Janet Carpenter-Galvin / Inducted 2008
Janet Carpenter’s lifelong interest in 16” softball began in 1977 when she was only thirteen. Joe Bertucci, the supervisor at Wilson Community Center in Chicago, asked her to play shortstop for the powerhouse Wilson C.C. team. They were so impressed by her defensive skills and talents on offense that they formed a long partnership. Wilson C.C. competed in tournaments and leagues throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, winning championships against such formidable opponents as Rose ‘n Crown, the Angels, Wings, Sulky Inn and Smashed. Janet attended Lourdes High School where she participated in a variety of sports - softball, volleyball, and track. In 2005, she was inducted into the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) Hall of Fame. After Lourdes, she attended Lewis University on a softball scholarship and played softball and volleyball. While there, she set several records that remain unbroken to this day. In 1992, she was inducted into the Lewis University Hall of Fame. After college, Janet pursued her love of the game when she joined the Shinnick’s Bad Attitude, a local neighborhood team. Shinnick’s played three to four nights a week and with Janet’s skills at shortstop, short center, in the outfield and at the plate, they quickly cemented their reputation by winning leagues and tournaments throughout Chicago. She also played for the infamous Desperados, capturing many titles against the Bidayos, Brat Pack and the Misfits. Janet remains active in softball today by playing for Shinnick’s/Symmetry in the 19th Ward Alderman Ginger Rugai’s Y-Me Breast Cancer tournament. Janet currently manages and coaches a 14U travel softball team, The Chicago Rockets and in her spare time also coaches the Chicago Comets Volleyball club. Janet plays an important role in local, regional and national athletics. In 2004 she traveled to New Zealand and Australia to coach the People to People Sports Ambassador program. She has officiated USA volleyball for twelve years and IHSA volleyball for twenty four years. Janet is currently employed by the Chicago Transit Authority, Office of the Inspector General, as its manager of Reporting and Compliance. She and her husband, Jim, have two children - James III, and Julie. They live on Chicago’s Southside.
Del Cecchini-Centanni / Inducted 2005
The signs of Del Cecchini - Centanni’s athletic skills were apparent from an early age when she started playing softball at six years old at Bell Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side. She would go on to play with some of the top women’s teams of her day and establish herself as one of the top pitchers in women’s softball before moving to San Diego, California. Her playing allegiance with Bell Park continued into her early teens as she helped them to four city championships by the time she was thirteen. Her passion for softball intensified when she hit her late teens and started playing with Friar Tuck’s, the O.J.s, Yakzees, Fuller’s Pub, McSchnapps and other Northwest Side bars, sometimes driving from one side of Chicago to the other to compete in two or three games a day. On weekends, she often pitched in tournaments for McSchnapps, one of the legendary women’s team of that era. As a dominant pitcher who won 90%-plus of her games, Del Centanni had a pickoff move to second base that caught many runners by surprise. Being a left - handed pitcher who could throw a ball with an unrestricted arc, hitters were not used to the reverse spin and the tremendous amount of ground she could cover defensively. She and her catchers also worked closely to know the tendencies of most hitters. If a hitter did make it on base, she had a pick-off move to second base that embarrassed many base runners. A graduate of Notre Dame High School in Chicago where she played volleyball and basketball, she went on to graduate from George Williams College in Downers Grove, where she played volleyball and basketball. She married Lou Centanni who once played for the Pirates. They have three children - Maria, Louie, and Joey. All are college athletes who have received scholarships for baseball or 12" softball. Del continues to coach 12" travel softball and is currently working at Nativity Prep Academy in San Diego, California.
Connie Coster-Bruegmann / Inducted 2000
Connie Coster-Bruegmann’s softball career began with a bang at the age of twelve, in 1958. She received a special exemption to play shortstop in an adult women’s 12” fast pitch league. She went on to Thornton Fractional South High School, where she earned multiple awards and letters, culminating in her winning the prestigious Senior Athlete Award for excellence in academics and athletics. After graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in education, Connie was introduced to 16” softball. In 1972 she co-founded a team from Ray’s Tavern that won numerous league championships. She then moved on to join the Rebels, and the legendary Angels, playing shortstop and short center until 1987. Her many batting and MVP titles helped her teams win championships at the league through national levels. In addition to excelling at softball, Connie and her teams have won titles in women’s power volleyball, and have won two national championships in touch football. Connie has coached at the junior high and high school levels, and has worked with the Boy and Girl Scouts as a waterfront director and sports coordinator. In 2000, she and her husband Vic lived in Iron River, Wisconsin.
Beverly Dagenais / Inducted 2001
Beverly Dagenais has enjoyed triple success in her softball career. She was one of the top players of the 70’s, a pioneer woman umpire in mens leagues during that same time, and compiled a 110 - 22 record as a manager. Beverly played shortstop, short center and pitcher with the Pets in Blue Island and Bedford Park, helping them compile an amazing 78-2 record over four years. She also played with the Pets in Worth and Mt. Greenwood, and with the M&M’s in Tinley Park. As a pitcher she forged a 75-15 record, with three no-hitters. As a hitter she carried a lifetime batting average of 625, with 190 homeruns. Beverly received MVP honors in Blue Island and at Windy City in Bridgeview. She later moved to the dugout, managing some of the best young female talent of the day with the Markham Babie Ruthies. After managing, she became one of the first female umpires in mens leagues in Blue Island, Mt. Greenwood, and Tinley Park. She also umpired for the Fire Department League in Homewood and for the Police Department League in Chicago Heights. Beverly then moved on to umpire 12” fast pitch. She umpired the first IHSA girls state tournament, and has officiated at the NCAA Division II Nationals. Beverly was selected Umpire of the Year in 1974 by the American Health and Recreation Association. In 2001, Beverly Dagenais lived in Homewood. She has three children; Chuck, Jim and Dawn.
Mary DiFiglia / Inducted 1998
What do 234'-1" and a knee length cast say about Mary DiFiglia? They testify to her athletic skills and her competitiveness. The 234' - 1" represents the distance Mary threw softball for a women’s 16" record that still stands (an honor bestowed on her by Jesse Owens.) The knee length cast refers to the time she wore one during a game and still managed to throw out runners. With the nickname of “Mickey Mantle” given to her by a neighbor, Mary began her softball career during fourth grade as a member of her St Margaret and Mary church team in the “blacktop league.” At 16 she graduated to Senn Park where she was discovered by the top teams of the area. As a top shortstop in 16" softball, Mary played for Stray Cats, McSchnaps, Willow on Wagner, Burrow’s Moving, and Lyon’s Den. Her teams won the league champions or placed second at Paul Revere, Wells, and Horner Parks for twelve years. They also won the championship at the Quest for the Best Tournament in the 1980’s, once during a weekend when the temperature hit 100 degrees. Mary’s highlights include beating the OJ’s and Gaffers in the 70’s, beating the Angels in the 90’s, and pitching a double header with a broken finger in 1996 to win the league championship. Besides softball Mary also excelled at basketball and track and field on a team coached by the legendary Wilma Rudolph. She currently resides in Wheaton and works for the Glen Ellyn Park District.
