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Chicago 16'' Softball Hall of Fame Induction Dinner to be Held Saturday, Jan. 26

By George Bliss

CHICAGO: The Chicago 16" Softball Hall of Fame announced its 12th annual list of inductees and honorees today. The list includes some of the best male and female athletes in the sport since the 1920s, when the sport began to take off in Chicago.

This year's dinner event will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Hawthorne Park Race Track in Cicero, Ill. "The voting gets tougher and tougher each year because the competition is so equal, but these stars of Chicago are another superb class to honor," stated Gary Thorsen, president of the Hall of Fame.

Co-founder of the Hall of Fame Al Maag said, "Over 600 people are expected to attend the HOF awards event again at Hawthorne Park Race Track. It is always a wonderful night to congratulate the winners and network with past friends, teammates and competitors. In my opinion, one of the best managers in history who led the 45's, one of the best teams in today’s era, Bob Racsia will be honored. We will also honor Frank Mustari, possibly the best shortstop ever."

Besides these men, this year's class of inductees include:

The Pioneer era representatives include such legendary players as catcher, umpire, and manager, Floyd Berrien; Gene Mozdzierz, a shortstop who played on Chicago's Northwest side; and Roy Kindt, the organizer of the legendary Lyon's 45's.

The 1950-63 era representative is Gil Muratori, a six-time MVP who played with Kenneth Allen and the Chicago Daily News/Sun Times team. He also provided televised color commentary with Tim Weigel, Greg Gumbel, and Mike Royko at the Windy City championships.

The 1964-79 era will honor inductees Paul Gunther, who played with the legendary Sobies/American Rivet teams; Jim Mikuta, who played with the Bobcats, the Sobies, and Rush Street powerhouse, Butch McGuires; Dennis Wallace, the great left-handed hitter with the Senators and the Flamingoes; and John Ben Rossi, long-time player with Beetle Bomb and the Loafers.

The new 1980-92 inductees are Clayton Jones, the sure-handed shortstop of the Safari Tigers; Jim Kraus, an MVP player with the Whips; and Mark Wilson, the 7-time All-American with the Whips and Men from Uncle.

1993-Current inductees feature Jerry Rhea, the outfielder/infielder with the 45's, March Manufacturing, and Red Dog; Pat Heraty, who helped the 45's win many of their national titles; and Frank Mustari, perhaps the greatest shortstop of the game.

Umpires: Jim Ancanfora, the umpire inductee, has officiated at 11 national tournaments, 19 state tournaments, and seven Forest Park Tournaments. Paul Frerking played with the Bobcats, Whips, and Sportstation before beginning a 20-year officiating career.

Holan Award: Jayne Zolna, the long-time friend of softball, will receive this award for her efforts at improving this great game.

Women: Kim Panozzo, the legendary third baseman for the Bidayo's; and Pat Pasko, the coach and player for the Slo-Pokes, will be honored in the Women's category.

Mayor Richard J. Daley Award: John Garvin, long-time supporter of softball teams and founder of Garv-Inn, will receive the Daley Award. Unfortunately, John passed away in 1990, so he will he honored posthumously.

Organizer: George Schaaf will be honored for his 35-year career of playing for and organizing teams around the southwest suburbs of Chicago. He also built the Windy City Stadium in Bridgeview.

Manager: Bob Racsia, one of the best managers in history who led the 45's, one of the best teams in today’s era and current national champions, will be honored.

Wall of Fame: John Barrett will be honored for his 36-year record of playing for and coaching the Aces, a Northwest-side team.

Teams: The Slo-Pokes were one of the most competitive women's teams during the late '70s in Chicago. The Rizza Rockers played in numerous "A" and Major Nationals, and captured tournament titles during the '80s and '90s. The Daily News/Sun Times team, co-founded by Pulitzer Prize winning author Mike Royko, has battled on Chicago's softball diamonds for the past 30 years.

The Chicago 16” Softball Hall of Fame is the premier organization for supporting and recognizing the game of 16” softball since 1996.

Tickets are $55 and are available by calling 630-232-7996. Tickets can also be bought at the door, however, advance reservations are preferred.

For Chicago 16" Softball Hall of Fame
DeBat Media
Don DeBat, 312-944-1177
Al Maag, 602-363-6038
Bill Wadington, 630-852-8817


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