The National Softball Hall of Fame is the ultimate goal for any player, coach, umpire or administrator who aspire to greatness in the sport. With over 400 inductees, the National Softball Hall of Fame is among the most difficult sports halls in the nation in which to gain membership.
Take a moment to browse through the Hall of Fame section and learn more about some of the sport’s greatest athletes and their accomplishments. If you get a chance to visit us in person while in Oklahoma City, please observe these hours of operation:
The Hall of Fame and Museum does not charge, but donations are greatly appreciated and accepted. Your donations help keep this history of softball alive through exhibit updates, upkeep and restoration projects.
The National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum was established in 1957. Once USA Softball moved to Oklahoma City January 1, 1966 after having its offices in Newark, NJ, the decision to establish a Hall of Fame Building in Oklahoma City was made in January of 1965. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Hall of Fame were held December 19, 1970 in Oklahoma City. The late John Nagy, former Cleveland Metro commissioner, was USA Softball President at that time. Hall of Famers Harold (Shifty) Gears and Carolyn Thome Hart were among those attending the ceremonies.
The National Softball Hall of Fame was officially dedicated May 26, 1973 in Oklahoma City. The building was opened to the public July 1, 1973.
The first of two additions to the National Softball Hall of Fame/USA Softball Headquarters was started July 5, 1976 and completed July 13, 1977 for an additional 4,350 square feet of space. Dedication ceremonies for the expansion were held July 23, 1977. Counting the National Softball Hall of Fame/USA Softball Headquarters and the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex, there is 28,406 square feet of space.
A second expansion was added July of 1980 for an additional 5,182 square feet of space, with total footage 18,140 square feet of space.
The National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum has over 400 members with two categories of membership: players and non players. Within the player category, there are five categories: Men’s/Women’s Fast Pitch, Men’s/Women’s Slow Pitch and Modified Pitch. Within the non player category, there are five different divisions one can be nominated in: Commissioner, Meritorious Service, Umpire, Managers and Sponsors. A nominee needs 75 percent (nine votes) of the votes cast by the 12 member Hall of Fame Committee to be elected. Annual inductions are held at the USA Softball Annual Meeting.
Through our vast collection of artifacts, the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum strives to educate the public about softball’s rich history. Your support is critical to these efforts.
The Hall of Fame Donation Fund was established to ensure that the National Softball Hall of Fame has a future and is committed to educating people about the great former players and non players and the role they played in the development of the sport.
Your tax-deductible contribution helps the National Softball Hall of Fame continue its mission of educating, collecting and honoring as well as the preservation of the history of softball, the maintaining of present exhibits and purchase of new exhibits and possible expansion of the Hall of Fame building.
Due to the volume of offers we receive, we cannot accept the donation of an artifact without a completed artifact description form. Please see our Mission Statement and Collections Management Policy to see what types of objects we will and will not accept. Once we have received your form, our staff will evaluate the object’s potential and will be in contact with you as to whether or not we will be able to accept the donation. If your object is chosen, the donated material will be recommended to the Executive Director for consideration. Following the meeting a staff member will contact you regarding the next steps.
- National Softball Hall of Fame 1950’s
- National Softball Hall of Fame 1960’s
- National Softball Hall of Fame 1970’s
- National Softball Hall of Fame 1980’s
- National Softball Hall of Fame 1990’s
- National Softball Hall of Fame 2000’s
- National Softball Hall of Fame 2010’s
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1960
Warren “Fireball” Gerber, Columbus, Ohio – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
Ohio has had its share of outstanding fast pitch hurlers and among the best was Warren (Fireball) Gerber, who won 608 games and lost only 93 during a 17 year career. In ASA national championship play, Gerber fashioned a 7-3 record and hurled 50 no-hitters and four perfect games. He compiled a 40-1 record for Ferguson Auditors of Columbus, OH in 1939, and hurled the team to a third place in the national championship five years later. In 1945, he hurled three no-hitters in a row in leading Allmen Transfer to city and metro titles and in 1946 pitched his team to a sixth place in the ASA national tournament. In 1937, Gerber and former Columbus, OH State Auditor star pitcher Ralph Solt went 17 innings with Solt winning 1-0. Solt fanned 26, Gerber 25. Gerber walked one and Solt nine in the 2:30 minute marathon. Gerber, who retired from active play in 1952, was honored June 28, 1960 with Warren Gerber Day proclaimed in Cleveland, OH. Gerber came to Cleveland in 1943 and first worked for Midland Steel. Later, he joined J. Schrader Company as office manager before moving up to secretary-treasurer at the time of his death, September 18, 1964, following a heart heart. He was 43. He also is a member of the Cleveland Metro Hall of Fame.
