Al Placek

Sixteen-inch softball has always been a part of Al Placek’s life. From the early days playing in the parks of Chicago to his days with the Bud 45’s, he always believed that to be the best you had to play against the best. He started his career playing CYO softball with a team from Our Lady of Victory Elementary School at Wilson, Rosedale and Portage Parks. He played baseball, basketball and football at the Latin School of Chicago, earning all-conference honors in all three. He moved up in competition when he was seventeen and joined his father’s team, the Craftsmen at Portage Park. His play against the likes of Lyons 45s, the Dwarfs and Murderer’s Row earned him a reputation as an outstanding defensive shortstop and short-center fielder. He moved up again in competition when he joined the Chicago Mets, a young team that was making its mark against some of the top teams at Portage and Clarendon Parks. After the Mets won the prestigious Men’s Senior “A” League at Portage Park in 1977 (and knocked off the star-studded BBC team in the Norridge Park Tournament), they decided to merge with Gary Kirch’s powerful Playboys team. Al became a part of a team that beat the Bobcats twice in one day, won the City of Chicago tournament, and won the Andy Frain Tournament at Clarendon in 1978. Throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Playboys continued to win prize money in tournaments around Chicagoland, including Evanston’s North Shore Tournament in 1980. They won numerous park league titles at Portage and Merrimac Parks and became one of the toughest teams to beat at Clarendon, playing against the likes of the Bobcats, the Amalgamonsters, the Rollers and the Dwarfs to name just a few. In 1984 Al joined Tom ”Eggs” Czarnik and the Runts as their shortstop. His days with the Runts were some of his favorite years, playing with Hall of Famers “Eggs” Czarnik, Ron Ziemann, John O’Connor and Mark Frighetto. That year they won the state tournament in Wheeling. In the late ‘80s he moved to Bob Rascia’s Bud 45s, anchoring the infield. He also played on teams that won tournament titles with Hall of Famer Wally Pecs, played with softball legend Eddie Zolna at Kelly Park, played shortstop with the Ducks in 1987 when they were the reigning ASA National champions and helped the North All-Stars defeat the South All-Stars by hitting a triple off Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Tallo. He continues to play softball at fifty-five with his brothers, Glenn and Robert. Al Placek works for the City of Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. He resides in the Oriole Park neighborhood of Chicago and has a son, Christopher.