William “Willie” Abbatacola / Inducted 2016
William “Willie” Abbatacola
Willie Abbatacola grew up on the West side of Chicago. He attended St. Mel High School where he played basketball and was the quarterback of the football team. Willie and Hall of Fame manager Moose Camillo knew each other from Spencer Elementary School so Willie began his forty-four year playing career when he signed up to play for Moose when he was sixteen or seventeen.
Willie’s softball career was interrupted by a stint in the Army where he played baseball in France. He was scouted by the Chicago White Sox but chose to play with softball instead.
He played for Malizzi’s and won titles at Garfield, Portage, and Kelly Parks. He played with Phil’s Lounge and helped them win the league title a few times at Kelly Park, beating the Bobcats and the Whips. He played for Active Screw at Clarendon Park and helped them win the league title two years in a row. He played with the Jokers and played with Moose Camillo in the legendary “big money game” at Melrose Park where Camillo’s Cherry Lounge beat the Bobcats.
Near the end of his career, Willie played in various “B” leagues on the Northwest side of Chicago. He retired from softball in 1992.
Willie was a sign hanger for the State of Illinois. He passed away in 2007. He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and four children – Billy, Tom, Jamie, and Mary Eileen. They have ten grandchildren and four great - grandchildren.
Richard “Cy” Abata / Inducted 1996
Richard “Cy” Abata
Born in 1930, "Cy" started playing softball at Taylor and Racine and at Sheridan Park. He began his softball career in 1944 with the Kings, a neighborhood team. He was rookie of the year in the 1948 Windy City League with the Happy Hour Yankees. He played on the Midland Motors 1949 and Kool Vent Awnings 1950 championship teams. Standing 6'1" and weighing 190 lbs, he was known for hitting the long ball. He was an outfielder with moderate speed but had a strong throwing arm. He reportedly had a career batting average of .525. Cy also played on the 1949 Clarendon champs Macv Jewelers and the 1957 Chicago and Kedzie champion Jimmy Rose teams with manager Moose Camillo. He graduated from Our Lady of Pompeii Elementary School in 1943 and St.Ignatius High School in 1947. He was the MYP of the football team and was named an All-City player. Cy was only the fourth athlete to letter in baseball, football and track. He graduated from the University of Detroit in 1953 with a degree in Business Administration. As a champion college hand ball player he won the Masters City Championship in 1972. Suzanne and Cy have 3 stepchildren and 15 grandchildren. He served in the military from 1953 to 1955. He is since Deceased.
John Abbatacola / Inducted 1998
John Abbatacola began his softball career at 17 and continued playing until he was 40 with Malzie's and later with Cherry Lounge, a team managed by Moose Camillo. During his 23 years in the game, Abbatacola's teams recorded many championships - Garfield Park champions eight times, LaFollette Park champions six times, and they even beat the legendary Bobcats for the Chicago and Kedzie championship. A line drive hitting short center, Abbatacola remembers winning some dramatic money games between Camillo's Cherry Lounge and Zolna's Bobcats. John Abbatacola owned Mario's Restaurant for thirty years. He is the father of four boys. He and his wife, Wendy, live in La Grange Park, Illinois.
David Arnoux / Inducted 2000
Dave Arnoux began his softball career on the northwest side, playing second base for the Spartans at Winnemac Park. He soon switched from second base to shortstop, where he remained until a stint in the Army interrupted his career. He continued to hone his skills while in the Army, playing first base for the 5th Army, 40th Triple A Gun Batallion at Wiesbaden and Stuttgart, Germany. After returning home, Dave resumed his softball career with Culpeppers Sporting Goods, winning two championships. He then played for the Alderman Hoellen Boosters at Welles Park. During the 1950s he played for Alderman Freeman at Clarendon Park, where he helped Freeman win three championships. Dave was an All-Star selectee at Clarendon Park when they defeated the Chicago-Kedzie All-Stars. Later, Dave was part of the "Doc" Scavuso managed team that were runners up to the Bobcats. He also played occasionally for the 'Cats. Dave left softball to open Hero's Submarine Sandwich Shop at Addison and Western, more than 37 years ago. He and his wife have seven children and eleven grandchildren.
Bobbie Blackstone / Inducted 2001
Bobbie Blackstone is truly one of the great players of one of softballs great eras. A shortstop, he began his 30 year 16" softball career in 1951 while still a student at Tilden High School. He joined a team that won the Sun Times Chicago City Softball Championship in the junior division. The team was coached by Miss Sally, the person Blackstone credits with teaching him valuable lessons about softball in particular and sportsmanship in general. Bobbie's career took off as he played with every top team on Chicago's South and West sides. Although he played every position, his quick hands and accurate arm made him one of the top shortstops of his era. His all-around skills earned him MVP and batting championships with teams in the Southside Cocktail League. In 1962, Blackstone was playing in the Daddio Daily League with such legendary players as Tony Reibel, Paul Patterson, Sweetwater Clifton and fellow 2001 Inductee Henry Currie. Together they defeated the Monarchs for the league championship in a no hit, shutout pitched by Henry Currie. Blackstone's long and distinguished career came to an abrupt halt when he ruptured his Achilles tendon. In 1982, he was nominated to the Chicago Black Athlete Hall of Fame.
Ray Blumenthal / Inducted 2010
Ray Blumenthal graduated from De Paul Academy in 1948. While at De Paul, he was a four-year varisty basketball player, winning the North Section championship in 1948. As a teenager, Ray played with the Alderman Hoellen / Freeman teams. The Korean War called him away from softball but he kept his skills sharp by playing baseball and basketball for Camp Zima in Yokohama, Japan. Once his military service ended, he played with some of the best teams on the North side, including the Tom Greenes and the Fleck Republicans. He was a fixture on the Ron "Beetlebomb" Brasch teams at Clarendon and other parks. He played in tournaments at Clarendon, Welles, and Kelly parks in Chicago and in Blue Island and Harvey. He also played in the legendary Daddy O Daylie League. In 1963 he won the state championship with a team sponsored by Lords Warehouse. He was known as a "dump" hitter who could drop the ball between the infield and outfield. As a result, he had a high on-base average. From the late-1940s to the early-70s, Ray played with or against numerous players who are now members of the Hall of Fame. Ray passed his love of sports to his four children, fifteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Many of them played softball, baseball, and basketball as well as other sports in grammar school, high school, college, and beyond.
Michael Coyne / Inducted 2004
A few years ago, the Chicago Public Schools made 16” softball a varsity high school sport. What many might not know, however, is that softball was a Catholic high school sport in 1955, and Mike Coyne played it. In his senior year at St. Gregory’s, Mike was the captain of his 16” softball team. That year they won the Catholic Parish League Championship. Mike Coyne was then picked to play with Alderman Hollen’s in the “A” league at Clarendon Park, the majors of softball during the 50s. From 1955 to 1967, Mike and his teams won championships at Clarendon and other parks with Hollen’s (1955 and 1956 at Clarendon and Wells), Kohler’s Jewelers (1959 at Clarendon and Wells), Ray-Lyn (1961 at Rogers Park), Eddy’s Bleachers (1962 North Loop champs), the Dwarfs (1963 at Wells and 1964 at Chase), and with S&N Jewelers and Joe Umana (1965 at Clarendon and Wells.) However, the most satisfying championship was winning the Midwest Tournament of Champions in 1962 when Eddy’s Bleachers played a team put together by Eddie Zolna. Eddy’s Bleachers beat Zolna’s team 25 to 23 in a game that saw six lead changes. Mike Coyne that night had five hits, including a three run homer and two doubles. The victory was especially sweet for Mike because Eddie Zolna had dropped him earlier in the season. From 1968 through 1990 Mike Coyne played with numerous teams including Flories, Ed Kelly’s, Tom Green’s and Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, Kolski’s Boosters (Mike also managed the team), and Hennessee’s. They won championships at parks ranging from Kelvyn Park to Hamlin Park. For ten years, he pitched 12” softball with Chicago FBI agents in the Nationwide FBI Tournament. He lead them to numerous championships with his pitching and hitting and was selected to the Columbus FBI Softball Hall of Fame. In 1991 at age 55, Mike Coyne pitched for Brothers at Oriole Park, leading them to championships in 1992 and 1993. From 1994 to 2003 he played with Chicago Hitmen (later Coyne Financial) at Indian Road. They won the title in 1996 and 2003. A Chicago police officer for 32 years, Mike Coyne also used his softball expertise from 1962 to 1989, leading various police districts to championships in the Chicago Police League and winning the Illinois Police Statewide Olympics in 1980 and 1989. Throughout his 48-year softball career, Mike Coyne played all infield positions and switched to pitching during the last fifteen years of his playing days. He was known as a gap hitter who could hit to all fields but who favored hitting to right center. Mike Coyne was a Chicago Police officer for 32 years. He now does public relations for Coyne Financial, family owned mortgage brokerage firm. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Bridget, Mike, and Bill - and nine grandchildren.
