The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) was founded as the United States Slow-pitch Softball Association in the spring 1968. Over that last weekend of August 1968 the first USSSA World Softball Tournament was played in West Allis Wisconsin. Over the past 40 years USSSA has grown from a couple of thousand slow-pitch softball players to over 3.5 million participants playing 13 primary sports. In fact, USSSA sanctions teams and individuals in 38 sports.
USSSA’s first decade was a turbulent one. USSSA led the charge to allow amateur athletes to play slow-pitch softball in whatever league or association they wished. People playing softball, and now playing many other sports, is what USSSA has always been about and has served as a foundation for its continued growth.
In the eighties USSSA grew by leaps and bounds. USSSA purchased a building in Petersburg, Virginia for its National Headquarters and Hall of Fame Museum. By the end of the decade USSSA membership had surpassed 100,000 teams and USSSA toured the world to promote softball, sportsmanship, and good will.
The nineties were the best and the worst of times for USSSA. The association continued to grow, however softball was decreasing in popularity. The various associations were cannibalizing each other in order to inflate their team registration numbers. In 1998 USSSA suffers a tragic loss when its longtime CEO Edgar “Al” Ramsey III passes away. The Board of Directors, immediately named the Assistant Executive Director, Don DeDonatis, as the new CEO. DeDonatis initiated sweeping changes. The changes included branching out into sports other than softball. By the end of the nineties USSSA had grown to over 1.6 million participants, with 300,000 being non slow-pitch softball.
In March 2003 USSSA moved its national headquarters from Virginia to Osceola County, Florida. This move has benefited USSSA and Osceola County in many positive ways. In 2007 USSSA had over 3.5 million participants and is solely responsible for 58,044 room nights in Central Florida, of which 45,307 room nights are in Osceola County. This means millions of dollars in positive economic impact to the region.
Currently, USSSA nationally governs 13 amateur sports. Slow-pitch softball, baseball, fast-pitch softball, and basketball athletes make up approximately 90% of USSSA’s membership. The remaining 9 sports account for over 350,000 registrations in USSSA, including Tae Kwan Do and Soccer, two sports that USSSA holds events in Osceola County. Over the past ten years USSSA has not failed to increase its year to year membership. In fact, for all but 3 of those 10 years USSSA’s membership has grown by over 10% per year.
Kissimmee, Florida 34744
Below are the members from 1979 – 1999.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1979
Floyd Salter, the man credited with writing the USSSA Rule Book, was the fist person inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category.
A native to Rochester New York, Salter was appointed as USSSA National Umpire-In-Chief in 1970.
Salter established the National Umpires Clinic that is held annually in each division.
He has traveled to numerous states conducting umpires’ clinics and promoting the USSSA Umpire Program. Under Salter’s direction, umpires registration increased from 1,000 to over 10,000.
His continuing efforts have produced many benefits that are enjoyed by umpires serving in their position today.
In 1978, Salter earned the USSSA Executive Board President’s Award, the same year he was elected into the Hall of Fame.
As Umpire-In-Chief, Salter handled the administrative duties for the National Umpires Program, each year he personally supervised the umpires assigned to the World Series.
Salter, serving as Chairman, has been a key member of the National Playing Rules Committee. He has served on the Executive Board of the association for many years.
Jim Snyder, who built the strongest softball team in the nation during the mid 70’s and won back-to-back USSSA World Championships, was the first person elected to the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Manager Category.
A native of Novi, Michigan, Snyder’s team captured the USSSA World Series in 1975 at Rochester, New York and again in 1979 at Wyandotte, Michigan.
This string of world titles was broken the following year when they were runner-up in Petersburg, Virginia.
Snyder’s was known as a playing champion and toured the country, proudly displaying the USSSA banner.
Snyder refused to bend to the pressure of professional softball, although he lost many of his top stars to the pro circuit.
Believing amateur softball is the way the game should be played, Snyder fielded a team for more than 25 years out of Detroit.
Snyder’s team always displayed class and Jim Snyder became known as a goodwill ambassador for softball and the USSSA.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1980
Carl Drewicz, who served on the National Umpire’s Clinic Committee, Hall of Fame Committee, and National Playing Rules Committee, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category. No picture of Carl was provided.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Drewicz was Wisconsin Umpire-In-Chief from 1973-79 and held clinics in the state each year.
His guidance and hard work in the pioneer years of the association played a big part in the success of the umpire’s program.
He attended national umpire clinics in Las Vegas, Nevada; Williamsburg, Virginia; Lake Tahoe, Nevada; and Orlando, Florida.
Drewicz worked class “A” Men’s World Tournaments in Southgate Michigan; Rochester, New York; Petersburg, Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
He umpired in World Industrial Tournaments in Milwaukee, Louisville and Niagara Falls.
He worked the Class “B” Men’s World in Petersburg, Virginia and Women’s Class “B” in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Duane McCoy, who led his women teams to a pair of World Championships and carried them to 10 straight Class “A” World Tournaments, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Manager Category.
A native of Rochester, New York, McCoy’s fighting green and gold won the 1972 Women’s World in Rochester, New York, playing under the Muxworthy’s sponsorship.
His team turned the trick again in 1977, winning in Detroit, Michigan, under the Pace Banner.
They were second at Southgate , Michigan in 1978.
Under McCoy, the Rochester team compiled 629-98 record during a 10 year period and was the most consistent women’s softball team in the nation.
McCoy will always be remembered for his contribution to the Women’s program.
Due to his efforts, hundreds of young women have enjoyed the game of softball as it should be enjoyed.
James Mortl, the Most Valuable Player in the first USSSA Slo-Pitch Softball Association World Series, was the first male player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mortl was a slick fielding second baseman and pressure hitter.
James was known as a singles and doubles hitter who could go all the fields with accuracy.
