Rick Gancarz’s journey into sixteen-inch softball began when he learned the game from his father, Richard Gancarz, while playing for the Troppists at Portage, Indian Road, and Riis Parks on the Northwest Side of Chicago. He was in high school and was competing against players significantly older and more experienced than he was. This mismatch proved to be a benefit because it pushed Rick to sharpen his fielding and hitting skills.
These skills pushed Rick’s rapid rise in softball when he played for Market Square in the Mt. Prospect Classic League and in the DesPlaines Power League with the Rippers, a team Rick organized his lifelong friend, Danny Mustari and Maine West classmates, Tony Prochenski (HOF), and Billy Nicholas.
He next formed the Edison Park Inn Classics with the assistance of his father and Art Mustari, Dan and Frank’s father. They competed in the “A” Nationals in Iowa City when Rick was nineteen. He won his first ASA Nationals with the Classics.
In 1989, his hitting and fielding skills were noticed when he played his first season of Major softball with one of the most dominant teams of the time – Bud North. The team was loaded with future Hall of Famers – Tom “Eggs” Czarnik, John O’Connor. Frank Mustari, Ken Cooper, and Ken Flaws. He also played with Splinters Garmen under Hall of Fame sponsor Al McFarlane. They captured his first ASA National title in Kingman, Arizona. This was a special moment for Rick because his great friends and teammates Danny and Frank Mustari, Tony Prochenski, and Tom Czarnik.
Rick was now one of the stars of sixteen-inch softball and he became a cornerstone of several championship teams – Lettuce, March Manufacturing, and the Miller 45s. He helped propel the Miller 45s to dominance during the 2001 to 2010 seasons. He learned from Tom Czarnik (guilty competitor), Frank Mustari (on-field leader) and Hall of Fame players Pat Heraty, Mark Frighetto, Kurt Uidl, Paul Brezinski, Mike O’Neill, and Mike Stout (dominating hitter).
With the help of other Hall of Fame players Israel Sanchez, Jeff Berger, Jim Matlock, Mark Holstein, Dan Jalowiec, Rick Villa, Joe Dooley and Tony Portincaso, Rick transformed the Miller 45s into one of the top teams in sixteen-inch softball.
During those years, the 45s won six ASA Major National titles, eight Forest Park No-Glove championships, and nine Classic League championships. Rick was named MVP of the ASA Major Nationals, the Forest Park No-Glove Nationals, and the Westchester Tournament of Champions multiple times. He also won numerous batting titles and 1st Team All-American honors
Besides his on-field accomplishments, Rick’s after game social scene skills were also of hall of fame caliber. He thanks his father for the encouragement he provided when Rick’s softball journey began. He thanks his mother and father for their support during his four-decade career. He cherished having his brother Dennis as a teammate.
Rick is the proud father of three children – Max, Kendra, and Beau. He gives special thanks to his fiancé, Karri, for being a special softball fan. He especially thanks his teammates on the 45s for their extraordinary dedication to the game, their superior talent, and their inspiration that helped Rick become a great player. He gives special thanks to Bob Rascia (HOF), Ron Kubicki (HOF), and Len Nuzzo for their tireless efforts as the management team of the 45s.