Henry “Hawk” Currie / Inducted 2001
Henry “Hawk” Currie
Henry "Hawk" Currie, as he is affectionately called by friend and foe, began his softball career in the early 1950s at Madden Park, one of the most talent laden parks of that time. He won his first softball medal when the Aces took third place in the Chicago Park District Junior tournament. In 1961 he left Madden Park for the allure of Meyerling Playground, to play with the Sweets All-Stars. His teammates included softball legends Sweetwater Clifton, Dan Dumas, Lawyer Bratton, Zeke Ireland and fellow 2001 Inductee, Bobbie Blackstone. They won the Daddio Daily League that year, in a no hit shut out pitched by Bobbie. The following season, their already strong team was bolstered by the addition of Tony Reibel and Bill Hall. Henry worked for Kuppenheimer Clothing, and, as part of their team, played in nine Grant Park Industrial League Continental Division championships from 1962 to 1977. They also won five city tournaments during that span. In 1968, Kuppenheimer finished third in the ASA 16" Nationals in St. Louis. Currie was named Most Valuable Player, the first Black 16" player ever to be so honored. By the 1970s, Currie was playing with the 151 Stars, who eventually merged with several Flamingo players to form the Senators. For ten years the Senators and Flamingos waged softball wars beyond compare. In 1975, the Senators won every tournament on the south side. That year, before the largest crowd ever to watch a National game, the gloveless Senators lost to a glove wearing team from Oregon. Henry Currie lives with his wife Annie, and is the father of six boys and two girls.
Jerry Dowling / Inducted 1999
Getting a penny for every ball he and his brother caught. Driving around the South and Southeast side of the city in the sponsor's coal truck looking for games. Sewing softballs back together with a darning needle. Driving a nail into a broken bat. These are just a few of the Depression era memories of Jerry Dowling's early playing days. Dowling grew up in a neighborhood that produced some of the the games greatest teams - Mel Turner's, Harry's Owl Club, Lapota Steelers, Nudo's and Bondis to mention a few. As a pre-teen and teen, Jerry Dowling would entertain the crowds with his defensive skills as he warmed up the hitters, only to be replaced by the regular third baseman. Once he was old enough Dowling became a top third baseman with Alderman Murphy, Sam Yanks, and other teams. Like many young men his age, Dowling spent time fighting World War II in the South Pacific. Upon his return in 1947, Dowling gave up a promising baseball career for 16" softball. Throughout the rest of the 40s he played with Harry's Owl Club, Browns, Nudos, Bondis and others at some of the great stadiums in the Chicagoland area - Bidwell, Shewbridge, Clarendon, and Taylor and Racine. In the 1950s Jerry played with multiple teams, including Bondis, Catholic War Vets, and 101 Club. In 1952 Jerry's leg was shattered during a game. Mel Turner organized a 32-team tournament to defray Jerry's expenses. Everyone donated their time to help Jerry. A mannequin leg was passed throughout the park. When it was presented to Jerry, it contained enough money to keep the family going for almost a year. A retired electrician for the Chicago Fire Department, Jerry was married for fifty years to Mary Gadbois. They had four children (one is deceased) and five grandchildren. He lived on South Maplewood in Chicago. Jerry passed away in 2007.
Jack Dowling / Inducted 2004
Don “Ducky” Dulbis / Inducted 1997
Don “Ducky” Dulbis
This versatile lefty–known for his spray hitting ability, excellent speed and superior defensive skills–began his softball career playing at Chicago's Hamlin and Welles Parks. "Ducky" played with many teams in the mid 1940s and 50s. In 1948 he was selected to the All-Star team, while playing with Splinter Finance at Northtown Stadium, later to become Thillens' Stadium. In 1949 Don was named Rookie of the Year while playing with the Windy City Champs, Kool Vent Awnings. Don now resides with this wife Brigette in Gurnee, IL.
Ed Earle / Inducted 1997
Ed Earle started his softball career in 1949, playing shortstop for the Chi-Kings in the Father Jerry League where they won the league three years in a row. They also were champions in the Rockola Stadium League and the Chicago Herald-American Tournament. Ed later switched teams and played for Spalter Finance where they won the playoff at Thillen's Stadium. During this series of games, Ed Earle was first in triples, second in home runs and hit an incredible four home runs on one game, a feat that warranted a story and picture in the July 19, 1950 edition of the Herald-American. Earle's string of championships continued when he joined the Dugouts at the Portage Park League where they won the title three years and . took second place at Clarendon Park. Next Earle played for Kool Vent Awnings at Clarendon Park and the Chicago and Kedzie League, a park where Ed and his teammates took home many jackpot games Earle was known around the 16" game as a long ball hitter to left and right center with the ability to punch the ball over the infield. He was selected to the Rich Melman All-Star Team before 1985. Ed Earle graduated from Schurz High School where he captained the basketball team and the golf team. He was also starring guard at Loyola University for three years, scoring over 1000 points in his career. He is a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame at Schurz High School and Loyola University. He is retired after 26 years with the Sales Division of Yellow Freight Systems. He lives in Park Ridge, IL.
Kenneth Furlanetto / Inducted 1998
Beginning his baseball career at Austin High School from 1952-1953, Ken Furlanetto went on the play softball for the Trojans and Interstate in the early 1950s and for the Cherry Lounge in the 60s and 70s with Moose Camillo as manager. He played all over the Chicagoland area at Kell's Park, Kedzie and Chicago and at Clarendon and Sheridan Park. Ken's defensive skills at first base were punctuated by his characteristic stretch to nip a runner at first base. At 6'0" inches Ken usually hit from the fifth position and could usually reach an extra base because of his excellent speed. A former Melrose Park police officer, Ken still lives in Melrose Park.
Joe “Geetz” Gucwa / Inducted 1996
Joe “Geetz” Gucwa
Considered to be one of the finest first basemen ever, no one can recall Joe Gucwa, the 6'3" star, ever committing an error in a game. Born in 1937, his love for the sport began when he led his Catholic grammar school to two league-winning titles. Joe attended Kelly High School and played as a tackle on the football team. He started with the Bobcats at twenty years of age and played twelve seasons with that great team. He played on three ASA National Championship teams. Joe was known as good long ball hitter who batted cleanup in his early years. His fondest memory is playing in the 1964 Nationals at Thillen's Stadium which was televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Joe and Christine have two children and two grandchildren. Joe is deceased.
Gene Hrabak / Inducted 1997
Gene began playing softball at the age of 13 in Cicero. At 16 he played for Sams Tavern, Wolak's Lounge, Triner's All - Stars, and Murphy Motors. In 1947-48 Gene played Midwest semi-professional ball with Cole-Lenzi. Gene's softball career was interrupted when he served in the Korean War for 2 years (1951-53) as a forward observer, a position that earned him the Bronze Star. After leaving the service, Gene played softball with several local teams until joining the Bobcats in 1955.Gene played shortstop and third base with the Bobcats until 1966. Gene was the Director of Recreation for the Clyde Park District until he accepted a position at Morton West High School. He retired from Morton West in 1992. Gene has been married to Carol for 43 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Bill “Lefty” Hunt / Inducted 1997
Bill “Lefty” Hunt
Bill Hunts distinguished softball career began in the 1940s with a team from the May Club. He also played for the Club Marquette and Red Circle in the neighborhood leagues and with Fewer Boilers in the Windy City League. Born and raised on Chicago's Southwest Side, "Lefty" Hunt is remembered as being one of the top left-handed first baseman of his era who was a power hitter to right field who could also go to the opposite field with line drives. As the third hitter in the lineup Hunt chalked up many RBI's during his long career. Veteran players of Hunt's time remember some classic big money games between Hunt's team and their rivals, the Snipers, another Southwest Side powerhouse. Perhaps the most memorable of these games was a 15-14 loss to the Snipers with a pot of over $1500. Since Deceased.
