John Littau (b 1937) has been happily married for 59 years,
has 4 children and 8 grandchildren. He is a lifelong
resident of the northside of Chicago, currently residing in
St. Margaret Mary (SMM) Parish, less than 3 miles from
his childhood neighborhood. He is also a lifelong White
Sox fan! John has played softball for parts of 9 decades,
beginning in the 1940’s right through the 2020’s. His
love of the game began in grade school and branched
out to many northside parks including Potawatomi, Loyola,
Clarendon, and Rogers.
St. Margaret Mary School children played in 16 inch softball
leagues from at least 1972. “The Black Top” parking lot was
alive with 16 inch softball games on two diamonds. The
league went from mid-June to early August and culminated
with a coveted Championship Game at all grade levels. All
players received a trophy, which may still be found in some
Chicago basements!
The teams were sponsored by local neighborhood
merchants. The school league played well into the 1990’s.
In 1976, the pastor organized a committee to host a huge
Bicentennial Memorial Day Parade and Picnic. It was
spectacular, with decorated wagons, bike, & cars, a marching band, prizes for group costumes, etc. A
softball game of fathers vs sons was played on the blacktop. As a result of the fun, a men’s league and a
women’s league, organized by the SMM Athletic Board, were launched. The adult games were/are held at
Rogers Park. Len Kohl was the Athletic Director, and Joe Garrity, Al Stauffer, Joe Theil, and Frank Kelly were
instrumental members and mentors. They also had many sons among them and their descendants still play
in the men’s league. John played in that Memorial Day game and has been committed to the league ever
In 1978, John took over as the Commissioner of the 8 team men’s league. He retired from that role in 2014
but has remained a faithful player. In his leadership role, he coordinated over 100 co-captains and over
900 players. Both of his sons and two of his grandsons are current teammates. The league collected fees
from sponsors and players; after expenses, the league donated over $50,000 to the SMM school’s athletic
board to be used for sports equipment and expenses for their various programs. John, aka “the Commish”,
is honored to be recognized for his efforts to spread the love of the game to the neighborhood guys. His
wife, Clara, has enjoyed her solitude on Monday nights, late May through early August, and thanks the guys
for continually showing up, regardless of how far away they live from the neighborhood.