Nina Korgan, Omaha, Nebraska – Women’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
When Nina “Tiger” Korgan joined a local softball team after her high school graduation in Council Bluffs, IA, only one position was vacant—pitcher, because she got the date mixed up and almost missed practice. That move turned out to be one of the best in her career, which spanned the period 1934-1949 and earmarked her as one of the top pitchers of that era. Korgan won 49 of 40 games her first year and during a 14-year period (1934-1948), she played on six ASA national championship teams, five with the famed New Orleans, LA Jax and one with the Higgins Midgets of Tulsa, OK (1941). The 1941 national tournament with the Midgets turned out to be one of the best of her career. Korgan fanned 67 batters in 30 innings and hurled four shutouts and had a perfect game with 20 strikeouts in another game. She allowed only five hits in the four games. Korgan extended her scoreless inning streak to 67 innings in the 1942 ASA national tourney in her first year with New Orleans before it was ended in the seventh inning of the championship game in Detroit, MI. Nina won four games in that tourney with three of them one-hitters. Korgan continued to play for the Jax until retiring in 1949. She worked for the Jackson Brewing Company until retiring in 1978. Korgan passed away on July 19, 2009.
Clarence “Buck” Miller – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
Clarence “Buck” Miller intended to be a baseball pitcher, but wound up instead as one of the all-time great fast pitch pitchers in a career that started in 1940 and ended in 1957. A four-time ASA All-America, Miller hurled for Standard Parts of Memphis, TN, and was a first-team selection in 1948, 1952 and 1954 and a second-team selection in 1955. In 1948, Miller had one of his finest seasons, winning four games in the regional with three of the wins no-hitters and striking out 78 batters in 34 innings. In the national tourney, he recorded five shutouts between an opening 7-0 loss and a 1-0 defeat in the finals to champion Briggs Beautyware of Detroit, MI. Miller had defeated Briggs in the semis, 2-0, to end their 42 game win streak, then allowed only three hits in the finals while his team was blanked. Miller finished the tourney with 101 strikeouts. In 1952, Miller was 3-2 in the national tourney with an ERA of 0.48 with 55 strikeouts in 44 innings. In 1954, he logged a 3-1 record with 59 strikeouts in 36 innings. In 1955, he fanned 41 batters in 24 innings in splitting four games. Miller retired from the Buckeyte Tellulose Corporation in 1977. He was born July 25, 1923. He also is a member of the Memphis Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Jim Ramage, Paducah, Kentucky – Men’s Fast Pitch – Shortstop
Called by his manager, Bernie Kampschmidt, “the best shortstop I’d seen play the game of fast pitch,” Jim “Boogie” Ramage was a member of four ASA national championship teams, including three with Fort Wayne (1945-47) and one with the Nick Carr Boosters of Covington, KY (1939).Although 5-foot-7 inches tall and weighing around 160 pounds, Ramage had a quick, strong arm to go along with his solid hitting. He started playing softball in 1937 and was originally an outfielder before switching to shortstop for the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. When the Pistons played in the National Fastball League, Ramage held five of the league’s 10 offensive records. In 1947, he batted .285 to lead the league in batting as well as total bases (102), runs scored (42) and hits (67). In 1948, he won the league’s batting crown again, (.268). In 1949, he batted .298 and hit nine homers and 16 doubles. In 1950, he smashed 15 homers, the highest of his career, and followed with a .316 average in 1952 and a .323 average in 1954, the last year of the Pistons. Ramage had one of the greatest thrills of his career in 1946, hitting three homers in a game in the national tourney. That year the Pistons outscored the opposition, 26-1, en route to the title. In 1942, he batted .294 and drove in five runs as the Pistons finished runner-up, losing to the Deep Rock Oilers of Tulsa, OK, 2-0. Ramage remained an employee after the team disbanded and worked 42 years. Ramage passed away December 6, 1993 at age 73. Ramage, who joined the Pistons after the 1940 season, remained with them until the team disbanded after the 1954 season. He did remain, however, as an employee and worked for the company for 42 years. He passed away December 6th, 1993. He was 73. He was born in Paducah, KY and moved to Covington, KY when he was just a year old.
