Eugene “Matt” Mathis

Gene Mathis was born in Chicago during the Great Depression. Like many great players, he started playing softball with the older boys in the neighborhood. But he had an advantage that other young players might not have had. He had a bat and ball. His grandfather found them as scavenged the more affluent areas of Chicago to make ends meet. So if they didn’t let him play, he literally would take his bat and ball and go home. The older boys put him in right field because he didn’t want to play catcher. Eventually his skills improved and it wasn’t long before those older boys would seek him out when they were short a player. He worked all through high school and enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. He was stationed in Germany and played base-level football, squadron-level fast pitch softball, and won two of three boxing matches. From 1954 to 1995, he played softball and raised a family on the South side of Chicago. During these years, he played in the legendary Daddy O Daily League, the South side Tavern League, and the Washington Park Post Office League. He also played at Rosenblum and Grand Crossing Parks and played with the Chicago Rockets, Victorians, Jive Ten, and the Iron Men.   He played center and left field, shortstop, and short center. He has a lifetime batting average over .600 and hit five hundred homeruns and drove in five thousand runs. During his prime playing years, he was considered to be one of the top players of his time. In 1963 he was voted MVP of the Daddy O Daylie League while playing with Jive Ten. At forty-eight years of age he was picked as MVP of his team, the Zodiacs, while playing in the Tavern League.  Eugene and his wife, Dorothea, live on Chicago’s South side. They have two children – Denise and Stephanie (deceased). The have four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.