Tony Valosek grew up in Cicero, so he was in familiar territory when he started running a neighborhood team in the Cicero Men’s League. Like most teams of that era, his team was sponsored by local taverns. They were first sponsored by Triners Lounge in Cicero and then later by S & S Lounge, Cabin, and Sportman Lounge in Berwyn and then Dick’s Place in Lyons. They played locally in Cicero but travelled to Chicago on weekends to play money or beer games with teams from Chicago.
One of the most memorable games that Tony booked was with a team they had never heard of – Al’s Pals. The agreed to play for $100.00, but when they showed up they learned that ninety percent of the Al’s Pals were Bobcat players, one of the top teams of that era. They beat them 9 – 7 with a bunch of unknown players. That victory sparked a desire to play in more competitive leagues, so with the help of local players Gene Pingatore, Tony Bertuca, Bob Govnat, and other top Cicero and Berwyn players, Gordon Industries (a Christmas tree company) softball team was formed to play at Kelly and Clarendon Parks. In 1966 the Sobies disbanded and because so many players lived in the Western suburbs, they joined Gordon Industries.
During the first few meetings at Clarendon and Kelly, Tony Stroupa and Jack Rackovic tried to talk Tony out of playing in those leagues against the Loafers, the 45s, and the Bobcats. Undeterred, Gordon Industries won most of their games and led their leagues at both parks. By winning the Kelly Park League, they qualified for the nationals at Florrisant, MO. It was then that American Rivet picked up the sponsorship and Gordon Industries became American Rivet and started playing in the Windy City, Mount Prospect, and Schaumburg leagues.
As a manager, the biggest problem Tony faced was deciding who would play because the American Rivet starters could play on any team and their bench was as strong as their starting lineup. Their lineup featured a few homerun hitters, but they were best known for the three Ds: dinks, dumps, and defense. There wasn’t a team out there that could play defense without gloves like American Rivet. They one lost the nationals in St. Louis to the Bobcats because American Rivet players played the whole game without gloves but Bobcat outfielders used gloves and caught balls they never would have caught without gloves.
One of Tony’s most memorable moments occurred when Mike Royko (with the Daily News at that time) called him and asked for five no name players to play with the Daily News team in a charity game against the Bobcats. Tony got him the players and the Daily News lost to the Bobcats by one run. Royko was so excited that they didn’t lose by the slaughter rule that he came back to Sportsman Lounge in Berwyn and picked up the tab for everyone.
Tony has managed teams that have played in the top leagues and tournaments throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. He also managed in the Windy City League and in the Iowa Nationals.