Co-Founder: Jim Dorgan
Co-Founder: Emil Smicklas
Jim Dorgan (1968-1989) Emil Smicklas (1968- 1986)
Paul Rowan (1982-1993) Tim Daniher (1989-1993)
In the summer of 1968, after playing mostly pick-up games on the Southwest Side of Chicago at a local park, Graver Park, Jim Dorgan and Emil Smicklas decided to form a team and challenge different neighborhood teams to a softball game. The name of the team was called G.P.A.A. (Graver Park Athletic Association). GPAA played one game in the summer of 1968 against the Brown’s Bombers from the St. Margaret of Scotland Parish/neighborhood.
The following summer G.P.A.A. played numerous games against teams from Beverly, Morgan Park and other areas on the Southwest Side. These games were met with tremendous enthusiasm and over the winter of 1969/1970 led to the forming of the Graver Park Softball League, which is still is in existence today.
During one meeting prior to the start of the 1971 season, while the rosters were being exchanged, one of the other managers asked Dorgan “what‘s with all the Ringers on the team?” The name stuck and G.P.A.A. became the Ringers in the 1971 season.
The Ringers won the championship of the Graver Park League from 1971 through 1976 and again from 1978 through 1981. In the late ‘70s, and early ‘80s, the Ringers wanted to gauge their talent against better competition by playing in leagues at Ridge Park and Mount Greenwood Park as well as in numerous tournaments. The Ringers success continued at this level, with a continuing winning record each year and numerous championships.
In 1982, Dorgan and Smicklas decided that they wanted more than just to be the best team in the neighborhood. They wanted to take it to the next level and play the best teams in the city, and also compete on a national level. They knew that in order to do that they would need better players than they had on their current roster. The decision was made to approach Pat “Big Red” Kilheeney and Paul Rowan who managed a team called the “Carpetbaggers,” a neighborhood rival who beat the Ringers for the Graver Park championship in 1977. After some discussion, both sets of managers agreed that they were tired of beating up each other and so their goal became to compete citywide and nationally.
And so the Ringers sixteen-inch softball team, comprised of players from three or four local teams, was formed in 1982 on the South Side of Chicago with the goal of competing in local leagues, in city tournaments, and eventually at the national level. Their first year, the Ringers took second place in the Kelly Park “B” League. In 1983, they defeated the heavily favored reigning champs, Tahoe, at the Oak Lawn Metro to qualify for the ASA Nationals, fulfilling their dream of playing in the ASA Nationals sooner than expected.
The Ringers competed in leagues in the ‘80s and ‘90s at Blue Island, the Mount Greenwood “A” League, and at Kelly, Kennedy, Ridge, and Graver Parks. They won several championships and ASA Metros over those years and competed in several more ASA National Tournaments at the Major and “A” levels. In 1985, Tim Daniher threw a perfect game against a strong Stickmen team. They finished tenth in that tournament.
In July of 1985, they won Round Four of the Coors Light Tournament in Blue Island and the following week defeated the Playboys at Kelly Park to win the Chicago Park District title. In 1987, they won the Ninth Annual Bill Bonnette Tournament at Marquette Park.
In the 1990s, Paul Rowan asked Tim Daniher to help him manage the Ringers and the success continued. Besides winning park championships and tournaments under the Ringer name, they also won the Recreational Division of the Sun Times 16-inch Classic as All Mixed Up. They also took ninth place at the 1994 “A” Nationals in Blue Island as This Is It. The last year the Ringers played was 1994, as family and raising children took over as a priority for the majority of the team.
Fellow softball players knew the Ringers for their competitiveness and skill on the field. These efforts were rewarded when several players were named to the Chicago Softball Magazine All Lionhearted Team. Every time they took the field, Ringer players demonstrated what sixteen-inch softball is all about – giving the game everything they had on the field and celebrating with family and friends off the field.
The following people were pieces in the puzzle that lead to this honor by the 16” Softball Hall of Fame. Jim Dorgan, Emil Smicklas, Paul Rowan (HOF), Tim Daniher, Tim Sparrey, Pat Kilheeney, Joe Chancey, Scott Clifford, Larry Carmody, Bob Schaab, Don Antonsen, Kevin Cronin, Pete Kean, Chuck Kreisl, Ted Rauen, Steven Rauen, James McCann, Tom McCann, Mike Carroll, Tom Finnegan, Gerry Klein, Pat Doherty, Jim Barry, David Kelly, Jim Richert, David Richert, John Foran, Barry Quane, Jim Sullivan, Dick Lennon, John Calvano, Dave O’Rourke, Gilly Lindgren, Ed Eber, Sean Dunleavy, Mike Connolly, Mike Lyman, JerryClemens, Tom Naughton, Ron Gardner, Bill Hogan, Mike Mahoney, Bill Andre, Pat Quane, Ed O’Connor, Larry Daly, Tom Schaab, Mark Nielsen, Joe Toner,Tom Murphy, Bob McClelland [HOF], Paul Hermanson, Joe Marassa, Bob Andre, John Buckley, George Oliver, Keith Filkens, Rick Bruesch, Frank Mioni [HOF], Dan Klimpson, Pat Connolly, Randy Filkens [HOF], Casey Janota, John Avants, Matt Biondic [HOF], Steven Biondic, Tom Makowski, Steve Shoper, John Melvin, Bruce Rogers, Mike Rogers, Dave Jorgenson, Bill Dart, Rich Ladewig [HOF], Tim Hooker, Bob Burns, Milo Davis, Mike Britvich, Tim Kelly, Tom Kelly, Art Melvin, James LaPan, George Murphy, Jamie Daw, Bob Choate, Rick Simnick, Greg Galotta