Paul Wukach has been involved in sixteen-inch softball for forty-five years as a player (having pitched four official and documented no-hitters) and as a manager, and organizer. He started playing softball because of the influence of his uncle Wally “Stormy” Dazur. “Unc” organized “pickup” games at Palmer Square in the Logan Square neighborhood. The kids would mark off foul lines with sticks and use pieces of cardboard for bases. Paul’s uncle would pop the trunk on his old Plymouth and the kids would grab bats and balls, and the game would get started. As he watched his uncle, who many years later coached the Meister Brau Taggers, a team run by legendary manager Frank Holan (HOF), he began to develop his organizing and managerial skills.
In the early seventies, Paul started and managed his own team, sponsored by M and M Lounge, in the Elmhurst Park District. Over the years, he has assembled a long and still growing list of many talented to be counted on to make positive contributions to his individual teams. He prefers the steady ball player to the player who might have more talent but who also brings distractions to the team. He has pitched and played second base for the Beavers at Chopin and Riis Parks (1976-1980), the Shooters at Independence and in the Clarendon “B” League, the Thirsty Whale at Riis Park and in Bensenville, the teams Machine, Tribe, Knockouts, and Spillage in the venerable Forest Park “A” Leagues (1978 – 2002), the tournament team Connectors (1979 – 1985), the Demons in Broadview (1985 – 1987), the Silver Threads at Portage Park (1984 – 1988), Deadliners in Oak Park and Chopin Park (1994 -2003), Leftovers at La Grange and Berwyn (2004 – present), Exit at Clyde Park / Cicero (2008-2012), and lastly, the Strokers at La Grange and Janura Parks and in Berwyn (2007 – present).
As a manger, Paul put together teams based on the right mix of age and experience. He balanced his teams with young players who are vital to the game’s continuation and success and older players who might have lost a bit of foot speed or can’t “rip” line drives and “blue darts” like they used to but nevertheless supply the team with poise, instruction, and inspiration.
He has managed Maloney Cadillac, Parade, Knockouts, Pride, Frozen Rope, and Exit. He still plays with and against many of his former players in the Over-50 Monday Night League at Clyde Park and in the Thirty-Nine-and-Over League on Friday night in Berwyn.
Paul and his lovely and understanding wife, Janet, live in Elmhurst, Illinois. When they met thirty-eight years ago, Paul was able to convince her of his deep and committed love for her by cutting back from seven teams that season to five teams. They have two children – Trevor and Lydia. Trevor plays center field in Grant Park and at Westchester, and Lydia in an occupational therapist in Portland, Oregon.
Life has been good for Paul and he remains very grateful.