Umpires & Managers
Jim “ack ack” Acanfora / Inducted 2007
Jim “ack ack” Acanfora
Jim Acanfora was born and raised on Chicago’s West side where he attended Quigley North High School, graduating in 1966. He lettered in baseball, basketball, football, track, and wresting and was also involved in choir and debate. He then went on to Loyola University and in 1971 earned his degree in Public Accounting (CPA) with a minor in Business Law, Finance, and Classical Languages. He played basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and ran track. He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Theta (PKT) fraternity. In 1964 he began a playing career that would last into the 1980s, but in 1972 he started an umpiring career that would take him to the major leagues of 16-inch softball. He started umpiring in church, school, and park district leagues around the West and Southwest suburbs of Chicago. Little did he know that from these humble beginnings he would go on to umpire over five thousand softball games, many at softball’s highest levels. In 1978 he became a registered/licensed ASA umpire and began to officiate men’s and women’s 12-inch and 16-inch games for Tom O’Neill, Bob Ancona, and Joe Hoffman at the top parks in Chicago and the suburbs. That year, he also began umpiring at ASA regional, sectional, and national competitions. He has officiated at eleven national tournaments, nineteen state tournaments, seven Forest Park Tournaments, twelve Grant Park Tournaments, all six North-South Tournaments, and at numerous 12-inch tournaments. In 1999 he achieved Gold Status as an ASA umpire, after achieving Blue, Platinum, and Silver levels. During his umpire career, he always stressed fairness in calling the game, respected the players and the integrity of the game, called the game to the best of his ability, and realized that the game is more important than one person. Currently he has reduced the number of games that he officiates, but does assign an elite group of umpires for 16-inch major leagues and tournaments. He was the chief financial officer (CFO) and treasurer for Royal Crown Bottling Company of Chicago from 1981 until the company closed in 2005. He is semi-retired and is a consultant for select companies and clients. He and his wife, Bonnie, live in Palos Park. Jim has two children, Debra and Julie, from a previous marriage.
Ron “Beetlebomb” Braasch / Inducted 1999
Ron “Beetlebomb” Braasch
Without its organizers, 16" softball would never have gained the heights of popularity that it now enjoys. With his colorful antics and legendary methods of recruiting and retaining players, Braasch must rank as one of the top organizers of all time. One time he gave a player a repossessed 21- inch TV - stereo combination and $5.00 a game. Lou Lielinski, a top short-center of his era received a German shepherd puppy. Pitcher Wally Mader played for $200.00 to finance his trips to the track. He rewarded Braasch with 23 consecutive hits that season. Another player had his uniform sent to an Italian tailor for a perfect fit. Every player on his teams received an autographed 8 - by - 10 photo of Joanee, an ex-stripper, tavern owner, and World War II resistance fighter for the Polish underground. Besides using creative methods to sign players, Braasch was also a master of finding sponsors. Once season he convinced 35 saloon owners to sponsor his team. He then ordered 37 softball shirts, one for each saloon. He also had a trophy engraved for each owners. During the season Braasch would have players stop off and patronize the tavern by having a few beers. At the end of the season whether he won or lost, each owner would receive a championship trophy. Ron Braasch’s recruitment and fiscal efforts paid off as his teams won five Clarendon Park championships. In 1964 his team finished second to the eventual world champion Bobcats in the World Series of Softball. In 1965 he and his team stood on the winner’s stand when they won the World Series. Besides Clarendon Park, Braasch also managed teams at Sauganash, Rosedale, Kelly, Gompers and other hotspots of 16" softball. Ron “Beetlebomb” Braasch retired from softball in 1974. He and his wife, Lois, have been married for 47 years.
Percy “BoBo” Coleman / Inducted 2016
Percy “BoBo” Coleman
Percy V. Coleman began his softball career with the Flamingos in 1964 when he was twenty-three years old. His competitive spirit and love of softball and basketball drove him to play these sports at top levels. Percy turned this passion into a championship basketball career at Crane Junior College and Chicago State University where he was an outstanding “high scoring point guard”. He was named a Little College All-American for three years. Chicago State became a credited university and Percy earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
As an outfielder and pitcher for the Flamingos, Percy and superstar Billy Johnson partnered to be co - business managers and coaches of the Flamingos around 1970. Their partnership turned the Flamingos into one of the top black softball teams in local leagues and at Major ASA and USSSA tournaments.
Percy “BoBo” Coleman has been called one of the greatest black pitchers, players, and managers in sixteen-inch softball. Since early-1975, the Flamingos were the most successful teams on Chicago’s South and West sides since the Brown Bombers of the 1950s. Many former players say that Percy was the most analytical pitcher in softball during his playing days and a real community leader on and off the field. His talents were honed by watching and learning from Tom Bonen (HOF), Ed Zolna (HOF) and his idol, Mike Tallo (HOF). His prolific background and winning records and shutouts in major competition are too numerous to be mentioned.
Percy is also recognized and respected as the Chicago Housing Authority Commander of Community Policing. He used his experience in softball and midnight basketball leagues as proactive tools for youth and adults at risk. These programs were designed to help stop and eliminate the harmful effects of drug, gun, gang, and police violence in the black community. He was the guiding light behind the creation of the Chicago Major Sports Association, an institution that brought South and West side teams and business leaders together. He also helped put all the black local leagues under one umbrella with rules and regulations that could be realistically enforced. Percy also brought major sponsors and radio and newspaper editors from the Chicago Defender to the table when he became a sports writer for the Inner City Leagues.
With this media coverage, sponsors for Budweiser, Old-Style, Pabst, and R.J. Reynolds supported the Chicago Major Sports League and the Chicago Board of Education for over fifteen years. He was also instrumental in bringing sixteen-inch softball to Chicago Public Schools as a high school sport.
Percy’s outreach to other managers (and with the clout of the Flamingos) soon had black and white teams coming to the South and West sides for league and tournament play. This competition showed the softball world that teams other than the Flamingos and the Senators could play top-level softball. Percy and his “best dressed” Flamingos started the first Black World Series at Harvey’s Lou Boudreau Stadium. Over forty teams played in this series.
He also helped organize (along with Chicago’s Mayor Washington) the only Black Softball Tournament held at Comiskey Park on August 8, 1983.
Percy and the Flamingos have appeared in numerous national tournaments where they claimed numerous championships. Percy was the lead pitcher and was a consistent clutch hitter. He was named an M.V.P. for these efforts. They are the only black team to defeat Ed Zolna’s Bobcats in the Bridgeview “Pro” League State Championship game. In 1974, they received top-ten ranking in the finals rankings by Windy City Softball Magazine.
Additionally, he is credited with discovering, developing, and introducing some of the games’ top black players to Major ASA, USSSA, and CMSA tournaments. Percy has many accomplishments as a player and manager. He is also respected as a police commander, pitcher, manager, and administrator for the Chicago Housing Authority’s youth and adult leagues.
Percy and his wife, Lena, have three adult children – Jackie, Jeffrey, and Philip Coleman and Percy’s favorite and only granddaughter, Ms. Lauren Coleman, a senior at Dillard University They have lived on the South side of Chicago for over fifty years.
Nick “Moose” Camillo / Inducted 1997
Nick “Moose” Camillo
Nick Camillo began his softball career in 1937 at the age of twelve. His teammates elected him player/manager of the Imps, a team organized from St Thomas and Spencer Schools. Camillo continued in this capacity until his retirement from 16” softball in 1970, a career that spanned 33 years. Throughout this span Camillo played for teams sponsored by Malizzia’s Lounge, Phil’s Lounge, and the Cherry Lounge. His teams won numerous championships at LaFollette and Garfield Parks and Kells Field. Nick grew up on Chicago’s West Side in the Austin area. He attended Austin High School where he lettered in football for four years. Nick graduated in 1943 and was immediately drafted in the Army where he served with the First Infantry Division (The Big Red One) in Germany and other areas. Camillo was honored with two Purp1e Hearts when he was twice wounded in battle. When he returned from fighting in WorldWar II, Camillo began to do battle on the pitaching mounds of Chicago. He remembers one of the greatest pitchers, James “Sheik” DiNardi and other notables from that era, and pitching before the “drag” step was instituted, but his was the time of battles with Zolna and Reibel. Camillo’s team regularly won championships at Kells’ Field before the appearance of the Sobies. After that they played in some classic matches. Nick also remembers a particularly satisfying win ovet the Bobcats in a big pot game in Melrose Park. Nick also believes that someone at Clarendon and Chicago- Kedzie Parks must have put the softballs in freezers in order to deaden them. Nick’s interest in playing ball did not end with his retirement. Starting in 1072 and continuing for several years, he coached the little League teams at St.Juliana’s and Edison Park, leading them to many championships. .Camillo has been married for 42 years to June. They have four children and one granddaughter. They reside on the Northwest side of Chicago where Nick enjoys plenty of leisure time since his retirement from the City of Chicago Revenue Department.
