Ron Amazzalorso grew up at 96th and Avenue N, a street referred to as “Goat Street” because goats were once raised there. Avenue M was referred to as “Cow Street” for the same reason. Many discussions at local bars debated which of these nicknamed streets produced the better athletes.
Ron and his friends were gym rats and everyday weather permitting, they would gather at Piotrowski Park, to choose sides for a 16-inch softball game. Mr. Janess, the park supervisor, would distribute the softballs and bats for the pickup games. Everyday Ron and his friends hoped that Mr. Janess would hand out the new softballs. Because Ron would hang around each day after the games to help with cleanup, he became Mr. Janess’ favorite and was often able to score a new softball with Mr. Janess telling them “this is the last time I do this.”
Their lives revolved around sports at the park and at other sites around the city. They would load-up Mr. Janess’ car (sometimes putting guys in the trunk if they couldn’t fit inside the car) and compete at other parks, winning championships and making positive memories. These days inspired Ron to become a park supervisor, a position he held for thirty years with the Chicago Park District.
Ron graduated from George Washington High School in 1965, received his draft notice six months later, and ended up in Viet Nam. He returned home in 1968 and started his softball career with neighborhood teams and then competed at Calumet Park when it formed a league that featured some of the best team on the South Side. Bobby Mantai, a top player on the South Side, recruited Ron to play with his team 3 Star Erector for a tournament the following Saturday. They were undefeated through the weekend as was the softball team E.R.V. These two powerhouse teams entered the seventh inning with one out and Ron on second base. Bob Bradich, a power hitter, hit a long fly ball to right field, Ron tagged-up, and beat the throw home to score the winning run. From that day forward, 16-inch softball ran through Ron’s veins.
His career with the Eastsiders began when his team was playing them in the Calumet Park League championship game when Ron impressed their manager John Maribelli with a couple of hits, a homerun, and a throw to second that ended the game, securing the championship by one run. He went on to play five decades for the Eastsiders.
In 1978, the Eastsiders needed a pitcher, so Ron switched from centerfield to pitcher. He honed his skills and learned the tricks of the trade and defensive skills. The Eastsiders began playing in leagues and tournaments throughout the South Side and suburbs. They went on to win the championships of many leagues and won over one hundred tournaments. He started playing five days a week in two games a night on Tuesday and Thursday with late games in Blue Island and Harvey. He also played in tournaments on weekends. Besides the Eastsiders, Ron also played for Pete’s Hideaway, Huns, Lakeside Inn, T.J.’s, Speed, Indios, O’Hara’s, Little Rays, and ERV 10th Ward.
Ron played centerfield because he was fast and had great hands. He batted fourth behind Tom Newman. (HOF) He hit for power but could also hit to all fields for a high average. He played at Calumet Park in the Veterans Tournament in 1976 and hit three home runs to help his team win the championship. He received the MVP award for his efforts. He was also named to All Star Team in the men’s league in Harvey in the 80’s.
Ron played on a great team, never let the team down, and formed many long-lasing relations. Five decades later, the core of the team still gets together to rehash old memories. Ron thanks his wife, Fran, for the many sacrifices she made and his daughter, Nikki, for coming to his games when his wife worked weekends. He thanks God for his health. Ron is a retired supervisor for the Chicago Park District. His wife, Fran, is a retired nurse.