Murderer’s Row was named after the 1927 Yankees,
arguably the greatest baseball team ever assembled. The team
name was started by a group of friends who lived in the area
around Kosciusko Park, located near Diversey and Pulaski on
the North Side of Chicago. At age 12 this group played in a
junior high league at Kosciusko Park, and 2 years later won the
age groups Park District City Championship. From this group Jim
Kuffel, Denny Hull, Larry Sowa, Bill Nowarita, Byron Johnson,
Warren Johnson continued playing together with friends from
High School and College.
In 1966 Jim Kuffel was our team captain and manager.
Jim came up with the name Murderers Row! The team moved
up to the Junior League at Kosciusko Park, winning the league
in 1967. In 1968 the team moved to the Senior League, playing
against strong competition with the likes of Beetlebombs, Maple
Lanes, Roadrunners, Saints and Ed Smythe. The team was
made up of friends, It was never their way to pick up ringers
from other teams for tournaments or big games.
In 1969, they played both Kosciusko, and Dunham
Parks. The Row won 4 straight league championships at
Dunham Park, playing against the Playboys, Mets, and Clowns.
The team quickly picked up two more leagues in Brooks and
Indian Road. Success continued over the next several years
with the team winning league championships at Kosciusko,
Brooks Park (2), and Indian Road (2). After leaving Dunham,
The Row added Portage Park to their schedule. Portage Park
had strong teams with the 45’s, Playboys, Mets, Scrappers,
Woodmen and Roadrunners. Murderer’s Row added the League
Championship at Portage Park in its second year.
Because of their success in the parks on the Northwest side they
were able to join the Clarendon “A” League in 1971. For the next
5+ years Murderer’s Row played against some of the strongest
competition in Chicago… Bobcats, Lyons 45’s, Sobies, Dwarfs,
Strikers, Stompers, and Flames.
In 1974, Murderer’s Row was selected to play in the
Evanston, James Park Championship league. The caliber of
teams left little doubt that this would be one of the top leagues
in Chicagoland. The teams were the Bobcats, Sobies, Rogues,
Murderer’s Row, Dwarfs, Bruins, Chiefs, 45’s, and others.
In 1975, Murderer’s Row Played at Kelly Park, Clarendon Park,
and James Park. Arguably the 3 best softball Leagues in
Chicago. The competition 5 nights a week was the best there
was at the time.
In addition to numerous league championships over
12 plus years, Murderer’s Row played tournaments on most
weekends. Their summer schedule approached 100 plus game
per year. Some of the more notable tournament championships
included: Portage Park Tournament, Lyons 45 Tournament,
Kelly Park Tournament, Andy Frain Tournament, Mt. Prospect
Tournament, Chicago Park District North Championship, and the
Chicago Park District City Championship’73.
Murderer’s Row at its peak participated in as many as
ve top leagues, and played numerous weekend tournaments.
They played and beat the best competition of that era. Many
of their rostered players played for over 40 years, and six have
been selected to the 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame.
(As a side note: Murderer’s Row made a brief comeback
in 2008-2012 as Art McManus, a 1970’s player revived the team
with some next generation Murderer’s Row legacy players.
Starting out in the “B” League at River Trails, they moved up
quickly to both the “AAA” Classic League in Mt. Prospect and the
Forest Park Major within four short years. The team participated
in two Forest Park “No Glove Nationals Tournaments,” Two “A”
Nationals, and one “Major” Nationals Tournament.)
• Larry Sowa
• Jim Kuf¡e
• Greg Burzynski HOF
• Tim Condon
• Dennis Hull
• Hank Magiera HOF
• Byron Johnson
• Warren Johnson HOF
• Bob Burnquist
• Bobby Payne
• Art McManus
• Bill Knapik
• Neil Shilling
• Bill Barwig
• Tim Hauser HOF
• Benny Holt HOF
• Rich Knorowski HOF
• Bill Nowarita
• Pete Heraty
• Art Keining
• Joe Dudek
• Matty Kerrs
• Larry Lubash
• Walter Sawkiw
• Jim Lannon
• Steve Clark
• Jim Mueller
• Greg Stack
• Greg Ciecko
• Dan Fiermuga