Dick Cooper / Inducted 1997
The world of 16” softball received a great player and talented organizer in 1938 when Dick Cooper started playing 16” at Hayt Playground, Clark and Granville in Chicago. Dick started with Hawks at Hayt and then played with the Aces at Ace Laundry Company Field. Service in World War II from 1943- 46 put a halt on Dick’s career due to a lack of players overseas who knew the of 16” softball. Instead Dick played 12” “Kitten Ball” for the Army Engineers in New Guinea. Once the war ended, Dick played in Chicago leagues from 1947-1958 when he moved to the suburbs. There he played from 1958 to 1976 in a highly competitive church league for Meadows Baptist Church in Rolling Meadows. This team, which played in Rolling Meadows and Arlington - Heights, allowed Dick to manage and play with his three sons and his son-in-law and it became the nucleus of the team that later moved to Mt. Prospect in 1984. During the 1970s Dick also played for A.G. Becker and Company in the Grant Park Broker’s League on a team managed by Karl Dotzel. During the 1980s and 90s Dick Cooper’s teams put together an admirable series of accomplishments. Cooper’s Sporting Goods placed 2nd in the Nationals in 1986; the Meadows won the Mt. Prospect Classic League in 1986 and 1987 (winning 15 and 19 consecutive games respectively, a record for the number of consecutive victories in the Classic League.) Cooper returned to managing in 1992 when his March Manufacturing won the C1assic League Championship and placed 2nd in the ASA Nationals in 1992 and ‘93. In 1994 Dick Cooper was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Onesti’s Softball City. Additionally, winning the Terry Moran Memorial Tournaments in 1995 and 1997 proved to be a fitting climax to a fulfilling softball career. Dick Cooper will best be remembered by his players as a devoted leader whose unique style included loyalty to his players first and the pressure of winning second. Since deceased.
Larry “Butch” Danley / Inducted 2016
Larry “Butch” Danley
Larry Danley was known as one of the best defensive shortstops of his era (1970 to the early-1990s). He played in twelve national tournaments with the Senators, the Flashes, the Flamingoes, the Bandits, the Wild Bunch, and the Demons.
Larry played with three of the greatest teams ever – the Senators, Flashes, and the Flamingoes. These teams won every league they played in. He also played on the Bandits and helped them to a 23-0 season at Washington Park. Larry was known for his “Signature Wipe”, a move he made whenever he threw a batter out.
After his playing days were over, he began umpiring with Umpires, Inc. He worked thirteen major nationals and countless area leagues at Washington Park, Garfield Park, Forest Park, Clyde Park and at Westchester and Clyde Park for over twenty years. He later became umpire-in-chief with Umpires, Inc.
Larry and his wife, Joanna, have five children – Jauette, Tabatha, Tonio, Selena, and Ashley. They live in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Pete Dawkins / Inducted 1998
Pete Dawkins began his softball career in 1955, playing at Washington Park, Avelon Park, and Rosenblum Parks. Pete played for eighteen years with such teams as the Huns, Ripplers, Hardaway's and Royal Sportsmans. Once his playing days were over, Dawkins contributed to softball in 1971 by becoming one of the best umpires of his time. For the past 27 years Pete has been the head umpire at Garfield Park, Washington Park, the Sunday Budweiser League, Foster Park, and the Post Office League. Pete Dawkins has been employed at the Chicago Branch of the United States Post Office. He lives on the Southside with his son, Rodney.
Rich “Chico” Driscoll / Inducted 1996
Rich “Chico” Driscoll
The Leo and Loyola U. basketball standout was a Southside umpire who excelled during the 1970s and early 1980s. Over 30 year career and very noteworthy prep basketball official as well. Chico was known for his flashy style on the bases and his ability to always be well positioned for the call. He was selected as one of the umpire crew for each of the World Series of Softball finals during 1974, 1975, and 1976. Born in 1940 Driscoll lives in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood in Chicago. Married. Works as an engineer for the City of Chicago.
Ron Dunlap / Inducted 2003
While Ron Dunlap never played softball, he did go on to become one of the top umpires of the late 70s through the early 90s. That doesn’t mean that Dunlap doesn’t have a background in sports. In fact, he is a former second round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls who also played for the Phoenix Suns and the New York Nets in the NBA. He played in the ABA with the Rockford Royals, he played in the CBA, and played with Israel in the European Leagues. Ron Dunlap graduated from Farragut High School with a scholarship to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. At age 28 Ron Dunlap was offered an umpiring job in the Columbus Park Sunday Leagues in 1975. In 1976 he joined the ASA with Ed Bouchee. From 1981 to 1990 he umpired at all the major parks, including those in Cicero, Chicago Heights, Melrose Park, and many others. Dunlap joined the national umpiring scene from 1983 to 1990 when he worked USSSA games with John Mitchell, officiating at the World Softball Nationals in Indiana and Wisconsin. Besides umpiring in national tournaments, Ron Dunlap was a consistent presence behind the plate at Forest Park with Dave Novak from 1982 to 1990. Ron Dunlap’s philosophy of umpiring was simple: arrive on time, dress appropriately, and never be noticed because the fans aren’t there to see the umpire. He always treated players with respect and dignity regardless of their conduct. He believed that umpires should remain consistent in their calls and that they should hustle on every play. Ron Dunlap has been the principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Appleton, Wisconsin since 1990. He and his wife, Yvette, have two children, Patricia and Taylor and one grandson.
Bob Eskew / Inducted 2009
Bob Eskew started playing 16-inch softball for the Calumet City Park District while in high school. After graduating, he went into the Army. Once he returned to civilian life, he enrolled at Chicago State University and quickly became friends with many of the members of the women's softball team. After graduation, they asked him to coach their 16-inch team and soon Rose & Crown was formed. They quickly became one of the legendary teams in 16-inch softball history. Since its inception in 1976, Rose & Crown won 488 games against only 44 losses. They won fifteen league titles, 28 of 36 tournaments and nine successive ASA Metro titles. During its reign, approximately 70 athletes have played for Rose& Crown. Veteran players credit Eskew with providing the glue and the coaching expertise to mold them into champions and the wisdom to help them sustain their successes. Besides coaching, Bob also played 16-inch softball with Tub's Pub, Studs, and Wilbur's Cats. Bob has coached at the high school level for thirty-four years. He has coached the varsity boys basketball team at Thornton Fractional North and at Prairie State College. He was also head baseball coach, head girls volleyball coach, and assistant boys basketball coach at Bloom Township High School. He has three children - Robbie, Matt, and Megan. Bob lives in Schererville, Indiana.
Tom Frangella / Inducted 1998
Umpiring a minimum of 18 to 20 softball games per week in some of the top leagues in the Chicago area, Tom Frangella has the respect of many of the top players in 16-inch softball. According to Ed Zolna of the legendary Bobcats “ He’s the best umpire, and coming from me, that’s a compliment.” Bob O’Malley of the Cougars states, “ Tom is one of the best. He’s fair. He doesn’t take anything from anybody. But he doesn’t take a hard guy attitude.Frangella’s career began at Grand Crossing Park, Avalon Park, and Russell Square and 62nd and Springfield Avenue before he moved to Grant Park. He umpired at Kelly Park until six or seven years ago. Frangella remembers when Zolna’s Bobcats ruled the world of 16 inch. During his last few years of umpiring, he remembers the Whips, the national champs who played at Kelly Park and in the Blue Island league. Besides softball games, Frangella has also refereed high school football and basketball games, worked briefly in the American Basketball Association, and part-time in the National Basketball Association. A former building engineer, Frangella has nine children and numerous grandchildren.
Paul Frerking / Inducted 2007
Like most 16-inch softball players, Paul Frerking began his softball career playing in local park district games with his high school friends. He grew up in River Grove and attended East Leyden High School where he was named allconference in basketball and football. He moved into the major levels of softball when he played with the Amalga Monsters, Bobcats, Budweiser Whips, Relatives, and Sportstation. He was a member of Sportstation when they won a national title, with the Whips when they won two nationals, and with the Bobcats for seven national titles. His favorite playing moment occurred when the Relatives beat the Bobcats at Forest Park. In 1985 he started a twenty-two year umpiring career that took him from calling balls and strikes at Forest Park, Grant Park, and at Mt. Prospect to a twenty-year career officiating at ASA National tournaments. Besides his career at the ASA Nationals, he umpired for twenty-one years in the Mount Prospect Classic League. He officiated ten times at ASA Major championship games and is the only umpire to have achieved both the National Indicator Award and have a plague in the ASA Hall of Fame. Besides umpiring, Paul has officiated in the Arena Football League and has coached high school baseball and football. He and his wife, Lura, live in Chicago with their children, Cody and Dakota. He is a teacher in the Norridge Elementary School District.
