Ron “Beetlebomb” Braasch

Without its organizers, 16″ softball would never have gained the heights of popularity that it now enjoys. With his colorful antics and legendary methods of recruiting and retaining players, Braasch must rank as one of the top organizers of all time. One time he gave a player a repossessed 21- inch TV – stereo combination and $5.00 a game. Lou Lielinski, a top short-center of his era received a German shepherd puppy. Pitcher Wally Mader played for $200.00 to finance his trips to the track. He rewarded Braasch with 23 consecutive hits that season. Another player had his uniform sent to an Italian tailor for a perfect fit. Every player on his teams received an autographed 8 – by – 10 photo of Joanee, an ex-stripper, tavern owner, and World War II resistance fighter for the Polish underground. Besides using creative methods to sign players, Braasch was also a master of finding sponsors. Once season he convinced 35 saloon owners to sponsor his team. He then ordered 37 softball shirts, one for each saloon. He also had a trophy engraved for each owners. During the season Braasch would have players stop off and patronize the tavern by having a few beers. At the end of the season whether he won or lost, each owner would receive a championship trophy. Ron Braasch’s recruitment and fiscal efforts paid off as his teams won five Clarendon Park championships. In 1964 his team finished second to the eventual world champion Bobcats in the World Series of Softball. In 1965 he and his team stood on the winner’s stand when they won the World Series. Besides Clarendon Park, Braasch also managed teams at Sauganash, Rosedale, Kelly, Gompers and other hotspots of 16″ softball. Ron “Beetlebomb” Braasch retired from softball in 1974. He and his wife, Lois, have been married for 47 years.