Joe Hutmacher / Inducted 1999
Educated at De Paul Academy and Loyola University, Joe Hutmacher's athletic career started as a basketball player at DePaul Academy where his team took second to Marshall High School in the 1948 City Championship game. He then went on to player for three seasons at Loyola University. His 16" softball career took him to Thillens Stadium from 1949 - '51 where he played with Martin Jewelers and Hall of Fame inductee Ed Kelly. In 1955 Hutmacher switched to the Alderman Freeman's and O'Boyle Transfer. He hooked up with Hall of Famer Tony Reibel and inductee Ken Speirs to win the title at Clarendon Park twice. Hutmacher also played with Kool Vent Awnings at Chicago-Kedzie. He remembers coming in second frequently to Eddie Zolna for the championship. From 1957 to '62 he joined North Center Athletic Club with Tony Reibel at Welles, Hamlin, Portage, and Linden Parks until his retirement from the game in 1970. Hutmacher then switched to the other side of the plate for 23 years when he began his umpiring career. He umpired at Clarendon, Hamlin, and Grant Park every night with two games on Sunday. He retired from umpiring in 1994. Unlike many athletes who played different positions, Hutmacher played first base for most of his career. Batting third or fourth, he was known as a long ball hitter who hit tape measure home runs. His production totals dropped, however, when the legendary "water" ball was introduced at Clarendon. Of all the players he encountered during his 31 years playing career, Joe Hutmacher especially remembers the hitting of Ed Earle and Moose Skowron before he turned to pro baseball.
Veto “Vic” Jasaitis / Inducted 2000
Veto “Vic” Jasaitis
Born in 1929, Veto "Vic" Jasaitis has played with some landmark teams during his sixteen year softball career. As a left fielder, shortstop, and a pitcher, he has helped his teams capture twelve championships including; Fewer Boilers and Midland Motors (two chapionships), Bill Bonnetts (six championships), Diaper Gange (one championship), Bill Rose's (one championship), and a team at Chicago and Kedzie that took two championships. With a lifetime batting average of 650, Jasaitis was the homerun leader at the Northtown League for two years, and ended his career with over 1,000 homeruns. He also received league MVP honors when he was playing with Midland Motors in the Windy City League. As a pitcher, he accumulated a 30 and 2 record. Softball historians remember three "tape measure homeruns" hit by Jasaitis; one onto the tennis court 375 feet away at Davis Square Park, another shot that cleared the tree and landed in a children's swimming pool at Cornell Park, and one that hit the center field scoreboard, 365 feet away at Northtown while playing with Midland Motors. In 2000, "Vic" had two daughters and lived in Worth, Illinois. Passed away in 2005.
Vic Kariolich / Inducted 2000
Vic Kariolich began his softball career with Jimmie Rose's Loafers at Roby Field at 59th and Damen. In 1947 he played with Joker's from Harper High School. They competed against such Southside teams as Bonetti's Liquors, Chesty's Spartans and Valerie Florist. His softball career was interrupted, like so many others, between 1951 and 1953 when he served his country in the Korean War. Stan fought in the 2nd Division, 38th Infantry. When he returned home, Stan played with the Jimmie Rose Shamrocks, winning the Chicago-Kedzie League in 1955 with teammates Lefty Hunt, Ray Topolski, Cy Abata and Bill "Willie" Pierucci. In the early 60s, he joined the Whips and played with Butch Gordon and Jake and Willy Schmitz. They played at Clarendon Park, Kelly Park and in the Labor Day Tournament at 103rd and Bensley, where they defeated the Sobies in the final game. In 1968, Vic helped the Madonna Knights of Columbus win the KOC Championship at Kelly Park. Failing eyesight ended Vic's softball career in 1972, after a three month stint with the Bobcats. Vic is the proud father of three daughters, and grandfather of four.
Edward “Dooner” Koss / Inducted 2002
Edward “Dooner” Koss
Like many great players of his era, Eddie Koss had a traditional Chicago softball upbringing. He attended St. Ann Grade School and St. Ann High School. He played sports as a boy at Union League Boys Club, and honed his athletic skills by playing and defeating many top teams from other Boys Clubs in Chicago. By 14, Koss was already playing softball with players 10 years older and impressing them with his skills. In one game early in his career, he made two one handed diving catches - with each hand - to stem rallies. From 1952 to '63, Eddie played with and against some of the greatest names in softball history. His move from the outfield to short center occurred when their regular short center didn't show up for a game. Being without a short center, his manager asked Koss to play that position and the rest is history. As a hitter Koss was known to be so accurate with the bat, he could place a ball anywhere he wanted along the right field line. His hitting was so respected that teams in the Windy City league invented a special defense against him. Despite their efforts, Koss maintained a .700 seasonal average. Koss' hitting and fielding skills were noticed by Frank Holan who asked Eddie to play for the Rocky Stars (later to become Treiner's Lounge). With them he played with some of the softball greats - Ed Surma, Clyde Starry, the Bereckis brothers and John Hornacek. After Treiner's Lounge, Eddie played with Interstate and hooked up with future Hall of Famers Frank Lentine, Dennis Migala and Tony Reibel. Later in his career Koss moved to Hanover Park and played with Johnson's Decorators (later called Omega Sports) for 15 years in the West and Northwest suburbs. He then joined a 14" league and was selected to their All Star team for ten straight years. He was also named MVP of the league's tournament the year his team won the championship. Eddie and his wife, Jane, have three sons - Dan, Tom and Dave - and seven grandchildren. Eddie is retired from Canteen Vending and living in Bartlett.
Vic Kostecki / Inducted 2002
Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Victor Kostecki developed the skills that would ultimately lead to his playing 16" softball during the Golden Years of softball with one of the premier teams in the game. He graduated from St. Rita High School in 1948 where he lettered in football. He played one year of college football before he was drafted into the Army and was eventually sent to Korea. Upon his return, he played for Ford Aircraft in the Industrial Leagues and then joined Frank Holan's Rocky Stars. After the Rocky Stars, he played at Chicago and Kedzie, with the Treiners. From Treniers, Vic and teammate Clyde Starry went on to a long and fruitful career with Ed Zolna's Bobcats. From 1956 to 1973, Kostecki played center field for the Bobcats. A left handed hitter, Vic was never known as a long ball hitter. His job was to "set the table" for the big hitters that came after him. Besides the Bobcats, Kostecki also played with the Chicago Fire Department. He considers playing with some of the legendary Bobcats players, at some of the top Chicago softball parks to be one of the great honors of his life. He also honors his opponents who inspired all players to play their hardest. A retired Chicago firefighter, Victor Kostecki and his wife, Jeanette, now live in Payson, Arizona.
Rollo Kuebler / Inducted 2008
Rollo Kuebler’s love of softball began early when he was in grade school at Audubon School on Chicago’s Northside. He started playing fast-pitch with teams during the late 1930s, but switched to playing sixteen-inch ball with Witt’s Audubon’s, a group of neighborhood kids playing at Welles Park. They won numerous championships during the early ‘40s. He was a top defensive player at third base and left field who consistently hit over .500. In November of 1945 he entered the Army and served until May, 1947. Once he was discharged, he joined Hub Vagabonds, a team made-up of older players from the Damen and Addison neighborhood. They played in many profitable money games throughout Chicago. He then joined Martin Jewelers and Spalter Finance at Northtown Stadium where they competed in many wonderful seasons. After leaving these teams, he played with the legendary Alderman Hoellen’s at Welles and Waveland Parks. He also played club softball with North Center A.C. and with the Alderman Charlie Fleck All Stars at Hamlin Park during the 1950s, where they won numerous championships and Rollo batted over .500. He later played with a team comprised of bowlers from Arlington Lanes. He helped them to win the championship at Arlington Heights Park District. He finished has career with his son’s team. After suffering through a losing season, shifted player positions and the next year won numerous titles, including one at Mt. Prospect. During his many years playing softball, Rollo played with some of the games great players, including Tony Reibel, Don Dulbis, Joe Neuman, Bob and Joe Campbell, Joe Hutmacher, and Bud Gehrke. Rollo played basketball at Lakeview High School from 1941 to 1945. He then played at Loyola from 1947 to 1951. In 1949 Loyola (with Hall of Famers Joe Hutmacher and Eddie Earle) were runners-up in the N.I.T. Tournament, losing to San Francisco 49-48. Rollo worked in the metal industry as a salesman who supplied metal to stampers and spring makers. He and his wife, Golden, live in Arlington Heights, IL. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
Robert “Bobbie” Lamont / Inducted 1996
Robert “Bobbie” Lamont
Bobbie is considered one of the best hitters to play the game and credited with developing the "dump hit" which is either tap or cut over infielder's heads. This strategy has affecting games since as outfielders are faked out by crafty hitters who can go long or short. So difficult to stop he went 2 years in a Sayer Park B league without making an out ! After serving as a Marine, Bob started his softball career with the Alderman Laskowski Mozarts at Hamlin Park. He was a good short center and catcher for Kelly's All-Stars, Sports Bench and the Bobcats. He had incredible hand-eye coordination and ball release. In 1963 he was the top hitter in the State Tourney in Des Plaines. Played on the Bobcat's 1964 and '65 ASA National Title teams and dozens of other local championships. He was excellent athlete winning the 3 on 3 National Basketball Tourney for seniors over 60. Deceased.