Roxanne “Rockey” Fox-Gurra / Inducted 2001
Roxanne “Rockey” Fox-Gurra
“Rocky” Fox’s powerful hitting first attracted attention when she was still a teenager. The talented first baseman would go on to post a career 550 plus batting average against the best competition around. Roxanne began her softball career as a youngster playing in the streets of Oak Lawn. As she got stronger, and her hits began bouncing off neighbor’s houses, she wisely switched to organized softball. A true power hitter with the strength to make the ball literally “bounce off her bat”, Fox-Gurra found success when she was selected MVP for the Markham Babie Ruthies when she was just sixteen years old. Her prowess as a clean-up hitter in various line-ups added to her defensive strengths at first base, earned her MVP honors in 1972, ‘73 and ‘74 in the Southfield Khoury League. In 1975 she was MVP in the Southfield Baseball All-Stars and with the Bedford Park District. Her big break came when she was picked up by the Flames, who eventually became the Angels. Manager Bill Broukal brought Roxanne into the top echelons of women’s 16” softball. In 1980, the Angels forged a record of 57 and 8, and won championships at Oak Brook and Bedford Park. They took second in Blue Island, Blue Island Metro, McHenry and Marquette Park. In 1981 they went 53 and 8, and won championships in Calumet City, Blue Island and McHenry. In 1983 Fox-Gurra was named a League of Champions All-Star. In 2001, Roxanne was living in Lockport with her husband Mitchell and stepchildren Erin and Kyle. She had spent the previous 24 years as a nurse at Little Company of Mary Hospitals.
Denise Hancock / Inducted 2002
Denise Hancock was one of those rare softball players who showed extraordinary talent from her first day on the diamond. Bev Dagenais, who would become Hancock's coach, mentor, and lifelong friend, spotted her playing catch with a neighborhood friend when Hancock was just thirteen. Dagenais asked her if she wanted to play softball and the rest is history. Using the shortest bat in the bag, Hancock was introduced to competetive softball. She went on to become a .600-plus hitter who could place a ball down both lines of the outfield, a skill that led to numerous inside-the-park homeruns. Defensively, she was a solid left fielder with great speed and excellent anticipation to the ball. After graduating from Bremen High School, where she played softball in the early days of high school softball, Hancock began her 16-inch career when she moved from the Babe Ruthies 14-inch League to play with the Pets at Blue Island. She then played with Rays in Calumet City, with Maplewood Inn at Calumet park, and with the Rebels in Blue Island. In 1969 she was named Roookie of the Year. She then won the Babe Ruthies Sportsmanship award in 1971 and was league batting champion in 1974 and 1975 in Blue Island. She retired from playing softball in 1986. Denise is a resident of Hammond, Indiana and works for a brokerage firm in Chicago. She is also an IHSA basketball and volleyball official.
Christine Hurrins / Inducted 2003
Christine Hurrins began her softball career in 1969 when she organized the Flaming Stars. In the mid-70’s she then went on to play with the Lady Sluggers and the Lady B C Handlers championship teams, receiving MVP honors. From 1979 to 1983 she was a member of the First Chicago Corporation’s Industrial and Inter-Bank championship teams in Grant Park, again earning MVP honors. She broadened her horizons in the early 80’s when she entered the Chicago’s Best League in Washington Park. She first played as a Buster and then joined the Rookies championship team. From the early 80’s to 1990 she was a member of six championship teams ‘ the Rookies at Washington Park, Mixed Company at Dunbar Park, First Chicago Corporation at Grant Park, Shenanigan’s at Lake Shore Drive Park, Force at Forest and La Grange Parks, and the Spoilers at Country Club Hills. In 1990 Christine Hurrins and Force won the USSSA 16” State Tournament. Christine was known as a top defender with excellent hands who primarily played left field but also filled in at the other outfield positions, third base, and catcher. With a lifetime batting average over .450, Christine Hurrins was also known to be able come up with a big hit in the clutch. She continues to play in the USPS 16” Women’s Softball League with the Lady Sluggers, recently taking second place. Christine Hurrins works at Midway Airport Concessionaires and resides in Chicago. She has five children, Dan, Nathaniel, Adrienne, Sarah, and Christine, and two grandchildren, Raeqwan and Jemonie.
Julie Iverson / Inducted 2010
Julie Iverson's foray into softball was never about being the "star." It was always about what she could do to help the team win. If it meant hitting a ground ball to the right side of the infield to score a run, that's what she did; if it meant getting on base to start a rally, that was her goal; if it meant make a diving stop at third to throw out a runner at first, that was her focus. She was and still is all about team. Julie attributes her team mentality to coming from a family of eleven where learning to work together came early in life. Julie grew up on the South side of Chicago at 80th and Saginaw in the 1960s. Those were the last of the glory days, when kids could hang out without the worry of being attacked by gangs or catching a stray bullet. In fact, the only thing the kids on Saginaw wanted to catch was a football, softball or basketball, depending on the season. Julie was the only "girl" on the block that was allowed (or desired) to play ball with the boys. In fact she was usually the first one picked after the captains were chosen and the baseball bat was capped. When Julie was twelve years old, she played Little League baseball at Eckersall Park at 83rd and Yates until an opposing coach, after looking at the stat book, had Julie kicked out of the playoffs because she was female. She recalls walking home carrying her mitt and spikes, crying and mad as hell because she fell victim to the politics of the game. Julie's first real experience into organized sports came in high school at Aquinas Dominican located on 72nd and Clyde. She played on some of the most memorable basketball and volleyball teams at Aquinas. The camaraderie between players is what she fondly remembers the most. To this day when Julie runs into a former teammate, they still call each other by their numbers, Julie was #22. She made the AAU (precursor to IHSA) All-Star team her junior and senior years. She won "Athlete of the Year" all four years at Aquinas, the first time ever accomplished in school history. Julie's sports career continued throughout college at Chicago State University. Luckily, she was awarded an athletic scholarship, an honor that came in handy in a family of thirteen because her parents could not afford the tuition and without the full ride there would have been no college. She played volleyball, basketball, and her favorite sport, softball at Chicago State. During the summers Julie began to play on a softball team in the bar leagues at both Monroe and Kennedy Parks. This team included Julie's Aquinas High School coach and some of the other teachers who just happened to be nuns. One teammate was the principal. This softball team was sponsored by Harrigan's bar. Eventually they morphed into a team called the Hookers. Of course, you had to be 21 years old to play in the league, but once the owner saw Julie hit a ball she was able to obtain a fake ID and for the next two seasons she was known as Papena Prange. Julie's divine team managed to win five championships between the two leagues. At Chicago State University she met her best friend for life, Pat McGuire, along with Bob Eskew, Mary Ann Walters, Cathy Cunningham and Pam Michalski soon to be the core of Rose and Crown women's softball team. The summer before Rose and Crown was formed, Julie played with a tournament team call McClory Pontiac. It was a decent team with some good players but they could never beat the experienced teams like Rays out of Calumet City or the Pets from Blue Island. Rose and Crown was the team that went on to dominate for years to come. Being part of the creation and development of Rose and Crown, Julie feels was one of the most inspirational ventures she was ever involved in. Forming a team of experienced and youthful players was awesome. From the moment they hit the field for the first practice, they all knew they were a part of something special. The first season for Rose and Crown surprised everyone but themselves. The team won league titles at Blue Island, Cal Park and Cal City. Their tournament victories were even more impressive in that they beat not only the South side teams but were competing favorably against the North side teams and teams from the suburbs. Rose and Crown was so successful that there was rule put in place at Mt. Greenwood Park that allowed only two Rose and Crown players to a team. For the next four seasons, Julie played softball for the best team ever. Rose and Crown compiled record 246 wins and 29 losses. It should be mentioned that Julie is left-handed and was the only left-handed third baseman playing at this level. She did not know left-handers weren't "supposed" to play third base until she overheard an opposing coach say to his team to "hit it to third, lefthanders can't play third"; it only took the first couple of batters to prove him wrong. Julie wanted all batters to hit to her because that's how she played the game. Julie left Rose and Crown in 1981 and moved to Huntington Beach, California. There she joined Nusuth, an USSSA 11-inch team, and played softball year round, winning tournaments in Modesto, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. Nusuth qualified for Nationals two years in a row but failed to place higher than eighth. While in California, Julie suffered as serious knee injury that ended her softball playing career. She returned to Chicago to undergo a series of knee surgeries but was never able to return to the kind of caliber of softball she was accustomed to playing. So, Julie decided to help out anyway she could so she switched to coaching. By now many competitive teams in Chicago had turned to 11-inch and were playing in tournaments throughout the Midwest. One of Rose and Crown's archrivals was the Angels who were coached by Bill Brokal. Bill noticed Julie in the stands and asked her to help out coach the Angels. Julie recruited some Rose and Crown players and as the team was preparing for a new season tragedy struck when Bill died suddenly. The team was understandably in shock but knew that Bill would want them to carry on. The team asked to Julie to lead them; she did not hesitate and said yes. The Angels dedicated that season to the memory of Bill and played outstanding. They qualified for the national tournament held in Jacksonville Florida where they finished third out of sixty-seven teams. It was year filled with great memories and many lifelong friendships were made. Julie's coaching days ended with Smooth Over, a 16-inch softball team. For five years, Smooth Over won the league championship at Kennedy Park. Three of those seasons they never lost a game. In addition, they won three Y- Me tournaments. Julie's life philosophy has always been to bring people together to create a winning team. She strives to bring out the best in people. Whether it was playing for Harrigans, the Hookers, Pot Belly's, Rose and Crown, or coaching the Angels or Smooth Over, for her it was all about working together and being part of a team in which the end result was winning. The only trophy that meant anything to Julie Iverson was the team trophy. It is an honor to be inducted into the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame. I applaud your dedication to this great sport of ours that meant so much to so many. Thank you, softball!