He was named most valuable player in the 1970 World Series at Las Vegas, Nevada when his Accurate Welding Team of Milwaukee captured the World Championship.
Mortl carried a .66 career batting average and played competitive softball for 16 years.
Along with Accurate Welding, Mortl played for Marasco’s, Transport Oil, Libby’s, Thoma’s and Ashes; all Wisconsin teams.
Mortl played in eight national or world tournaments and was named All-State, All-Tournament, and All World numerous times.
Al Ramsey, who served eight terms as President of the United States Slow-Pitch Softball Association and its first Executive Director, was the first person inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Ramsey’s strong leadership and organizational skills were major factors in the survival and astronomical growth of the USSSA. Ramsey began his career with USSSA as Virginias State Director in 1969.
In 1970, he was appointed Regional Vice-President and assumed the office of National President one year later.
He held the position of National President and Chairman of the Executive Board for eight consecutive years. His outstanding performance in this capacity will always be remembered.
Ramsey was named Executive Director of the Association in 1979.
His love for the game and dedication to the softball association are reflected in his long hours and many miles traveled promoting USSSA.
Ramsey’s insight was instrumental in numerous progressive rule changes and in the development of new programs.
His recruiting efforts, training programs and interest in all aspects of the program have been felt by every state in the association.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1981
Frank Ciaccia, an original pioneer of the USSSA whose steady influence and wise decisions helped mold the organization was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association in the Executive Category.
A native of Rochester, New York, Ciaccia has given countless hours of work and devotion to assure the success of the USSSA.
Ciaccia attended the organizational meeting to form the USSSA and was named its first National Treasurer in 1968.
He was named Regional Vice-President in 1970 and was elected Eastern Division Executive Vice-President in 1971.
Under his direction, New York was the fist state to register 1,000 teams with the association. He earned the President’s Award in 1976.
In 1979, Ciaccia was elected to serve a two-year term as President of the USSSA.
As Chairman of the National Hall of Fame Fund Raising Committee, Ciaciaa was instrumental in making the Hall of Fame and National Headquarters building a reality.
Ciaccia has stood as a cornerstone in the success of the USSSA.
Jenny Johnson, setting the standard for others to try to follow, was the first person inducted in the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Female player Category.
An outstanding defensive shortstop and pressure hitter, Johnson was named Most Valuable Player as Sweeney’s Chevrolet of Cincinnati captured the Women’s Class “A” World Championship in 1976.
A College Teacher, Coach and Athletic Director as Franklin College in Indiana, Johnson was the premier female player in the early years of USSSA.
Her class on and off the field earned the admiration of fellow players and coaches.
One of the all time greats ever to play in the Women’s Program, Johnson won many Golden Glove Awards in National and World Tournaments.
She proudly has maintained a .500 lifetime batting average.
Named All-World and All-tournament numerous times, Johnson turned her love for the game into enjoyment for others to watch.
Dean McNew, who overcame childhood blindness to become a standout athlete and veteran umpire, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category.
A native of West Virginia, McNew established residence in Virginia in 1973 and became Tri-City Area Umpire-In-Chief, a position he held for three years.
In 1997, McNew was appointed Massachusetts State Umpire-In-Chief until 1979 at which time he became the USSSA Massachusetts Sate Director.
In 1980, McNew was appointed USSSA Regional Vice-President in charge of the New England States.
McNew served as a member of the National Playing Rules Committee from 1975-1980.
He has conducted umpire clinics throughout the New England States and on four difference occasions he conducted the USSSA National Umpires Clinic.
McNew umpired in two divisional tournaments and eight world tournaments, including the 1976 Major World Series.
The outstanding official was rated the top Virginia Umpire from 1973-76 and the Top Massachusetts Umpire from 1977-1981.
McNew’s outstanding performance has been instrumental in developing a string and efficient umpires program in New England.
His efforts will be felt for many years to come.
Frank Taccone, knows as the “Babe Ruth of Softball,” was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
The outstanding performer was one of the early pioneers in the USSSA program.
Taccone, who earned All-World Honors in 1973 in Detroit, Michigan and in 1974 at Pinole, California was a member of the Mazzola-Castle Team that won the World Series in 1977 at Petersburg, Virginia.
A big man who tipped the scales over 300 pounds, Taccone also played for Roger’s Inn, Al’s Tavern, Pace, Mazzola Insurance, and the DuPont Industrial team.
Taccone complied a .500 plus lifetime batting average and belted over 600 home runs in USSSA play.
His home run totals were cut short due to the short summers and cold weather in Rochester.
Taccone recorded over 200 wins as a pitcher in national play. His tape-measure home runs always kept in the lineup.
When not pitching, he saw action as a catcher or first baseman.
Gary Vitto, a ball of fire on the softball field who earned a reputation for getting the maximum out of his players, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Manager Category.
A native of Warren Michigan, Vitto moved into the spotlight when his Dino’s team of Detroit won the Eastern Division title in 1972.
His team was runner-up in the 1973 World Series and went all the way in 1974, winning the World Series in Pinole, California.
Playing under the Uniroyal sponsorship, Vitto’s teams earned berths to the World Series again in 1975 and 1976.
Vitto’s teams compiled an impressive 73-11 record in national and world tournaments.
Vitto, known for this managerial strategy, during his career gained the respect of everyone and was considered as one of the all time greats ever to manage a club.
Vitto later managed in the professional softball ranks before retiring.
Elby “Boom-Boom” Bushong, known for his high-step home runs, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A Native of Phenix, Arizona, Bushong was a member of the USSSA Men’s Class “A” World Champion Campbell’s Carpets of Concord, California in 1980.
Bushong played his first World Series in 1974 and was Co-Home Run Leader.
Bushong has played in eight USSSA World Series. He was a member of the K-Club USSSA National 16-inch World Champion in 1977.