Rev. Robert “Juice” Lemons / Inducted 1997
Rev. Robert “Juice” Lemons
Robert Lemons started playing 16" softball at an early age in grammar school. He then progressed to playing in neighborhoods at every position on the field. In 1949 the Ironmen were reorganized–under the guidance of the great Stanley Sheley. Robert Lemons first played shortcenter Ironmen. He switched to short center and eventually moved to pitcher where he accumulated a reputation as a top pitcher of his era. Lemons played softball until the early 1970s when he left the athletic field for the ministry He became an ordained minister in 1990 and still carries the word today. - Robert wishes everyone God's blessings and asks that they continue the work of the Lord.
Richard Lubera / Inducted 2012
During his fifty-year softball career, Dick Lubera wore a lot of hats: he was great player, a great manager, and a great organizer. He played and managed his teams to 590 wins and 100 losses. With a pitching record of 400 wins against only 89 losses, many softball experts of his time called him the Eddie Zolna of the North side. Rich managed and played for the original Roadrunners team from the late '60s to the early '80s. He led them to numerous championships at Portage, Mather, Kosczisko and Welles Parks in the '60s and '70s. They came in second in the City of Chicago tournaments at Clarendon and Kelly Parks. One year they compiled a record of 112-6. Anyone who knows sixteen-inch softball knows that back "in the day," kids learned the game in the streets and in the school playgrounds of Chicago. As a teacher with the Chicago Recreation System at Patrick Henry Elementary School (Home of the Champions) on Chicago's Northwest side, Rich was one of those adults who taught the game to the neighborhood kids. His teams won city softball titles in the midget division (nine to eleven year olds) three times and the junior division (fifteen to sixteen year olds) four consecutive years. At least ten Hall of Famers can trace their beginnings to Dick Lubera. Dick Lubera passed away in 2007. He is survived by his wife, Maria, and four children: Christie, Bill, Perry, and Nick.
Bernard “Bud” Lucchetti / Inducted 2004
Bernard “Bud” Lucchetti
When Bud Lucchetti began umpiring softball, he was a member of the Umpires Protective Association Bud Lucchetti started his umpiring career when he noticed the lack of good umpires for the league he formed at Calumet Park. In his early days, he was a member of the Umpires Protective Association (U.P.A.) He later formed and was chief umpire of the Calumet Umpires Association. In 1964 he became an ASA umpire under Paul Leonard. Bud Lucchetti and the Calumet Umpires Association joined with Paul Leonard to form the Metro Umpires Alliance. In 1979 he joined with Leonard and Les Duncan to umpire in the USSSA. Besides working the USSSA, he also umpired with the ASA under Tom O’Neill and Terry Reilly. He primarily officiated at Calumet Park, but he also umpired at tournaments throughout the south suburbs. In his thirty-three years of umpiring, Bud Lucchetti officiated over three thousand games, including almost every game in the Blue Island Metro from 1975 to 1995. He also worked the Nationals twice in Harvey in 1980 and at Blue Island in 1981. Before Bud Lucchetti became an umpire, he played short center with DOBS social / athletic club in Bridgeport in the mid 1940s when he was sixteen years old at Bidwell and Thillen’s Stadium. In 1961 he organized a girls league in Calumet Park. This league produced some of the top female players during that and later eras. He also organized the DEBS traveling team in the 1970s. Bud worked the “A” league in Blue Island from 1979 to 1993, officiating almost every “A” tournaments in Blue Island and Harvey. During his many years behind the plate, coaches and players always felt their game was in good hands when Bud was in charge. Teams praised him for his consistency, his ability to remain impartial, and for his ability to always be in the right place to make a crucial call. And his calls were always emphatic, demonstrating his energy and his passion for the game. Bud Lucchetti retired as a food broker in 2004. He and his wife, Amelia, have two children, Linda Vivona and the late Timothy who died in 1998. He and his wife live in Chicago.
Jack Lyman / Inducted 2002
In 1947, as a junior player on a senior dominated basketball team, Jack Lyman helped Tilden win the Public League Christmas Tournament. By that time, Lyman already had a year of softball under his belt, having started his career with DeVries Lumber in 1946 after his junior year of high school. He played with DeVries until 1953, then went on to play with some of the great 16" players of the '40's, '50's and '60's. Beside DeVries, Lyman played with the Leo XIII Knights of Columbus ('47 to '53), Collin's 700 Club ('47 to '48), Swift and Company ('47 to '59), the Bobcats ('48 to '51), and the 2-45 Club ('54 to '60). During his tenure with these great teams, Jack contributed to many championships, including the 47th and Damen League championship in 1949 with the Bobcats, the Clearing Question Mark League in 1948 with Collins 700, eight straight championships at Gage Park with Swift, and a second place finish in the City of Chicago championship in 1949 and 1950 with the Leo XIII Knights of Columbus. In 1949, Swift and Co. took second place at Grant Park, and finished third in 1951. Jack Lyman worked for Swift and Company for 12 years and with the Chicago Board of Education for 35 years as a school engineer, retiring in 1993. He and his wife, Bonnie, have seven children and eighteen grandchildren.
Wally Mader / Inducted 1999
Wally Mader is considered to be one the top pitchers in the game during the 1950s and early 60s. To bolster this claim, Mader's statistics show that he had more wins at Clarendon Park than any other pitcher during the 60s and early 70s. In 1956 he played with the championship Alderman Laskoski's 36th ward team, Mozart's. A few years later in the 1960s, Mader played in the 1st Annual ASA Championship at Clarendon Park while a member of Kenneth Allen, taking second to Eddie Zolna and the Bobcats. While playing with Kenneth Allen, Mader was also a key member of the team that won the Meyerling Park Championship in the Daddy O' Daily League three years in a row. Besides league play, Wally Mader was the winning pitcher in the only Clarendon Park vs. Chicago - Kedzie All - Star game. In addition to his championship pitching, Wally Mader also contributed with his bat. He usually led the team in batting average and often hit the long ball. He once had a hitting streak of 28 hits in league play at Clarendon Park. A graduate of Holy Trinity High School in 1951, Wally Mader is married to his wife of 26 years, Nancy. He has two stepchildren and four grandchildren. He is retired after a long career in the horse racing industry.
Jack Marcoline / Inducted 2011
Jack Marcoline began his softball career inthe sandlots and playgrounds around Midway Airport when he was twelve. His father, Joe, would often ask him to fill-in for the Chicago Fire Department team. When his family moved back to the West side, he continued playing in the fields at Clark and Moore. In 1954, Bob Snell and Bill Hickey recruited him to play shortstop for Song Lounge. They won many championships at Garfield and LaFollette Parks. In 1956, Nick "Moose"Camillo (HOF) recruited him to play for his team. They played at Kell's Clarendon, Garfield, LaFollette, and Portage Parks. He had a great career with "Moose," helping him win many championships and big money games. In the early-60s, he joined the O'Boyle Transfer Team with Hall of Fame teammates Eddie Earl, Denny Migala, Frank Lentine, Wimpy O'Connor, and Lewa Yacilla. He finished his softball career with Bill King in Bellwood, Villa Park and DuPage County. He then moved to central Illinois to take a football-coaching job. Jack graduated from St. Philip High School in 1954 where he was an All-City Lightweight basketball player and an All-City running back. He played football for Kansas State University for four years. After graduation, he coached basketball and football at St. Philip and Little Flower High Schools. He then moved to central Illinois where he coached football for over forty years, twenty-five of those as defensive coordinator at Eureka College. Jack and his wife, Judy, live in Minonk, Illinois, They have four children – Cathie, Pam, Mike, and Jen.
