Sal Vasta (HOF), founder and manager of the Blues softball team, was introduced to 16-inch softball in 1969 on Chicago’s Northwest Side through the CYO program. His involvement in the program 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 Blues won numerous league championships at Wells Park, Paul Revere Park, Portage Park, Indian Boundary Park, Addison Park District, Villa Park, Clyde Park, James Park, Clarendon Park and in the Mt. Prospect Champions League. The Blues played over four decades with over one hundred different players. During the 1970s, the Blues had a North Team that played at Clarendon Park and a South team that played at Kelly Park. Both teams won numerous tournaments and games.
They retooled each year and kept improving. The Blues finished in several Final Fours in the ASA and USSSA National Tournaments. The team’s hard work paid off in 1989 when they won the USSSA World Tournament. From 1969 thru 1994, The Blues won over fifteen hundred games and numerous tournaments at the league, metro, state and national levels, including league titles at Mt. Greenwood, New Castle and Mather Parks.
In 1994, the Blues entered into a sponsorship with Hollywood Casino. That year they won the 1994 ASA National Tournament. In 1995, many Blues team members played with, and their new sponsor, Doll House won the 1995 No Glove Forest Park Nationals. In 1996, a nucleus of Blues players won the Grant Park Classic playing as Sports Channel.
It would be difficult to mention all of the players that have contributed to the Blues Softball team over those twenty-seven years. There are sixteen former players and coaches that are presently in the 16 – inch Softball Hall of Fame more will certainly be added in the future.
16 – inch softball was a great part of Sal Vasta’s life and the lives of his Blues teammates. Their twenty-seven year partnership generated many great friendships. Above all else, the Blues teams were always competitive and champions at heart.
Front Row: Carl Maniscalco, Cesar Milan, Jack Maniscalco, Sal Vasta,Anthony Maniscalco, Jeff Dohnal, Bob Lopez, Bobby Lopez,
Back Row – Len Nuzzo, Angelo Alesia, Steve Avino, Jimmy Devito, Jim Matlock, Bob Prenner, Dan Coco, Gary Maiorano