THE GROUNDSMEN – 1963-1994

Growing up in the early 1960’s when you were associated
with the parish you grew up in, neighborhood friends and
classmates of St. Felicitas grade school moved on from the
little league diamonds to the softball elds of Avalon Park.
Thus began a bond that started during our school years and
continued to grow as we joined the work force and started
raising our families.
In the summer of 1963, following 8th grade graduation, our
journey began. While playing against our dads, older brothers,
coaches, and friends, we took our lumps as we learned how
to play competitively. It took a few years, but by 1966 we had
made the playoffs of the St. Felicitas
Parish league, losing in the seminals to the eventual champs.
Our condence rose that summer when we beat the Kenwood
Liquors team that only 2 weeks earlier had won the city CYO
championship. In 1967 we won our rst championship in
the Vets Park high school league and in 1968 we won both
adult leagues at Avalon Park and Rowan Park. We ended the
decade in 1969 by gaining more experience playing in South
Shore Park, the Bidwell Stadium league and Trumbull Park.
The 1970’s brought changes as we moved from the southeast
side to Ridge Park in Beverly and Bensley Park in Jeffrey
Manor. We also traveled to the suburbs, winning 3 titles in a
row in the St. Jude parish league of South Holland in 1971. In
1973 we began an 8-year run playing in the Park Forest Labor
Day Tournament. We came in 2nd place the rst year followed
by a 3-year run of championships. Always competitive and in
the hunt each year, in 1979 we knocked out the Eastsiders
before losing to the Whips in the title game. In 1974, we were
recruited to join a new league starting up in Dolton. They
were trying to line up the champs from as many local leagues
as possible. We won the league championship the 1st year
and lost in the seminals the 2nd year.
The mid to late 70’s found the Groundsmen travelling beyond
the suburbs as we became a xture in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.
We always did well, never getting eliminated on Saturdays
and always playing on Sundays. Our best nish was 5th
place in 1977, knocking out the Big Banjo Bruins on Saturday
but losing to the Bobcats on Sunday. It seemed like we
crossed paths with the Bobcats quite often in those years.
We also travelled to Benton Harbor, Michigan and Portage,
Indiana. In a 1977 Portage tournament, we beat a Scotch
Mist team from Chicago Heights loaded with Softball Hallof-
Famers Wally Filkins, Lenny West, and Matt Dosen. We
went 7-0 in the tournament, beating the Scotch Mist in the
winners’ bracket in a 1 run 9 inning thrillers. The Mist came
back through the loser’s bracket, and we soundly beat them
in the nals. 1977 also saw us win a Tom Bonen Windy City
tournament as well as both leagues in Chicago Heights and
Park Forest. Throughout the 70’s. O’s we played in leagues
in Harvey/Lou Boudreau Stadium (nishing 2nd to the Whips
in our rst year), Bessemer Park (1976 champs) in addition to
assorted tournaments and Metros.
Enter the 1980’s and the younger generation takes over.
Our younger brothers and their friends and family members
carried on the Groundsmen legacy mostly in the Ridge
Park league.From 1982 to 1994, the Groundsmen won 10
championships and one 2nd place. Saturday softball playoffs
became an August tradition for the Groundsmen and their
families. We certainly feel our credentials measure up to most
of the current inductees and are better than many. We thank
you for your time and consideration