Bushong, who has been selected as a member of the Arizona All-State Team none times, was a member of the All-World team twice.
He has been on several division all-tournament teams.
A former professional baseball player and College All-American, Bushong has a .650 career batting average with over 1,500 home runs in USSSA tournaments.
Bushong hits for power and average and always did a good job on defense, his main position was first base; however, during his career, he played every position but shortstop and pitcher.
Everyone who has some contact with Bushong on the field admits he is a true hall of famer.
Jim Davis, a veteran umpire and Missouri Umpire-In-Chief, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category. Davis attended national umpire clinics in Orlando, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Dan Francisco, California; Freeport, Bahamas, and Nashville, Tennessee.
He traveled throughout the central division conducting umpire’s clinics and promoting the program.
Under his leadership, the number of registered umpires has grown steadily in Missouri and his division.
Davis has officiated in eight national or divisional tournaments. He has served on the National Playing Rules Committee for many years.
He has also served in the capacity of Central Division Umpire-In-Chief.
Davis has always been respected for is articulate viewpoints concerning the playing rules and umpire’s programs.
Such viewpoints have been a great asset to the USSSA.
Jerry Ellis, whose sound financial judgment and inclusive thinking were instrumental in the early success of the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
A native of Colonial Heights, Virginia, Ellis was named as Area Director in Virginia in 1970. He assumed the National Secretary-Treasurer duties that same year.
In 1971, Ellis was appointed to the Executive Board of the association. His strong performance as Executive Board member has been a tremendous asset to the successful operation of the USSSA.
Ellis served as Secretary-Treasurer until 1979 when growth of the association necessitated a division of the positions.
Ellis was then named controller of the USSSA, In 1981, Ellis was also elected to a two-year term as presided of the United States Slow-Pitch Softball Association.
Ellis who served on numerous major committees of the association, many of which he was Chairman, has been one of the strongest committee performers the association has ever had.
Ellis received the President’s Award in 1977 for his outstanding work.
Bob Muller, one of the original founders and first President of the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association, was the fist person inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Special Category.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mueller called a meeting in Covington, Kentucky in 1967 to form a new softball association.
Mueller was elected President at the second meeting of the USSSA and held the position from 1967-71.
Mueller led the association through many hard times with little financial support.
During that period, his aggressive personality and unusual characteristics allowed the USSSA to survive and become the association it is today.
As President, Mueller introduced the logo, bearing USSSA NO. 1, that is still used today.
Mueller guided the USSSA through what he called the Rocky Phase 1 period of the association.
Because of his hard work, the USSSA was able to survive against tremendous odds and have the chance to develop into what it is today.
Patty Schmitt, twice named All-World when her team captured the Women’s Class “A” World Championship, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A native to Rochester, NY, the power-hitting catcher compiled a .510 lifetime batting average with over 80 homeruns.
During her career, Schmitt was one of the most feared batters ever to play in the Women’s Program.
Schmitt played for Muxworthy’s, Pace and Wintonaire, all of Rochester.
Muxworthy’s won the World Title in 1972 and Pace won in 1977.
Schmitt played with the fighting green and gold out for Rochester from 1969-79 and the team was consistent national women’s power.
Along with catching, Schmitt also played outfield and first base and compiled an 18-0 record as a pitcher.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1983
Glenn “Ike” Eichelberger, a power hitter with consistency, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association in the Male Player Category.
A native of Rochester, New York, Eichelberger played for the 1977 World Champion Mazzola-Castle in the World Series in Petersburg, Virginia.
With a .610 life-time batting average, Eichelberger played for Al Green Tavern, Pace, Mazzola-Castle, All of Rochester, and Uni-Royal of Detroit, Michigan.
An outfielder, catcher, and pitcher, he played in a dozen national or world tournaments, including the World Series four times, at Petersburg, Virginia; Rochester, New York; Wyandotte, Michigan; and Pinole, California.
Eichelberger was named the USSSA All-World team four different times.
This outstanding player was one of the toughest outs in the game.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1984
Colorful Cal Carmen, who played for two USSSA World Championship teams and always drew a crowd to the ball park with his hustle and antics, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Carmen was a center figure for Dino’s and Uniroyal during the 1970’s, and then helped Mazzola-Castle of Rochester to a World Series Title.
With consistent chatter and a bird-like whistle, Carmen had a way of taking reams out of their game plan.
He often played first base, within a few feet of the opposing batter.
Carmen was not only colorful, but compiled a .622 life time batting average and belted over 575 home runs in Major USSSA Tournaments.
He played five USSSA World Series and five Divisional or World Tournaments, earning All-Tournament honors in six of the events and twice taking MVP.
Carmen played in the Detroit Tigers’ Baseball Organization as a pitcher before turning to softball.
“He was loved or hated by the fans, but either was they cam to see him play the game,” one newspaper once said.
Linda Mueller, who made a habit of playing in USSSA Women’s World Tournaments, was inducted in the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall Of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A native of Warren, Michigan, Mueller played for Beaumont of Royal Oak, Little Caesars of Detroit, All-Sport Uniforms of Berkley and All-Sports Uniforms of East Detroit.
A left-handed spray hitter, Mueller spend most of her career at second base, but also played other infield positions.
Mueller led Beaumont to the finals of the 1974 Women’s World Tournament and was a member of the USSSA World Championship Little Caesars in 1984.
She played in eight USSSA Women’s Class “A” World Tournaments.
A physical education teacher and coach at Royal Oak Shrine High School, Mueller earned respect from her opposition for her character on and off the ball field.
She compiled a near .500 batting average.
Gary Wallick, the man responsible for building the USSSA program in the west, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
A resident of Arcadia, California, Wallick managed a team in the first USSSA tournament, played in 1968 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
He was named Los Angeles Area Director and California State Director that year. Wallick advanced to Regional Vice-President in 1972.