Eugene “Matt” Mathis / Inducted 2010
Eugene “Matt” Mathis
Gene Mathis was born in Chicago during the Great Depression. Like many great players, he started playing softball with the older boys in the neighborhood. But he had an advantage that other young players might not have had. He had a bat and ball. His grandfather found them as scavenged the more affluent areas of Chicago to make ends meet. So if they didn't let him play, he literally would take his bat and ball and go home. The older boys put him in right field because he didn't want to play catcher. Eventually his skills improved and it wasn't long before those older boys would seek him out when they were short a player. He worked all through high school and enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War. He was stationed in Germany and played base-level football, squadron-level fast pitch softball, and won two of three boxing matches. From 1954 to 1995, he played softball and raised a family on the South side of Chicago. During these years, he played in the legendary Daddy O Daily League, the South side Tavern League, and the Washington Park Post Office League. He also played at Rosenblum and Grand Crossing Parks and played with the Chicago Rockets, Victorians, Jive Ten, and the Iron Men. He played center and left field, shortstop, and short center. He has a lifetime batting average over .600 and hit five hundred homeruns and drove in five thousand runs. During his prime playing years, he was considered to be one of the top players of his time. In 1963 he was voted MVP of the Daddy O Daylie League while playing with Jive Ten. At forty-eight years of age he was picked as MVP of his team, the Zodiacs, while playing in the Tavern League. Eugene and his wife, Dorothea, live on Chicago's South side. They have two children - Denise and Stephanie (deceased). The have four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Robert McCormack / Inducted 2005
Robert McCormack started his softball career in 1950 with the Braves and before he was finished he would play at some of the top parks and with some of the best teams of his era. After the Braves, he was recruited to play with the Yanks before heading over to play with Eddie Barretts for two years. He then moved over to play for the Crusaders until 1962. His playing days were interrupted by military service, but talented athletes always find places to play even when far away from home. He played basketball and baseball with the 1st Calvary from 1952 to 1954 while stationed in Sapporo, Japan. In 1958, while playing for Father Perez Knights of Columbus, he helped them to an undefeated season. In 1961, he joined the Chicago Police Department and applied his playing abilities to the Police League and the Grant Park League, playing with the 4th District for five years. They took first place for four years and he was selected to police all-star teams. His softball career ended in 1971, after playing for 21 years. During his softball career, he was known for his stellar defense and clutch hitting. While he primarily played shortstop, he also spent time at second base and carried a .600 plus batting average throughout his playing days. Bob McCormack and his wife, Gloria, have four children - Robert, Michael, John, and Patricia - and three grandchildren. He retired from the Chicago Police Department after thirty years of service. They live in Tinley Park, Illinois.
Dennis Migala / Inducted 2000
Members of the Kool Vent Awning team would have been very surprised to find out the age of the kid they often called on to fill in for missing players. Dennis Migala was only 15 when he played for one of the top teams in 16" softball history. He started playing sandlot baseball at age 10, and by the time he was 15 he had achieved a solid reputation on the diamond. Dennis played for the Crusaders during the early to mid 50's, before he switched to Interstate Motors, out of Kell's Field, and O'Boyle Transfer at Clarendon Park. He then went on to play for various teams formed and managed by Hall of Famer Moose Camillo. Dennis Migala retired from softball in the late 1960s to pursue another passion; golf. In 2000, he had been a property and casualty broker since 1969, forming his own company in 1975, and merging with American Insurance Agency in 1986. He and his wife, Helene, have a daughter and three grandchildren.
Ed “Silver Fox” Miller / Inducted 2003
Ed “Silver Fox” Miller
Little did Ed Miller know when he started playing softball that he would be one of the players responsible for organizing one of 16" softball's greatest teams – the Bobcats. He played second base for the Rush Liquor in the Windy City League, with Weinberg Studebakers in the Northtown League and with the Jimmy Rose Team on Chicago's Southside. His greatest claim to fame, however, came when he became the driving force behind the Bobcats in the 50s and 60s. He played on the first ASA National Team in 1964 when the Cats won the title at Clarendon Park. Ed Miller was a right-handed hitter who could dump in a single or a triple or place on over your head for a homerun. He loved the game and played it with passion and craftiness into his later years to earn the nickname "The Silver Fox." He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and his sons, Edward and Larry.
Ed Mulligan / Inducted 1998
At 5'10" and 210 muscular pounds, Ed Mulligan was one of the most feared hitters in softball during the 1960s. Teamed with Kenneth Allen in the 1960s, he hit many legendary home runs - one measured more than 300 feet. A ball player of unequaled strength and power, he also played into the 1970s with the Flamingos and Percy Coleman. A Vietnam veteran, Ed Mulligan stands as a testimony as one of the top softball players during the 1960s and 70s. Since Deceased.
Gil Muratori / Inducted 2007
Gil Muratori arrived in Chicago from Italy in October of 1938 when he was just a few months old. But in 1948, when he was ten years old, he adopted Chicago’s great game and started a twenty-eight year softball career that would change the way teams used a catcher. He started playing in the streets of Chicago’s North side. In 1952 he started organized softball with the Neighborhood Boys Club at Paul Revere Park. He then played in the CYO league with the Angels of Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1955. After that he played in leagues and parks around Chicago and the suburbs with fifteen different teams, including the Maple Lane Bobcats, Kenneth Allen, and the legendary and Hall of Fame Daily News team with Mike Royko. He competed in the Mission Bell Classic at San Jose, California and in five ASAWorld Championships. During his twenty years as a catcher (although he also played third and first base and the outfield), only three runners were ever called safe after a play at the plate. One of them was Hall of Fame player Bob LaMont. During one game at Portage Park, he tagged out two runners in a row. Many believe that his style of play reinvented the position of catcher. Prior to his playing days, catchers were often great hitters but were also players with weak defensive skills. His style of play gave outfielders the confidence to challenge runners at the plate, knowing that the runner would probably be tagged out. Besides his defensive skills, he also was a power hitter early in his career who changed to a pinch hitter with power later in his career. The softball community recognized these skills by naming him MVP six times. In 1966 he won the triple crown title (homeruns, top batting average, and RBI leader) with the Kenneth Allen team at Lombard. He captured the batting title playing with the Bruins at the Mission Bell Classic in San Jose, California in 1973. He also provided commentary in the television booth along with Greg Gumbel, Tim Weigel and Mike Royko at the Windy City Championships. Besides playing softball, Gil Muratori also played ice hockey in leagues throughout Chicago. In 1970 he won the MVP award for defensemen in the Rainbow Hockey League. He played defense for the Cougars, leading them to multiple league titles in the Prairie State League. He also refereed hockey and in 1979 served as referee director for the Illinois Amateur Hockey Association, an organization responsible for over seven hundred hockey referees throughout Illinois. He started out as a meat cutter with Jewel Foods but joined Hoechst Pharmaceuticals in 1966, retiring in 1995 as the director of public policy and governmental relations. He and his wife, Mary, live in Miami, Florida where Gil spends most of his retirement fishing. He now has his U.S. Coast Guard captain’s papers, so he can take clients out for a fee. They have four children (Marina, Mike, Karen, and Anita), eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Jimmy Nallen / Inducted 2003
From playing with Electrician's Local 714 at Garfield Park at sixteen years of age to playing with Sam's in the St. Charles League at the age of sixty, Jimmy Nallen has been a major factor on teams (Whips, Rogues, Bruins) that have amassed 117 championships, including world titles with the Sobies and Metro and Forest Park titles with Moose Camillo and Cherry Lounge. He was a member of the Cherry Lounge team in 1963 that defeated the all-star laden Bobcat team in a $20,000 money game -- the largest amount ever wagered on a softball game. During his playing tenure, Jimmy Nallen won batting titles, was selected to numerous all-star teams, and was the leading hitter at age 60 in the St. Charles League. He even hit a game winning homerun in that league in his slippers because the unpires wouldn't let him play in his metal cleats. Nallen was known as one of the top outfielders in the Chicago and the suburbs. He was a gap hitter who could spray balls to all fields while batting leadoff or second on most of his teams. Jimmy Nallen is a retired electrician (42 years) in Local 134. He and his wife, Charlotte, have two children -- Jim and Laura and five grandchildren. He lives in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Salvatore “Sal” Novello / Inducted 2012
