The 18th Annual Softball Hall of Fame Inductee dinner this Saturday kicked off a great celebration for the 2013 inductees and fellow 16 inch softball fans. With anticipation running high for the new Softball Hall of Fame Grand Opening this July, dinner goers were excited to welcome the new inductees and catch up with old friends. The event was hosted by George Bliss, who matched the liveliness of the crowd with his magnetic energy. Each inductee brought to the stage their personal stories and love for the game, making for a memorable evening.
It was evident throughout the night that Richard Polfus was one of the more popular inductees, bringing with him his own crowd and cheering squad! Sal Milazzo, recipient of the Richard J. Daley Award, reminded past and present players of the importance of today’s contemporary players and the future of the game. In an inspirational speech, Sherman Nelson discussed his time as manager of the Young Guns. John Reglin made history as the first inductee and award recipient from outside of Chicago, taking home with him to Iowa the honorary Holan Award. In a very touching moment, Don Savage, inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Pioneer, stood on stage at the age of 96 years old and received a standing ovation from the audience. Pete McGuire garnered many laughs when he referenced the difference between 12 inch and 16 inch players, although judging by the cheers from the crowd his statements ring true! The Hall of Fame was honored to have Tim Maher perform his poem dedicated to 16 inch softball for the crowd, acting as an inspiration for all players in the room.
The night proved to be successful in celebrating and promoting the game of softball, while players relived some of their favorite memories. “People are starting to believe that we are going to make a difference, and they are getting really excited about it,” says Hall of Fame co-founder Al Maag. In his speech, Ron Onesti explained how the act of making jersey’s with his brother Rich touched so many players lives and Ray Topps expressed his wish to do the same with his displays at the Hall of Fame Grand Opening. “It’s a labor of love to have collected all of the memorabilia, team shirts, bats, uniforms…and to have the ability to be showing them at the dinner and in the Hall of Fame, I’m very excited to say the least,” says Topps.
The Hall of Fame Grand Opening and new inductee plaque unveiling will be July 19th, 2014 in Forest Park, IL.