Mary “Walzee” Walz

The youngest of five children, born to Jim and Louise Walz, Mary was raised in the south side neighborhood of Bridgeport. Having two older brothers, Mary was exposed to the game of softball at a very early age; and since her family lived across the street from Healy School, the schoolyard became Mary’s baseball field. Her mother never really had to look farther than the schoolyard when Mary was missing in action! Starting back in grammar school, she was recruited by Armour Park’s Instructor, Ms. Jan Pascente. Ms. Jan’s team traveled to various parks in Chicago participating in leagues and tournaments. She attended Reavis and St. Barbara High Schools, where her gym teacher “Teach” at St. Barb’s encouraged Mary to play with her team, the Rookies. After high school and throughout the next three decades, she would also play with Laura’s, Cabaret, Wings, Wilson, Bad Attitude, Sandburg Village, Blue Cows, Smokin Joes, Clash, Lindy’s, and Orange Whips. Early in her career, Mary played short stop, 3rd base and center field before she discovered that pitching was what she did best. Her aggressive pitching style is well-known and highly regarded by her opponents because of her high arc and deep consistent strike. Opposing players hated to see her on the mound because of her aggressive high pitch. Many coaches often claimed that when Mary pitched, it changed the whole game. Picking off runners on first and second base were her highlights and favorite memories of the game, but she admits without the cooperation of her teammates her successful “picks” would not have been possible. Her sense of good sportsmanship is legendary – she has always managed to be competitive but never a poor sport. Mary retired from competitive 16-inch softball in 2005. However, she continues to play 16-inch softball once a year in the annual Y-Me Breast Cancer tournament at Mt. Greenwood Park, regarding it as a great reunion for all 16-inch players. Currently, she plays 11-inch softball and will do so as long as she can. She also enjoys playing beanbags and is instrumental in running the annual “bags” tournament at Lindy’s. Mary still lives in the same house across the street from Healy School and still crosses that street to bring the next generation of Walz kids to the schoolyard to play ball!