Salvatore “Sal” Novello
Sal Novello began his softball career as a teenager on the Northwest side of Chicago at Athletic Field Park located at Addison and Drake. He formed the Addison Bears, a neighborhood team that featured the likes of John Hechinger (HOF) and Don Campbell, a power hitting infielder who later led Clarendon Park in homeruns during the' 50s and'60s. The Bears were successful in several leagues and money tournaments on the North side. The later became the Social Athletic Club, an organization that still exists today. Sal was a fleet-footed, hard-hitting centerfielder with a strong arm. These talents were soon recognized by many veteran teams, so Sal was soon "drafted" to play for them in money games and jackpot tournaments while he was still in high school. After graduating from high school, he was given a "job" with the Northwestern Railroad so that he would be eligible to play for them. It was here that he met Mary, the woman that would be his wife for over fifty years. As a young player, he played in the prestigious Windy City League and at Northtown, Welles, Portage, and Riis Parks and at Thillens Stadium and Lane Tech Stadium. He played for the legendary Kool Vent Awnings and was routinely drafted to play in money games and leagues all over the city. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and represented Wright-Patterson Airfield on their baseball, basketball, and football teams. As a baseball player, he played with and against major league players. He was given a tryout with the New Your Giants and was offered a minor-league contract with them, but the small salary was not feasible for the father of two young children. After his discharge from the Army Air Corps, he returned to playing softball in every elite league and tournament all over Chicago. He switched positions to shortstop and played over fifteen years at Clarendon Park from the early '50s until the mid '60s. He was known as the top defensive shortstop at Clarendon. On offense, he was a slashing, line-drive hitter who could place the ball all over the field. He led his teams in batting average and was often at the top or among the top hitters at Clarendon. He played for O'Boyle Transfer, Nicky Branman's (HOF) S&N Jewelers, Lyster's Bakery, the Beetle Bombers, Ryan's Jungle and others. He also played in leagues at Welles Park, at Chicago and Kedzie, at Hamlin and Kelly Parks and other during the '50s and '60s. Softball was four or five nights a week and with the addition of lights, he often played two games a night. Money games and round-robin "jackpot" tournaments filled most Sundays. After one profitable year playing for O'Boyle Transfer, he purchased a mink stole for his wife with the money he earned in money games and tournaments. In the mid to late '60s, he started playing in suburban leagues closer to his home in Mt. Prospect. He played at Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, and Mt. Prospect. In 1968, he was recruited to play for Bob Campbell's Bruins. They went 44-1 in 1969 and advanced to the World Tournament. Shoulder injuries forced him to give-up the game in the early '70s, but true to the nature of a veteran softball player, he was back two years later when he joined his son's team at Kosciuszko, Independence, and Mather Parks and in leagues in Park Ridge. By that time he was in his '50s but still going strong. In 1983 at age sixty-two, he formed a team comprised solely of his relatives. They competed in an open league in Park Ridge. With his brother, sons, sons-in-law, and nephews at his side, Sal won his last championship there in 1985 at age sixty-four. Sal was a student of the game and a mentor to young players and veterans alike. Bob Campbell of the Bruins called him a "softball genius". He was a fierce competitor who understood the game better than any player of his time. He never went to a tavern after a game. Instead, he would sit in the bleachers and talk about the game with players from both sides of the field. The origin of the two-strike-foul-rule is shrouded in mystery and has been credited to many players. George Morse cited Sal as one of the chief reasons for the creation of the rule. One evening he led off a game at Clarendon with fifteen foul balls while his team waited for their tenth man to arrive. Within a few days, the rule was enacted and softball was changed forever. Sal Novello was a great player, a great competitor, and a man who had an impact on the game like few others have. Sal passed away in 1993. He is survived by his widow, Mary, and his children, Donna, Tom, Nancy, Peggy, and Dean.
Al Oziemkowski / Inducted 1998
A 5' 8" centerfielder with good speed, Al Oziemkowski played for the Bonnets before playing for the legendary Bobcats in the 1950s and 60s. As a lead off hitter, he could bunt his way on base but could also hit a long ball. Players of his era showed their respect for his prowess by dubbing him with the nickname of the "Southside Bobby Lamont." After pulling his Achilles tendon and retiring from softball competition, he umpired for several years. Al passed away in 1984. His wife, Alice, lives in Westmont, Illinois.
Bobby Perna / Inducted 1999
Bobby Perna began playing 16" softball when he was fourteen years old in park leagues at Sheridan, Garfield, and Riis. In 1954, after being noticed by some older players, Bobby was asked to play on one of Chicago's great teams - Kool Vent Awnings. He played with Kool Vent off and on for three years. While with Kool Vent, Bobby developed a reputation as a long ball hitter who hit many tape measure home runs. He played outfield and was known for having great speed and a rocket arm. From 1958 to 1960 Bobby played with Interstate Motors, playing against such legendary players and Hall of Fame members as Eddie Zolna, Bobby Lamont, and Tony Reibel. He developed a reputation as a clutch home run hitter in money games. In 1959 Interstate Motors won the Championship at Kells Park on a last inning three run home run by Bobby Perna. At the ripe old age of 21, Bobby decided to retire from softball to pursue his first love - music. He is currently one of Chicago's great jazz musicians, playing local clubs and such national venues as the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. A resident of Schiller Park, Bobby Perna is married to his wife of 39 years, Angie. They have two children, Bobby Jr, and Deanna. They have four grandchildren.
Joseph Pusateri / Inducted 2006
Although Joseph Pusateri was one of those kids who loved sports, he always knew from a young age that baseball was his passion. He was influenced by his stepfather who played baseball as a kid and passed his love for the game on to Joseph by taking him to the park to practice hitting and catching. While he loved playing baseball, his introduction into the game was influenced by another sport - soccer. As a student at Von Steuben High School, he wanted to play football, but was steered to soccer by one of his coaches. After capturing the city championship in soccer, he went on to play soccer with a private team, Hamsa, at the Amphitheater in Chicago. Eventually all of his baseball practice paid off when he landed him a spot on his high school baseball team in his senior year. In 1950 he experienced a moment of mixed emotions when his coach recognized his talents and sent him to Paul Revere Park for a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. They were impressed by his skills but delayed in getting back to him, so Joseph enlisted in the Air Force in the fall of 1950. That following spring his mother received a telegram from the Cubs saying they wanted him to come to Florida, but he had already enlisted in the Air Force. Although he served with pride in the Air Force, he always remembered how he could have possibly played for the Cubs. Once he was discharged from the Air Force, he began a softball career that would last until he was sixty-three years old. He first played for Armanetti Liquors at Chicago and Kedzie. During his 40 - plus year playing career, he played with the Playboys at Clarendon, A&M at Park Ridge, Dole Valve for eighteen years in the Skokie Valley League, Moose Lodge at Franklin Park, Clockwork in Morton Grove and Evanston, Vapor Corp in the Skokie Valley League, GPE Controls (Thillens state champs), A&M (Northbrook Invitational champs), and many other teams. He often played for as many as three teams at a time in leagues all over Chicago and the suburbs until his retirement from softball in 1994 (due to a bad hip). As a center fielder on most of the teams, Joseph Pusateri was known for his sure hands in the outfield. In 1976 he carried a fielding average of .989. Offensively he was a top leadoff hitter who hit a lot of doubles and triples because of his speed and ability to hit to all fields. As recognition of his talents, he was named an allstar player twenty-three times, won eighteen batting titles, and played on teams that won eighty-four championships. In 1976 his thirtyfour game hitting streak with A&M at Park Ridge was one of the best hitting streaks of the year. Joseph Pusateri and his wife, Rosaline, have four children and two grandchildren. They live in Niles, Illinois.