Betty Kollar / Inducted 2012
The fourth of five children, Betty Kollar grew up on the Northwestside of Chicago in the Hermosa neighborhood. There she played whiffle ball, league ball, and softball with the kids on the block. But for someone who was destined to become one of the top female softball players of her time, it was important that she lived only one block from Kelvyn Park. There she learned the game by watching the men's leagues and occasionally claiming a forgotten softball. At Kelvyn, she and her friends followed the age-old tradition of learning the game of softball by playing right-field out and using a flattened sixteen-inch ball box or a stick to mark out the base. No equipment needed except a ball and a bat. She played in her first competitive game when she was just twelve in the Chicago Park District Pony Tail League. She and her good friend led the Kelvyn Park team to victory. Her friend played first and Betty pitched (mainly because she was the only one who could consistently get the ball over the plate). She remembers bringing home a ribbon after playing in an all day tournament at Riis Park. In 1973 she received a phone call that would change her life. Another grammar school friend's team was short of players, so she called Betty at five (in the middle of dinner) and asked her to join them at six. Little did she know that that phone call would begin a forty-plus year softball career. That summer she never missed a game and met and became a teammate with some of the legends of women's softball: Mary Kay Schaefer- Monaghan, Pat Pasko, Tony Paolini, and many others. The next summer she joined the OJs and the Slow Pokes and played multiple nights a week for the next forty years. Betty was usually the number three hitter on her team. Besides her great power and ability to hit to the gaps, she rounded each base perfectly and always took an extra base if the defense was slow to react. Teammates remember the excitement she brought to the game as she rounded third base and dove head first into home plate. But great players are not built on offense alone. Like all great players, she had the speed to patrol centerfield. But she had the instincts of a great player. She knew how to break on the ball. She knew the perfect route to take to either make the catch or cut off a possible extra base hit. She knew when to dive and make the catch or hold-up on it. And her great arm and ability to always know where the runner was made her one of the best outfielders in women's softball. Besides softball, Betty also played twelve-inch softball in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and eleven-inch softball in tournaments all over the Midwest. Her eleven-inch team, Precision, played out of Kenosha. In 1984 they placed fourth in Nationals. Besides playing softball, she also competed in the Illinois Women's Soccer League and played soccer in Germany where her team went undefeated at 11-0. She graduated from Lane Technical High School and played basketball at UIC on a scholarship. She completed a Board of Governors Degree at Chicago State University in 2008. Since 1989 she has worked as a FedEx courier in downtown Chicago. In 2012 she received the Blainey Butler "Love of the Game" award at the Bucks for Burns Annual Softball Tournament. She currently plays for the Hangovers. She still plays the game that she loves. Betty lives in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago with her partner and a dog and two cats.
Linda “Chick” Lillis / Inducted 1999
Linda “Chick” Lillis
From the humble beginnings of Ponytail softball at Kelly Park to winning ASA National Championships with powerhouse Rose and Crown, the kid who shagged softballs for the men’s teams at Kelly Park went on to become a major figure in softball, basketball, rugby, and Olympic team handball. Chick Lillis’ softball career began in 1967 when her team took second place at Kelly Park. She has played with so many teams in so many tournaments that it is impossible to list them all. Her rise to national fame, however, began in 1976 when she was noticed at a tournament in Arlington Heights by Bob Eskew, coach of Rose and Crown. From 1976 to 1984, Rose and Crown won the ASA 16" Metro Championship seven times, took second once, and third once. In 1985 Rose and Crown merged with the Deperados. Their dominance of softball continued into the 80s as they won the ASA Metro twice and took second twice. 1986 and ‘87 saw them move to the USSSA 11" National in Salt Lake City where they placed sixth and 3rd respectively, proving that 16" players can adapt easily to any kind of softball. Besides the ASA Championships, Rose and Crown and Desperados took first or second in most Chicago area leagues. 1989 and ‘90 ushered in an opponent that even the mighty Deperados couldn’t defeat. The Cal Park league folded and no other league would let them play. Some of the players went to Canada and played in the Can-Am games, designed to spread goodwill between the United States and Canada. Despite being snubbed by other leagues, Desperados won the Quest for the Best Tournament both years. In 1990 they won eight consecutive games on a 95-degree day to win the title. 1990 saw Chick Lillis and other players travel to a softball tournament in Lisdoonvarna County Clare, Ireland. With nine women and one man, they defeated Irish teams consisting of eight men and two women to win the tournament. Their efforts were rewarded with a beautiful Galway Crystal vase as the tournament prize. Chick Lillis was a spray hitter whose quickness allowed her to stretch a single into a double. A utility player whose defensive skills assured an out, Lillis once played all four outfield positions during a single inning. In 1992 Lillis switched to Bidayos. They won the USSSA State Tournament in 1992 and took the Grant Park Classic in ‘92 and ‘93. Besides being one of the greatest female softball players ever, Lillis also played on the United States Olympic Team Handball Team, missing the Olympics because of a boycott by the United States. She played basketball, field hockey, volleyball, and played rugby from 1977 to ‘83 with the Chicago Women’s Rugby Football Club. In 1976 her teams won the Chicago Park District championships in softball and basketball - both on the same day! Chick Lillis currently lives in Madison Wisconsin with her husband, Lou Pitt, where she is a fireman / EMT.
Colleen Linhart / Inducted 2014
Growing up in Calumet Park made
it very easy to be sports orientated.
The town and schools were ahead
of their time by offering several
sports opportunities for girls.
Attending Seven Holy Founders
Grade School, Colleen competed in
both softball and volleyball leagues.
She graduated from Dwight D.
Eisenhower High School in Blue
Island where she played twelve-
inch softball (and helped them win the conference title her senior year) and volleyball. She continued her education at SIU-Carbondale on a volleyball scholarship where she lettered all four years and played two years of fast pitch softball for the Salukis.
