Wally Meyers

Wally Meyers began his softball career in 1937 as manager and first baseman with Becker Coals at Hamlin Park in the Lincoln – Belmont Softball League. His superb fielding at first base and ability to get on base earned him All Star honors that year along with Hall of Famers Dick Triptow and Bud Gierke. Meyers also earned All Star honors at Weber Park as captain of the 45th Ward Boosters. Meyers and Becker Coals earned a distinction rare in softball history; they were the first team to play in the newly opened, fully fenced Northtown Currency Exchange Stadium. Becker Coals lost to Thillens Check Cashers in that game, despite four home runs and a double from Meyers. Wally’s efforts were not unnoticed, however, as Mel Thillins asked Meyers, Bud Gierke and Ed Grzonka to play for him. Thillins later went on to organize the North Town Currency Exchange Softball School, a major effort to teach softball skills to youngsters, and Meyers was recruited as a special instructor. Like many other young men of his time, Wally’s softball career was interrupted by World War II. He joined the Army Air Force and flew 12 combat missions, including bombing oil fields in Germany and Romania, before being shot down the day after D Day. For his heroism, Meyers received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, as well as the Purple Heart. Unfortunately, his wounds were serious. Shrapnel had shattered his left arm and he remained hospitalized for an extended period. Wally returned to Chicago’s far less dangerous softball wars in 1946, but his play was limited due to paralysis in his thumb and two fingers of his left hand. Still, in 1947 he captained and played first base for the 45th Ward Boosters at Hamlin Park. There in a major jackpot game, Wally hit a ground smash past Hall of Famer Stan Szukala to win the game. After that he decided it was time to hang up his spikes and retire from the game.