In addition, Wallick was elected in 1983 to serve a two-year term as President of the USSSA.
This longtime USSSA pioneer was honored in 1980 when he was the recipient of the President’s Award in the Executive Board Category.
In the early years of the association, Wallick was responsible for all the territory west of the Mississippi, traveling many miles to establish USSSA state programs, Wallick helped develop a solid division in the West.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1985
Dick Bartel, who earned the nickname “rocketman” for his strong arm and powerful homeruns, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
Bartel, who was named the Men’s Major All-World Team four times, played for Campbell’s Carpets when they won the World Series in 1980 and for Howards’s Western Steer when they claimed the USSSA World Crown in 1981.
The San Antonio, Texas native also played for Anchor Lounge, Ray Carpenter, Taylor Brothers, and C.C. Brick & Lumber.
With a .680 lifetime batting average, Bartel was known for his hitting in the clutch and was always his best in the USSSA World Series.
During his career the tall Texan was selected Tournament MVP numerous times as well as being selected on All-Tournament teams.
Bartle, who established himself as a true slowpitch superstar for his great ability with the bat, his tremendous “rocket arm” and great speed in the outfield was always able to maintain his humble and gracious attitude toward sponsors, players, and fans.
Bartel was always respected by his teammates and opponents alike, such respect was not confined to his ability to play softball, but included his great love for people and the game of softball.
Dottie Davis, an original member of the Little Caesars Softball Team that won four World Championships, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
Davis was named Most Valuable Player in 1984 when Little Caesars on its record fourth Women’s Class “A” World Championship.
She also led the Detroit, Michigan Powerhouse to World Titles in 1978, 1979, and 1983.
Called “Doctor D” for her outstanding defense, Davis broke into big-time women’s softball in 1974 with Beaumont Hospital as they finished second in the World.
A veteran outfielder from Milan, Michigan was always respected for her great hitting power to right field.
With a career .550 batting average, Davis earned numerous ALL-Tournament and All-World Honors.
Along with playing in 10 straight USSSA Women’s Class “A” World Tournaments, Davis also helped her mixed softball team to several National Championships.
J. Larry Palmer, respected General Legal Counsel for the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Game in the Special Category. Paler was appointed USSSA General Counsel in 1971.
In the early 1070’s he led the USSSA through a series of battles in federal court against the Amateur Softball Association.
The major lawsuit, which resulted in a complete victory for USSSA, opened the door for the thousands of teams to become members of USSSA.
ASA lawsuit took over 3 1/2 years very concentrated legal time and a measure of personal devotion that took much time from Palmer’s private law practice.
Palmer served without compensation as General Counsel for approximately 10 years.
His love for USSSA and its leaders and his belief that it was knowledge of the game of softball that has been beneficial in other areas of the USSSA business as they related to legal issues.
The attorney from Hopewell, Virginia was awarded the coveted USSSA President’s Award in 1975.
As a member of the USSSA Executive Board, Palmer has helped to give direction to the growth of the USSSA program, has acted as a arbitrator for disputes, has served on many committees and has acted as association Parliamentarian.
Palmer was instrumental in establishing the original equipment licensing agreements with national sporting goods manufacturers.
In November of 1985, Palmer was elected to serve a two- year term as a National President of the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association.
Ron Whittleton, who compiled an impressive 717-199 record and led Capitol Insulation of North Hollywood, CA to eleven appearances in the Men’s World Series, was inducted in the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Manager Category.
Under Whittleton’s direction, Capitol was the dominate team on the west coast for more than a decade, winning four State Championships and four Western Division Crowns.
His record as manager included over 60 tournament championships.
Capital won the hearts of fans at the 1983 and 1985 World Series, finishing second and third in the biggest even in softball, upsetting teams with biggest names players and budgets.
Whittleton was credited with getting the most from his team and earned respect by repeatedly returning to the World Series with a competitive ball club after losing players to larger sponsors.
Along with serving as manager, Whittleton recorded over 700 mound victories and compiled a .600 lifetime batting average.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1986
Al Ciaccia, one of the early founders of the USSSA, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association in the Executive category.
Ciaccia, who spent as a Regional Vice-President from 1971 to 1984, was promoted to Eastern Division Executive Vice-President 1985.
Known as a stable force in the USSSA, Ciaccia was recognized for his unique ability to listen to teams, umpires and players and his efforts to improve the game of Slow-Pitch Softball.
Ciaccia joined the softball association during the difficulty years and stuck with the USSSA through thick and thin.
One of the longest veterans in service to the USSSA, Ciaccia never looked for the headlines, but worked long hours promoting the goals of the USSSA.
Jackie Huggins, who was selected five times to the USSSA Women’s Class “A” All-World Team, was inducted into the he United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Huggins helped the Stingers and Little Caesars to three USSSA Women’s World Championships.
Huggins, a consistent line drive hitter with a .493 lifetime batting average, earned numerous Golden Glove Awards for the defensive ability at first base.
She won her first All-World Honor in 1971 and claimed the Award again in 1984 an 1985.
Huggins played for 14 years before winning her first World Title with the Stingers in 1980.
She was a key figure in Little Caesars winning World Titles in 1983 and 1984.
Joe Seymour, who cracked several thousand home runs in a career that included five trips to the USSSA World Series, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Hall of Fame in the Male Category.
An old country boy from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Seymour won over 100 MVP and All Tournament awards during his distinguished career.
Seymour played for Southwestern Millrights, Williams Billiards, Candy Man Bombers, Lenior Tire, and Poundexter Lumber.
Although he hails from the state that produced many great softball teams and players, Seymour was he first person from North Carolina inducted in to the USSSA Hall of Fame.