Lee “Donnie” Gardner / Inducted 2005
Lee “Donnie” Gardner
A 1964 graduate of Du Sable High School in Chicago where he played baseball and football, Donnie Gardner began playing softball in his church league when he was only twelve years old. During his career, he would go on to play and manage for 32 years in over 2100 games; he would win 56 championships and would be named manager of the year seven times with two of the top softball teams of his era - the Flamingos and the Flashes. During the early days of his career he played with the Huns, Royal Sportsmen and Westside Dodgers before joining the Flamingos in 1969, helping them to two important firsts: their first Metro Tournament Championship and an appearance in their first national tournament at Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He took over as manager of the Flamingos in 1971 and guided them to numerous titles and national honors, including metro championships and appearances at national tournaments in Dalton, Georgia and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He managed the Flamingos through 1978 when he made the heart breaking decision to resign as manager. In 1980, he formed the Flashes as player/manager and quickly led them to the Woodridge Metro title their first year. With the Flashes he had the chance to play in his fourth national tournament and manage in his third national, taking third place. In 1982, the Flashes won the Downers Grove Metro and played in the nationals at Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 1985 they placed second at Washington park and played in the “A” Nationals at Aberdeen. The next year they won the Washington Park tournament, and Donnie took his last trip to the nationals, playing at Mt. Prospect, Illinois. He gave up softball in 1990 to coach baseball and basketball. He also played with the Challengers, City of Chicago, Rollerball, the Senators, and the Demons. Donnie credits Pete Dawkins, Phillip Ghent, Bill Clark, and Joe Stratton as his biggest influences for playing and managing. He and his wife, Emma, have three children - Donnie Junior, Stephanie, and Christopher. They live on Chicago’s South Side.
James Gemskie / Inducted 2002
James Gemskie began his softball career in 1949, playing around Chicago's Northside. From 1949 through 1953, Gemskie also played football for DePaul Academy, winning All State Honorable Mention. He then went on to play football for three years at St. Ambrose, earning a degree in Political Science. After a knee injury later ended his softball career, Gemskie switched to the other side of the plate when he joined the Umpires Protective Association in 1960, and began umpiring high school baseball and Chicago Park District softball games. In 1970 he was appointed UPA's Chief Umpire, and held that position until 1998. During his tenure as Chief Umpire, Gemskie was responsible for the umpires at leagues around Chicago and the suburbs, including the Classic League in Evanston. Overall, Gemskie dispatched 115 umpires (including his three daughters) to more than fifty leagues in and around Chicago. Gemskie was fortunate to be behind the plate for some classic matches between some of the greatest teams during softball's golden era. However, Gemskie claims that one of his toughest assignments was umpiring the Hearing Impaired League during the early 1980's, because of their reliance on the signed word rather than the spoken word. When not umpiring, James worked for the Chicago Board of Education as a teacher, counselor, and coach for 35 years. He currently coaches wrestling, 16" softball, and baseball at Amundsen High School in Chicago. Two of Gemskie's fondest memories in softball involve his daughters. One is umpiring with daughters Michele, Maria, and Valerie in the North Shore Women's Softball League in Evanston The other is coaching Amundsen High School's softball team against a formidable opponent, Walter Payton College Prep, and their formidable coach - his daughter Valerie. In addition to their daughters, James Gemskie and his wife, Josephine, have three grandchildren, and reside on Chicago's Northwest side.
Floyd Glover / Inducted 0
Floyd Glover's softball career started with the Indians and fellow Hall of Famer Henry Currie. His playing days took a turn for the worse, however, when he suffered a back injury while in the Marine Corps. That injury put an end to his days of playing competitive softball.
The injury didn’t put an end to his passion for the game, so he spent a lot of time in the early ‘60s watching games in the Daddy-O-Dailey League at Meyerling Park. That league showcased some of the great teams and great players of the time. In 1970 he was approached to serve as commissioner of the Chicago South Side League, a league that featured some of the best black teams of that era. He ran the league from 1971 to 1974.
In 1975 he switched to manager when he took the reins of the Senators, featuring Hall of Fame player Henry Currie, Rick Monday and “Hammering Hank” Kemp. That partnership stated some classic softball games between the Senators and the Flamingoes at Kelly Park. In 1975, he took the Senators to their first Nationals. They captured third place that year at Marshalltown, Iowa. In the ‘80’s and ‘90s he managed the Dating Game, Flash, the Bandits the Windy City Bombers, and a re-organized version of the Senators called the Senators Siege. In all of the years Floyd Glover managed, his teams never finished below third place in any of the leagues where they competed. He is retired from the insurance business. He and his wife, Doris, have four children and six grandchildren. They live on Chicago’s South Side.
Ken Hansen / Inducted 1999
A graduate of St. Rita High School and Lewis University where he played basketball, Ken Hansen began his 16" softball career with the Lazy 10 and the Sabers at Lindbloom, Pasteur, and Lawler Parks where they won numerous championships. As a centerfielder and shortstop, Hansen was known as a long ball hitter who maintained a .550 plus batting average from most of his career. When Hansen reached his 30s, however, he realized that his talents were better found behind the plate rather than in front of it, so he switched to umpiring. Hansen first began umpiring in the Industrial Leagues at Marquette and Lindbloom Parks. In the early 70s he joined Tom Bonen's Windy City Softball as assignment chairman for the A,B, and C Leagues at Kelly Park. Hansen also umpired the World Series of Softball Championships at Soldier Field. When asked for his favorite memories of umpiring, Hansen remembers classic matches between the Bobcats and Sobies and the many championships won by Eddie Vrdolyak's Strikers with Mike Tallo. Ken Hansen and his wife, Mary, have ten children and sixteen grandchildren. He and Mary live in Palos Park, Illinois.
John Hie / Inducted 2000
It’s been said that great umpires were once great players, and John Hie is no exception. He began his softball playing career at Clarendon Park in 1951. While continuing at Clarendon, his team started the money league at Chicago and Kedzie in the early 50s. John played at Clarendon until 1974, when he switched to the other side of the plate as an umpire, who worked exclusively with Hall of Famer Dominick Paparato. When Dominick retired, Hie took over as chief umpire until his retirement. He was a member of the Umpire Protective Association, and ran clinics and interpretation meetings for fellow umpires. While umpiring at Clarendon, John Hie introduced the “no crash rule” that was later adopted into other softball leagues. In the fall of 1999, John took on a new challenge when he was asked to put together rules and interpretations for the fledgling 16” softball league in the Chicago Public School System. The program was so successful that the league has expanded to include public and parochial high schools. Besides his 16” duties, John has also worked as a high school and college fast-pitch umpire, and has been the chief umpire for Chicago Federal Officers 12” slow pitch league. John’s umpiring skills have also landed him spots in two Hollywood movies; A League of Their Own and Rookie of the Year. In 2000, John lived on the Northwest side of Chicago.
Joe Hoffmann / Inducted 2009
Joe Hoffmann started umpiring in the late 1970s at Mt. Greenwood Park, but the lure of playing was too great, so he returned to playing softball. In 1984, however, he returned to umpiring for the A.S.A. During his seventeen-year career, he called balls and strikes for the Blue Island Major League for six years, the Mt. Prospect Classic League for two years, the Clyde Park Major League for four years, and the Super Pro League for one year. He also umpired and was tournament director (along with Bob Ancona) in the ASA National Qualifier tournaments for ten years. His experience qualified him to umpire some of softball’s high-pressure games. He officiated eight ASA National tournaments and was assigned to the championship game each time. As the umpire co-coordinator for six ASA tournaments, he rated and graded his fellow umpires as they worked every game of the Nationals. He was also tournament director for six Metro tournaments. Joe and his wife Joan, live in Tinley Park, Illinois. They have two children - Joe and Julie.
Frank Holan / Inducted 1996
He has spent over 32 years as a top pitcher, manager and organizer in the game. His first team organized was the Rocky Stars (1946-60). The Rocky Stars dominated the Second Federal League which Holan founded by winning 10 of 12 titles during the 40s and 50s. They were also one of the best in the Alderman Petrone League at Kells Park. He then managed the Miller Taggers from 1977 through 1993. They are a proud charter member of the Classic League in Mt. Prospect. His days as manager with the Miller Taggers saw a record of 860 - 382. His team won the USSSA World Tourney in 1990 & 1991. The Miller Taggers were consistently good playing in 13 USSSA venues and 10 ASA Nationals, finishing as high as 4th, twice. They won quite a few leagues and tournaments including 2 road trip wins to the LaCrosse Event. He has been a writer and columnist on softball for many years including a newsletter in the 50s. Frank is considered to be the top historian of the Chicago softball game during the last 50 years. He is currently writing a book on the history of Chicago softball and researching title, tournaments, and stars of the past. He was elected as the first 16 inch manager to the USSSA Hall of Fame in 1996 and will be inducted in March, 1997. Named Man of the Year in Softball in 1994. His wife Jeanne and he are very proud of the fact that he coached his 4 sons on the Taggers. Born in 1924. Since deceased.
