Forest Park

“No Gloves. Never Had ’em. Never Will.” This motto of the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals speaks volumes about the traditions surrounding this tournament. In July of 2011, they will sponsor their 43rd No-Gloves Nationals Tournament. It wasn’t always called the No-Glove Nationals, but softball players have always regarded it as one of the top tournaments around both for the quality of the competition and for the tradition of playing Chicago’s game without gloves. Here is the chronology of how this tournament evolved.  1969: First Tournament held with Fred O’Connor as the tournament director and Jim Sarno as the Director of the Park District and tournament founder. The Maywood Agents won the tournament. 1971: The Strikers tame the World Champion Bobcats 9-1 with Mike Tallo holding them to one run. 1974: The Bobcats win the tournament in their third try in a slugfest with the Bruins. Final score: 23-17. The tournament covered nine days and drew 15,000 fans, with 5,000 attending the final game. Dave Novak joins the park district staff in grounds maintenance. 1975 – 1985: Tournament held as a single elimination format with thirty or thirty-two teams. 1986: Willie “Steamer” Simpson first recorded tournament MVP. The format shifted from a weeklong tournament to the current three-day weekend tournament. 1987: Tournament moved to last weekend in July. Sidekicks Bar and Strohs Beer are the first sponsors. Mark Frighetto named as the MVP. 1989: Format changed to sixteen-team, double elimination. First reference to No-Gloves Nationals. Superintendent Larry Buckley’s first tournament.  1990: Whips win their fourth tournament (83,’84,’85, and ’90). 1992: Tournament field increased to twenty teams, double elimination with the top four teams getting a bye. 1993: Old timers game held between the Bobcats and American Rivet Sobies, Eddie Zolna and Tony Reibel organize the teams. 1994 – 1995: Tournament changed to thirty-two team, single elimination format. 1996: Format changed back to twenty-four team, double elimination format. 1999: Ten-Year Anniversary of Larry Buckley as Superintendent of Parks and the person responsible for the beautiful condition of the ball fields. 2000: Championship game broadcast around the world over the Internet by George Bliss. 2004: $330,000 ball fields renovation completed. 2005: Jim Sarno, tournament founder, passes away in August. 2007: Tournament dedicated to Lorraine Popelka who passed away on June 24, 2007. Lorraine volunteered at every tournament.  2009: Play-in games added to determine the final spot in the tournament. 2011: 43rd Tournament will be held and Larry Buckley will celebrate his 22nd year of caring for the most famous diamonds in 16-inch softball.