Jim Martin grew up on the North side of Chicago in the Hamlin Park neighborhood where he was introduced into the realm of sports by Chicago Park District icons Harold Joe Gaffney, aka “The Count,” DePaul University’s only All-American football player, and Carl Newey. Jim attended Carl Schurz High School where he played basketball and St. Benedict’s High School where he played basketball and baseball. He is a member of that school’s Hall of Fame. Jim attended DePaul University on a basketball scholarship where he played for Chicago icon and legendary coach Ray Meyer.
In the mid-sixties, he began his sixteen-inch softball career with the Levatino’s Stones in the eighteen – and – under league at Clarendon Park as an outfielder – a position he played throughout his entire career, Over the next few years, Jim played with the Stones in men’s leagues at Hamlin, Wells, Portage and Clarendon Parks and won various championships. At the end of college, Jim began playing with Herman’s Liquors Circus in the leagues at Welles Park and the Clarendon “A” league where he won multiple championships.
In 1975, he was a founding member of Kelly’s Dog Bite softball team (Hall of Fame honoree in 2011) playing weekends at Lake Shore Park. In 1977, Eddie Zolna invited Jim to join the perennial World Champion Bobcats. That team won the Winston World Series in Bridgeview and the 1977 ASA National Tournament. In 1978, the Bobcats won multiple league and tournament championships, culminating with the 1978 ASA National Championship. In 1979, Jim became a member of the Monsters Softball team led by manager Dan Cocco. The 1979 Monsters were the Kelly and Clarendon Park A League Champions, Chicago Park District city champions and the Illinois State Champions. That team also won the prestigious Andy Frain Tournament at Clarendon Park. The Monsters were runners up in the 1979 ASA National Tournament where Jim led the tournament in runs batted in and received 1st Team All-American honors. In 1980, the Monsters again won multiple championships including Kelly Park, Clarendon Park and the Illinois State championship. Once again, the Monsters were runners up in the 1980 ASA National Tournament where he received 2nd Team All-American honors.
In 1981, Jim was a member of the Otto’s Team lead by HOF inductee Mike Tallo. Again, Jim helped the Otto’s team earn a spot in the 1981 ASA National Tournament. In 1982, Jim became a member of the Silver Streaks softball team, led by brothers Terry “Turk” Muller and Ron “Joker” Muller, and won various tournaments including the 1985 Evanston North Shore Tournament. In the late 80’s, he became a member and captain of the Jump softball team, led by manager Bernie Byrne. That team won championships at River and Brands Park. Jim continues to play softball in the 60- and – over league on the Shamrocks team in Elk Grove Village. They won the league championship in 2014.
Jim retired from the Chicago Board of Education public schools after a career that spanned forty years teaching at the elementary level. He currently is an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s School of Education where he works with student teachers. He lives in Lincoln Park with his wife of forty-five years, Joan.