Jerry Dowling

Getting a penny for every ball he and his brother caught. Driving around the South and Southeast side of the city in the sponsor’s coal truck looking for games. Sewing softballs back together with a darning needle. Driving a nail into a broken bat. These are just a few of the Depression era memories of Jerry Dowling’s early playing days. Dowling grew up in a neighborhood that produced some of the the games greatest teams – Mel Turner’s, Harry’s Owl Club, Lapota Steelers, Nudo’s and Bondis to mention a few. As a pre-teen and teen, Jerry Dowling would entertain the crowds with his defensive skills as he warmed up the hitters, only to be replaced by the regular third baseman. Once he was old enough Dowling became a top third baseman with Alderman Murphy, Sam Yanks, and other teams. Like many young men his age, Dowling spent time fighting World War II in the South Pacific. Upon his return in 1947, Dowling gave up a promising baseball career for 16″ softball. Throughout the rest of the 40s he played with Harry’s Owl Club, Browns, Nudos, Bondis and others at some of the great stadiums in the Chicagoland area – Bidwell, Shewbridge, Clarendon, and Taylor and Racine. In the 1950s Jerry played with multiple teams, including Bondis, Catholic War Vets, and 101 Club. In 1952 Jerry’s leg was shattered during a game. Mel Turner organized a 32-team tournament to defray Jerry’s expenses. Everyone donated their time to help Jerry. A mannequin leg was passed throughout the park. When it was presented to Jerry, it contained enough money to keep the family going for almost a year. A retired electrician for the Chicago Fire Department, Jerry was married for fifty years to Mary Gadbois. They had four children (one is deceased) and five grandchildren. He lived on South Maplewood in Chicago. Jerry passed away in 2007.