CHICAGO-After a decade-long site search, The Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame finally has found a home for its museum and inductee park in west suburban Forest Park, IL.
“Our decade-long search has ended, thanks to the support of the park officials and commissioners of Forest Park,” said Al Maag, co-founder of the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame (HOF).
A sneak preview of the 1,400-square-foot future museum building and adjacent inductee park site, located on the corner of Harrison St. and Des Plaines Ave. in Forest Park, will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 19th, Magg said.
The event will launch formal fund-raising to pay for renovation of the building and the Hall of Fame site.
“The Forest Park location has many assets, such as being next to the ‘Wrigley Field’ of 16-inch softball. And, the No-Glove National Tournament-attended by thousands of fans-is held here every July,” Magg said.
Since 1996, more than 300 individuals and teams have been inducted or honored annually into the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame in men’s and women’s players, umpire, organizer, manager, team, and supporter categories.
The rarely-used existing building on the site will be donated and used as the museum to showcase the game’s history and importance to Chicago.
The Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame will pay for all upgrades through donations and private fund-raising efforts. The park will display the plaques of each inductee.
The building committee is led by HOF board members Ron Kubicki and Ray Topps, Jr.
“Ron Kubicki and I have had the help of architects from FMG and Sigalos and Associates, and three design bids for the museum and park design has yet to be finalized, but current plans by 3D Exhibits will be our initial design winner,” Topps noted.
“One unique factor in this program is that so many softball players are in the construction business and some will be our craftsmen,” Kubicki said. “We have been offered materials and the time and talent of many volunteers. Due to that fact we are not positive what the cost will be but we are budgeting $500,000.”
Forest Park Director Larry Piekarz added: “This is so wonderful because it represents an upgrade to our park program. Once the old building is renovated it will be a jewel in our park complex and will provide educational value to thousands of children, Forest Park citizens, and visitors.”
“It’s an honor for our city to be an integral part of this tribute to the greatest players of Chicago’s great game,” said Howard “Bud” Boy, president of the Park District of Forest Park board. “The Hall of Fame will be a destination of choice for our citizens and guests. They will love it.”
According to HOF board member Art Lurie, the museum and park will be “a labor of love” to finalize and bring to the public the game’s history, which threads through generations of Chicago families.
“Stories of inductees and honorees such as: Mike Royko, Sweetwater Clifton, Ed Zolna, Mary Pat McGuire, Rich Melman, Mel Thillens, Bob Sirott, Mike North and Tony Reibel will be among those told,” Lurie said.
“It is our intention to describe how the game of softball was invented here in 1887, how balls and bats are made, display uniforms, the different eras and styles of the game’s evolution, and Forest Park’s impact on the game since 1933,” Lurie said. “And all the inductee plaques will be exhibited outside so anyone interested can see them anytime.”
“Our committee is looking for memorabilia and donations to raise money for the museum, starting today online, and also will be showing our plans at the Forest Park 40th No-Glove Nationals,” said HOF president, Gary Thorsen.
“We are expecting our committees and inductees to start the building fund effort, but our new association management firm, Landon, Farrey & Associates, will also be helping us raise the funds through sponsorships, too,” Thorsen said. “3D Exhibits has also offered to tag and warehouse all the memorabilia, which will be a huge task. It will be a long journey and we will need a big grass roots effort to accomplish the task.”
The Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame (HOF) was formed in 1996 to promote the great Chicago game that was born in Windy City by honoring and recognizing the sport’s best players, umpires, teams and supporters.
For more information, please call 630-554-5049. To donate on-line to the Hall of Fame museum and inductee park, visit our donate page.