Colleen credits her two older sisters for the beginning of her softball career. At the age of seven she would tag along with her sisters to their practice and shag balls. Once she turned eleven, she was able to officially join the Calumet Park Girls Rainbow Softball League. The Logans made softball a family affair with their four daughters playing the game and their parents Roy and Gerry coaching the game. Colleen played eight years in the Calumet Park league as a short stop, made the all-star team all eight years, and received several MVP awards. She played for the Greens during most of her younger career and helped them win several teen tournaments at Hart Park in Blue Island.
While attending Seven Holy Founders Grade School, she also played in the West Pullman Park School League, winning championships both seventh and eighth grade. Along with her long time friend, Pam Michalski-Vidovic, Colleen moved into citywide tournaments, playing with Chicago’s West Pullman
Park and winning the Chicago City championship twice.
Colleen started her women’s career playing for Ray's Pizza who stormed the Blue Island league by beating the Pets (a very dominant women’s team) at Hart Park their first season in the league. Their next accomplishment was winning the 1st Woman’s Windy City Championship.
Ray's continued on their winning streak by winning several championships in the Ethel Stevens Tournament at Hanson Park. Eventually Ray's Pizza became Silky Inn Favorites who were considered one of the top teams in the Blue Island and Calumet Park leagues.
Like most leadoff hitters, Colleen was known for her consistent base hits and excellent speed. She spent the majority of her time as a defensive player at shortstop. One of her greatest highlights was an unassisted triple play. She ended her career playing for the Diamond Girls who won numerous championships in the Tinley Park League and won the ESPN Miller Lite Windy City Championship at Grant Park.
Colleen earned a degree in physical education and drivers education. She teaches and coaches at Bloom Trail High School in Chicago Heights. She lives
in Mokena with her husband, Greg, and their three children: Neil, Melanie and Ashley and their golden retriever, Phoebe.
Gail “Boydie” Livingston / Inducted 2004
Gail “Boydie” Livingston
Like many softball players, Gail Livingston loved the game from an early age. However, she grew up in a time before girls played high school sports, so she began playing 12” softball in the parks of Chicago Ridge in her early teens. After she got married in 1967, Gail Livingston signed up to play softball in Blue Island where she was hooked up with the legendary coach, Paul Leonard and the Pets. This chance meeting lead to a six-year career with Pets where Livingston forged a reputation as one of the top pitchers of her era. While pitching for Pets, Rebels, and Ray’s, Gail Livingston amassed a record of 500 wins against only 100 losses; she pitched ten no-hitters and seventy-one hitters. With her trademark pitch that came in high and dropped just behind the plate, Livingston frustrated the hitting skills of many of the top hitters of that era. Additionally, Gail Livingston was known for her defensive skills and her hitting skills. Known as a single hitter with good speed on the bases, she carried a lifetime batting average over .450, hit forty homeruns, and drove in 400 plus runs. Livingston’s pitching and hitting skills helped Paul Leonard and Pets to championships in Blue Island in 1968 and 1969. She remembers beating the mighty Rose “ N “ Crown at Blue Island during their tournament powerhouse days and once played in a televised game with Tim Weigel and Mike Royko as announcers. Besides pitching, Gail Livingston also worked the other side of the plate when she umpired in Blue Island, Midlothian, Homewood - Flossmoor and with the I.H.S.A. as a high school softball official. Gail Livingston and her husband, Thomas, live in Chicago Ridge. They have four children - Lisa, Theresa, Lynae, and Jamie. She has worked for the Post Office for twenty years.
Renette McCurry / Inducted 2016
Renette McCurry got her first feel of sixteen-inch softball around the age of fourteen when she started playing at the Sears parking lot, and a neighborhood playground on Homan Avenue on the West side of Chicago. She played for her my girl scout group Girl Power under the leadership of Corrine Stubbs.
She played fast pitch softball in high school as a third baseman but switched to pitcher as a request of the coach. She didn’t want to switch but did so because the team didn’t have anybody else that could pitch. But much to her surprise to say it ended up being her only and favorite position.
While playing softball in high school, Renette went from playing fast pitch to sixteen-inch softball for Hershel King, a high school softball official who chose girls from different high schools on the Westside of Chicago and formed a sixteen-inch team named The Rockettes. She played for Hershel for about three years. She played against other teams on the West side of Chicago in parks like Douglas, Columbus and Garfield and was approached by her second softball coach, Allen Jenkins. Allen coached a team named the Force. He asked Renette to play for him, so she joined the Force in the late 1980s and played thru the early 2000s.
With the Force, Renette earned her reputation as a true softball player. They played every size softball there was – eleven-inch, twelve-inch, fourteen-inch, sixteen-inch inch and mush ball. It didn’t matter. They played it and played it well. During her tenure with The Force, she joined another sixteen-inch inch team named The Feminiques out of Dunbar Park on the South side of Chicago. She played with them for about two years only to leave them and join another team from Dunbar Park named Mixed Company, under the coaching of Juan Gayden. The Force and Mixed Company sort of became like a combination team, and between the two teams the players competed in various leagues and tournaments.
In the 1990s to the early 2000’s, Renette played for two Co-Ed sixteen - inch teams: the Players under the coach named Smoke from the South side of Chicago and Sloan out of Broadview, IL for coach Derrick Moses.
Renette has earned many awards including MVP honors and all tournament teams in many tournaments throughout Illinois. In 1993, she won MVP with a slugging percentage of .682 hitting, and her team posted a 5 -1 record to win the USSSA Women’s “C” State Championship. In 2002, Renette won Top Defensive Player for the Women’s Sixteen-inch NSA Class World Series while playing for a team named Sloan. They also won a tournament in Blue Island. She especially enjoyed playing in the infamous Old Style Classic Tournaments in Grant Park in the 1990’s.
Renette no longer plays softball but is co-manager for Sloan, a women’s team that plays out of Forest Park. She now enjoys bowling as her other sport. She lives in Bellwood, IL and works for John H. Stroger Hospital in the Finance department where she has been employed for the last thirty years.
Softball Honors Attained by Renette McCurry
1989 Dunbar Park 16 inch Champs Co-MVP
1991 USSSA State Qualifier MVP
1993 Elgin Park USSSA Class C MVP
1995 Division II Champions Sheboygan, WI 25th
Annual Stars and Stripes Tournament
1995 Budlight TPS Women’s NIT B Division All-Tournament Team
1999 USSSA 35 and Over State Champions MVP
1999 Metro Louisville USSSA Women’s Budlight TPS/NIT B Division All-Tournament Team.
2001 USSSA All-Tournament Team Rockford, IL
2003 USSSA IL State Tournament Best Defensive Player Rockford, IL
Played NSA, USSSA, ASA and BASA ball
Mary Pat McGuire / Inducted 1996
Mary Pat McGuire
Considered by many to be the best defensive shortstop in the game, Pat McGuire could make unbelievable plays look easy, whether it was throwing a runner out from deep in the hole, turning a double play or gunning down a runner with a cut off throw from the outfield. A feared hitter, she could hit for power, move a runner, hit and run, whatever the team needed. She was an original member of the powerhouse team Rose & Crown and then the Desperados. The two teams combined for close to 500 wins and only 44 defeats. These two 16" teams won nine consecutive ASA Metro Titles (76-86) which were the "Nationals" for women, a feat that may never be equaled. She went to Chicago State University on a four year basketball scholarship where she also played four years of 12" softball, graduating in 1976. She was inducted into the National Touch Football Hall of Fame in St. Louis in 1988, honoring her career as quarterback of a team that won four National Titles in eleven consecutive trips to the Championships. In 1992 she was an assistant coach at the United States Olympic Festival in Los Angeles in the sport of Team Handball. Also in 1992 she was an extra in the movie "A League of Their Own." She has played 11" and 12" softball in Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Utah, Florida, Hawaii, Colorado and even Ireland. In 1990 organized and brought a team of eight women and one man to compete in the Irish Softball Championships which were comprised of eight men and two women. Her team beat all that they played, including the U.S. Marine guards from the United States Embassy. The women's team gift to the Irish teams were 16" softballs. Both her coaches, Bob Eskew and Ron Roman, will be glad to tell you that they were blessed by not only her talent, but desire and leadership. She is currently a Supervisor in the Chicago Park District.