Ruth Sears, Taber, Alberta – Women’s Fast Pitch – First Base
One of the finest fielding left-handed first baseman in women’s fast pitch, Ruth “Lefty” Sears’ fast pitch career spanned 1936-1955 with all part one season, 1948, spent with the renowned Orange, CA Lionettes. Ruth was one of the original Lionettes when the team was formed in 1937 and batted .585 with the team in 1938. In 1936 she batted .560 playing for Santa Ana, CA. Four times Sears was named an ASA All-American (1950, 1951, 1953 and 1954) and she participated in seven national championships. In six of those championships she had a .984 fielding percentage with 185 putouts, one assist and only three errors. She batted .363 between 1950-1955 with 41 hits in 149 at-bats in national championship play. Ruth’s first All-American selection in 1950 was a memorable one. Not only did she score the winning run in the championship game, but she batted .393 with 11 hits in 28 at-bats, which was fourth highest in the tourney. She followed with a .350 average in 1951 and a .343 average in 1953. Between 1949-1955 Ruth helped coach the team with her husband, Leroy “Chub” Sears. Winning that championship was, according to Ruth, her “greatest thrill in softball.” She retired June 1,1973 after working 22 1/2 years as executive secretary to the superintendent of the San Joaquin School District. Ruth was born August 23, 1917 in Taber, Alberta, Canada and passed away March 20, 2001 at age 83.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1961
When John Baker hurled a pitch, the ball looked like it had been shot out of a cannon. So Baker naturally was called “Cannonball” during his impressive 26 year career which ended in 1953. By then Baker had played in four ASA national championships, compiling a 6-2 record and won 780 games and lost only 120. He fanned more than 10, 000 batters and hurled 58 no-hitters. The first Connecticut softball player elected to the Hall of Fame, Baker was born October 30, 1912 and started playing softball at 11. By 21 he had become one of the top pitchers in his hometown of Milwaukee, WI. In 1934, Baker received and accepted an invitation to play for Westport, CT in the ASA national tournament in Chicago. Baker went 2-1 and was invited to go East. He never left. In a 1937 charity game, Baker fanned the legendary baseball slugger Babe Ruth. Ruth said to the catcher, “If you’re catching those, you might as well catch them in front of the plate because I can’t hit them.” Baker died December 27, 1997 at age 85.
Ben Crain, Sloan, Iowa – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
Crain pitched either right-handed or left-handed in almost 1,000 games during his career from 1928-1951, winning 85 percent of them with at least 100 no-hitters. He also was a good hitter and averaged 20 homers per year with a total of more than 300 for his career. Crain, who was a member of every Omaha All-City team from 1935-1949, played in 10 ASA national championships winning four games. Born in Sloan, Iowa November 4, 1910, Crain moved to Iowa City, IA at age 11. In 1931 he moved to Omaha. Before retiring, Crain was self-employed in the real estate and insurance business. He also is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame and the Omaha ASA Hall of Fame. Crain passed away March 10, 1986. He was 75.