Thomas Kelleher / Inducted 2004
Having brothers who play softball means that you too will probably follow in their footsteps. For Tom Kelleher that came true in 1963 when he was fourteen and started playing left field with his older brother Bob and the Strikers at Foster Park and other parks on the southside. The Strikers later joined with Mike Tallo and some of the Jesters to play in the Major League at Kelly Park. Tom Kelleher and other younger players formed the Younger Strikers (later to become the Strikers when the older team disbanded) to compete in leagues on Chicago’s southside and at Kelly in 1972. In 1974 the Strikers won the ASA Major Division Championship at Dalton, GA. and Kellher was selected to the All Tournament Team as an outfielder. As a leadoff hitter, he was known as a player who could get on base and play excellent defense. After the Strikers, Tom played with the Right-Ons out of Mt. Greenwood and then played with the Banjo Bruins from 1976 - 78 in Tom Bonen’s league in Bridgeview and at Kelly Park’s Major League. He played with the Stompers in 1978 and 79 at Clarendon Park and Kelly before teaming up with his brothers to form the Raiders. Tom Kelleher started a career with the Whips that lasted for four years (82 - 85) and produced ASA National titles in 1983 and 84 and USSSA titles in 1982, 83, and 84. They took second place in the USSSA tournament in 1985. 1986 saw Kellher switch to manager when he took control of Bud Chicago and guided them to the Forest Park title. In 1987 Sportstation won the ASA Major title at Mt. Prospect and were third in Nationals in Marshalltown, Iowa in 1988. Through 1989 ‘91 he managed the Stickmen and took them to the ASA “A” Nationals in Blue Island. With the “A” title, Tom Kelleher might be the only player to win a Major title as a player and an “A” title as a manager. Tom and his wife, Lynn, have two sons - Vincent and Jim- and three stepdaughters - Linda, Rita, and Bobbi. They have eleven grandchildren and live in Lombard, IL. He works at Quabbin Wire and Cable in sales and customer service.
Thornton T. Lee / Inducted 2017
Thornton T. Lee
Thornton Lee was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. He graduated from Chicago Vocational High School, served in the Army during the Vietnam Era, and attended Kennedy-King College and Chicago State University. He began paying organized sixteen-inch softball with the Challengers at Washington Park. He later played
for the Bandits, Bad Company, Crusaders, and the Senators as a short center, first baseman, and second baseman.
In 1985, he became an ASA umpire and officiated a majority of softball games in the “major” division at Washington and Garfield Parks and in Blue Island. He called balls-and-strikes in more than 2700 games. He is still umpiring today. During his thirty-year career, he officiated twenty-five glove and no-glove tournaments at Washington Park, at twenty metro and state tournaments, and in ten nationals. He has also umpired major at national tournaments at Alsip and Mt. Prospect.
He also officiated USSSA and IHSA softball, volleyball, and basketball. He was inducted into the Illinois Division of the USSSA as an umpire in 2016. Thornton has six children – Carolyn, Devia, Brian, Shereita, Alric, and Matthew. Thornton and his girlfriend, Tina, live in Alsip, Illinois.
Jim Lang / Inducted 1998
Vince Lombardi once said ‘ The spirit to win, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.” This quote and these qualities especially fit the career of Jimmy Lang. He started his softball career in the early 1950s, playing in leagues at Harvey, Chicago, and Blue Island. In 1977 Jimmy decided to form his own team to challenge for the ASA National title. He put together a collection of players from Chicago’s Southside to create what many softball experts consider one of the best teams ever assembled - the Budweiser Whips. Jimmy’s efforts produced victory in 1980 when the Whips won their first ASA National Championship. For the next ten years they won six ASA National titles (1981, 83, 84, 88, 89, and 90). The Whips also won five USSSA World titles in the same time span (1982, 83, 84, 87, and 88). Besides being a great organizer, he also had the rare ability to attract some of the game’s best players. Lang picks the 1983 Whips with a record of 115 - 6 as the “best of the best.” Jimmy lists coaching his son at the major league softball level as a special memory. While many experts will debate the best teams of softball, most will agree that Jimmy Lang ranks as one the game’s top organizers.
Paul Leonard / Inducted 2002
Blue Island resident Paul Leonard made his transition from a 16" softball player to an umpire early in his career for a simple reason - he needed money after getting married. In 31 years behind the plate, Leonard would approach each game as if it was the most important of his umpiring career. In 1952 he joined the Official Umpires Protective Association and umpired in leagues on the Southside and at Grant Park. He also officiated at Grant Park's Tournament of Champions and numerous industrial leagues. In 1964 Paul formed the Professional Registered Officials under Charlie Jensen and partnered with the ASA where he worked the ASA Nationals in Chicago. From 1964 to '71 Leonard umpired in every ASA National Tournament in cities around the midwest, and was named Umpire-in-Chief at the 1970 National Tournament. As ASA District Commissioner, Leonard raised his area's registration from twelve teams in 1964 to 460 in the 1970's. Meanwhile, Paul also continued his PRO Group affiliation , officiating in over 30 leagues. Paul Leonard left the ASA and, with Les Duncan, united four umpiring groups into the Metro Umpires Alliance, which then hooked up with the USSSA with over 120 umpires. Leonard was named to the Illinois Softball Hall of Fame in 1981 and retired from umpiring in 1983. Paul and his wife, Lorraine, have three girls, three boys, thirteen grandchildren and one great grandchild. He is now retired from Commonwealth Edison.
Burt Leventhal / Inducted 1997
Burt began umpiring in the 1960s and officiated more divisions and more parks than any other umpire. He was known around softball during the 60s as atop umpire in the mens divisions, recreational divisions, and in women’s leagues and women’s tournaments. Burt always officiated the “big game” at Kelly Park during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Besides being a top ball and strike caller, Burt also started the careers of many umpires with the many clinics he would conduct around Chicagoland. As chief umpire, he was also responsible for assigning umpires to the many parks in the Chicago area. Besides being one of the top umpires of his time, Burt also served as the head football coach at Hibbard High School for 15 years. Deceased.
Todd Mirabelli / Inducted 2017
Todd Mirrabelli loves softball the way it was meant to be played – Chicago-style with no gloves in park leagues and tournaments throughout Chicago. That’s where he loved to play and where he managed his teams.
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Todd’s big brother John used to take him and his brother Garth to watch John’s games at Bessemer Park, Calumet Park, and Kensington Park. At the end of the year, they went to Trumbull Park to watch the Bobcats and future Hall of Fame members Eddie Zolna and Willie Simpson. This experience cemented Todd’s love for the game.
In 1976, Bob “Jaw” Harper started a team at Wolfe Park on Chicago’s East Side with Todd, his brother Garth, Dan Crnjak, Mike Standley, and others. In 1977 after showing some talent, the Eastsiders was formed when they added Ron “Ronzo” Amazzalarso, Tom Newman (HOF), Joe Somodi, Ed Borngraver, “Bosh” and others. They played in leagues at Bessemer Park, Vets Park, Mann Park and in leagues at Dolton Park. On weekends, they played in tournaments at Marquette Park, Calumet Park, and in neighborhood tournaments. By 1979, they played in Major leagues and tournaments at Blue Island and Harvey.
The Eastsiders then played at Kelly Park, home to one of the greatest no–glove leagues ever. This league showcased such teams as the Whips, Bobcats, Touch, the Stickmen and others. Many of the legendary players of the game competed in this league. People came from miles around to watch no-glove softball. By 1980, the Eastsiders played strictly Major softball and were ready to play in national competition.
In the early 1980s, the ASA allowed players to wear gloves and many believe this drastically changed the game because players became better defenders when they wore a glove. This leveled the field because weaker defensive teams were able to negate a hitter’s advantage. Additionally, non-seeded teams had to play three or four qualifying games to play in the nationals.
At this point, Todd Mirabelli started managing the Eastsiders in local park leagues and tournaments. He would schedule local games at 6:30 and John Kavanaugh and Bob Pagorak (managers of the Eastsider Major team) would schedule late games at Blue Island and Harvey. Todd managed this way through the ‘80s, winning neighborhood park leagues and tournaments. By 1990, Todd managed the team full time. They were done competing in Major softball and became a Class “A” team.
From 1990 to 2015, he managed teams in leagues around the East and South East sides of Chicago and in the South suburbs. In 1998, they won the Class “A” Nationals in Joliet, the Blue Island League, and the Illinois State Tournament.
From 1990 to 2015, Todd managed the Eastsiders in over one hundred “no glove” tournaments in parks all over Chicago. Todd’s players always came to the game expecting to win. They hustled, dove for balls, slid, and never made excuses. As veteran players got older, Todd added younger, local players (Matt Dosen (HOF), Marty Dosen, Jim Sherlock, Jim Farrell, Tim Lindeman, and Steve Ruzich, team captain) who followed the Eastsiders winning attitude. In many tournaments, organizers allowed each team to add three “major” players to the team roster. Todd added many players, especially Dave Bischoff (HOF) as a pitcher who would become future Hall of Fame players. Even though they were some of softball’s best players, they were still held to the high standards of the team.