Lynn Miceli / Inducted 2006
A graduate of Budlong Elementary and Amundsen High School on Chicago’s northwest Side, Lynn Miceli went to the University of Illinois when it was at Navy Pier. She graduated with a degree in physical education from the U. of I. after it moved to the Circle Campus. She then went to work at Hiawatha Park in 1967 and moved to Amundsen Park in 1968 where she started a career that would influence women’s softball for years. She started playing softball at Hiawatha Park in 1967 and organized a Friday night women’s league that would become one of the most competitive leagues in Chicago. The league moved to Kosciuszko Park in 1971 where it remained until 1985. Lynn was known as a top defensive catcher of her day because of her ability to block the plate and her toughness to withstand the inevitable collisions that were bound to happen. She played for the Stomperettes and Miceli’s Mob who were perennial champs at Kosciuszko for years. She retired from softball in December 1998 to become league director of the Grant Park Softball League, the largest league in the country. She took over the reins from another Hall of Fame inductee, Buddy Haines. In 1968 she met her future husband and Hall of Fame inductee, Charles Miceli, who was also a recreation supervisor at Amundsen Park. They have one child, Katie and a granddaughter. Charles passed away in 2002.
Pam Michalski-Vidovic / Inducted 2001
Pam Michalski-Vidovic’s career began humbly in Calumet Park at age nine, when she played on neighborhood teams organized by neighborhood blocks. Talent like hers would not go unnoticed for long. By age twelve, she had moved into citywide tournaments, playing with Chicago’s West Pullman and winning the City Championship twice. She was attracted to pitching because it gave her the ball most often and made her the focus of the game. With her impressive tournament play and pitching ability, Vidovic was soon recruited by Women’s softball powerhouse, Rose & Crown. Pam was instrumental in Rose & Crown winning four Calumet City League Championships and four Blue Island League Championships. She was named MVP in the Windy City tournament, the Cal Park and Blue Island tournaments and with the West Pullman Park Citywide team. In addition to her pitching prowess, Pam batted tenth in the Rose & Crown lineup and consistently came through with clutch singles and doubles. Pam credits the coaching she received early in her career for her success. When she and others wanted to stay late to “hit a few more balls” her coaches were always willing to stay. Pam eventually achieved a remarkable pitching record of 831 wins against 87 losses, 16 no-hit games and 46 one-hit games. In 2001, Pam was a recreational center director with the Blue Island Park District, living in Blue Island with her husband Jerry and her sons Troy and Jordan.
Margaret Olawoye / Inducted 2002
Margaret Olawoye's journey from a rookie 16" inch softball player to one of the greatest pitchers in women's softball history began when she signed up to play with the Family Co-ed team in 1979 at Washington Park. That experience launched her career with a series of championship teams. She joined the Rookies in the early 1980s and promptly helped them to the Washington Park title. Her pitching skills were in such demand that she played with four teams at one time from the mid-'80s to the early '90s, including Mixed Company at Dunbar Park, the Spoilers at Lansing, the Shenanigans at Lake Shore Drive Park, and the Force at Forest Park and Country Club Hills. Olawoye helped all these teams win championships at their respective parks. Her three hundred-plus victories against only twenty-five losses, earned her MVP honors in the Dunbar League with Mixed Company and at Washington Park. As longtime coach Mike Burns said "She was the most coachable player, male or female, that I have coached in over twenty-plus years of coaching." Besides playing at the top levels of softball, Margaret also served as league commissioner in the Budweiser-Washington Park League, where she helped to rewrite the league standards, rules, and regulations. She is a teacher and administrator at Paderedskil Elementary School in Chicago. She holds a degree in chemistry from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina and a Supervision and Administrative degree from Roosevelt University. She and her son, Gabriel, live in Chicago.
Kim Panozzo / Inducted 2007
Sink the paddleboat. Rosie dances moves. Just tape it up; it will be fine. These and other sayings are some of the memories that Kim Panozzo retains from her years of playing in the top echelons of women’s softball. After moving from Roseland to the Beverly area of Chicago, Kim Panozzo begged her father to let her play in the boy’s baseball league at Kennedy Park because they did not have girls softball. At a young age, she pitched, caught, and played shortstop with her father as her coach. She moved to playing third base when she switched to softball. She attended Mother McCauley High School where she played volleyball, basketball, and softball, earning all-conference honors for four years in basketball and for three years in softball. Her big break in softball came when she was thirteen and her friend asked her to play that summer for her parents’ team, the Burbank Southfield Sting. While playing for the Sting, Ron Hurry, the coach for Bidayo’s, saw her play and recruited her for what would become a twentyfive year partnership. Ron Hurry took a group of team members from different geographical areas and a variety of backgrounds and molded them into a powerful force in women’s softball. They were successful because Ron took their talent and competitive nature and made them life-long friends and legendary softball players by keeping the core of the team together. Kim Panozzo’s primary team was the Bidayo’s, but she also played with Irish Express and Seldomly Sober. She played five nights a week in Oak Lawn, Blue Island, Worth, Alsip and at Ridge and Kennedy Parks. From the late 1990s to the early years of 2000, the Bidayo’s won the Grant Park Tournament nine of ten years. They also won many ASA and USSSA tournaments during that time period. As a third baseman for the Bidayo’s, Kim was best known for her defense, winning alltournament team awards from the ‘80s to the ‘90s. But she could also hit the ball and drive in runs. During one Metro Tournament at Hart Park in Blue Island, she went thirteen for fourteen for the tournament. She was named team MVP of the Bidayo’s in 1992 and 1995, but she especially remembers the 1992 award because her parents, who rarely missed any of her games, were there to see her receive the award. Her father, who was also her first coach, passed away shortly after she received the award. Besides softball, she also excelled at women’s football. In 2002 she was inducted into the Women’s National Football Hall of Fame. As a member of the Orphan’s, she was selected to two offensive All-American teams and was selected ten times as a First Team All-American Defensive player. She has worked for the Cook County Information Technology Office for twenty-five years as a systems analyst and has given up softball for the much more tame sport of golf.
Pat Pasko / Inducted 2007
Pat Pasko grew up in the Bucktown neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest side. Her athletic talents were apparent from an early age. She attended St. Hedwig Elementary School and Resurrection High School where she played basketball, softball, and bowled. She received M.V.P. honors in all three sports before going on to DePaul University to earn her MBA and her teaching degree. She started playing softball when she was fifteen at Shabonna Park with coach Bernie Kadek. She also played at Hamlin, Kosciusko and Lake Shore Parks and at Mitchell Playground. She entered her prime playing years in the late ‘60s when she played for Casey’s Girls, Hidden Cove Lounge, and the Shags, teams that dominated the competition at many North side parks. Pat was a talented left fielder early in her career and moved to pitcher later in her career. She was a line-drive hitter with good power (lifetime average over .600) who could hit to all fields. She also had an uncanny ability to play the hit-and-run. Besides being talented on the field, Pat was also an excellent player/coach of the Slo-Pokes (HOF) during the mid-‘70s. She not only played for and managed them, but she also supported them financially. During their three-year reign, they were considered the finest team on the North side, compiling a record in 1976 of 61 wins and only two losses. That season they won three league championships and won four single day tournaments. She was also a tremendous promoter of women’s athletics at a time when strides were being made in equalizing athletic opportunities for women. She got her teams showcased at Thillen’s Stadium and once played a charity game against the Bobcats during a Jerry Lewis telethon. Besides being an outstanding softball coach and player, she was the head girls varsity basketball coach at Addison Trail High School and was the assistant women’s basketball coach at North Central College. She also coached the boys gymnastics team at Addison Trail and once took them to downstate competition. She also coached the semi-pro 12-inch team, the Chicago Blue Jays. Pat was always a smart and talented player, but her greatest asset was her fierce competitiveness. It was this competitiveness that helped her overcome multiple birth defects on her way to athletic greatness. Unfortunately, the softball world lost a great player, coach, and promoter when she passed away in 1989.
