Mike Clifford

Mike Clifford grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Little Flower High School in 1972. He then went on to Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois where he played baseball. He began playing softball at the major level when he hooked up with Hall of Famer Sal Vasta and the Blues at Kelly Park. He then went on to play for ten years with Bob O’Malley, another great manager, for Phoenix and the Cougars. These were two highly competitive teams at Blue Island where they qualified for the ASA Nationals numerous times, including two fourth places finishes and a third place finish. Mike also had brief stints with the Hot Shots and the Peppers before making a major shift in his playing loyalties. Being a lifetime South Side player, Mike counted teams from the North Side of Chicago to be his biggest rivals; however, the lure of playing for Hall of Fame manager Dick Cooper proved to be too big of an honor and Mike joined Dick and the Meadows. He and long time friend, Chuck DePalma, played with the Meadows for three years. During that time, they won the Mt. Prospect championship twice and were known as one of the most solid and competitive teams of the 1980s. He considers Dick Cooper to be the most influential and honest persons in softball because his emphasis was always on the love of the game and value of sportsmanship. A left-handed batter who played first base, Mike was perhaps best known as a designated hitter who could drive outfielders crazy because of his ability to “dump” a ball in front of an outfielder despite the outfielder’s best efforts. Many players of his era considered Mike to be one of the ugliest .700 hitters because many of his hits never left the infield. He ended his career with a batting average over .500. For his efforts, Mike was selected to three ASA 1st Team All-American teams and two 2nd Team All-American teams. He was also a member of the USSSA World Champion Jokermen and received 1st Team All-American honors for that tournament. Mike retired from softball after 25 years, but has changed to managing Splash, his daughter’s fast-pitch traveling softball team for six years. He is also currently managing his son’s baseball team. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children, Kelsey and Matthew. He is a manager for the United States Postal Service where he and his co-worker, Hall of Fame member Jack Kelly, swap old softball stories. He and his family live in Oak Lawn, Illinois.