The Eastsiders won tournaments (some multiple times) all over the South Side of Chicago and the South suburbs. They won so often that some organizers would not let them play as the Eastsiders, so Todd entered them as the Hippos, Joe’s Hideaway, and Elmwood Chapel. When he would go to Forest Park to watch Major tournaments and the No Glove Nationals, many major players asked if they could play for him because of his reputation for winning.
In 2003, the Eastsiders returned to play in the Mann Park League. They went on to win the league championship twelve years in a row until they were defeated in 2015. This loss ended their league play as many of their players were in their mid – fifties. Over the years, the Eastsiders won many tournaments and leagues and drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of pizza with the money they won.
Todd thanks his mother for his and his teams’ many successes. He used her phone to call his players and racked up a considerable bill during the softball season. He also thanks manager Don “the Dinger” Kosic who influenced Todd and motivated him and motivated him to get tournament teams together. He was the best manager on the East Side before the Eastsiders. Todd believes that the best sixteen-inch softball is played in local park leagues … without gloves. He is honored to be voted into the Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame.
John Malloy / Inducted 2000
From umpiring games between the guards and inmates at 26th and California, to using hand signals to call a game in the Hearing Impaired League, John Malloy�s forty plus year umpiring career has seen some of the greatest matches in modern softball history. Malloy especially remembers umpiring for $6.00 at the great money games between Madonna and St. Albert, when St. Albert was loaded with Bobcat players. He also remembers the time when the inmates at the County Jail stole the shoes of the guards who were on the field against a Chicago Police team. One of guards actually wanted him to intervene with the 500 inmates in getting the shoes back. A 39 nyear member, John Malloy has also served for fifteen years on the Rules Committee of the Umpires Protective Association. He was instrumental in changing the rule that allowed a runner a free return to first base from second. A 1940 graduate of Tilden Tech, John Malloy worked for Rockwell International and Sears Roebuck. He and his wife Delores have three children, six stepchildren and numerous grandchildren.
Joe Manza / Inducted 2011
Having played softball for ten years, Joe Manza knew the game, players, and the rules. This knowledge helped him officiate games at the highest levels of competition. He played in six national tournaments with the Condors, Jays, and Eastsiders. In 1985 he became an ASA umpire and officiated a majority of his softball games in the major divisions at Blue Island, Mt. Prospect, and Clyde Park. He called balls-and-strikes at over 2500 games and is still umpiring today. During his twenty-four year tenure as an umpire, he officiated twenty Forest Park "No Gloves" Tournaments, twenty-three Metro tournaments, twenty-three state tournaments, and eight nationals. Joe has also been involved in many other major tournaments at various sites (Westchester and Alsip). Joe and his wife, Marie, live in Naperville, Illinois. They enjoy spending time with their children – Nicole, Jeff, and Jillian, son-in-law, Clay, and grandson, Ian.
Sherman Martin, Jr. / Inducted 2011
Sherman Martin, Jr.
Born and raised on the West side of Chicago, Sherman began playing softball in the alleys and schoolyards of K-Town. He started playing sixteeninch softball at LaFollette Park with the Pirates, a team of high school buddies. After he graduated from Prosser Vocational High School, he played for the Cougars, Wild Bunch, T. Birds, Devils, Beavers, and Boss Larrys. Sherman played third base and shortstop on teams that won titles at Lafollette Park, Franklin Park, Garfield Park, and Maywood Park. Once he graduated from Lewis University, he was recruited to play with the legendary Safari Tigers. His skills helped them win many league championships. They were also runnersup at the 1984 and 1985 ASA Major Nationals. He played under Claude Rhodes (HOF) and soon was bit by the managerial bug. He was given the opportunity to manage in the spring of 1984 when he became the player / manager for the California Gold. They won league titles at Garfield and Maywood Parks. In 1994 the B-Athletes were created with Sherman as manager. They won many championships at Hamilton, Ogden, and Washington Parks. They were the first team to win the Mike Royko Tournament in Grant Park, with fellow coaches Floyd Glover, and Raymond "Doc" Warren. They also placed fifth in the 1999 ASA Major Nationals. They also played in the Forest Park "No Gloves" Nationals and in the Pro League. In 2004, Sherman was approached by veteran Dogg Pound players to take over the reins of the team. They won titles at Washington Park's Wednesday and Friday leagues and also clinched The Sunday's Best titles. In 2006, they won several Claude Rhode Tournaments and placed fourth in the 2006 ASA "A" Nationals at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 2009, he coached the Solutions, leading them to titles at Washington Park and to three Southwest Windy City Classic championships (2009, 2010, 2011.) In September 2011 Solutions won the ASA "A" Nationals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sherman and his wonderful wife, Sharon, live in Chicago, Illinois. They have three children – Quintel (Jersan), Jason (Cady), and Sherman, III and two grandchildren, Bella and Jalen. 11
Mike McGovern / Inducted 2000
In its sixteen year history, the team known collectively as the Dwarfs / Amalgamonsters / Monsters, accumulated a record 1,322 wins against 333 losses, for a 799 winning percentage. As a player coach, Mike McGovern was an integral part of that impressive record. A graduate of Lane Tech High School and the University of Illinois (where he played 16” softball, football and ran track), McGovern began his career with the Dwarfs in 1957. As a catcher, he hit over 100 home runs, hit over 600 for two years, and was selected a First Team All-American in 1978, ‘79 and ‘80. At that time the Dwarfs/Amalgamonsters took second place three times and came in third once at the National Tournament. From 1990 to 1998, Mike McGovern had accumulated an equally impressive record as coach of the women’s fast pitch team at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His record includes one College World Series appearance, three NCAA Regional appearances, and a record 417 wins that ranked his team as 21st in USA Today. During the last five years, his 12” fast pitch team is the team with the fifth most wins in the United States. They have won five conference championships in a row. Mike McGovern and his wife, Pat have two sons who are continuing the softball tradition. In 2000 they were both playing for the Dwarfs.
Pete McGuire / Inducted 2014
Pete McGuire had a twenty-one year career playing sixteen-inch softball. Six of those years were on the major level, most notably with the Whips and the Stompers. His best memo- ries though, were the years with his cousins Mike and Tom McGuire on The Groundsmen teams from the South Side and South suburbs.
But age and injuries spare no one,
so umpiring provided an opportunity for Pete to
stay involved in the game from another perspective. Thanks to his many mentors, Pete became a respected member in the softball community. Pete worked all major ASA tournaments except Forest Park. He um- pired major leagues and tournaments at Harvey and Blue Island. During the years between 1982 and 2004 Pete umpired in two ASA National Tournaments held in Mount Prospect and Blue Island.
Pete authored a softball column for The Star Publi- cations and also had columns appear in the Chicago Softball Magazine.
Along with close friend Tom O’Neill, Pete created The Ultimate Softball Challenge sponsored by the South
town / Star Newspapers. It was the only tournament of its kind to pit sixteen-inch and twelve-inch teams in direct competition. The women’s division featured sixteen-inch teams against eleven-inch teams. In his firstyear the Bank of Westmont faced
the Whips in the championship.
Throughout his career, Pete always
tried to conduct himself in a professional manner. During his high pressure games filled
with volatile situations, his cool and detached persona helped him make the tough call.
Pete is a professional educator dedicating thirty-three years of his life to Bloom Township High School District in Chicago Heights. He retired in 2003 but continued to coach basketball at Bloom. He is finishing his forty-fourth year. In 2012 Pete was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Pete and his wife, Juanita, of thirty years live in Park Forest, Illinois. They have six children – Tim, Patrick, Sharlie, Tara, Maceo, and Liddell. They are also proud grandparents of nine grandsons.
Rich Melman / Inducted 2008
Rich Melman has been a baseball player all of his life and retired at the age of 55. He and Joel Zimberoff have managed Lettuce to two runners-up finishes and to three ASA National titles. Lettuce has won every major championship in the game and is considered by many to be the “Yankees” of sixteen-inch softball. In between games, he also is one of the most successful restaurant executives in the world. Besides managing Lettuce, Rich Melman’s efforts were instrumental in attracting more players and teams to sixteen-inch softball. The Grant Park Classic that was televised for six years and the Pro League that was televised for three years was co-founded by Melman and producer David Hynes. The games were televised throughout the Midwest by the Sportschannel crew of Mike North, Steve Kashul, and George Bliss. This exposure created a renewed interest in softball with the ASA reporting increased enrollments by teams, by players in co-recreational leagues, and in tournament participation. Rich Melman also started the Windy City Classic, a league that attracted top “A” teams. This effort worked and the major division now has the best “A” teams competing each week. Rich and his wife, Martha, have three children who have all been encouraged to play Chicago’s great game.
