Jim Giblin attended St. Mel High School where he played both football and basketball. In 1960, his family moved to Oak Park, so Jim attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. He later attended Wright Junior College in Chicago.
He started playing sixteen-inch softball in the late ‘60s with the Rascals in Oak Park and at Riis Park. From 1970 to the ‘80s, he played with Blue Max at parks and in tournaments through the Chicago area. They won championships at Oak Park, Amundsen, and Bellwood. They won the tournaments at Clyde Park and at Clarendon Park. Jim was named tournament MVP at Clarendon. He helped Blue Max / Spirit win the Forest Park title, Alley win the Kosciuszko championship and Takers win the Kosciuszko and Oak Park titles.
Jim was a great leader and a fierce competitor who always competed at the highest levels. He was a great teacher of the game. Defensively, he understood the nuances of the game and always communicated them to his teammates during the game. Offensively, he made sure a hitter always advanced base runners by hitting behind the runners. He taught batters to never hit to third with runners on first and second, to never hit up the middle with a runner on first, and to always split the runners to avoid a potential double play when a ball was hit to the outfield.
He coached his son, Jimmy, in Little League from the Minors to Pony League. He played softball in Forest Park with the skills his father taught him. One of his father’s greatest softball moments was playing on the same team with his son. Wherever Jim played, Jimmy was right there by his side.
Jim died in 2006 of heart related problems. He married Sue Lloyd in 1970. They have two children – Jodie (Sam) LaBarbera and the late Jimmy Jr. His grandsons, Joseph and Sammy LaBarbera, both wear number nine on their baseball jerseys to honor the memory of their grandfather, Jim, and their uncle, Jimmy.
His family and softball community miss him, but his years of teaching and playing assure that his legacy lives on in the many players playing the game today.