Raymond “Ray-Ray” Ray / Inducted 2011
Raymond “Ray-Ray” Ray
Born in 1937, Raymond Ray grew up on the South side of Chicago at 41st and Dearborn. He was blessed to have a two-parent household with three brothers and three sisters. The neighborhood boys always had a sports hero to look up to and because Raymond was a baseball fanatic, he chose Jackie Robinson. He remembers a quote from Robinson's autobiography, "I Never Had It Made," that said, "I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect." He loved this quote because Raymond was small but was blessed with quick hands and reflexes. Growing up in that neighborhood, (which included 39th Street), young men aspired to play for the Ironmen. Ray became an Ironman and played shortstop with them for the remainder of his twenty-five-plus year softball career. He carries a lifetime batting average over .660, hit more than 110 homeruns, and drove in more than 1000 runners. He won tournament honors in the Southside Cocktail League in 1966 and in the league at 49th and Dorchester from 1967 to 1971. A thirty-two year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, he played shortstop for the 21st District, the 1st District, and the Gang Intelligence Unit softball teams. He retired from softball after a knee replacement, several dislocated fingers, falling arches, and many other ailments. Despite the injuries, he would not have changed a thing because of all the friendships, the fun, and the comradeship he experienced playing softball. Raymond and his wife of fifty-one years, Jametta, live on Chicago's South side. They have two children – David and Pamela, three grandchildren, one greatgrandchild, and two grand dogs.
Pete Rocco / Inducted 2005
Pete Rocco began his 34 year softball career in eighth grade playing on a local team at a school they nicknamed “The Island” around Roosevelt and Austin. He continued playing for local teams all through Austin High School where he also played baseball. He played for Triners Lounge in Cicero and Stickney in 1952 through 1954, winning every league they were in and making the All Star team two years. He then switched to Comfy Tap during the 1955 and 1956 season before he was drafted into the army. Upon his discharge from the army, Pete Rocco teamed up with Hall of Fame member Moose Camillo. They played mainly at Chicago and Kedzie but also ventured into competition at Clarendon, Kelly, and Bellwood Parks. While playing at Chicago and Kedzie, Pete is the only player to hit the CTA building in dead center field with a homerun ball. Pete stayed with Moose Camillo until the team disbanded in 1967. He was part of the famous 1963 game that pitted Camillo against an “All Star” Bobcat team in Melrose Park. Besides Camillo, other Hall of Famers Kenny Green, Johnny Abatacolla, and Jimmy Nallen battled the Bobcats. Pete Rocco played second base and had a couple hits to help Camillo beat the Bobcats. Fans and players estimate that the pot for that game was between $20, 000 and $25, 000. After the breakup of Moose Camillo’s team, Pete played with St. Anthony’s Savings and Loan (later The Cabin) at Berwyn, Cicero, and Lawndale Park from 1967 to 1972. They won their leagues every year, including a big victory at DesPlaines in 1971. Pete then played with Sportsman’s Lounge and Governors Lanes before hooking up with Tony Velacek to form the Sobies, (which later became American Rivet), playing at Clarendon and Kelly Parks. Pete then played with the Steamers in an industrial league, ending his 34 year softball career when his sons started playing sports and he became a spectator. Although he was primarily a third baseman, Pete played nearly all positions except pitcher, finishing his career playing left field. He was a prolific hitter who normally hit in the middle of the lineup. He contributed over 800 homeruns and 4, 000 plus RBIs to the run totals of his teams. For his efforts, he was selected to All Star Teams at leagues in Chicago and Kedzie, Cicero, Berwyn, and Summit. He and his wife, Jennie, live in Lombard, Illinois. Pete is a retired member of Local 731 and works part-time as bus driver for Willowbrook High School. They have two sons, Peter III and Dan, and eight grandchildren.
Christopher William Rocco / Inducted 2012
Christopher William Rocco
Chris Rocco grew up in Chicago, on "The Island"(Austin Boulevard and Roosevelt Road), and was an active player during the Golden Age of Chicago Softball, having begun playing as a youngster in the West side Key Clark school yard with neighborhood boys and his younger brother, Peter Rocco, Jr. (HOF). Chris's career began in the 1940s, playing on at least a half- dozen championship teams, notably Murphy Motors, which won the American championship at Grant Park in 1948 and 1949. Logging in about 300 home runs and batting in over 700 runs in his career, he played in challenging West side leagues, winning many championships, including the 1979 Governor's Lanes team which won the Clyde Park Senior title, featuring the oldest players ever to win that honor, with some players near fifty years of age. In 1952, while working for the Pullman Company in the Merchandise Mart he played on that winning team which took the league's title. Five years later in 1957 the Sportsman team, with four future Hall of Famers, won the Garfield Park Senior title. In 1959, Song Lounge, with Chris and younger brother, Peter, together with a total of seven future Hall of Famers, won the Senior Softball League title at Garfield Park. Chris also played for Raytheon, a team that included Tony Reibel (HOF), when both worked at the Merchandise Mart. Chris later played for Comfy Tap. In 1972 Chris was on the Governor's Lanes championship team, which took the Clyde Park Senior title. Chris played second and third base in leagues in Cicero, Oak Park, Chicago Park District, La Fayette Park, Chicago and Kedzie league. Before his retirement from softball in 1979, Chris played in these locations: Chicago Park District - early 1950s; Comfy Tap, mid-1950s, Chicago & Kedzie League; Moose Camillo's team after 1956 until early 1960s; Oak Park League - late 1960s; Governor's Lanes - late 1970s; Cicero League - early years and 1970s. At the time of his death, December 1997, Chris was with the Cicero Police Department. His parents, Peter and Della Rocco predeceased him. He is survived by his siblings, Christine Rocco, Peter and his wife, Jennie Rocco; Angela Rocco DeCarlo, and her husband Dan DeCarlo. Christine and Jennie have since passed away. He has five nephews: Peter and Dan Rocco, Mark, Michael and Dan De Carlo. They continue the family tradition of being avid baseball players. Peter spoke for himself and Chris when he stated, "We played for the love of the game. "Softball and baseball are sports players can continue to play for most of their lives if they wish". They are demanding but ultimately uplifting sport.
John Salovitch / Inducted 2005
Players who played against and with John Salovitch remember him as an imposing right-handed hitter who could hit to all fields for average and power. He played first base with the Kenneth Allen team in the first world tournament finals in 1964 and 1965. He also played first base with a number of other top softball teams at Clarendon, Kells, Kosciusko and other parks in the Chicago area. The Hall Of Fame has lost touch with John Salovitch. We would appreciate any contact information
Charlie Serpe / Inducted 1996
Announcers Bob Elson and Bert Wilson called him "Mr.Softball". He played on the '41 Witt Hanley Yankee, Midland Motors 1948, and Kool Vent '49 championship teams in the Windy City League as centerfielder. Great speed and defensive skills and cannon arm. One of the great players of post-war era. He was rumored to have been late for his own wedding in order to play a softball money game. A very big money player who was always up to the task in the big games. AllStar on '48 team. Born 1925 Since Deceased.
Ted “Todge” Tomczak / Inducted 2001
Ted “Todge” Tomczak
One of the best shortstops of the era, Ted Tomczak played on a variety of top teams including the Dunne Cones, the 1025 Club, Bennetts, Tracys, Ted Reese and Jim Roses. In 1945, Ted, with the 1025 Club, won 81 games against only 8 losses. In addition to his prowess at shortstop, Tomczak's 550 lifetime batting average and clutch hitting made him one of the top softball players of his era. In 2000, Ted had three children; Beverly, Barbara and Bonnie and lived in Chicago.
Louis S. Vine, Jr / Inducted 2011
Louis S. Vine, Jr
Louis attended Crane Technical High School. He played organized softball from 1950 to 1958 at Garfield Park. He also played industrial softball for Dole Valve where he was an employee. He played with the Golden Keys at Kels Park at Chicago and Kedzie from 1958 to 1959. He then joined the Beetle Bombers with Ron Brasch (HOF) as manager for a seven – year stretch from 1960 to 1967. From 1967 to 1972 he played for the Rogues/ Blues with Vito Maggerise (HOF) as manager. He retired from softball in 1972 after the Rogues/Blues disbanded. During his playing days, he enjoyed many highlights. He played for the Beetle Bombers in the first world championship that was sponsored by Alderman Kenneth Allen. The game was televised from Thillens Stadium. They finished second to the famed Bobcats. He played in the perfect game tossed by Lewa Yacilla (HOF) and played on the Daddy O'Daily Travelling All-Star team. From 1964 to 1966, the Beetle Bombers won the Alderman John Marshcin Tournament. He also helped the Rogues win the Evanston tournament. He hit an estimated 200 homeruns and during his industrial career batted over .600 and led the A/B league in hitting six times. He was one of the best centerfielders of his day and was nicknamed "the Claw" by teammate Ed Mulligan (HOF) because of his ability to hang on to any ball that touched his hands. He once played over 100 games without making a single error. Lou was such a standout fielder that when he played for other Major teams, they would often move their regular centerfielder to a corner outfield position. Besides playing softball, he was a standout amateur boxer and bowler. He has three A.B.C. sanctioned 300 games and carries a career average over 200. He and his wife, Patricia, have been married for forty years. They have five children: Lorrie, Karen, Susan, Louis III, and Cheryl (deceased) and many grandchildren. He retired from Teamsters Local 705 in 2005 after thirty-five years of employment. He lives on Chicago's Northwest side and enjoys playing table tennis and walking his rescue dog, Bianca. He also advises his son's sixteen-inch softball team.
