softball in the schoolyards and parks of the city. He played in many Chicago Park District tournaments with a number of different teams during his school years. Since 1983, Alderman O'Connor has hosted his annual softball tournament to help keep alive the rich tradition of 16" softball. Patrick J. O'Connor has been serving the 40th Ward since 1983. He received his law degree from Loyola University School of Law, and was admitted to the Illinois State Bar in 1979. Alderman O'Connor is a member of seven City Council Committees; Health, Historical Landmark Preservation, Police and Fire, Rules and Ethics, Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee, and has been Chairman of the Education Committee for 17 years. He is active in the community and serves on several organizations; the Fraternal Order of Police, American Council of Young Political Leaders, Irish Fellowship Club, American Cancer Society, American Historical Society and many others. In 2002, after serving as Vice-Chairman since 1998, Alderman O'Connor was appointed Chairman of the National League of Cities Council on Youth, Education and Families. Their work has included efforts focusing on prevention of youth violence and family neglect by encouraging the expansion of after school programs. For the past few years, Alderman O'Connor has worked with the local Chamber of Commerce to add a family feast to his softball event. Each the number of teams has increased and more and more families have enjoyed the spirit and competition of Chicago's great game. 16" softball is alive and well in the 40th Ward thanks to the continued commitment of Alderman O'Connor.
Walter “Doc” Papierz / Inducted 1999
Walter “Doc” Papierz
Doc Papierz was born on November 14, 1917 in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood on 43rd Street across from Davis Square. One of ten children, Doc attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and Tilden Branch High School. At that time he started working for the Wilson Stock Yards, a job that lasted from 1941 to 1955 until the company closed its Chicago division. Doc’s connection to softball took a fortunate turn when Ed Zolna’s father got him a job with Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department. He worked there for 21 years until his retirement in 1976 at the age of 58. At 18, after a few drinks at the local saloons, he received the nickname of One Shot Doc, which was later shortened to Doc. Doc Papierz played 16" softball from his early teens until his retirement in his upper 40’s. Besides softball, he also played basketball and bowled until an operation forced him to watch from the sidelines. In answer to that burning softball question of “gloves or no gloves,” Doc remains neutral. He has seen some excellent defensive plays made with gloves. While he claims no favorite player, Doc Papierz does admit to following Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats during their heyday. He and his wife, Jean, have a daughter and a grandson. Doc and Jean will celebrate their 62nd anniversary this January. Doc Papierz truly is a Friend of Softball.
Joseph Rizza / Inducted 2004
Unlike a lot of bar sponsors, Joe Rizza never sponsored a team expecting them to “pay him back” after the game. This attitude certainly produced a lot of happy wives whose husbands didn�t feel an obligation to stay out late after the game. All Joe Rizza asked was that a player or fan who was interested in buying a car check with him first for the best price. This modest attitude was apparent in his nineteen-year sponsorship of 16-inch softball teams. He started sponsoring the Rizza Rockers in 1986 in the North Riverside Park District League. They took off with a bang that year, winning that league and placing fourth in the “A” Nationals in Indiana. They played in eight straight “A” Nationals before moving up to the Majors in 1994. The Rockers won the Life Newspapers Suburban Tournament in 1993, the last year it was held. They competed in the Forest Park No Glove National Tournament for fourteen straight years, winning it in 1998. Joe Rizza has also sponsored leagues at Clyde Park, Hodgkins, Mt. Prospect, La Grange, and Berwyn and has committed to sponsorship into the 2005 season. Despite the many successes of the Rizza Rockers, Joe Rizza has never asked to keep the trophies from the many championships. Instead, he told player manager, Lane Niemann, to keep them, knowing they were a source of great pride to the players. While Joe Rizza may not have worried about trophies, he did care about the appearance of his teams on the field and spared no expense to make his players look good. While playing in the T.V. league, he never cared if they won or lost. All he cared about was that his players looked good. This attitude holds true to this day. Joe Rizza was born in Chicago on September 20, 1942. He entered the automobile business in 1967 as an owner of Bonnie Brook Ford in Chicago. He now owns Joe Rizza Ford in North Riverside (1978), Rizza Chevrolet (1982), Joe Rizza Ford / Porsche of Orland Park (1988) Joe Rizza Lincoln ,Mercury (1988), Joe Rizza Acura (1998), and Rizza Cadillac / Buick / Hummer in 2000. He is active in his dealerships and serves on many corporate and charity boards. He and his wife, Nives, have been married for over forty years. They are the proud parents of four children.
Cecil Roderick / Inducted 2008
Cecil and Diane Roderick own Buck’s Pit Stop and M&R Wrecking. Besides being long-term owners of these businesses, they are also long-term supporters of sixteen-inch softball through their sponsorship of hundreds of teams over a twenty-year period. These sponsorships have included police and fire teams, recreational and industrial teams, girls and women’s team, “A” league teams, and major teams like Buck’s, Jynx, and the 45s. These teams have played at leagues in Westchester, Hodgkins, Pleasantdale, LaGrange, Lyons, and Mt. Prospect. Buck sponsored teams have dozens of league championships, six Forest Park No Glove Nationals titles, and five ASA Nationals titles. In addition to sponsoring teams, Buck has helped in other ways. In 1998 the Rodericks funded and built additional parking at the Hodgkin’s Park District ball fields to alleviate parking problems at its two fields. When the concession stands closed at the 2000 ASA Nationals in Joliet, Buck and Diane went purchased over one hundred hamburgers and cheeseburgers, cokes, and fries from McDonalds so that his players could eat before their games. He has never asked for a penny in return for these actions. Ask any member of the teams that Buck and Diane have sponsored and you will surely hear comments expressing their love for this charitable couple. Throughout their long association with softball, they have always been class acts. Their actions truly exemplify the spirit of the Mayor Daley Award.
