Jerry Rhea

Jerry started playing softball in the seventh grade with Leo Priebe’s after school program. After transferring to St. Benedict’s in the eighth grade, he continued playing softball in school leagues around the North side of Chicago. He graduated form St. Gregory’s (where he played basketball and baseball) and joined the Flying Circus, a team comprised of friends from local high schools. Jerry started out playing shortstop until one of his coaches realized his great speed gave him the ability to chase down fly balls, so he switched to the outfield. During the mid-‘70s, he played with the Hitmen and the Malnati brothers, winning the Paul Revere League and the Sting, taking the titles at Hamlin and Dunham Park Leagues. After graduating from Aurora College where he played baseball, basketball, and soccer, Jerry moved to the softball’s upper echelons when he joined the Playboys. They won the Portage Park title and the Northshore Tournament. In 1984 he had a brief stint with Eye of the Tiger and the Bobcat-Registers, a team combo of Hall of Famers Wally Pecs and Eddie Zolna. He stayed with them through the ‘85 and ‘86 seasons. He also played with the Naturals and Bob “Snake” Jirsa. In 1986 the Jaybirds came calling and Jerry helped them to win a state championship and the 1986 USSSAWorld tile in Muncie, Indiana. In 1987 and 1988 he played for Hall of Fame manager Dick Cooper and Meadows. They won the Mt. Prospect Classic League and were runners-up in a 2-1 game to the Whips in the USSSA finals. In the 1990s he played with the 45s and March Manufacturing (who placed fourth in the ASA Nationals in Kingman, Arizona) before joining Wally Pecs and the Rabbits in 1991. They took second place in the Chicagoland Classic in 1991 and ‘92 and captured the national title at the 1992 USSSAWorld Championships in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. He then moved to Red Dog and helped them to two 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame Tournament titles, the championship at the Maher Tournament, and runner-up in the Chicagoland Classic. After twenty-plus year in the outfield, Jerry switched to second base, prolonging his career a few more years. He played briefly for the Bucketheads, March, Registers, and Off. During his career, Jerry played on teams that finished in the top ten of the ASANationals eleven times, won two USSSA championships (and were runners-up once). He was named to the North Side All-Star Team and was named an All-American. Jerry thanks his wife, Karen, and son, Neil, for their patience and support during his twenty-plus year playing career. He dedicates his induction to his daughter, Kailyn, who passed away earlier this year.