“If I got asked, I played. Anytime. Anywhere.”
This simple approach to playing the game of softball defined Jimmy Walsh’s 25-year career. Walsh was known throughout Chicagoland as one of the top utility players of his era because he could contribute not only with his bad but with his ability to play every position on the field. His reputation as a hitter was solidified when he once hit two homeruns off Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Tallo and helped him to be picked up by some of the top “a” teams of that time, including the Stompers, the Saints, the Blues, Thee Doll House, and Ice.
Despite his play with some of the top teams, however, Jimmy remained true to the Taker out of Oak Park as his neighborhood team. Starting in high school, he played with Donny Baloon, Jerry and Joe Leahy, Mark Schultz, and Rick Spehn, and long-time player/ manager, Rich Polfus. Though the Takers never took a major title in softball, they were well known as a powerful neighborhood team that was not to be taken lightly. Besides the five Oak Park titles they won, the Takers also won titles at Calendon, Amundsen, and Kosciusko Parks. Especially pleasing was the 1982 championship at Clarendon when the Takers defeated Fusion, the Aces, Rocks, and Scorpions enroute to the title. He also competed in the industrial league at Grant Park and once played in a winter tournament at Hanover Park.
Jimmy Walsh’s passion for softball was best demonstrated when he played nine games on a Sunday in the early ‘80’s. He competed in seven games in the loser’s bracket in the state tournament in Orland Park and then he drove to Oak Park to play with the OJs in the championship series, ending his day at midnight. He remembers playing in some classic games against the Whips and Otto’s. One game against Otto’s was particularly memorable because the Takers were beating Otto’s until Hall of Famer Paul Brezinski hit a two run homer to beat them. Except for missing too many family vacations at the lake, Jimmy has few regrets because of all the great teammates and competitors he to play with and against.