Tommy Thompson was a Local One Ironworker and very proud of it. He was so proud of it that in1982 he started and founded the Dollars for Diabetes Union Yes Softball Tournament, a tournament sponsored by the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council. Unions affiliated with the Council had been collecting money to help fund research on diabetes through a program called DAD’s Day (Dollars Against Diabetes). They would collect money through street corner collections. The Dollars for Diabetes Tournament changed that collection process by featuring teams from the Building Trade Council playing for the tournament title and raising money to help fight diabetes. The first tournament was held at Amundsen Park on the Northwest side of Chicago. Under Hall of Famer Frank Lentine, the inaugural tournament was won by the Local One Ironworkers. The tournament raised ten thousand dollars the first year and regularly raises twenty thousand dollars each year. It is now held at St. Christina’s at 111th and Central Park in Chicago.
Tommy grew up in Oak Park and was recruited to play sixteen-inch softball for the Takers in 1979 by Hall of Fame manager Rich Polfus. He started out as an outfielder, but Polfus quickly converted him to a pitcher when Tommy’s talents reminded Polfus of a young Mike Tallo (HOF). He was a tremendous city park pitcher who racked up championships at Oak Park, Amundsen Park, Sayre Park, Portage Park, Wells Park, Hamlin Park, Clarendon Park, his greatest softball championship. Tommy also won many tournaments, including the Ted Lechowitc Tournament at Kosciusko Park. One of Tommy’s greatest softball memories was the night he almost beat Mike Tallo and his legendary team Otto’s in the open game of the Forest Park Tournament in 1981. He lost 8-7 and then watched Otto’s slaughter everyone on their way to the tournament title. Besides being a great pitcher, Tommy was a dangerous hitter who prided himself on using a thirty-seven inch bat.
Tommy and his wife, Judy, have 3 children – Casey, Jake, and Haley. All of his children were gifted in softball. Tom coached for the legendary Oak Park Windmills and both daughters were able to play for him. His son, Jake, is a well-rounded player this year and is playing with the Hex.
Tom was well respected by his peers as a great ironworker, organizer, and labor leader.
He should best be remembered as a great friend to many, a great teammate, and a great union member. Friends will always remember “hooty-hoot” as his trademark saying.