The Turtles were predominantly made up of players from Maine West HS and the Des Plaines Rand Park AA League. The Des Plaines Rand Park AA League of the late 70’s and 80’s featured many good teams like the Youngsters, Badgers, Bushmen, Kitty’s and Custom Tape. Many of the original Turtles players played on the Bruisers (75-79) that won many Des Plaines and Schaumburg League Championships.
In 1982, the Turtles were formed by Kenny Geimer, whose father owned The Snackery restaurant. The team name originated from the infamous “turtle slow” service, and the uniforms sported the logo of a turtle carrying a tray of food and drink. Rich Wagner took over the talented team in 1984, playing 3 nights a week in 2 leagues, and various tournaments, ASA & USSSA Qualifiers and National Tournaments on weekends. During his 16 years managing the team, Rich was adept at scouting and recruiting to maintain a highly competitive team on the field.
With an overall record of 775-366, two of the best years were 1985 (65-21) and 1992 (63-22). In their 16 years of play, the Turtles appeared in 8 ASA (AA) National Tournaments, 5 ASA (A) National Tournaments and 10 USSSA National Tournaments. During that time, they defeated many HOF teams including B’ Athletes, Crush, Deathwish, Eastsiders, Flames, Flamingos, 45’s, Jynx, Magic, Meadows, Molex, Playboys, Safari Tigers, Saints, Splinters, Taggers, Traffic and Whips.
Over the years, over 120 players have contributed to the team. Des Plaines / Maine West players included Jim Andrews, Al Bally, Bob Balzano, Gary Boesche, Neal Boesche, jim Buchholz, Gary Chvatel, Gary Dunham, Rob Earhart, Mike “Benny” Franklin, Scott Gilbert, Chris Grzebieniak, Mark Grzebieniak, Craig Gustafson, Norm Hillner, Tom Hincker, Randy Hubbell, Mike “Milo” Kraft, Rick Kraft, Bill Makuch, John Mette, Glenn Miller, Spence Miller, Mike O’Connor, Marty Oehlerking, Jim Postol, Steve Quarnstrom, Frank Stroka, Randy Trost, Matt Tures, Kurt Uidl, Willie Vail, Glen Watson, John Westermayer, Jim Wineicki, and Rick Wolfgram. Other key players were Buddy Annoreno, Dan Brichetto, Keith Dickens, Mickey Drews, Gino Grochowski, Lou Hamilton, Jack Hogan, Ken Hollingsworth, John Lesner, Ralph Reporto, Mark Sobey, Gary Thorsen, Tom Whitty, and Fritz Zimmerman.
The Turtles were grateful for their many great sponsors, starting with The Snackery and ending with their premiere sponsor, March Manufacturing. The years in between included Sim’s Bowl, Valley Printing, Des Plaines Lumber, Des Plaines Bowl, Whiskey’s Auto Repair, Z Gathering, Isle of Man, Steve’s Lounge, FS Stroka Transport, Northern IL Roofing and Frankie’s Two.
The Des Plaines / Maine West Turtles have been friends for over 40 years, and continue those friendships within their softball family through social events, careers, weddings, grandchildren and retirements.
Most importantly, the Turtles players thank their wives, children, families and friends for the understanding and incredible support they have received over the years.