After graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1964, Ken Izral began playing sixteen-inch softball with the Impalas at Sherman Park. The team was an average team, but
it launched Ken into a
stellar softball career. The
next year he was recruited
by Cordsman Inn, the top team in that league. Besides Sherman Park, they started playing at Cornell Square and Bogan Park.
During his “days off” from Corsdman, Ken played for The Dog House, Scobies Aces, Monty’s Liquors, St. Albert the Great Knights of Columbus – Gold and Blue, and with many players from Madonna Knights of Columbus. Playing for these team exposed Ken to the world of “big time softball.” He was recruited by Hell’s Angels SAC and played for them at Clarendon Park and at Chicago Avenue and Kedzie, while continuing to play with his local teams. There were several seasons where he played more than 150 games.
In May of 1972 a friend from the South Side and a member of The Dog House recommended him as his replacement on a team playing in a Memorial Day tournament in Santa Clara, California. Bob Campbell (HOF) called him and told him to meet the team at O’Hare Airport. Ken showed up with spikes and bat in hand, met the members of the Bruins, boarded the plane and established Bruin history.
After the tournament, Ken played for the Bruins in weekend tournaments because of his commitments to other teams. He helped them to a fourth place finish
in the nationals, was named a 1st Team All-American at third base, and finished second in hitting. The next year he played full-time for the Bruins, although he still played for his local teams. He was named MVP of the California tournament and once again the Bruins qualified for nationals. They took third and Ken was named a 1st Team All- American at first base and finished third in hitting.
The following season the Bruins broke-up and Ken
and many other Bruin players moved to the Big Banjo (later to become the Big Banjo Bruins). They competed in many tournaments and ended their season with a
loss in the Metro Tournament. 1975 proved to be most successful for them. They competed at the highest levels at Kelly Park and James Park. They took fourth at the nationals and Ken received his third All-American honor as a first basemen. But that year he won the batting title to prove that the “third time is the charm.”
After nationals, the Big Banjo Bruins played in the World Series of Softball with the semi-finals and finals being played at Soldier Field. They played in the championship game but lost to the ERV Strikers. Ken was named as a 1st Team All-American at first base.
1976 saw big changes with the Big Banjo Bruins. Players were moved around and new players joined the team, so after much thought, Ken decided to retire from softball. He would not give back one game, but he’s sure his knees would disagree.
Ken coached AAU baseball from 1997 to 2000. He presently coaches varsity baseball at St. Edward High School in Elgin.
Ken and his wife, Kathleen, live in Elgin, Illinois. They have two children – Jaclyn and Christopher.