Gerald “Jerry” Witry

After graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1947 where he was named an All-Catholic all-star in football, Jerry went on to Loras College to do more of the same. In fact, as a freshman, he caught the first pass ever thrown to him for a touchdown. That year he helped lead Loras to a perfect 8-0 record, playing both ways on offense and defense and earning Little All-American honors. After graduation, he signed a contract with the Chicago Cardinals, but illness forced him to miss that season. The next year he had a tryout with the Dallas Texans but was cut on the final roster move. While he played football in the fall, his summers were spent playing softball. He started with the Dodgers in Sherman Park and later joined the Dice Box, also at Sherman. Later he started playing in organized leagues with Jimmy Roses (59th and Damen) and the Bombers (Palmer Park). As he played more in leagues around the Chicagoland area, his powerful physique caught the attention of many “money” clubs. He played first base for the Thirty Kings Zolna’s Cats (at 47th and Damen), Grobe Realty, Beverly Lounge (Dawes Park), Fairway Lounge, the Spartans (Bidwell Park and Clarendon Park), and he was a starring player in the Daddy-O-Dailey League with Hall of Fame inductees Sweetwater Clifton, Bob Hobson, Whitey Johnston and Jerry Dowling. During his playing career, Jerry Witry played on ten championship teams and won nearly all of the sixty-plus round robin winner take all tournaments. He knew what it was like to start playing at 9:00 am and finish at 7:30 pm in Labor Day tournaments at 103rd and Bensley. Besides playing for and against some of the great teams of softball, Jerry also played against and earned the respect of some of softball’s greatest players, including Sweetwater Clifton, Ed Zolna, Bob Hobson, and the Dowling Brothers, to name a few. He was known for being able to hit the long ball (over 600 homeruns) and the sharp line drive through the infield. As a first baseman and short center, his defensive skills were such that he earned the nickname of “Hands”; in fact, many teammates can’t remember him ever dropping a ball. Gerald worked for Westinghouse Electric Supply and retired from National Cash Register. He and his wife owned a Henry’s Drive – In at 79th and Cicero for five years. He and his wife, Joan Marie, have four children and seven grandchildren.