Seymour started his career in the infield and played every position before retiring.
He compiled a .629 lifetime batting average.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1987
Don Arndt, a legend in his own time led Howard’s a pair of USSSA Men’s Major World Series Championships, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A native of Denver, North Carolina, Arndt gave new meaning to the term old pro by playing at the major level well past his 50th birthday.
He handled pitching and catching chores.
With more than 6,000 career home runs and .600 plus batting average, Arndt was named to the All-World Team four times.
He enjoyed World Championships in 1978 and 1981.
A 6-foot-5, 240 pound was a clutch performer who batted a record .846 at the 1983 World Series.
Playing his entire career with Howard’s, Arndt also competed in the mixed and mater’s programs with equal success.
Linda McCoy, who led Pace to the Women’s Class “A” World Title in 1977, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A native of Rochester, NY, McCoy collected over 1,000 career hits during her long career.
During McCoy’s hay day, her famous fighting green and gold team was a consistent national contender, winning once and finishing second twice during a four year span.
McCoy was named to the Women’s All-World Team three times.
A line-drive hitter, McCoy started out as a tough defensive outfielder and played in nine USSSA World Tournaments.
McCoy took a brief retirement from softball to have a child, but returned to collect her 1,000th hit.
She joins her husband Duane McCoy, who was inducted in the Manager Category, as the first husband-and-wife team in the USSSA Hall of Fame.
The late Buddy Secrist, who was selected four times to the Umpire at the USSSA World Series, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category.
Secrist, who died of cancer in 1983, was Mr. Softball in the western mountains of Virginia.
Although his outstanding career was cut short at age 45 by his unfortunate early death, Secrist left his mark on USSSA Softball.
A native of the little mountain town of Buena Vista, Virginia, Secrist umpired at four Men’s Major World Series, Eight World Tournaments, Several Divisional Tournaments and over a dozed NIT’s.
He once said his greatest thrill as an official came in 1974 when he was picked to work the plate for the championship game of the World Series at Pinole, California.
Along with umpiring, Secrist served as Assistant State Director in Virginia and coached a boy’s youth team.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1988
Mike Cellura, a standout all-around athlete who competed in the Men’s Major World Series 11 times and was named the All-World Team six times, was inducted in to the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A native of Panorama City, California, Cellura played from coast-to-coast and enjoyed winning a pair of World Championships.
He played for Capitol, Campbell’s Carpet, Jerry’s Caters, Howard’s Western Steer, and Broken Drum.
Cellura batted over .600 at the World Series seven different times and is remembered for is line drive hits and homeruns.
Cellura blasted over 1,00 home runs in tournament play.
A solid outfielder with a strong arm, the west coast product was always tough in a clutch.
Jan Deters, who led Empress Chili of Cincinnati, Ohio to a record three straight World Champions, was inducted in to the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A veteran of ten trips to the USSSA Women’s Class “A” World Tournament, Deters earned a spot on the Women’s All-World Team seven times during her long career.
Playing at the top competitive level past age 40, this surprising athlete celebrated winning the first USSSA Women World Series at age 39.
She posted the highest batting average at the 1982 World Tournament and was frequently recognized for her team play and attitude.
She took great pride in advancing runners.
Deters started her career as an outfielder and later handled catching chores for Empress Chili.
Richard Howard, a man who truly loves softball and sponsored teams for more than 25 years, was indicted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Special Category.
Under his sponsorship, his teams captured the Men’s World Series Championships in 1978 and again in 1981. When his team joined USSSA in the 70’s the moved paved the was for other teams to follow.
The popular North Carolina native, who put Denver, North Carolina on the map, was a loyal supporter of USSSA.
While best known for is powerhouse men’s major teams, he also sponsored teams in women’s, mixed and masters play.
Remembered as on of the game’s top all-time sponsors, Mr. Howard had a tremendous impact on the game of slow pitch softball.
Joe Nucci, a colorful fighter from New York who always found a way to get the most out of his ball club, was inducted into the USSSA Hall Of Fame in the Manager Category.
The highlight of Nucci’s career came in 1977 when his Mazzola-Castle team of Rochester, NY, pulled a stunning upset to capture the Men’s Major World Series Championship.
Nucci managed one of the fist teams to cross the boarder and compete with the USSSA.
He constantly had a team ranked in the top ten and traveled the country to play in NIT’s.
His teams are remembered more for guts and pride than overall talent.
Nucci enjoyed more than 600 victories in big tournaments.
The spirited Nucci gave umpires and opposing coaches all they wanted and more, but he gained respect as a fierce competitor who knew how to win.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1989
Bruce Meade, who made a career of winning World Series Championships, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A native of Bradenton, Florida, Meade led six teams to World Titles was named to the All-World team a record of eight times.
With a .725 career batting average and over 2,000 home runs in USSSA Tournament play, the six-foot-six, 270 pounder known for a handlebar mustache, has set standings for the others to follow.
Meade won World Championships with Nelson’s of Oklahoma City Jerry’s Caterers of Miami, Florida; Elite Coating of Gordon, Georgia; and Smythe Sox of Huston, Texas.
He also played for Dave Carroll Sports and Ken Michaels during his career.
A true gentleman on and off the field, Meade always brings out the best in his teammates.
His towering home runs, one tape measure shot over 500-foot, have long been the talk of softball fans around the nation.
Meade established World Series records and batting over .700 every season in the Major Program.
Sue Ridell-Mitchell, a standout shortstop who played her entire career with the Stingers of Detroit, Michigan, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
The outstanding defensive player led the Stingers to a pair of World Championships.
She enjoyed winning the Women’s Class “A” World with the real estate one Stingers in 1975 and again in 1980 with the Taylor Sporting Good Stingers.
Playing in the top level of the Women’s program for 20 years, Ridell-Mitchell was twice named to the All-World Team.