Alderwoman “Ginger” Rugai / Inducted 2010
Alderwoman “Ginger” Rugai
In 1989, Virginia Rugai was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the following months, friends and neighbors provided an incredible network of support for Rugai and her family as she waged a difficult battle with this horrible disease. Like so many other survivors, Ginger had an ongoing desire to continue the fight beyond her personal health, and offer assistance to other women facing breast cancer. Five years after her initial diagnosis, Kathy O'Shea, a longtime softball player and friend of then Alderman Ginger Rugai, suggested a women's softball tournament to benefit the Y-Me Breast Cancer Organization. Starting small with an eight team morning tournament, the tournament has blossomed into a widely recognized event, attracting over 1500 players and generating over half a million dollars for breast cancer charities. This emotional day is filled with laughter, memories, and even some tears as a community celebrates the strength of so many survivors and the legacy of lost mothers, sisters, and friends. Recently, the American Cancer Society announced the first official Y-Me research fellowship at the University of Chicago. This grant enables physicians to setup a lab and test new ideas that may hold future answers. The results will be reviewed by the most brilliant cancer minds in Illinois. The Y-Me tournament is held on the last Saturday of August. Any who have not attended are encouraged to do so. This is an incredibly moving day highlighted by a Survivors Game highlighting the length of time each player has survived breast cancer. Also, like any good softball tournament, a great party follows the games. This is truly a day to remember lost love ones, to support those brave women currently struggling, and to offer hope to future generations that someday breast cancer will be cured. Mayor Daley appointed Ginger Rugai to fill the vacancy of the 19th Ward Alderman in December of 1990. Alderman Rugai was elected for her first term in February 1991 and was subsequently reelected in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. Alderman Rugai is Chairman of the City Council's Committee on Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities. She also serves as a member of Committees on Finance; Police & Fire; Budget and Government Operations; Committees, Rules and Ethics; Economic, Capital and Technology Development; Historical Landmark Preservation; and Transportation and Public Way. Ginger Rugai is Past President of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, member of Little Company of Mary Hospital Foundation Board, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls Leader Council, Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, and Historic Chicago Bungalow Founder and Honorary Association Board of Directors. She was appointed to Mayor Daley's Task Force on Women's Health and a Commissioner of the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues. Alderman Ginger Rugai began her career as an English teacher at Queen of Peace High School with a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University. Before becoming Alderman, she served as Assistant to the Director of the Beverly Area Planning Association, a member of the Illinois Senate Staff and Administrative Aide to State Senator Jeremiah Joyce. Alderman Rugai continued her education, earning degrees from Loyola University Chicago - Master of Arts: Urban Life, Learning in 2001 and from St. Xavier University - Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa in 2010. During her thirty five years of community service, Ginger has received many awards including Mt. Greenwood Civic Association "2002 Women of the Year"; Irish American Alliance "Woman of the Year"; St. Joseph Seminary, Archdiocese of Chicago "Rerum Novarum Award"; Mother McAuley High School "Catherine McAuley Leadership Award"; Morgan Park United Methodist "Community Service Award"; Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization President's Medal; Beverly Art Center "True Believer Award" and Illinois State Crime Commission "Award of Excellence". She is married to Ado Rugai, attorney at law. They have three children, Michael, Robert, and Karen.
Larry Sowa / Inducted 1997
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.
Phil Sutera / Inducted 1999
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.
Jim Taylor / Inducted 2005
When Jim Taylor, Len Smith and Terry Bell formed Hometown Distributing in 1983, they immediately threw their support behind 16" softball on the South Side of Chicago, supporting many teams at Washington, Kelly, Grant, and Forest Parks. In the mid 1980s, the Touch and Jim realized their dream when Touch won the National Championship in Iowa. Jim has served on the boards of Chicago Convention and Tourism, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the National Beer Wholesalers, Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, the Chicago Girls and Boys Clubs - General R.E. Woods Unit and is a trustee of Teamster Local 744 Health and Welfare and Pension Plans.
Sy Warchol / Inducted 2000
One of 16” softballs most devoted fans; Sy Warchol was born in 1929 in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. He attended St. Adalbert Grammar School and Harrison High School. He played softball at Cooper School and Harrison Park until he left to serve with the 25th Infantry Division in Korea. Warchol quit playing softball in 1969 to grab a bleacher seat, and witness some of the greatest 16” softball games in the last thirty years, usually with long time friend and fellow Hall of Famer, “Doc” Papierz. From his vantage point in the bleachers, Warchol fondly remembers classic matches between the Sobies and Bobcats at Clarendon, as well as exciting duels between Lettuce, the Bucks, Jynx and the 45”s at Mt. Prospect. His favorite memory, however, recalls the third place finish of his favorite team, Jynx, at the 2000 ASA Nationals. He likes Jynx best because, “they’re just a good bunch of guys.” Sy Warchol is retired from General Motors. In 2000, he and his wife, June, had been married for 42 years. They have two sons, George and Jim. As a longtime fan of Chicago’s greatest game, Sy Warchol adds color to an already vibrant softball scene. He richly deserved the Richard J. Daley award. Since deceased.