Hughie Johnston, Detroit, Michigan – Men’s Fast Pitch – First Base
Rated one of the best left-handed hitters of all-time, Hughie Johnston was born March 14, 1916 in Belfast, Ireland before he moved to Canada with his family when he was eight. The family lived briefly in Canada before moving to Detroit. Johnson started playing softball in 1933 with Burr-Patterson before joining Briggs Beautyware in 1938-1941. In 1942, Johnston joined the famed Fort Wayne, IN Zollner Pistons and remained with them until they disbanded in 1954. Difficult to strike out, Johnston was named MVP of the 1945 ASA national championship as the Pistons won their first of three titles in a row. Johnston was named to the Eastern Division All-Stars of the National Fastball League from 1946-1949 and hit 11 homers and drove home 50 runs in 1949. In 1947, he hit the first homer out of the new Zollner Stadium, a 260-foot blast. He batted .309 in 1950, .326 in 1951, .340 in 1952 and .317 in 1954. An intense player, Johnston never struck out more than 10 times a season and was always putting stress on the opposition and would even often tag the base runners hard. When asked why, Johnston said, I once tagged a runner in the usual way and the umpire called him safe. I made up my mind then if the umpire does not see it, he’s going to hear it. Johnston passed away on September 21, 2005.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1962
There were no inductees into the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1962. We will try to find out why this happened.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1963
John Hunter, Nashville, Tennessee – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
John Hunter’s debut as a softball pitcher wasn’t one a pitcher would like to remember. In fact, Hunter, then 14, got beat 22-1 pitching at Fort Negley Diamonds in Nashville, TN. Hunter more than made up for his inauspicious debut in becoming one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all-time. After starting his career in 1940, Hunter led Nashville teams to city championships in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946 and 1948 and to state championships in 1943-1944. In 1950, Hunter joined the famed Clearwater, FL Bombers and achieved a record of 41-2, including winning two games and striking out 29 in the national championship. He helped Clearwater win the national title, the first of 10 titles won by the Bombers. About winning the national title, Hunter said, “Yes, we expected to win it. But no one else expected us too. It was particularly good for me because it was my first year with the team.” In ASA national championship play, Hunter lost only three of 23 games, striking out 236 batters. Three times he was named the tourney MVP (1951, 1953 and 1955) and five times was named an ASA All-American. Hunter died November 7, 2000 at age 75 in Clearwater, FL. During his career with the Bombers Hunter won 275 games and lost only 19 before hip and back problems forced him to retire after the 1958 season after helping the Bombers win four national titles and place runner-up four other times. Hunter posted a 26-2 record that season. Hunter passed away November 7th, 2000 at age 75.
Byron Eugene Martin, Newark, New Jersey – Meritorious Service
The first non-player elected to the ASA Hall of Fame, Eugene Byron Martin served softball in different capacities before becoming ASA executive secretary-treasurer in 1949 and serving until 1962. Before succeeding Michael J. Pauley as the ASA’s CEO, Martin served as New Jersey state commissioner and Eastern vice-president. Martin was named treasurer in 1945 before being elected to the combined post of executive secretary-treasurer in 1949. A native of Kokomo, IN, Martin played football and basketball at Indiana University, majoring in commerce and finance. He also promoted college basketball and boxing for four years at the National Guard Armory in Indianapolis. As executive-secretary-treasurer of the ASA, Martin traveled thousands of miles promoting softball in the United States as well as internationally. He was a member of President Eisenhower’s People-to-People Committee and the AAU Board of Governors. Martin initiated many softball programs, including National Softball Week in 1951 and the Men’s and Women’s Major Fast Pitch All-Star Series. On July 14, 1962, Martin died-a victim of cancer. He was 56 years-old.
Kay Rich, Los Angeles, California – Women’s Fast Pitch – Shortstop
It didn’t matter to Kay Rich if opposing pitchers were throwing from 35 feet or 38 feet. She would get her share of hits and hit for a high average during a brilliant 21-year career that established her as one of the greatest all-around players in softball history. Rich starred in an era when high average hitters were rather the exception instead of the rule. Except if you were Rich, who batted .400 or higher three times in ASA national championship play and in the 1955 national tourney hit an eye-popping .611, including 10 hits and 10 RBIs. Between 1949 and 1957, Kay appeared in eight national championships and batted .371 (53-for-143) and had a fielding percentage of .974 with 99 putouts, 87 assists and only five errors. She batted .444 in the 1949 national championship when the distance from home plate to the pitcher’s mound was 35 feet. In 1952, the distance from home plate to the pitcher’s mound was increased from 35 to 38 feet and Kay again batted .400, with six of her eight hits for extra bases and a tourney-leading 17 total bases. She also was outstanding on defense with a 1.000 fielding percentage with 27 assists and 14 putouts. Rich played every position but pitcher on the softball field and there wasn’t any doubt that she would have done well as a pitcher if she wanted. She had an accurate arm and a smooth, easy throwing motion whatever position she played. Rich was named an ASA All-America eight times. In 1954, she was named national tourney MVP after batting .316. Rich passed away on July 1, 2017.