Les Messinger / Inducted 1998
“When the ten dollar bet on the game was your last ten dollars, that’s pressure.” So begins Les Messinger’s commentary on softball in the 60s and 70s, an era that many softball historians consider the highest quality and most competitive softball era in Chicago history. Competing against such softball icons as the Bobcats, Sobies, Rogues, Butch Mc Guires, Dwarfs, and Lyons 45s, Messinger pitched and served as captain of the powerful Moore Business Forms and Loafers softball teams for fifteen years. Competing at Kelly and Clarendon Parks, the Loafers won eleven league or playoff titles. Many consider the Loafers to be the best defensive team in 16-inch history. Besides playing and managing, Messinger is also credited with being a major organizer of the major softball league at Kelly Park, where he served as league president for the first eleven years. Although the “big leagues” have passed him by, Les can still be found pitching two or three days a week in high caliber local leagues. For the past thirty years Messinger had been a commodity broker / cattle trader whose newsletter has been called the best advisory letter to the cattle industry in the United States.
Willis Miles / Inducted 2005
In 1951, Willis Miles started a 33-year career that would take him from playing for and managing the Demons to being probably the only umpire to officiate at the world championships of all four major softball organizations. He officiated with the USSSA from 1980 to1994, with the ASA from 1994 to 1998, with the NSA from 1998 to 2003, and with the BASA from 1999 to 2003. During these years, he was selected to umpire at fourteen USSSA Nationals (eleven finals); he worked five ASA Nationals (four times in the finals), five NSA World Tournaments (finals five times), and three BSA World Tournaments. From 1981 to 2004, he became Umpire and Chief Director, a task that has honed his executive skills and has expanded his knowledge of the rules and patience behind the plate. The hardest part of being an executive is making decisions about teams and players that he played with and against for 25 years, but it did give him the opportunity to expand 16"softball and give back to a game that he loves. As commissioner, he was instrumental in starting leagues and new programs in the inner city and building relationships with various park districts. Throughout his years of officiating, he has held many titles: he has been president of the Chicago Metro Officials Association, the C.E.O. of Black American Softball of Illinois, is an umpire and area director of the Amateur Softball Association, a national director of the National Softball Association and the Black American Softball Association, an area director of the United States Slow-Pitch Softball Association, and is a member of the South Suburban Officials Association, and the Illinois High School Association. Aside from his time spent as an umpire of softball, he also spends his time officiating volleyball, high school fast-pitch softball, and slow pitch 11” and 12” softball.
John Mitchell / Inducted 2002
Like many great umpires who came before him, John Mitchell switched to the other side of the plate after sustaining an injury that ended his playing career. He played with the Stompers fom 1970 to 1976 as a first baseman and catcher, winning championships at Kosciusko and Amundsen Parks. Once he injured his knee, Les Duncan introduced him to umpiring at Orland Park. He eventually worked his way up to the head umpire position for the Western suburbs where he worked with Hall of Famer Dave Novak at Forest Park. It was clear from the beginning that John Mitchell would become one of Softball's great umpires and his list of accomplishments proves it. He recently celebrated his 20th anniversay officiating at the No Glove Nationals. He was the 16" Illinois State Director, assignment chairman, and umpire-in-chief for the USSSA, overseeing fourteen leagues and forty-five umpires. For the ASA he has served as the ASA 16" assistant co-ordinator, assignment chairman, and umpire-in-chief, overseeing forty umpires. He is currently the NSA 16" state director, assignment chairman, and umpire-in-chief. with forty-five umpires under his supervision. Besides his league umpire duties, Mitchel has also called balls and strikes at many league and tournament championship games. He umpired at the USSSA World Tornaments from 1990 to 1995, worked many ASA qualifying tournaments and umpired in the Pro League from 1996 to 1999. His other honors include the NSA World Tournament (1999-2001), the No Glove Nationals (1984-2001), the Hawthorne Park Classic (1985-1988), the Grant Park Classic(1994-1991), and the Clyde Park Classic A League (1990-1999). When he wasn't behind the plate, John Mitchell was a Chicago Police tactical officer from 1969 to 1973 and a sergeant in the Oak Brook Police Department from 1973 to 1993. From 1993 to 1998 he served in Governor Edgar's cabinet as director of the Emergency Management Agency. Since 1998 he has been the traffic incident manager for the Illinois Department of Transportation, an agency responsible for investigating all incidents on Chicago area expressways. He and his wife,Marilyn,live in Orland Park. They have a son, Tanner, and a daughter, Elaine.
Jim Murphy / Inducted 1996
A star basketball player from DePaul University in the early 60s who was drafted by the NBA Baltimore Bullets. He was a top local softball player with the Whips in the 60s. Jim distinguished himself as one of the finest umpires on the south side during the decades of the 1970s and 1980s. He was always noted for his hustle and great judgment in big games. Murphy was generally the umpire of choice for any big money games at Kelly Park and the Windy City Stadium during the 1970s. Murphy accumulated the greatest number of points during a poll taken of nominated umpires (some 30 in all) in collecting information for the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee - Umpires, et al. He has 3 children – Cheryl, Paul, and Michael and 4 grandchildren – Brianna, McKenna, Maxwell, and Brooklyn.
Sherman Nelson / Inducted 2014
Sherman Nelson was born and raised
on the South Side of Chicago. He
graduated from Englewood High School
in 1954 and joined the United States
Air Force in January of 1955. After
completing a 12 week / eight hours–a-
day IBM technical training course,
Sherman was assigned to a machine
accounting department and spent his
entire Air Force career working in the
data processing / computer field. He was
honorably discharged in 1958. Over the
next thirty-seven years, Sherman worked
in the data processing / computer field
for five different corporations – twenty-
five of those years for the 1st National
Bank of Chicago (now Chase). Sherman retired in 1995 and opened his own computer company, which he operates to this day.
When he was twelve, Sherman and his older brother (by 10 1⁄2 months) Lonnie, were allowed to go to Harding Playground on south Calumet Avenue for recreation.
It was here that he learned to play and love the game of sixteen-inch softball. He pitched for the Lem’s Bar B Q softball team that won the Southside Cocktail League championship two years in a row (1974 and 1975). He became a registered ASA umpire in the mid-‘80s. He officiated many games at Washington Park and Grant Park.
In 2000, Sherman became the manager of the Young Guns softball team. They won the Washington Park Sunday’s Best Softball League that year and also won
the Blue Island Metro ASA National Qualifier, a victory that allowed them to participate in their first state and national tournaments. Starting in 2001, the Young Guns began playing in major-level tournaments and leagues
throughout Chicago and the suburbs.
Sherman guided the Young Guns to twenty-five league or tournament championships over the next ten years. They won ASA National qualifier tournaments three times, won the Washington Park Sunday’s Best League five times, and won the Claude Rhodes Memorial Tournament six times.
They won the Washington Park SB Nite Lite Softball League four times and won the Alsip Elite Sixteen-inch Softball League, the Seventh Annual Mike Royko Memorial Tournament in Grant Park, and the Second Annual
South / West Windy City Classic in Highland Park, Indiana. In addition to these championship victories, the Young Guns also finished second or third in league or tournament play many times.
In 2008, the Young Guns took second out of forty-four teams in the ASA Sixteen-inch State Tournament. In 2010 the Young Guns finished third in the ASA Sixteen inch National Tournament. This accomplishment places Sherman as only the second African-American manager to have his team finish in the top three positions in the ASA Major National tournaments.
Sherman and his wife, Tonie, have four children – Pamela, Lynda, Kelly, Sherman, Jr. and six grandchildren – Chana, Joshua, Ariel, Courtne, Cameron, and Christian. They have lived in the Chatham community on Chicago’s South Side for the past thirty-one years.
Lane Niemann / Inducted 2009
Lane Niemann started the Rizza Rockers in 1986. He managed and played for them until 1999. They played in leagues from North Riverside to Mt. Prospect and won league championships in North Riverside, Clyde Park, and LaGrange and tournament titles in the Suburban Life, Forest Park, Clyde Park, and Hawthorne Park tournaments. They won the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals in 1998 and finished in the top four in the ASA Major Nationals four times. The Rockers prided themselves on being a family oriented team, with players' wives and children attending most games. Additionally, they were fortunate to have Hall of Fame sponsor Joe Rizza backing their team. He made sure that his players always looked good on the diamond. Besides managing the Rockers, Lane also managed and played for Kids softball and the Riddlers from 2001 to 2004. Despite his many successes on the field, Lane's greatest memory was introducing so many young players to the game of softball. He is the deputy chief of police for the North Riverside Police Department. He had his wife, Laura, live in Willowbrook, Illinois. They have five children - April, Carissa, Lanette, Olivia, and Lane Jr.
Salvatore “Sal” Oliver / Inducted 2012
Salvatore “Sal” Oliver
Sal Oliver grew up in the Gailwood area on Chicago's Northwest side. He graduated from Fenwick High School where he played football and basketball in the prestigious Catholic 5'-9"- and-Under League. He graduated from Loyola University with a degree in business administration. Sal had a twenty-one year softball career, and for those twenty-one years, he managed one team - the Stompers. He managed them to the USSSA National Championship in 1985 and runners-up positions in 1984 and 1986. They won the Kelly Park Tournament in 1975 and the Forest Park Tournament in 1980 (they were runners-up in 1978). All totaled, the Stompers played in four ASA Nationals. Sal was named USSSA All-World manager when he led the Stompers to the National title. During his career he has managed at least fifteen players who would go on to become Sixteen -inch Softball Hall of Fame players. Great managers have great players and great captains who help them win championships. Sal would like to thank Steve Rostan who helped him put together the first Stompers team at Amundsen Park. He also thanks Stomper captains Paul Sitkowski, Rick Rostan, Mike Romanelli, and Mike Oliver. They made it possible for the Stompers to be around for twenty-five years. Sal has been employed at Central States Trucking for the past twenty-five years, the last seven as senior vice president. He has three children: Michael, Michelle, and Steven and two grandchildren - Michael and Angelina. He lives in Naperville, Illinois.