She thrived on good competition and her defensive skills kept the stingers in many ball games.
A true team player, Ridell-Mitchell compiled a .375 career batting average.
She displayed her best in pressure situations and always played to win, earning numerous All-Tournament Awards.
The late Fred Schlueter who directed the old central division to new heights, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Schlueter joined the USSSA in 1973 as Wisconsin State Director.
He worked full-time softball for 10 years and battled for the association until his final day, June 14, 1988, when he lost his last bout to cancer.
Starting with only 226 teams, Schlueter helped the central division reach 25,000 teams, the largest division in the USSSA.
Twice a winner of the President’s Award, in 1977 for Directors and in 1984 for executive board service.
Schlueter was Northern Regional President at the time of his death.
Known for his strong opinions and spirited exchanges, Schlueter never backed down from the debate.
He ruled with an iron fist and assembled a solid core of state directors who produced record numbers.
Schlueter will long be remembered for is promotion and directorship of outstanding national invitational tournaments in Wisconsin.
His True love was the women’s program.
Today the MVP award in the women’s world cup series is call the Fred Schlueter, Jr. MVP Award in his honor.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1990
Kaye Gilbert, who played her best softball during 18 trips to the USSSA Class “A” World, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association in the Female Player Category.
She led the Virginia Belles of Chesterfield, Virginia to the Women’s Class “A” National Title in 1989 and the World Championship in 1981.
She was named to the All-World Team four times and to the USSSA Virginia All-State Team a dozen times.
She was selected as a member of the 1990 Women’s Soviet Tour Team and played a vital role in the success of the historic trip.
Gilbert started her long career with the Dinwiddie Diamonds, later moved to the green berets, before joining the Belles.
She played for a record 11 Virginia USSSA Women’s State Championship Teams and takes pride in the fact she has missed only one USSSA Women’s World Tournament during her career, when she skipped the 1975 season to have her son, Dennis.
With a .571 career batting average, she is a singles hitter with sneaky power. She thrives on pressure trips to the plate.
In addition to the Women’s program, Gilbert has coached an played in every USSSA Mixed Hall of Fame Tournament in Petersburg, where she met her husband, Denny.
Denny Larson, who tested both batters and umpires with his unique pitching style, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association in the Male Player Category.
A veteran Massachusetts hurler compiled a 627-103 mound record over an 11-year period before his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Larson played for Stylists, Loring Construction, Ye Old Liquor Cabinet, Tippy’s, E.J. Alex Construction and Cassidy & Lee, All Action, MA.
A tricky pitcher who fired away from behind his back and between his legs, he led his teams to the Massachusetts Class C USSSA State Titles in 1983 and 1987.
When he went to the plate, Larson hit the ball on a line and compiled a .540 career batting average.
Despite testing umpires, Larson made a true “impact” on New England USSSA Softball.
Jim McCarron, Eastern Region Umpire-In-Chief, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association in the Umpire Category.
The Colonial Heights, Virginia resident was named Virginia State Umpire-In-Chief in 1978, was appointed Southern Division U-I-C in 1982, and assumed the Eastern Region U-I-C position five years later.
He twice worked the Men’s Major World Series, officiated at three Women’s Class “A” World Tournaments and two Men’s Class “A” Worlds.
He worked more than a dozen divisional and world events, numerous NIT’s and state tournaments.
A long-tern member of the National Playing Rules Committee, McCarron edited and help produce the fist USSSA Umpires Case Book in 1981.
A distinguished seminar speaker, this Virginian conducted or assisted in many national umpire clinics, divisional meetings, and the raining seminar at national headquarters.
He was given clinics in eight states and received the National Umpires Chief’s Award in 1983.
In addition to umpiring, McCarron has served as an Area Director and Assistant State Director in Virginia and has directed many local and state tournaments.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1991
Lynn Putnam Gendron, who was named to the Women’s Class “A” All-World Team eight times, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
Gendron led four teams to USSSA World Championships and was named MVP at the 1980 World. She started playing in the Women’s “A” World Team at age 16.
Starting in the USSSA youth program Gendron played slo-pitch softball for over 20 years.
She was ranked as one of the best outfielders in the game for more that a dozen years and moved to first base later in her career.
She celebrated World Titles with the Taylor Sporting Goods Stingers in 1980, with Little Caesars in 1983-84, and with Canton Softball Center in 1989.
She also has played for a Mixed World Champion and is a regular in the co-ed program.
With a .575 career batting average, Gendron sprayed the batt to all fields, but also hit with power.
Know as “Putter”, she was named USSSA Sports Woman of the Year in 1980.
She was selected as a member of Team USSSA for the historic tour of the Soviet Union in 1990.
Leroy “Dick” Hoover, a third base coach for more than 25 years in the Louisville Area, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Manager Category.
The 70-year-old coach was a long-term fixture in Louisville coaching circles and carries 12 straight teams to USSSA World Tournament play between 1967 and 1980.
He coached in the first USSSA tournament in 1968 in Milwaukee.
After a successful career in fast-pitch, Hoover started coaching third base for the Louisville Firefighters in 1975.
He also coached for Sullivan Executives, Silver Heights, and Burger Queen before joining the Knights of St. John.
A Staunch USSSA supporters, this “unknown soldier” drew praise for his third base coaching abilities during his span with the Knights, a loyal USSSA team from day one.
A coach with over 40 years of softball experience, Hoover also coached third base for Kentucky Bourbons in the old professional league.
He was regarded as the best in the business.
Hoover organized the first old timers game in St. Denis, Kentucky and promoted the USSSA in its infancy.
Despite his years, Hoover continued his “great hustle” and confidence in the third base coaching box late in his career.