Kim “Summers” Petersen / Inducted 2003
Kim “Summers” Petersen
“I love the game, and I’ll keep on playing until I can’t keep up with the younger players anymore.” Kim Summers began her softball career playing 14” ball in Markham at the ripe old age of twelve. She continued playing 14” ball until she went away to college at seventeen. Upon her return, she switched to 16” softball in 1974 with McLaurey Pontiac, Fifth Wheel, and Egg and Eye. In the mid 70’s, her speed and great hands in the outfield attracted the attention of Bob Eskew, the legendary coach of Rose and Crown and the rest is history. She played with Rose and Crown until the team disbanded in the late 1980’s. Besides Rose and Crown, Summers also played briefly with the O.J.’s. Throughout her career, Kim Summers was a number two and occasionally a leadoff hitter who was known for being able to get on base or for being able to advance the runner. She loved hitting to right field (perhaps made easier because she was a lefty batting from the right side of the plate). She carried a career batting average over .500 and was known for being able to hit the long ball on a regular basis. While Kim Summers is retired from 16” softball, she stills plays outfield in 11” and 12” leagues. She is an administrative supervisor for Deloitte and Touche in Chicago. She and her husband, Brian, have three children - Adam, Brett, and Eric.
Gail “Bucky” Pistello / Inducted 1999
Gail “Bucky” Pistello
In the letter nominating Gail Pistello for membership in the Hall of Fame, she is described as a pitcher with a signature knuckle ball that baffled hitters with its ‘dead action’ and could paint the strike zone with pinpoint accuracy. A glance at Pistello’s statistics shows that this claim is not filled with hyperbole. With several no hit and one hit games to her credit, Pistello has also recorded a perfect game. Gail Pistello’s career began at the age of eleven when her father, “Papa” Joe Pistello, founded the first girls 16" softball league at Durkin Park in 1972. Playing seventy to ninety games a summer, Pistello pitched for the Angels from1977 to 1990 in parks across the South and Southwest suburbs. One year the Angels boast a won - loss record of 64 - 7. Besides the Angels, Pistello also played with Ringers at Bedford Park and Swingers at Durkin Park in the 70s and 80s. With a lifetime batting average of .600, Pistello also showed her hitting skills by slugging fifty to seventy-five homeruns during her career. Individual awards were not given out during Pistello’s playing days, so she never gained her deserved accolades. This all changed in 1987 when she switched to 11" softball after the untimely death of her coach, Bill Broukal. Pistello then received three Most Valuable Player awards and was selected to seven All Tournament Teams, two at the national level. With a team of former Rose and Crown players and Angels players, Pistello’s ball skills and leadership qualities carried the team to a third place finish at the Nationals in Jacksonville, Florida. Gail Pistello is a junior high physical education teacher who resides in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Lisa Pugh / Inducted 2015
Lisa Pugh grew up at Cabrini Green, an inner city housing project on Chicago’s North Side. She was the seventh child of nine (one brother and eight sisters). When she was ten, she began playing baseball with the neighborhood boys. They called her a tomboy but they changed their tune when she struck out some of the boys. She started playing sixteen-inch softball at fourteen while working for the Chicago Park District at Stanton and Seward Parks in Chicago. She credits gym instructors Janice Roberts and Johnnie Croskey for teaching her the fundamentals of hitting, throwing, and pitching.
She realized her love for the game when she watched her father watched baseball. She knew she couldn’t play baseball, so softball became her passion. Her elementary school teachers told he how athletically gifted she was. She played volleyball, softball, and basketball at Lincoln Park High School, but softball was always her first choice.
She travelled with her first team, BIG 50, around Chicago seeking better competition. They won several league titles with coaches Mr. Lee and Ms. Epps. She the moved to the top ranked team Force after graduating from high school in 1981. She had heard the hype about the team but couldn’t play for them sooner because she wasn’t eighteen. She was nervous about joining them because they were older, but she was sure with her skills and confidence she would contribute to their success.
In 1982 she joined her husband, Trez van Pugh in Okinawa, Japan. She worked at the USO and was approached by a co-worker who asked if she played softball. Lisa was a member of Dependent Wives, a military organization for the wives of soldiers. On her first day of practice, she discovered that they played with gloves, an unheard of development for a sixteen-inch softball warrior. So she started a sixteen-inch tournament and got six teams to participate. The players called their participation in the tournament challenging and one of the best experiences of their lives.
When she returned to the States in 1987, she resumed her softball career. She played on several women’s and co-ed teams and played at parks throughout the Chicago area. She played third base, second base, shortstop, short center, left and right field and catcher. She is a consistent hitter who has the knack for hitting the ball to the gaps in all parts of the field.
She has been named to numerous all-tournament teams and has been selected MVP many times.
- 1981 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1982 NSA National MVP / All Tournament
- 1983 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 1987 Mixed Company MVP
- 1988 NSA State MVP / All Tournament
- 2001 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2004 Great Lakes National MVP
- 2004 Supreme Challenge State MVP
- 2005 ASA National MVP / All Tournament
- 2005 All-World ASA / All Tournament
- 2005 Queen City Classic MVP
- 2006 All-World NSA MVP
- 2007 Showdown Naptown NSA MVP
In 2013 her team won the World Series in 2007 in Orlando, Florida and again in 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She still plays softball with her own women’s team, MTO, a team she has played on for the past thirty years.
Dolly Reardon / Inducted 2006
Dolly Reardon’s softball career began when she was six playing with the Swirls and Curls in a twelve inch league. It was here that she cemented shortstop as her position. She continued playing in the Evergreen Park Kroury League until she entered high school. She attended Mother McAuley High School from 1967 to 1971 where she played volleyball and basketball for four years. She didn’t play softball because the sport hadn’t hit McAuley yet. After high school she attended Quincy University where she played field hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball for four years, serving as captain on many of these teams. Her number was retired her senior year because of all of the records she set. In fact, she still holds the batting average record to this day. She was inducted into the Quincy Hall of Fame five years after she graduated. With a degree in physical education form Quincy, she began teaching physical education at Queen of Peace, coaching teaching and eventually assuming the job of athletic director. During her twenty-three year career at Queen of Peace, she created a well-known sports program for female athletes. After Queen of Peace, Dolly moved to a junior high school where she continues to teach and coach. Her 16" softball career began in 1976 when she joined the Ringers, a team with a reputation for winning league titles and tournaments. In 1979 she moved to the Burr Oak Angels, coached by the legendary Bill Broukal. She played with them for ten years, serving as captain for nine of those years. The legendary Angels won so many league and tournament championships that it is nearly impossible to mention them all. They were inducted into the 16" Hall of Fame in 2002. As an Angel and as one of the best shortstops of her day with a .600-plus career batting average, Dolly was selected to seven all-tournament teams, won two golden glove awards (1983 and ‘84 USSSA), and was voted most valuable player four times. Her softball career slowed down from 1992 to 2002 when she played only one night a week with the Diamond Girls. When softball slowed down, she focused more on her bowling career. For the past twenty years she has averaged over two hundred. She has won six team titles, seven doubles titles, three single titles and two all event titles. In 1996 she was inducted into the city and state bowling hall of fames. Dolly Reardon lives in Chicago Ridge.