Bill West, Cincinnati, Ohio – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
In bridge there’s an expression, “When in doubt, lead trump.” In fast pitch softball the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons would say, “When in doubt, pitch Bill West.” More often than not the 6-foot-2, 225-pound West would win. He had some outstanding years for the Pistons, winning 28 games and losing four in 1947, going 34-7 in 1948, 36-2 in 1949 with 452 strikeouts in 285 innings and allowing 93 hits, 32-4 in 1950, 24-2 in 1951 and 24-4 in 1952, with 350 strikeouts and 18-4 in 1954, his final year with the team. After joining the Pistons, West was named MVP of the National Fastball League in 1948 and to the league’s all-star team four consecutive years (1946-1949). In national championship play, West won five games and lost none, allowing six hits after joining the team in 1946 after serving a four-year hitch in the Army. Before joining the Army, West pitched in Kentucky. He moved there when he was five after being born in Cincinnati . He started his career in 1938 with Koelkel Norge of Covington before playing for Ken-Mac of Louisville, KY in the 1941 ASA national championship. West lost in the first round, 1-0 in 14 innings despite striking out 26 batters and allowing two hits. West had been a pick-up player after losing 1-0 on a no-hitter in the state tournament. In 1942, West hurled Newport to the Kentucky State title, winning three games with 46 strikeouts, and not allowing any hits. West passed away October 14, 1972 at 51.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1964
Tommy Castle, Rochester, New York – Men’s Fast Pitch – First Base
Kodak Park of Rochester, NY was the first men’s Major fast pitch team to win the ASA national championship twice (1936 and 1940) and Tommy Castle, who played first base, was one of the players responsible for that achievement. Known for his offense as well as defense, Castle played softball 25 years for Kodak Park, beginning in 1935. He competed in six state tourneys (1935, 1936, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943), 11 Mid-Atlantic regionals and 10 national championships. In the 1936 national Castle batted .375 with six hits in 16 at-bats and starred defensively, making only one error with 32 putouts and one assist. In the 1940 national, Castle batted .353 as Kodak Park won its second title. Also an outstanding baseball player who turned down an offer to play Triple A baseball for the Syracuse Chiefs, Castle had a .375 lifetime batting average in baseball and a .340 average in softball. A 35-year employee of Kodak Park before retiring in 1971, Castle said being a member of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and two national championship teams are the biggest thrills of his softball career. He was born October 2, 1913 in Rochester, NY and passed away April 24, 2003 at age 89. Castle also is a member of the NY state ASA Hall of Fame and the Monroe County sports Hall of Fame.
Margaret Dobson, Seattle, Washington – Women’s Fast Pitch – Third Base
Margaret Dobson once held the record for the highest batting average in an ASA Women’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship, batting .615 (eight-for-13) in the 1950 national championship. That record lasted until it was broken in 1975 by Hall of Famer Diane Kalliam. Dobson’s performance earned her All-American laurels for the second year in a row. Three years later, she was named honorable mention All-America, and participated in nine ASA national tourneys. Born June 11, 1931, Dobson started her career in 1944 with Vancouver, WA, joined the Erv Lind Florists a year later and remained with the team until retiring as an active player in 1959 to devote time to her career as a professional educator. She has B.S. and M.S. degrees and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and retired from Portland State University in 1992 where she was executive vice president emeritus. She attained full professor status at Portland State in 1968. Dobson was listed among the 50 Greatest Athletes of the Century for the state of Oregon in 1999 in Sports Illustrated magazine.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1965
Marjorie Law, Phoenix, Arizona – Women’s Fast Pitch – Many Positions
Skilled enough to win All-America honors at three different positions, Law played for more than two decades for the famed Phoenix, AZ Ramblers and was a member of three national championship teams (1940, 1948 and 1949). Starting her career in 1935 as an outfielder, Law played first base and third base before switching back to the outfield and trying pitching tutored by her husband, Kenny. Marjorie started out as a sling-shot hurler before switching to windmill. She earned ASA All-America honors no less than 11 times including 1948 when she was named as an outfielder. She repeated as an All-American in 1949 and was also selected in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954,1955 and 1957, playing in 22 ASA national championships and hurling three perfect games. In 1951, Law went 20-10 during the regular season and 3-2 in the national tourney, striking out 51 batters in 29 innings. She followed that season with a 47-20 record and a 5-2 record in the national tourney with 58 strikeouts in 47 innings with a 0.47 ERA. In the 1953 and 1954 nationals, she split four games in each event; one of her wins in the 1954 national was a perfect game against St. Louis. Law hurled all of the Ramblers’ games in the 1955 national, winning four and losing two with 31 strikeouts and two walks allowed. In her last season before retiring, 1957, Law won two of three games in the national. She, however, came back to play the 1967 season before retiring for good. Law passed away March 2, 2000 at age 76.