Dominick Paparatto / Inducted 1997
Born in July of 1925, Dominick Paparatto attended Morse Grammar School and Crane Tech High School where he excelled in baseball and track. From 1943 to 1945 Dominick served his country during World War II as an aerial gunner in the 15th Air Force stationed in Italy. He began his softball career in 1943 with the Paragons in playground leagues and at Kells Park. After the war he played with the Wilson Jones Company in the Industrial League at Garfield Park, which they won in 1948. Dominick also played with the Mammana Undertakers in 1947 and 48 in the Kells League. He then played with the Gremlins for two years in the O.L.A. Catholic League and at Kells Park, where he remembers pitching a game against “Moose” Skowron of the Yankees, who was playing for the 49ers. Skowron hit a ball all the way to Chicago Avenue. Dominick started his umpiring career in 1952 for “Shorty” Cole when Dominick was sent to umpire at LaFollette Park. His first game was a memorable one against “Moose” Camillo. After that game Dominick was ready to call an end to his short umpiring stint. Fortunately for 16” softball Dominick decided to continue umpiring. When Cole retired Dominick became the chief umpire Humboldt Park, Lafollette Park, Eckart Park, Oak Park, and at Kells Field. Two years later Paparatto became the head umpire at Clarendon Park where he umpired many of the classic battles between the American Rivet Sobies, the Bobcats. Moose Camillo, and Jim Roses. Dominick found that Allied Park, which Bull Brandiso ran, was the toughest park to umpire. Dominick has been married to his wife Mae for 51 years. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. He retired from the Wilson Jones Company in 1989 after working there for 46 years. He now resides in Largo, Florida
Wally Pecs / Inducted 2001
Baseball, not softball, was Wally Pecs’ game after graduating from Roosevelt High School. But that changed after several unsuccessful major league try-outs led Wally to look to softball as an alternative outlet for his talents,so at age nineteen he started the Tappers. Two years later he left Tappers to join the Road Runners, a top Northside team. In 1975 he formed the Registers, a name taken from Schmaus Cash Register, where he started working in the early 70s. In 1980, the Registers merged with the Stompers, a powerful team managed by Sal Oliver. Wally took a hiatus from softball from 1984 to 1991 to be a coach to his kids. He coached his son Jeff’s Little League and Pony League teams. He also coached his daughter Tracy’s fast pitch career, and his daughter Kim’s equestrian interests. In 1991, Wally Pecs found his way back to softball as a pitcher with Rich Melman’s Lettuce team. In 1992 he started his third team, the Rabbits, who made quite an impact their first year, when they made it to the Grant Park Championship game. Although they lost that game to Lettuce in the last inning, they still succeeded in making a name for themselves. In September of that year, they defeated the Stickmen twice to win the USSSA Major title in Wisconsin. The Rabbits became Red Dog in 1995 when Pecs changed sponsors. Red Dog continued Pecs’ tradition of winning, by taking the 1998 and 1999 Hall of Fame tournaments. Pecs continued to demonstrate his physical prowess in 1995, when he hit a 270 foot home run at the Majewski Complex, two days after his 50th birthday. In addition to hitting, Pecs frustrated opposing players from the mound for his last 20 years. He’s thrown four no-hitters, including one in the 1982 USSSA Major World Tournament. Despite his two thousand plus wins, and numerous championships over his 37 year career, Pecs’ best memories are of games played with his children. Four seasons playing along side Jeff, and one game on Tracy’s 12” co-ed team, where all three had key hits to help win that game are all particularly good memories. In 2001, Wally had been married to Peggy for thirty years. They have four children; Pamela, Tracy, Kimberly and Jeff.
Jerome Pelletier / Inducted 2012
Pelletier grew-up in Glendale Heights, Illinois and still resides there. He graduated from Glenbard North High School in 1974. He played sixteen-inch softball in the park district with the Pirates and later with the Stray Cats. He worked in various park districts for six years as a scheduler and umpire before staring his career as an umpire in Major Softball. He officiated at the Clyde Park "A" Leagues from 1994 to 1996 and then in the televised Bensenville / Forest Park Pro League from 1996 to 1998. Jerome umpired two finals in the Hawthorne "A" Classic (1995 - 1997), four finals in the USSSA Nationals (1990 - 1994), three finals (two Major and one "A" final) in the Grant Park Classic (1994 to 1997), and eight finals at the Forest Park "No Glove" Nationals (1990 to 1999). He has always treated managers and players with the highest respect. It did not matter if it was a nail-biting one-run game or a runaway twenty run victory, what mattered most was the mutual respect shared between the umpire and the opposing teams. Besides umpiring sixteen-inch softball games, Jerome has officiated high school basketball for twentytwo years. In 2013 he officiated the girl's state final basketball game. He has been employed as a maintenance mechanic and data wire technician for Spraying Systems for twentynine years. He has also served as a part-time firefighter / EMT for the Glenside Fire Protection District for thirty-four years. Jerome and his wife of thirty-two years, Pat, have two daughters - Allison and Lindsay.
Bob Peterson / Inducted 2008
Bob Peterson grew up in Calumet Park and attended Eisenhower High School where he played baseball, and football. He also played football at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He played softball for the Hot Dogs at parks on Chicago’s Southwest side and in Oak Park. He began his umpiring career in 1983 when he attended the USSSA Umpires Clinic run by Les Duncan. He spent his first years officiating the Women’s A League at Peaks Park in Worth. He then moved to umpiring the Men’s Class A Leagues at Bedford Park and at Blue Island. In 1987 he moved to Clyde Park where he gained experience and was offered the opportunity to umpire the ASA Nationals at Mt. Prospect. From 1987 to 2000, he umpired the ASA Nationals nine times and officiated at the finals nine times - five times in Mt. Prospect, once at Blue Island, once at Indianapolis, and twice at Joliet. Besides the ASA Nationals, Peterson also umpired in the Classic “Pro” League, at several Grant Park Classic tournaments, and in various metro and state tournaments. He finished his career at Blue Island in the Men’s A Division. Bob credits Joe Hoffman and fellow Hall of Famers Tom O’Neill, Bud Luchetti, Terry Reilly, and Rusty Carlson for their support and expertise. Besides 16-inch softball, Bob was also involved in creating a fast pitch softball organization through Oak Lawn Baseball. As its past president, he organized ICE Fast Pitch Softball for girls aged 12- 14 in the Oak Lawn and Hometown areas. It started out fielding three teams and now fields seven teams. During this time, Bob also started umpiring high school games for the IHSA and for colleges, a practice he continues today. Bud Luchetti was especially important to Peterson, growth beyond softball. He had the opportunity to coach youth football with Luchetti for the Calumet Park Rams, one of the best football organization in the South suburbs. These teams traveled out of state for 20 years at Thanksgiving to tournaments in Kentucky, Hawaii, Kansas, and California. Bob and his wife of 33 years, Joanne, live in Oak Lawn, Illinois. They have two children, Daniel and Debra.
Rich Polfus / Inducted 2014
Rich grew up on Chicago’s West Side
and moved to the Oak Park area. In
the summer of 1973 after graduating
from St. Catherine’s, Rich was
introduced to Pete Chrisos. At that
time they formed the Who, a park
district team at Stevenson Park under
the direction of Frank Zepf. It was
sponsored by Petersen’s Ice Cream.
The Who went on to win the CYO
Championship against Kelly’s Bricks
at Riis Park in Chicago. This team
evolved into the Chicago Takers, sponsored by P.M. Smith Funeral home.
The Takers began a winning tradition, starting with winning the Oak Park River Forest High School league in consecutive years. The Takers then went on to win the Amundsen Parks Men’s Sunday League in the 1977- 1978 seasons. Under the suggestion of Park Director Frank Lentine (HOF), the Takers went on a four-year tear of park district leagues. Those included Amundsen Park (weekly), Sayre Park and Kosciuszko Park. Then
in 1981, the Takers continued their winning ways by beating the Playboys at the highly touted Portage Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
Player/Manager Rich Polfus was then introduced to Tom Hennigan. Tom was instrumental in bringing the Takers to the Hamlin, Independence and Welles Park leagues. Rich managed the team to championships in all three leagues. In 1982, The Takers/Monks beat The Rocks in the highly coveted Clarendon Park League championship. This was the pinnacle in softball for a neighborhood team.