Andy Santillo, a smooth fielding shortstop who led Mazzola-Castle to the World Championship in 1977, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
Santillo, a 6-foot, 190 pounder, was Mazzola’s team captain and defensive leader.
With Santillo at short, Mazzola participated in the USSSA World Series four times between 1974-78.
Santillo played in nine World Tournaments over a ten year span and was named to the All-World Team three times, in 1973, 1975, and 1978.
The Rochester native played in the very first USSSA tournament in 1968 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and his team stayed loyal to the USSSA program.
He compiled a .599 batting average in the World Tournament play, tops in the nation for players at his position in his era.
While Santillo came through in the clutch at bat, it was his defense skills that kept the New York team competitive.
He compiles a .944 fielding average with 1,941 putouts and 3,084 assists out of 5,484 chances.
During his ten year playing career with the USSSA, Santillo compiles a .55 lifetime batter average with 1,600 career hits.
Ed Williams who has a long memory, big heart, and enough determination to finish any job was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
One of the two remaining pioneers who attended the first meeting to for the USSSA, Williams reaped justly due regards after 23 years of the service of the USSSA.
Williams has too much pride to let the USSSA slip away in the early years.
He served as the first USSSA Kentucky State Director.
He later advanced to the position of Regional President and guided eight early states.
Williams landed the fathers of trinity field to hold the first USSSA league in Kentucky and the first Mid-America Tournament was played there in 1969.
The directors at the national convention in New Orleans in 1990 awarded Williams the President’s Award for distinguished service.
He worked with friend Chuck Fischer as Co-Kentucky State Directors and is the first pioneer selected for direct induction into the Hall of Fame with more than 20 years of service.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1992
Tony Gaetano was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Executive Category, based on 20 yeas or more service to the association.
A native Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gaetano played in the first USSSA World Tournament in 1968.
In 1970, he was named Pennsylvania State Director.
In 1971, Gaetano was elevated to the position of Regional Vice-President and in 1989 was promoted to Northeastern Division Executive Vice-President.
In 1981 and 1982 Gaetano served as active State Director of Ohio and played a key told in getting the USSSA program started in Ohio.
Gaetano has served on numerous program committees and in 1979 he was presented the USSSA President’s Award.
V.K. Lehmann, A veteran outfielder who helped Empress Chili win three straight Women’s Championships, including the first Women’s World Series, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A leadoff batter with a .550 career batting average, Lehman joined Sweeney Chevrolet in 1981 and remained with the successful Cincinnati team.
The southpaw from Kentucky was named to the All-World Team three times.
She was named Player of the Year in Cincinnati in 1988 when she compiled a .589 season batting average.
Lehmann played a key role in Empress Chili winning six NIT’s during the 1990 season and was a member of the USSSA All-Stars who made the historic softball tour of the Soviet Union.
She has been named to numerous All-Tournament teams, including the 1984 Miller NIT, when she batted .850 for the weekend.
Lehmann was selected the 1990 Debeer Sportswoman of the Year.
Tom Raines, who has participated in the USSSA program as a player, manager, umpire, director and executive was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
Raines played in the first USSSA World Tournament in 1968 and that same year was also names the Nevada State Director.
In 1980, Raines was appointed Division Vice-President where he served successfully for nine years.
In 1989, Raines was promoted to the position of Northwestern Division Executive Vice-President.
In 1971, Rains assisted in directing and planning the first Men’s USSSA World Series which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Very active in his Las Vegas civic community, Raines has served on the board of University Medical Center Foundation, an essential part of the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon.
Raines has served on numerous USSSA program committees and has played a major role in the success the USSSA enjoys today.
In 1987, Raines was honored as the recipient of the coveted USSSA President’s Award.
Braxton Speller, who enjoyed winning World Championships in both Men’s World Series and the Industrial World was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A native of North Carolina, Speller joined Snyders Softball Club in 1976 and was named to the All-World teams as they captured the World Series.
Speller also competed in the Industrial Program and was named All-World team in 1980 as Fisher Body won in the Industrial World Tournament at Dearborn, Michigan.
During his long career with the USSSA, Speller played in the Class A World Tournament 12 times and the Major World Series eight times.
He competed in numerous USSSA State Tournaments, consistently earning honors.
Speller began his career with the USSSA in the early 1970’s in North Carolina. Between the Major and Industrial programs, he claimed All-World Honors eight times.
With good power to all fields, Speller cracked over 2,000 home runs in USSSA Tournaments and compiled a .650 career batting average.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1993
Laura Fillipp, who has played in the top level of Women’s Softball for Women’s Softball for 16 consecutive years, ahs been inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A teacher and coach, Fillipp participated in the historic USSSA softball tour to the Soviet Union in 1990.
With a .650 career batting average, she is a left handed power hitter who hits to all fields.
She has over 200 career home runs and becomes the 12th female player to be elected into the USSSA Hall of Fame.
Fillipp was named to All-State Teams in Illinois and Michigan five times and was MVP at the 1985 Wisconsin Ladies Classic Softball League.
Fillipp was home run leader a the 1985 Women’s World Tournament in Concord, CA.
In 1987 Fillipp was the recipient of the Debeer Sportswoman of the Year Richard Pollack Memorial Award.
Charles O’Donnell was inducted into the USSSA Hall of fame in the Executive Category, based on over 20 years of service to the association.
After joining the USSSA in 1971, O’Donnell was named Missouri Stare Director in 1973, and three years later was named Vice-President’s duties in 1988 O’Donnell helped organize the sport in Missouri and was an area director from 1971 to 1990.
In 1989 O’Donnell served as the Assistant Major World Series Director, and was named Director of the 1990 series.
O’Donnell was one of the founders of the Gateway Classic, and has directed more than a dozen divisional and world tournaments.
He has served on numerous program committees including length longevity as a member of the executive committee.
In 1985 O’Donnell was honored as the recipient of the coveted President’s Award.