Roy Stephenson, Hicksville, New York – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
The Grumman Yankees, softball’s version of the New York Yankees, narrowly missed winning the ASA national title in 1951. Grumman finished third in the 17 team field and its star pitcher, Roy Stephenson, proved he was as good as anyone in the United States by hurling 66 innings in six games, 52 in the final 29 hours. Stephenson’s 4-2 record earned him his second of five All-America awards during his career of more than two decades. He also was an All-American in 1948, 1950, 1958 and 1959. In 1958, he won 42 of 48 games, striking out 576 batters and winning three of five games in the national tourney. In 1959, he was 48-8 with 784 strikeouts before going 3-2 in the national tourney. In national championship play, Stephenson was 23-18, 15-2 in state tourneys and 40-3 in regionals. A 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, Stephenson started playing softball in 1938 with the Shamrocks of New Rochelle. Then 14, he worked very hard in developing himself into a world-class pitcher. “I used to practice for hours. I would throw against a fence when there was nobody to catch me. It certainly built up my arm. There was a time when my right arm was one-third larger than my left arm.” Stephenson retired from active play in 1960 and called his greatest thrills striking out 28 batters in a row in a 15 inning game in West Haven, CT and being elected to the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1966
Jim Chambers, Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
It isn’t often that a softball player appears in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” But Chicago Match fast pitch pitcher Jim Chambers did in 1946 for striking out 40 Springfield, MO players in a 2-1 19 inning win in the loser’s bracket of the ASA Men’s National Championship. After that game, Chambers won two more games that evening, both shutouts, and three more later before losing in the finals to the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, 2-0. Chambers finished with 117 strikeouts and held the single game record until Hall of Famer Herb Dudley fanned 55 batters in 21 innings in the 1949 ASA National in Little Rock, AR. Chamber struck out 4,380 batters and hurled 209 no-hitters during his 31-year career, which was highlighted by Chicago Match’s two runner-up finishes in the national tourney. Chambers said the greatest disappointment of his career was “knowing that someday I would have to stop playing and not being able to see my old friends.” Chambers was born November 27, 1922 in Aurora, IL and passed away on March 28, 2016.
Bobby Forbes, Clearwater, Florida – Men’s Fast Pitch – Outfield
The youngest player to play for the renowned Clearwater, FL Bombers, Bobby Forbes made the Bombers in 1941 at age 14. From there he went on to become one of the most feared left-handed hitters in fast pitch. His former manager, Eddie Moore, said, “Forbes was one of the two greatest left-handed hitters in the game.” A three-time ASA All-American (1951, 1953 and 1956), Forbes batted .325 during the 1951 regular season and .285 in the national tourney. In 1959, he hit 12 homers to lead the Bombers. In1956, he led all hitters in the Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship with a .471 batting average. Also an outstanding football player who gained All-Southeastern honors, Forbes died of cancer in 1975. Each year an award is given in Forbes’ name as the outstanding Clearwater Bomber.
Carolyn Thome Hart, Peoria, Illinois – Women’s Fast Pitch – Outfield
If there was one thing that made Carolyn Hart more than just another player, it was her hustle. “I learned from coach Chuck McCord that if you didn’t hustle all the time, you would be just average,” said Hart. “He was a great coach, and I learned a great deal from him.” Hart was anything but average. Five times she earned ASA All-America honors: 1950, 1951, 1952, 1959 and 1955. She had a lifetime batting average of .301 after retiring in 1962 to devote more time to her family. She was born November 20, 1930 and passed away March 10, 1996 at age 65 after battling MS for more than 20 years. Known as Cotton Top or Cotton because of her striking blonde hair, Hart was the youngest player ever to play for the Caterpillar Dieselettes (1947-1955) at 16. After the Dieselettes folded, Hart joined the Pekin, IL Lettes and played until retiring. In 156 games, Hart batted 1,873 times, scored 460 runs (leading her team eight times), hit 171 doubles (leading the team five times), 31 triples, 68 homers (leading her team seven years) and stole 160 bases (leading her team six years).