Rich continued his thirty-year player/manager status by guiding The Takers, Moosehead Beer/Wedge, Budweiser-Louisville Slugger, to numerous USSSA and ASA Nationals. His personal highlights included
a Co-MVP of the Budweiser Chicago Citywide Ring Tournament in 1983 and a 1986 win at the Chicago Desplaines ASA Metro against The Lords. Rich always
preferred the City of Chicago game with its neighborhood rivalries as opposed to the national scene. IN 1994, Rich helped HOF Manager Sal Vasta and Hollywood Casino win the ASA Major title. The next year they combined again, this time with Thee Dollhouse to win the Forest Park No Gloves championship.
Over that thirty-year period, Rich had
the pleasure of playing and managing with numerous HOF players such as Stan Bachusz, Pat
Moran, and Angelo Alecia and other impact players including Jim Walsh, Bobby Olsen, Delpho Bianchini and Mike O’Neil. Another highlight for Rich was witnessing one of his players, Kevin Lund, win the Home Run Championship at Comiskey Park. Rich
was also instrumental in developing the 50 - and - Over Takers Softball Team, which is currently a powerhouse in the Clyde Park League.
Rich ensured his teams were always well sponsored through team fundraising events such as the legendary Rock n Roll Candlelight Bowl, and many corporate sponsors including Budweiser and its relationship with Louisville Slugger. Rich and Louisville Slugger’s Rex Bradley co-developed the Chicago-style wooden sixteen- inch softball bat.
Annually, Rich helps host a major community event “Christmas with a Cause”, a charity fundraiser that
is supported by former players, good friends, unions, including the elevator, construction, and liquor warehouse unions. Through the years of playing and managing, Rich is thankful for lifelong friendships and strong family support from his great brother Ed and Ed’s wife, Julie.
Rich is currently retired, a former vice president of Goldman Sachs and a member of the CME Group. Rich is single and resides in Forest Park, home of the Sixteen- inch Softball Hall of Fame.
Bob Rascia / Inducted 2007
Bob grew up in the Galewood neighborhood at North Avenue and Harlem. He attended Holy Cross High School where he earned varsity letters in football, baseball, and track. He is a member of the Holy Cross Hall of Fame for football and track. He also played hockey with the Oak Park Park District at Ridgewood Commons. Bob’s longtime friend, Nick Sposato, helped him start his legendary softball career in grammar school when he and some little league friends formed an under-eighteen team at Sayre Park in 1974. They modeled their team after Lenny Nuzzo’s High Times team. His knack at winning championships started early in his career when his teams won league titles at Merrimac, Sayre, Shabonna, and Franklin Parks from 1976 to 1985. He also honed his skills by playing at Clarendon Park, skills that would later carry him and his teams to a record number of victories and national titles. Besides playing and managing the 45s, he also played for Lightning, the Jets, and O’Briens. He played primarily left and right field and was known as a line drive, doubles hitter who hit in the first through fifth spot. In 1988 he took over as manager of the 45s in the Classic League and managed them every year until his retirement at the end of the 2007 season. At first the team struggled to compete at the major level. In 1992 the fortune of the 45s changed with the acquisition of former Touch star, Tim Flanagan and his brother John Flanagan, a star baseball player at Notre Dame. Hall of Fame players Mike Stout and Mike Caputo along with Kurt and Eric Kiesel, Larry Downes, and Tony Portincaso joined the 45s in 1993. From 1993 to ‘97 the Bud 45s won their first national tournaments and became a consistent competitor in the upper division of the Classic League. In 1998 the team took a major step forward when Hall of Famers Frank Mustari, Pat Heraty, Tom Czarnik, Mark Frighetto, Paul Brezinski, and Curt Uidl joined the team. This coup was made possible by Rick “The Franchise” Gancarz. With the help of these very talented players the 45’s won their first of six ASA Major National Titles. In 2003 the dynasty was complete when Jeff Berger, Jim Matlock, and Hall of Famer Ron Kubicki joined the 45s. Additionally, Israel Sanchez, Mark Holstein, Brian Miller, Rich Villa, Jim Dooley, Anthony Avila, Keith Filkins (HOF), John Wolnick, Dave Singer, Fred Grief, Chris Downes, Len Nuzzo, and Marty Dosen were responsible for 468 wins against only 52 loses from 2003 to 2007. During the years that Bob managed the 45s, they won forty-six tournaments, including five straight ASA National titles. In 1996 they won their first Forest Park Invitational championship and took their first ASA title in2001. In 2001 the team was down 14-0 in the first inning but went on to defeat Traffic 18-16 in a game that lasted three and a half hours. In 2005 the 45s posted a record of 86 wins against 6 losses. He proudly managed them to an ASA tournament record of 44-3 from 2001 to 2007. Over the 27- year history of the Classic League, Bob Rascia holds the following records as a manager: 331 wins, seven championships, 26 wins in a single season, two seasons of 22 wins, the highest winning percentage of .958 and most games managed at 472. Bob and his wife, Melissa, live in Park Ridge, Illinois. They have three children. He is a criminal defense attorney.
Tony Reibel / Inducted 1996
Born in 1933, Tony Reibel's active playing career began in 1952 with Tom Green’s Baseball Inn and Kool Vent Awning at Kells Field (Chicago & Kedzie) in 1955-56 and with the Kenneth Allen team. He batted right-handed and threw right-handed. He was one of the top short centers in the game during the 60s and 70s. His list of accomplishments as an individual player merits recognition for the Hall of Fame alone, but he is best remembered for leading one of the top teams of the 60s & 70s in American Rivet Sobies to over 700 wins over a decade. They were one of the most dominant teams in the game from ‘66 to ‘72. The Sobies won three consecutive ASA National Championships (‘66, ‘67, ‘68). They won over 100 games in both ‘71 and’72 in possibly their finest years, winning every title except the ASA Nationals. The Sobies impressively won the first World Series of Softball in 1974 at Hart Stadium in Blue Island. They also won three Forest Park titles and five Andy Frain Tournament titles. The Sobies' battles with Eddie Zolna’s Bobcats were legendary and in 1971 the player everyone wanted to watch was the ASA All-American short center. He consistently batted over .500 with power in the cleanup spot. In 1970 he hit .548; 1971 - .560; and 1973 - .503. Tony was so respected as a player, manager, and administrator that he was unanimously elected as the first commissioner of the rebirth of the Windy City League in Bridgeview 1976 -77. Tony was responsible for changing an important rule which is unique to Chicago softball- “the foul third strike rule.” At Clarendon Park in the ‘60s, Tony was known to foul off dozens of pitches in an effort to stall the game, while his team waited for a tardy player because Tony was simply trying to get the pitcher to make a better pitch to hit. Clarendon Park supervisor, George Morse, implemented “foul third strike” rule to speed up the game. Reibel graduated from Lane Tech H. S. on the Northside. He was also asked to help softball and was the first white player to play in a Negro league with Sweetwater Clifton on the Capitol Records team Daddie 0 - Daylie League. He is also a co-founder of the Chicago 16” Softball Hall of Fame. He thanks his wife Marilynn, 5 children and his grandchildren for putting up with his pastime.
Terry “Riles” Reily / Inducted 2006
Terry “Riles” Reily
A graduate of Mt. Carmel High School where he ran track and was on the swimming and diving team, Terry Reilly’s umpiring career started in typical fashion - officiating little league and pony league games. However, his career didn’t end there. As he became more skilled and known as an umpire, he moved into the world of “major / minor” umpiring when he began working behind the plate in semi-pro baseball games. His 16" softball career started when he was watching a game in Blue Island and realized that he could officiate softball games, and the rest is history. He started out officiating in B and C leagues, but got his big break in 1979 when got a chance to umpire a Major 16" National game in Harvey. That opportunity worked out well and Terry Reilly never looked back during his twenty-three year career. He credits his success in umpiring 16" softball to his years of umpiring semi-pro baseball where he learned to hustle, to follow the ball, and to develop a good demeanor for the game. From 1976 to 1999 as an ASA umpire, he officiated over five thousand games at leagues in Blue Island, Kelly, Harvey and Clyde Parks. From 1982 to 1999 he was ASA umpire-in-chief of Metro Chicago leagues. He umpired at twelve 16"Major League National Tournaments, calling balls and strikes at more than two hundred games. He was deputy umpire-in-chief at five Major Nationals and was umpire-in-chief for two “A” level Nationals. He also officiated at all tournaments, including district competitions, qualifiers, some state tournaments, three Hawthorne Classics, and several Grant Park Tournaments. He retired after thirty-four years with the Chicago Transit Authority where he was the Director of Emergency Services. He has two children, Tina and Kellie, two grandchildren, and a wonderful girlfriend, Brenda Bryan. He lives in Park Forest, Illinois.
Ron “Binger” Schabinger / Inducted 2006
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.
Pete Schmit / Inducted 2001
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.
Tony Valosek / Inducted 2016
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.
Sal Vasta / Inducted 2002
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.
Joel Zimberoff / Inducted 2010
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.
Mike Zizzi / Inducted 2010
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.