George “Wags” Wagner / Inducted 2003
George “Wags” Wagner
"It was a great time for a great sport." Before there were batting averages, homerun stats, on base percentages, and national championships, there were money games. Some were big and some were small. League play was only a game during the week with a factory or an office team because the top players wanted to save their energy for the weekend money games. George Wagner played in a lot of weekend money games. George Wagner began his softball career at 51st and Union, playing many times in front of 3,000 to 4,000 spectators. Before his retirement many years later, Wagner would play with and against some of softball's great players. When playing for the Leo XIII Council, he locked horns with the legendary pitcher Lewa Yacilla, managing four hits off him in a losing effort. From 1949 to 1951 Wagner played with the original Bobcats, managed by Piccalo O'Halleran. They competed against Starlight Club, East Side Trojans, the Bill Bonnetts, and Weinbergs at Gill Stadium and Northtown. After serving in the Army for two years, George Wagner joined the Daley Hamburgs where he played with Zeke Ireland and Lefty Hunt. Many times in such a competitive arena, he would meet that night's teammates as he was warming up. During that era, money games were the place to be. Starting out in smaller games, the best players of that time moved into Sunday pot games with the top fifteen players playing with various teams under various names. George Wagner played shortstop and shortcenter. He batted third with most of his teams and was well known as a line drive hitter who favored left and right center. He retired from active playing in 1958. George Wagner retired from the Board of Trade after fifty years of service (for 25 years he owned a seat on the Board of Trade). He and his wife, Kate have four children, Susan, Ann, Kathy, and Edward.
Ed Whitman / Inducted 2004
Ed Whitman’s softball career began in 1946 when he was an eighth grader at Blaine School in Chicago. When he entered Lake View High School (where he played baseball, basketball, and football), he began playing in money games with Allen Edmond Shoes. The older guys who could drive cars would pick him up and would give him ten dollars if their team won. At seventeen he started playing in some big games at Chase Park against a team lead by Willie Phillips who was playing Windy City ball. In 1949 Ed Whitman began a 24-year career at Clarendon Park ( except for the years from 1952 to 1954 when he served in the Army, playing football and basketball at Fort Riley, Kansas). When he returned from the Army, he resumed his playing days at Clarendon Park during what many softball historians consider the Golden Days of softball. During the 50s and 60s Clarendon softball attracted crowds of 2,000 people each night. At Clarendon Ed Whitman played with Piano Tap Tavern, Bettlebomb’s, and O’Boyle Transfer. In 1955 Piano Tap won the championship at Clarendon. Besides his playing days at Clarendon Park, Ed Whitman was recruited to play in the Daddy-O-Daly League, he played in the first softball World Series in 1964, losing to the Bobcats, and once hit five homeruns off the legendary pitcher Lewa Yacilla at Thillen’s Stadium in a game they won 29-22. He played at Trumbolt Park for fifteen years, played with Lyons 45s, and was selected to a Clarendon Park all star team. His greatest softball memory is getting the winning hit off Eddie Zolna to win the Portage Park championship in 1973. Ed Whitman played second base and right field but during money games would often switch to catcher. He was known for having a great arm and for having a rare understanding of the game. In his early playing days he was a pull hitter who eventually learned to hit to all fields. Perhaps the greatest compliment to Ed Whitman’s playing ability occurred when he was 53 and was asked by an eighteen year old to play at Clarendon. Ed and his wife, Margaret, live in Chicago. They have two daughters, Katie and Clare.
Gerald “Jerry” Witry / Inducted 2006
Gerald “Jerry” Witry
After graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1947 where he was named an All-Catholic all-star in football, Jerry went on to Loras College to do more of the same. In fact, as a freshman, he caught the first pass ever thrown to him for a touchdown. That year he helped lead Loras to a perfect 8-0 record, playing both ways on offense and defense and earning Little All-American honors. After graduation, he signed a contract with the Chicago Cardinals, but illness forced him to miss that season. The next year he had a tryout with the Dallas Texans but was cut on the final roster move. While he played football in the fall, his summers were spent playing softball. He started with the Dodgers in Sherman Park and later joined the Dice Box, also at Sherman. Later he started playing in organized leagues with Jimmy Roses (59th and Damen) and the Bombers (Palmer Park). As he played more in leagues around the Chicagoland area, his powerful physique caught the attention of many “money” clubs. He played first base for the Thirty Kings Zolna’s Cats (at 47th and Damen), Grobe Realty, Beverly Lounge (Dawes Park), Fairway Lounge, the Spartans (Bidwell Park and Clarendon Park), and he was a starring player in the Daddy-O-Dailey League with Hall of Fame inductees Sweetwater Clifton, Bob Hobson, Whitey Johnston and Jerry Dowling. During his playing career, Jerry Witry played on ten championship teams and won nearly all of the sixty-plus round robin winner take all tournaments. He knew what it was like to start playing at 9:00 am and finish at 7:30 pm in Labor Day tournaments at 103rd and Bensley. Besides playing for and against some of the great teams of softball, Jerry also played against and earned the respect of some of softball’s greatest players, including Sweetwater Clifton, Ed Zolna, Bob Hobson, and the Dowling Brothers, to name a few. He was known for being able to hit the long ball (over 600 homeruns) and the sharp line drive through the infield. As a first baseman and short center, his defensive skills were such that he earned the nickname of “Hands”; in fact, many teammates can’t remember him ever dropping a ball. Gerald worked for Westinghouse Electric Supply and retired from National Cash Register. He and his wife owned a Henry’s Drive - In at 79th and Cicero for five years. He and his wife, Joan Marie, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Edward Zaitz / Inducted 2001
A lifetime batting average of over 600, and his thousand plus homeruns place Edward Zaitz among the great softball hitters of all time. Zaitz began his softball career in 1947 at the age of fifteen, playing for the S&S Bobcats as well as with Swift and Company. In addition to having the ability to play most field positions, Zaitz also achieved an impressive pitching record of 35 and 15. His pitching and batting prowess earned him Most Valuable Player recognition in the Swift and Company League in 1949, the Geske Tournament in 1964 and at the Lake County Tournament. He was instrumental in winning league and tournament championships with the Dr. Carlucci Clowns (two league championships), Mouldy's Tavern (one tournament and one league title), Tenth Inning Tavern (two league titles), Lakeland (one league and one tournament title) and Antioch State Bank (five league titles). Ed has also played on State Championship teams in Wisconsin as well as Illinois. The lure of the Bobcats eventually called him back and he played with them from 1957 to 1961, when he moved to Wisconsin. In 2001, Ed Zaitz lived in Trevor, Wisconsin with his wife Joan. They have two children; Edward and David, and two grandchildren.
Stan “Rabbits” Zajac / Inducted 2000
Stan “Rabbits” Zajac
Stan Zajac began his 16" softball career at the age of sixteen as a left fielder with the Rabbits at Douglas Park. Zajac also played with the Second Federal League, the Spartans, and the Rocky Stars, who were managed by Hall of Famer and legendary manager Frank Holan. When the Rocky Stars and Capital Federals were dissolved, Stan Zajac joined his friend, Hall of Famer Gene Hrabek, as they headed for Ed Zolna's Bobcats. After a stint in the Army, beginning in November of 1958, "Rabbits" rejoined the Bobcats in 1961. He played with them until 1963, when an elbow injury he received in the Army forced him to retire. Stan Zajac worked for Sears Roebuck and Company for thirty years, attaining a managerial position and retiring from there in 1990. In 2000 he resided on the south side of Chicago, still enjoying softball games in Hodgkins and Cicero.