The Legends of the Game (legends-softball.com) is a group of men who play 16-inch softball. Although the statement is simple, concise, and true, it does not fully identify who we are. It does not fully represent the spirit, pride, and friendship that bind this team.
The team’s roots were planted in the summer of 1968 when a group of 18-year-old high school boys, living within a stone’s throw of the corner of Park and Windemere Avenues in Brookfield, wanted to join a 16-inch softball league. In order to fund the entry fee, they persuaded a local establishment, Enzo’s Pizza in Brookfield, into sponsoring them, and adopted it as their official team name. Little did they realize that when they joined the Brookfield Rec Softball League that summer, the Enzo’s team would still be playing competitively into the new millennium as the Legends of the Game.
As far as wins and losses were concerned during the early years, it was a two steps forward, one step back proposition. However, in the process the boys found out what it took to win consistently. Indeed, there were seasons when the team lacked the talent to grab the brass ring of a league title. However, it became clear to them that effort, spirit, and enthusiasm were the key ingredients to producing victories. More often than not, that energy was enough to keep them in the title hunt until the end of the season, and along the way they developed a reputation as being a tough game on every opponent’s schedule.
Rolling into the late 80’s and early 90’s, the team’s performance was best exemplified by the numerous times they left opposing teams of 20 and 30 year olds at the field, incredulous over having been beaten by a bunch of 40+ year-olds. However, by the summer of 1992 the team had not yet won a title, although it had posted a number of strong second place finishes. Things were about to change…
During the winter of 1991-92, Brookfield Recreation announced that they might be unable to field a league the following summer. The team chose to enter the Men’s Softball League in LaGrange rather than take the chance of having their streak of 24 consecutive playing seasons interrupted.
The team felt that entering a new league demanded a new team identity. What name would best exemplify what the team was about? “Legends” was nominated. One definition of legend is “a person that inspires legends”. This was what they were seeking and they adopted the new name.
The newly named Legends of the Game made their debut in LaGrange on a 45-degree Tuesday night in May of 1992. Their first performance, however, was not the stuff that legends are made of. In their inaugural game, the Mustangs pounded them, 21-13, and left them wondering why they had left Brookfield in the first place, but the story doesn’t end here. The Legends, living up to their namesake, refused to give up and won 16 of their next 19 games while allowing their opponents 5 runs or less in 13 of the contests, and they finished tied for first place with the Mustangs. The following season the Legends won the title outright with a 19-1 record and were promoted up to the next higher division. Two years later they were promoted again after winning that division with another 19-1 record…and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1992 the Legends decided to field a second team by entering one into LaGrange’s 39 & Over League. It was created for the older Legends players and retired players who were no longer able to crack the roster of the main squad or had schedules that conflicted with the mother team.
Also in 1992 the Legends celebrated their 25th anniversary with a special patch on their left uniform sleeve. In January of 2000, the Legends went high tech with the debut of their web site (see above). On any given day you can check that site for their latest box scores, schedules, statistics, records, The Legend newsletter, pictures and information on Legends non-softball related team events.
In the summer of 2000, another success story occurred when the Legends 39 and over team climbed its way to the top of the division to claim its first title in its ninth season of existence.
During the summer of 2002, the mother Legends team added to their reputation when they came from two games back in the final two weeks of the season, posting a 15-3 record and again winning the LaGrange title outright. To do so, they won four of their final five games, allowing only 8 runs total during the stretch run. Their trademark defense paved the way.
In 2005 the mother team finished in sixth place in the 11 team league. However, they proved again that they are to be reckoned with as they swept the league’s post season playoffs, knocking off the #11, #3, #2, and #5 seeds to grab the playoff crown. Then to make the year complete, the team took a Fall road trip to the movie location of the “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville, Iowa. There they took the field, played ball, and met people from around the country, many of which had never seen a 16″ softball.
In 2013 the Legends of the Game began their second season in the Berwyn Rec League. In their maiden season there, they surprised the league by finishing second in their division. It marked their 46th anniversary AND their sixth decade of existence. They have played consecutively in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s!
In 2015, the Legends finished with a 7-7 record in Berwyn Rec. Also last year, the team unanimously inducted Nat Pappalardo, a 16 year Legends veteran, into the Legends of the Game Hall of Fame, our first entry ever.
Every season, we designate one league game as Legends Turn Back the Clock Night. It’s when retired Legends players come and join the active players in wearing Legends jerseys from the past (see photo). Also, we hold events in the offseason where both active and retired players, along with family members, participate. Annually, there is a horseshoes championship, two golf outings, a poker game, Thanksgiving touch football game, a football tailgate, and weekly winter volleyball.