Danny Brichetto started playing softball in the late 70’s on the North Side of Chicago at Kelvyn, Kosciuszko, Indian Rd., and Portage Parks. He was a center fielder who could hit to the gaps with power. Playing in a Sunday league at Kelvyn Park, the umpire, Al Hensel, asked him to play on his team at Hanson Park, a team that would evolve into the Wings that played at Kosciuszko and Indian Road. In addition to this team, Mike Gruber formed the Drillers with players from Brichetto’s college team, OFF. They played at Portage Park against the top competition like the Stones, Playboys, and Rollers. He also played with the Extras in the Wednesday Night James Park League, a league that featured top teams as well.
After playing against the Rollers at Portage and James, Tom “Eggs” Czarnik (HOF) and Hugh Carmichael asked him to play tournaments with the Rollers. In 1982, the Runts were formed from a merger of the Rollers and the Rat-Pac of Des Plaines. He played left field in an outfield with Mark Schuller (HOF) and John O’Connor (HOF). This was the best team he ever played on. For the next three years, the Runts placed second and third in the ASA Nationals in 1982 and ’83 and the same in the USSSA Nationals in 1983- 84. They won many tournaments in those three years, one being the North Shore Tournament where he was voted MVP.
In 1986 and 1987, Danny played with Sal Vasta’s Blues at Clyde Park in Cicero. He helped them win many class “A” tournaments. He played in an outstanding outfield that included Hall of Fame inductees Angelo Alesia and Jim Matlock. In 1987, “Eggs” asked him to join Bud North for the first of their three straight Forest Park wins. He played center field between Paul Brezinski (HOF) and Mark Schuller (HOF). They finished third in ASA Nationals. He finished the 80’s playing for Meadows during Mr. Cooper’s last season. He was teamed up with Mike Gruber again along with Jerry Rhea (HOF) and Bill and Terry Moran (HOF). In addition to playing at Mt. Prospect in the Classic League in the 80’s, he continued to play at Kosciuszko with the Wings and with his brother Larry’s team, the Critters.
As the 90’s began, he reunited with former Runt teammate, Glenn Miller, on the Turtles. The Turtles competed in the Mt. Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Franklin Park leagues along with all ASA and USSSA tournaments from 1990 to 1996. They finished ninth in ASA Major in Cedar Rapids and fourth in 1992 USSSA Major. In 1991 he played with Steve Jansen and Larry “Bass” Schumacher on the Flames in LaGrange. They finished fourth in ASA A and Danny was selected as a 1st team All-American.
Rich Mellman (HOF) brought softball back to Grant Park with many classic tournaments in the 90’s. This was special since Danny and his brother used to watch their father, “Motts” Brichetto, play center field for the Merchandise Mart back in the 60’s. Former Wing teammate, Tony Dudek, asked Danny to play on the Sun-Times team that won the Industrial Division in 1993. The team featured Tom “Bomber” Horn (HOF), the Placek brothers and Dan Cahill (HOF). In the Championship game he tore his bicep tendon swinging the bat. He had surgery that week but was back playing the following year. Luckily that was his only serious injury in forty years of competition.
In 1997, at the age of forty, Danny formed the Bugs that played in the Forest Park League. The league winner received a bid to the No Glove National. He was reunited with Mark Schuller in the outfield. They added power hitters Tim O’Neill , Jim Gierek, John Carey with Tommy Thompson (HOF) on the mound. They were the first team from the local league to win at least two games in the No Glove Nationals, losing to the eventual runner up Gamblers 9-8.
In 1998, “Eggs” asked him to play on a young Shooters team that featured Chris Downes, Michael Simpson, Tony Grillo, the Dooley brothers and of course two younger Czarnik brothers, Ray (HOF) and John. They finished second in the ASA Class “A” and tenth the following year in ASA Major. In the ‘90s, he also played at Merrimac Park for Ron “Suds” Czarnota’s Full House team.
In 2001 and 2004 he played with Bob Balzanos March teams that placed fifth in Aberdeen and ninth at Prescott. In between those stints, he played with Ralph Reporto’s Leinenkugel team in 2003-04. They placed fourth in ASA Class “A” in Bourbonnais where he was named a Second team All American and led the team in homeruns for the tournament. He played in his last two ASA tournaments in 2005 at the age of forty-nine year old lead off man for Wally Pec’s (HOF) Registers and in 2006 with Charlie Lowy’s Craftsmen.
Danny still plays softball today. He has enjoyed the camaraderie and competition over those forty-plus years.
Danny and his wife, Ellen, Have three children: Lauren, Matt, and Billy. They live in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.