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Chicago Sixteen Inch Hall of Fame

Ground Breaking Ceremony

Dignitaries preparing to turn the first shovel at the Chicago 16" Hall of Fame

Forest Park: The Chicago Sixteen Inch Hall of Fame held a ground breaking ceremony for its outdoor park and exhibit on Saturday April 4, 2009 at the intersection of Harrison Street & Des Plaines Avenue in Forest Park, George Bliss serviced as the Master of Ceremonies for the occasion.

Bliss opened the proceedings by welcoming the more than one hundred people who gathered to witness this historic moment in Chicago Sixteen Inch softball history. Bliss than introduced all the dignitaries from the Village of Forest Park, the Forest Park, Parks and Recreation Department’s Executive Board, the architects that will be building this phase of the Chicago Sixteen Inch hall of Fame and the Chicago Sixteen Inch Hall of Fame Executive Committee.

First to speak was Chicago Sixteen Inch Hall of Fame President Gary Thorsen who said, “This has been a long, long time coming and I really can’t believe that it is happening.” Thorsen went on to say, If it wasn’t for the founders, Al Maag, Tony Reibel we really wouldn’t be here today.”

Thorsen closed by bring Ray Topps to the podium. Topps a contractor by trade explained the design to the gathering with the help of an architectural drawing. Topps close by saying, “I’d like to thank everybody…this is a dream come true for everybody that has ever played this game. It is something that will never go away and we look forward to not only finishing this but to starting on the museum building.”

Thorsen acknowledged Fritz Zimmerman who generous donation has changes the planned phase one from a dream of the Chicago Sixteen Inch Hall of Fame concept into a reality.

Mayor Calderone was introduce by Bliss next and in his remarks he said, “The Village of Forest Park is grateful to the park district for many years ago having the vision to open the parks here to the ’No Glove’ softball here. It has truly turned out to be I think the gem of our village. As a village were honored to ultimately be home to the “Softball Hall of Fame’ and that has happened because we have such a great, great park district.”

Bliss introduced the Forest Park, Park District President, Bud Boy who said, “I have spent four years watch the best of sixteen inch softball from my vantage point from across the street. To have players teams and umpires honored at the site where they played their best is a great thing for our village and our park district.”

Bliss introduced Art Lurie next and Lurie who presented a plaque to Larry Piekarz the Forest Park, Park District Executive Director on behalf of the Chicago Sixteen Inch Hall of Fame to honor the Forest Park, Park District and give the appreciation of everyone of the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame.

The mornings program closed with the official ground breaking by Forest Park officials and the Executive Board of the Hall of Fame. Afterward all Hall of Fame inductee’s that were present also took a turn at helping with the ground breaking of their hall of fame.

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