Mike Marchinski was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago. As a child of the 50’s and 60’s, two things were inevitable: Mike was a long – suffering Cub fan, and he spent every leisure moment playing 16-inch softball.
Mike’s first venture into organized ball came as an eighth grader playing for Our Lady of the Angels parish in the C.Y.O. (Catholic Youth Organization).
While in high school, Mike and his friends developed their skills at Kosciuszko Park before making the jump to the big time in the Portage Park “A” League.
It was during this time that Mike was spotted by Bob DiCherie whose “Bakers” team needed a 3rd baseman for a game under the lights at the Bensenville VFW. The evening was a success and following the game Mike accepted an offer to become a full time member of the Bakers. While maintaining an active role with his high school friends at Portage Park, Mike was ready to embark on a softball journey that would carry him through the better part of the next three decades.
After a few years, the team became known as the Chicago Bakers and manager Danny Cocco moved Mike from third base to the pitcher’s mound. At this time, Mike was also a key member of his highly successful Fel-Pro Inc. company softball team, winning fourteen divisional titles, ten tournament championships, three Thillen’s Tournament titles, and achieving a perfect 35-0 season in 1988.
Softball was truly his passion. A typical day would see Mike work an 8-hour day and put on his Fel-Pro uniform for a 5:30 game in Skokie. After the game was well in hand, Mike would hop into his car, change into his Baker uniform while driving and arrive at Portage Park just in time for a 7:00 game. After another victory and another change of clothes, Mike would finish his day with a game under the lights in Bensenville. Mike’s biggest concern at this time was getting a flat tire. His trunk was so full of all of the different uniforms and equipment that he needed for the different teams, he had no room for a spare.
One of the highlights of Mike’s softball career came in 1975 when he played short center for Josef’s Restaurant at the 16 – inch ASA National Tournament in Marshalltown, Iowa. After losing the first game, the team roared back from the loser’s bracket to win ten straight games and claim the championship with two victories over Danan’s Inn from Pell Lake, Wisconsin. Mike was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and received First Team All American honors.
The Bakers joined forces with the Amalgamonsters and continued to play at the highest level of competition at Clarendon, Kelly, and Portage Park while playing in as many tournaments as they could fit into their schedule. Mike contributed greatly to the success of the Amalgamonsters, highlighted by another First Team All American selection as the Amalgamonsters captured 2nd place at the 1976 ASA Nationals in Sioux Falls, SD, and another 2nd place at the 1979 ASA Nationals in Harvey, IL.
Mike achieved his greatest softball victory in 1977. While coaching the Fuller’s Pub women’s team, Mike met his wife of 36 years, Toni. They were married in October of 1978 and have three children.
They moved to Vernon Hills and Mike’s softball career was gradually moved to the back burner as he watched his children compete in their own sports. Oldest son Michael played volleyball and soccer for Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Philip was the starting catcher at Lewis University in Romeoville, and daughter Christine played volleyball for Ole Miss.
Mike concluded his active softball career in Libertyville, playing several years for the Knights in a neighborhood league. He retired from the game in 2000 and now enjoys the game of golf but the memories of his time on the diamond will last forever.