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1967
Ronald Kronewitter, Mishawaka, Indiana – Men’s Fast Pitch – Pitcher
During his career, Kronewitter compiled a won-loss record of 262-42 with 11 no-hitters, 28 one-hitters and 39 two-hitters. Beginning his career in 1928, he hurled with the 14-inch ball before going to the 12-inch ball three years later. He played for Bendix Brakes for 5 1/2 years, compiling a 113-19 record with 1936 (25-3) and 1937 (25-4) his best seasons. He pitched Bendix to three consecutive Indiana state softball championships ( 1936-37-38). He was captain of the 1934 Bendix team and had a 3-1 record in three ASA national (then called world) championships. Between 1937-1939, Bendix won 137 games and lost 42 against the toughest competition in the United States. He was a 1929 graduate of Mishawaka High School and received a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1933. He served as superintendent of the Mishawaka Wastewater Treatment Plant from April 1952 until July 1966. In 1968, he was named to Mishawka’s school board and four years later was elected president. Except for a brief period, he continued as president until September of 1980. Kronewitter was born January 11,1911 in Mishawka, IN and passed away December 13, 1987.
Nolan Whitlock, Rossville, Georgia – Men’s Fast Pitch – Shortstop
One of fast pitch’s all-time best shortstops, Nolan Whitlock came through in the clutch time and time again for the Clearwater, FL Bombers between 1953-1959. Who can forget the pair of homers he hit off Hall of Famer Harvey Sterkel in the 1954 national for a 7-6 victory. Then, in 1956, his two homers in the finals beat the Raybestos Cardinals. But perhaps his greatest clutch performance came in 1957, when his two-run homer off Hall of Famer Roy Stephenson in the top of the 15th gave Herb Dudley and the Bombers a 2-0 win. In the finals, as Sterkel and Dudley battled, Whitlock made three outstanding defensive plays. Whitlock played in six national championships and was a member of three national championship teams, all with Clearwater, in 1954, 1956 and 1957. From 1954-1957, he was named an All-American and batted .318 in the 1955 national and .333 in 1956. Whitlock retired as an active player in 1961.
Billy Wojie, Stratford, Connecticut – Men’s Fast Pitch – Third Base
If it hadn’t been for a heart attack, Billy Wojie, 5-foot 11, 175 pounds, would have played longer than seven years for the Raybestos Cardinals of Stratford, CT. But despite suffering a heart attack May 19, 1962, Wojie made the most of his seven years with the Cardinals, earning All-America honors three times (1955, 1961 and 1959) and playing in seven ASA national tourneys. Wojie had started his career in 1948 playing for Columbus Auto Body and joined the Cardinals in 1955 after Auto Body disbanded. Wojie played in his first national tourney in 1953 with Auto Body, but the team was eliminated in two games. Wojie also played for Post 162, Mutt & Jeff, Marlin’s and Arena Grille, all from New Haven , CT, during his 22 year career. With the Cardinals, he had one of his best nationals in 1956, batting .353 (6-fort-17) and driving in a then record 10 runs, but wasn’t named an All-American. He had been a year earlier, making eight putouts and recording 12 assists. In eight nationals, Wojie made 40 putouts, had 44 assists and made only two errors for a fielding percentage of .980. In his first two years with the Cardinals Wojie led in batting with .312 and .290 averages and in RBI in 1956, 1958 and 1959. The team won ASA national championships in 1955 and 1958. He had a seven-season .281 average with the Cardinals, collecting 429 hits in 1,527 at-bats, scoring 239 runs, hitting 74 doubles, 29 triples and 28 homers. After recovering from the heart attack, Wojie came back to manage the Cardinals from 1968-1971, winning national titles in 1969 and 1970 and finishing runner-up in 1971. Wojie passed away June 10, 1979 at age 56.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1968
Leroy Hess, Aurora, Illinois, Men’s Fast Pitch – Catcher
An intense player who had a “so what” attitude when he did something outstanding on the softball diamond, Leroy Hess wore the Aurora, IL Sealmasters uniform from 1946-1963. He managed the team from 1950-1953 and 1955-1961. As a player/manager in 1959, Hess led the Sealmasters to their first national title and a record of 74-10. Two years later, he led the Sealmasters to another title and a 74-9 won-loss record. An outstanding defensive catcher, Hess was named an ASA All-American four times: 1956 (second team), 1957, 1959 and 1961. He batted .120 in the 1956 national tourney, .211 in 1957, .222 in 1959 and .416 in the 1961 national tourney. In 1957, he also managed the Major Fast Pitch All-Stars to three wins in a four-game series with the national champion Clearwater, FL Bombers. Although he wasn’t a high average hitter, Hess was considered a tough out and struck out 10 times or more only once during the nine years he played for Aurora. Hess worked for Sealmaster 37 years. He passed away May 31, 1984 at age 62.