Mary Kay Schaefer-Monaghan / Inducted 1997
Mary Kay Schaefer-Monaghan
Mary Kay attributes her success in 16” to having three brothers and a bunch of neighborhood boys who allowed her to play in their “pick up” games. Growing up on the Northwest side, Mary Kay spent most of her time at the park district field house playing sports and shattering the myth that girls could not be both athletic and feminine. From 1982- 1983 Mary Kay played softball at the highest level for women. She played for the OJ’s, a North Side team that many experts considered to be the female equivalent of the Bobcats. From 1978 to ‘83 they were the champions for five years at the Ed Kelly Tournament, and World Champions at Welles Park and Revere Park. She also played for a Blue Island team the Rose -N Crowns that took 1st place at Calumet City and won the Chicago Metro Championship, amassing a record of 192- 20 from 1980 to ‘83. Mary Kay batted .541 during this period. She also played co-ed ball with such greats as Willie Simpson and Al Cech. This team placed in the top twenty teams in the nation. With her move to “11 ball, Mark Kay continued her streak of championships. From 1981- 83 her team took the USSSA National title. They were first in the Rockford Tournament in 1980 and took first place in the 16” USSSA Tour at Shabonna Park. In 1980 the team placed in the top thirty at the National Tournament in Kingston, NC. Their success continued in 1981 at Kansas City when they captured the ninth place position in the world. Mary Kay was selected to the All Tournament Team in Illinois and in the City of Chicago that year. Schaefer - Monaghan worked as a physical instructor for the Chicago Park District for six years. She currently lives in Hoffman Estates where she runs her own daycare business. She and her husband Dale have three boys. Their third son, Richard, died in 1988.
Cheryl “Schmally” Schmall-Mikolaitis / Inducted 2004
Cheryl “Schmally” Schmall-Mikolaitis
To say that Cheryl Mikolaitis started her softball career at a young age would be an understatement. Before playing with the Hickory Hill Spoilers in seventh grade, she honed her skills playing “street ball” against her brothers and many of the boys in her neighborhood, competition that produced the toughness she needed to later compete at softball’s top levels. The Spoilers won the championship of Kasey Meadows Park District four of the five years. She was later recruited to play with the Sulky Inn Favorites and their coach, Roy Logan, at Calumet Park and Blue Island where they won numerous league and tournament championships. She also lent her talents to Rose”N”Crown and Badayos in tournaments during the 80s and 90s. In the 90s she also played with the Worth Sting and helped the Diamond Girls tournament team win the ESPN Miller Lite championship at Grant Park. For her efforts on the diamond, Cheryl Mikolaitis won numerous MVP awards with Spoilers and Sulky Inn. She was also named MVP in the Windy City championships in the 80s. While at the Windy City tournament, she was scouted by the Chicago Ravens semi-pro team, but was too young to make the team. By the time she was old enough to play, the league had folded. Cheryl Mikolaitis contributes much of her success to Coach Bill Lambe for his ability to teach the fundamentals of softball and for driving them to perfect these fundamentals. She remembers playing the Windy City tournaments against the more established teams like Pets and other top women’s teams of the era. Cheryl Mikolaitis was primarily a center fielder, but she also played left field, third base or shortstop. She was known for her speed in the outfield and her ability to hit the cutoff man. She was a leadoff hitter who switched to third or fourth in the batting order later in her career. Although accurate hitting records were not kept , she does have a trophy for an .800 plus batting average with the Spoilers. Cheryl and her husband, Jim, own Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville. They have a son, Dave.
Monica Skowronski / Inducted 2009
Monica starting playing softball at a local park when some older girls who were looking to put a team together noticed her talents and asked her to play for them. She started playing with the Heartbreakers in a 16-and-under league at Lawler Park. She then played with We've Got Style, Shamrocks, Psychos, and Irish Express. In the late 1980s she joined the legendary Bidayos. As a short center, her teammates remember that a ball hit to her position was most assuredly an out. She had a strong arm that racked up countless double plays and numerous assists as she threw runners out from deep in the hole. Offensively, she batted third or fourth. She was a versatile hitter who hit over 500 hundred homeruns or could "dump" the ball over the infield or hit a line drive to the opposite field. She won 1st team offense and defense honors in ASA Metro tournaments and was selected to numerous USSSA All-tournament teams for offense and defense. She also won the USSSA MVP for offense.
Toni Stachon-Paolini / Inducted 2000
From a softball career that began in 1965, and proceeded to winning seven championships with the power house Rose-N-Crown, Toni Paolini ranks near the top in Women’s 16” softball. In addition to the championships with Rose-N-Crown, Paolini also played with their arch rival OJ’s / Buffoons. She played short center for most of her career, and hooked up with Hall of Famers Pat McGuire and Mary Kay Schaefer Monaghan to form some of the best double play combinations in the era. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (where she was inducted into their Basketball Hall of Fame) Paolini has worked for the Chicago White Sox, and was one of the Pioneer players in the Women’s Professional Basketball League with the Chicago Hustle and the Minnesota Fillies. In 2000, Toni Paolini was a recreation teacher for the Lemont Park District, living in Lemont with her husband Jim and daughters Rachel and Amy. She coaches basketball teams and runs basketball clinics throughout the year. She was also a IHSA volleyball and basketball official.
Renee “Scrunch” Strasser / Inducted 2014
Renee “Scrunch” Strasser
Renee Strasser started playing baseball at age nine in a boys Little League team in Alsip, Illinois. She was one
of three girls allowed to play in the league. When Little League officials wouldn’t let them advance to the
next level of competition, they joined Alsip Park District’s sixteen-inch softball for girls.
