Mel Thillens

Mel created the Northtown softball field at Devon and Kedzie that everyone could enjoy in 1938. It was due to a suggestion by his brother Ferdy because there were no fields safe to play this popular sport. He added lights (oldest in Chicago) and his diamond became the site of the best men and women games/tournaments and round robin pot games in Chicago. The Northtown League was a tremendous success averaging 4,000 viewers per night until 1951. In fact some doubleheaders attracted more people than Sox games. Both his men’s and women’s Thifien’s Checkcashers were one of the best teams from the Northside. He was a supporter for the women’s game too, including the professional baseball league during WW.II and ladies pro softball in the 50’s. The best pitchers like Vivan Bates made $500 a week. His children’s softball and baseball clinics and support of little league baseball are legendary. When he switched to baseball for kids 10,000 boys tried out for his league’s teams. Chicago’s only Williamsport Little League World Series finalist were from the now renamed Thillens Stadium in 1952. Most kids in Chicago have played or dreamed of playing there. The first centerfield camera shot was from his park on WGN by Jack Brickhouse. Thillen’s Stadium was the site of the first 16” ASA Nationals in 1964 televised on the Wide World of Sports. The beautifully maintained landmark is still used today for games and benefits due to the family generosity and commitment to amateur sports. Born in 1914, survived by his wife Dorsi, two children and Ferdy.