Bob Sprentall, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Men’s Fast Pitch – Outfield
Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, where he played baseball in the Detroit and Boston farm systems, Sprentall made his mark playing softball for the renowned Clearwater, FL Bombers. Sprentall played for the Bombers from 1954-1965 and was a member of national championship teams in 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1963. Four times he was named an ASA All-American: 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1959. Sprentall batted .304 in the 1955 national and was flawless in the outfield on 11 chances. In 1956, he batted .417 in the national tourney and was again perfect defensively. He earned his third All-American award in 1957,recording 13 putouts and one assist in the national tourney. He batted .316 in the 1959 national to earn his fourth and final All-American award. Sprentall, who started playing softball at 14, weighed 150 pounds and stood 5-feet 10. He had the speed to chase down fly balls and had a good throwing arm. Sprentall passed away on April 18, 2013.
NATIONAL SOFTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1969
Jeanne Contel, Oakland, California – Women’s Fast Pitch – Third Base
Contel was as versatile a player as there was on the roster of the Fresno, CA Rockets, one of the sport’s all-time top teams. She could catch, play first and the outfield. But it was at third base that earned Jeanne a spot in the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. Jeanne started her career in 1944 and played for various local teams in Alameda, CA and Oakland, CA before joining the Rockets in 1951 after graduating from San Francisco State College. She remained with the Rockets for 14 years and participated in 11 ASA national championships, earning first-team All-America honors in 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958 and 1963 and second-team laurels in 1956. Born April 4, 1928, Contel played on three national championship teams (1953, 1954 and 1957) and was near perfection defensively in national championship play. In fact, in 10 of the 11 national championships she made 103 putouts, had 122 assists and made only only nine errors for a fielding percentage of .962. In four nationals, she had a fielding percentage of 1.000. In the 1958 national tournament, she had a record 21 assists from third base. Her national championship batting average was .286 (47-for-164).
Rosemary “Micki” Stratton, Stratford, Connecticut – Women’s Fast Pitch – Catcher
Rosemary (Micki) Stratton played all but two years of her softball career with the famed Raybestos Brakettes of Stratford, CT, leading the team in batting three times: 1959 (.320), 1961 (.324) and 1965 (personal best of .370). The first two years, 1954-1955, she played for the Wallingford Owlettes before joining the Brakettes in 1956. She participated in 10 ASA national championships and four times the Brakettes won the national title. Stratton batted .272 (61 x 224) in 10 national championships and also played first base and the outfield. Ironically her highest batting average in national championship play came in her last championship, .348 in 1965. Solid defensively, Stratton had a fielding percentage of 1.000 between 1958-1961 in national championship play including 23 assists. Seven times she earned All-America honors including first-team laurels in 1958, 1959, 1961, 1964 and 1965 and second-team honors in 1956 and 1963. In 1965, she played in the first ISF Women’s World Championship and batted .348 as the Brakettes, representing the USA, finished second. Stratton was named to the World All-Star team. Born July 12, 1938 in Middlefield, CT, Stratton said her greatest thrill in softball was “winning the 1958 national championship. Every event, winning or losing, was a learning experience. I’ve traveled places and met wonderful people that I would not have done if I hadn’t played softball,” Stratton said. Rosemary passed away on September 7, 2018.