At age eleven Renee was selected
to play on the Alsip Cardinal’s traveling team. Upon entering the women’s division as a teenager, she was recruited by Ron Hurry to play for the Oak Lawn Bidayos. When she was not playing for the Bidayos, Renee was traveling the United States competing in eleven-inch softball as one of Bill Brokall’s Angels. She began her softball career playing shortstop and switched to center field as a teenager. Renee also competed in fast pitch softball at Moraine Valley and at Indiana State University as a scholarship player. When she joined the Bidayos, she claimed left field as her
Cheryl Teale / Inducted 2012
When Cheryl was about nine years old, she and her sister Cathy, along with the neighborhood boys started playing baseball in the streets of Oak Lawn using the sewer covers as bases. When the Oak Lawn Park District decided to form a girl's softball league, Cheryl and her sister Cathy joined and their mother Mary managed the team that they named the Kool Kats during its initial season. That year Cheryl hit fifteen home runs, drove in sixty-three runs and earned the team's MVP award. The Kool Kats went on to take first place honors for several years and Cheryl was awarded many all-star awards. Cheryl attended Queen of Peace High School and played sixteen-inch softball until her senior year when the school left the Chicago Athletic Conference sixteen-inch league and joined the GCAC twelve-inch league. While playing for Queen of Peace she began to hone both her skills as a catcher, tagging out most runners who tried to score and also her long distance hitting skills. Queen of Peace won the CYO Sectional Championship in 1975 and 1976. In 1977 Cheryl was named the GCAC All-Area Second Team for her offensive and defensive skills. Her big break into sixteen-inch softball started in 1976 when she was seventeen and was asked to play for the Ringers, coached by Scott Carter. They were a dominant team at the time that played in the Bedford Park and Oak Lawn Park District women's leagues. They won several league championships and Cheryl earned many All-Star awards. She then switched to the Flames (renamed the Angels the following year) where she played for the legendary coach, Bill Broukal. As a member of the Angels, she started to play four to five nights a week in league play all over the south suburbs and played in tournaments on the weekends. As a member of the Angel�s she became a dominant catcher but also played first base and pitched when needed. But her real skills were in her "south-paw" hitting. When she came up to bat, the outfield would back up to almost the fence line. Cheryl's nickname was Scooter, and it came from her ability to round the bases. During her almost thirty years of playing softball, she hit hundreds of home runs and drove in hundred of runs as the clean up hitter. In 1980, the Angel's had their best season ending the season with a record of 57-8. They won titles in Bedford Park, Oak Brook and the Blue Island End of Season Tourney. In 1981, the Angel's repeated their success with a record of 53-8 and won the championship in Blue Island, Cal City and the Old Style Classic. In 1983, she was named to the League on Champion All- Star at the Old Style Classic. As a traveling team, the Angels traveled all over the country playing softball and traveled as far as Salt Lake City, Utah. In the spring of 1987, Bill Broukal passed away unexpectedly, so Connie Bruegmann stepped up as the coach and with Cheryl as the team captain, the Angel continued the legacy started by Broukal. The Chicago Sixteen-Inch Siftball Hall of Fame honored the Angels in 2002. Cheryl also played sixteen-inch softball for several other teams. She played for the Bidayos, Lightning, Altom, Good-n-Plenty, Arch Angels and the Diamond Girls. The Diamond Girls coached by Lisa Lovato, dominated sixteeninch softball in the '90s, just like the Angels did in the '80s. They played softball mainly in Tinley Park where they won league championship every year from 1992-2001. After the Diamond Girls called it quits, Cheryl continued to play twelve- inch softball until she retired in 2007 at the age of forty-eight. Cheryl came back to sixteen-inch softball in 2002-2004 to play in the Y-Me Tournament in Mount Greenwood. In 2003 the Angel's reignited their old glory days by winning the Y-Me championship. Besides excelling at sixteen-inch softball, Cheryl also excelled in twelve-inch fast-pitch softball. In 1976 while still in high school, she tried out for the Chicago Ravens, a newly developed team in the Professional Women's Softball League and even though she had only played fast pitch for one year, she made it to the final cut. Cheryl played fast-pitch twelve-inch softball at Moraine Valley Community College where she earned her Associates Degree in science. Cheryl continued her education at Illinois Benedictine College where she played softball for another two years. Once her eligibility expired, she became an assistant coach for her college team. She graduated at I.B.C. with a Bachelors of Computer Science degree. Cheryl continues to reside in Oak Lawn and enjoys training her dog in agility, spending time in Michigan, enjoying water sports and scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Mary Ann “Stretch” Walter / Inducted 1998
Mary Ann “Stretch” Walter
As a young girl from 61st and Rockwell who played her first softball game as an eight year old, Mary Ann Walter became one of the of the top first sackers in the women’s leagues and was an original player on the women’s team with the most championships - Rose & Crown. With her trademark full splits that earned her the nickname “Stretch,” Walter was a consummate team player who led by example. Walter played 12-inch softball while a college student at Chicago Teachers College - South. There she met the friends and coaches who would become the nucleus of Rose & Crown. During Walter’s many years with Rose&Crown, they accumulated a record of 488 wins with only 44 losses and won nine consecutive ASA Metro Championships - which softball experts consider to be the most important tournament in women’s softball. In over forty tournaments they failed to finish either first or second only five times. They won fifteen league championships and have won 28 out of 36 tournaments. A pinch hitter who liked to play the ball over the short center’s head, two of Mary Ann’s favorite memories include winning the MVP honors in 1981 at the OJ’s Tournament and flying home from a cruise after a frantic call from a teammate to play the Angels, their archrivals even though she was sick with the flu. She went 4 of 5 that day to beat the Angels. Mary Ann credits her two coaches Bob Eskew and Joe Caliendo and her Rose & Crown teammates for her many successes in softball. Mary Ann Walter is a Human Resource Manager for Newcor Inc. in Detroit, Michigan.
Mary “Walzee” Walz / Inducted 2011
Mary “Walzee” Walz
The youngest of five children, born to Jim and Louise Walz, Mary was raised in the south side neighborhood of Bridgeport. Having two older brothers, Mary was exposed to the game of softball at a very early age; and since her family lived across the street from Healy School, the schoolyard became Mary's baseball field. Her mother never really had to look farther than the schoolyard when Mary was missing in action! Starting back in grammar school, she was recruited by Armour Park's Instructor, Ms. Jan Pascente. Ms. Jan's team traveled to various parks in Chicago participating in leagues and tournaments. She attended Reavis and St. Barbara High Schools, where her gym teacher "Teach" at St. Barb's encouraged Mary to play with her team, the Rookies. After high school and throughout the next three decades, she would also play with Laura's, Cabaret, Wings, Wilson, Bad Attitude, Sandburg Village, Blue Cows, Smokin Joes, Clash, Lindy's, and Orange Whips. Early in her career, Mary played short stop, 3rd base and center field before she discovered that pitching was what she did best. Her aggressive pitching style is well-known and highly regarded by her opponents because of her high arc and deep consistent strike. Opposing players hated to see her on the mound because of her aggressive high pitch. Many coaches often claimed that when Mary pitched, it changed the whole game. Picking off runners on first and second base were her highlights and favorite memories of the game, but she admits without the cooperation of her teammates her successful "picks" would not have been possible. Her sense of good sportsmanship is legendary – she has always managed to be competitive but never a poor sport. Mary retired from competitive 16-inch softball in 2005. However, she continues to play 16-inch softball once a year in the annual Y-Me Breast Cancer tournament at Mt. Greenwood Park, regarding it as a great reunion for all 16-inch players. Currently, she plays 11-inch softball and will do so as long as she can. She also enjoys playing beanbags and is instrumental in running the annual "bags" tournament at Lindy's. Mary still lives in the same house across the street from Healy School and still crosses that street to bring the next generation of Walz kids to the schoolyard to play ball!
Popati A. Wing / Inducted 2008
Popati A. Wing
Popati Wing, who is best known as “T”, started playing softball at the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago’ Southside when she was nine years old. Even though she had no formal training or coaching, she did have the one thing that great athletes possess ‘ talent. She played third base as the only girl to play with the boys. She honed her softball skills by playing the game “strikeout” with her brother before and after school. Her arm strength, speed, and hitting made her a top player at pitcher, shortstop, and left field. She didn’t play softball in high school because the sport wasn’t offered. But she has played with countless women’s and co-ed teams in parks across Illinois and other states. She has earned numerous awards, including league MVP honors and has been selected as captain of many teams. She played with Shinnick’s Bad Attitude, Force, Mixed Company, Family, Rookies, and Miceli’s Mob to name just a few. While playing with the Blasters from Waukegan, she hit the longest homerun by a female in Canada. That hit earned her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. She tried out for a women’s semi-pro 12-inch team in the ‘80s without a glove. True to the nature of Chicago’s “no gloves” tradition, she caught with her bare hands. She made the team but was placed on the farm team so that she could learn to catch with a glove. During her high school days in the late ‘70s, she ran track and competed in meets both instate and out of state with Olympic Gold medalist Wilma Rudolph as he coach Her love of sports continues to this day. She still plays volleyball, racquetball, and 11 and 12-inch softball. Except now she uses a glove. Popati holds a bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and is working on a master’s degree in Public Administration at Illinois Institute of Technology. She has been employed as a budget manager at IIT for the past twenty-five years.