Gary Kirch

Gary Kirch was one of three original organizers of the Playboys,
a northwest side 16” softball team originally organized
in 1964. Evolving from a neighborhood team playing at
Chicago’s Jefferson and Chopin Parks, the team became a
top- tier powerhouse competing at Clarendon, Portage, Forest
Park, James and Indian Road, as well as numerous other city
and suburban tournaments, ASA and NASA. Gary played and
captained the team from 1970 to around 2007.
Around 1975, Gary and some of the veteran Playboy players
recruited Mets players and a few other notable northwest
side players, creating a team to be reckoned with. In 1978
alone, they won Andy Frain, James Park and the Chicago City
Championship. Over the next ten years, they remained a solid
top 5 Chicago team, known both for their skill and the widely
recognized bunny symbol. As players retired, Gary recruited
younger talent, eventually moving the team to Merrimac Park as
they continued to win championships.
Gary also organized NW side tournaments at Brooks, Indian
Road, Por-tage and Dunham Parks. He promoted year round
activities that sup-ported local charities, cancer research, and
Make A Wish, in addition to raising funds for team equipment.
Over the course of his career, Gary probably won close to 1200
games, losing less than 100. Through it all, Gary managed
the team enthusias-tically, celebrating wins and swallowing
defeats, carrying bases and balls, orchestrating schedules,
purchasing uniforms, coordinating rides and rainouts (without
a cell phone) and seeking sponsorships. Gary was indeed a
16” softball producer and promoter, keeping the game strong
and growing. After 40 years, he passed the Playboys bag on
to the next generation. With so many great memories, many
of the original Playboys players continue to stay in touch and
meet annually