Buddy Slater, the sly little pitcher that all the big guys hated to face, has been inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
Slater has appeared at the World Series 15 times, ten as a player and five as a manager or coach.
As a pitcher, Slater posted a 32-9 record, the best winning percentage of any hurler in World Series history.
He was named Most Valuable Player at the 1980 series, and was named to the All-World Team five times.
The Texas native has led eight different teams to the USSSA World Championships.
Just his appearance alone at the tournament seems to make his fellow teammates each their peak.
Although small in size, Buddy Slater has always been a giant among players when competing on the field.
Frank Titone, USSSA New York Umpire-In-Chief, has been inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category.
A 21 year veteran umpire, Titone joined the USSSA 19 years ago.
He was named New York State U-I-C in 1978 and also makes assignments for a 200 member local league in his home town of Syracuse.
Titone worked the 1976 Men’s Major World Series and was twice picked for the Men’s Class “A” World Series.
He has served as Recording Secretary of the National Playing Rules Committee since 1978.
He received the National Umpire-In-Chief Award in 1985.
Titone becomes the seventh USSSA umpire to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1994
Al Campbell, the most winning manager in USSSA history with over 1,100 victories, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Manager Category.
Campbell began his highly successful career in women’s softball during the 1975 season with the Swinging A’s.
He has also guided Big Bill’s Sports Shop, Little Caesars, Taylor Stingers, Steele’s Sports, Canyon Softball Center, Lady Blue, and Cannon’s Illusions.
Leading all USSSA managers, Campbell’s teams have won USSSA Crowns in 1980, 1982, 1984,1989 and World Series Championships in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994.
He has won over 50 USSSA NIT’s, has been named All World Manager six times, and was named one the managers on the historic USSSA Women’s Tour of Russia in 1990.
Jim Ports, involved with the USSSA since 1968 was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
Jim’s participation in the USSSA spans the entire program from Player/Manager, Umpire, Director, to Executive.
He has served as Maryland State Director for many years.
He was appointed Region 2 Vice-President in 1971, Region 4 Vice-President and to the Executive Board in 1980, and the Executive Committee in 1988.
He served as National Industrial Director for 5 years taking the program from 900 to 5,700 teams.
He was Assistant Tournament Director for the 1985 Major World Series, and a Major World Series Director in 1986.
In 1988 he was appointed Division Executive Vice-President.
In 1981 he was a recipient of the coveted USSSA President’s Award.
He was elected Nation President in 1990.
As President he set his top priority not to be the biggest softball program, but rather being the BEST softball program, and to do this by instilling a code of ethics based on trust, fairness, and honor.
Rick “The Crusher” Scherr, a powerful hitter with long, tape measure homeruns his trademark, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A Wisconsin native, Scherr is the USSSA All Time World Series leader in home runs (101), hits (166), and RBIs (202).
He has played in the World Series a record of 14 times.
His USSSA career began in 1968 with Heidle’s of Jackson, WI., and continued with Slinger Foundry-Slinger, WI., Cooper Hearth-Milwaukee, WI., Taylor Brothers Jewelers-Corpus Christi, TX., Howard’s Western Steer- Denver, NC., Superior-Apollo, Ritches-Superior, Windsor Locks, CT., and A.J.D. of Richmond, VA.
With a .685 career batting average and over 1,800 home runs in USSSA Tournament play, Scherr was a tough competitor whether playing first base, third base, the outfield, or catcher.
Scherr was named the USSSA All World Team six times; he led three teams to World Championships; and in a recent poll of major managers and sponsors, Rick Scherr was voted the Top Player of the Decade (80’s) by his peers.
Joann Van Vliet, a slick fielding shortstop with USSSA since 1978 has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
Regarded as one of the most feared hitter in Women’s Softball, Van Vilet has posted a .600 career batting average.
Joann, a Ceres, CA native, has played with Sunsets-Modesto, CA, Sequoia Market Bobcats-Cares, CA, California Hustle-Modesto, CA and Mr. A’s Express from Sacramento, CA.
Named MVP in twenty-seven USSSA tournaments, Van Vliet was named to the USSSA ALL World Team at the 1988, 1989, and 1990 Women’s World Series.
She was selected as the Outstanding Defensive Player at the 1990 USSSA Women’s World Series in Concord, CA.
Don Webster, or Chatsworth, CA, has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Special Category.
Recognized as one of the early pioneers of big time softball on the west coast, it was Webster’s strong advocacy of the USSSA program over that of rival associations that out his team, Capitol/Broken Drum Insulation, into 13 USSSA Men’s Major World Series, and other tournaments in 26 stats.
His teams in the West were considered on par with Howards/Western Steer in the South and Snyders in the Midwest.
He was the 1986 recipient of the USSSA awarded of Merit for his outstanding and continuing support of the USSSA program.
Webster’s players remember his as a man who would pay the freight and still serve as the team “bad boy” if needed.
He has taken his rightful place alongside three of his team members, Elby Bushong, Mike Cellura, and Ron Whittleton, in the USSSA Hall of Fame.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1995
Dwight Hall, a true gentleman of the game and a man respected for his common sense and love of slow pitch softball was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
Beginning in 1971 when he was named the North Carolina USSSA State Director.
The soft-speaking southerner from Gaston, North Carolina, produced bug results and quickly moved up the ladder wit the association.
He was named a Regional Vice-President in 1973 and moved up to Southern Division Vice-Presidents in 1980.
He was serving as Eastern Region President when he dies of a heart attack in 1989 Along with helping develop USSSA programs in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.
Hall provided the association with sound direction and leadership.
During his 18 years of service to the USSSA, Hall twice directed the Mend’s Major World Series.
He received the President’s Award in 1975 for his outstanding service.
Pam Patrus, a consistent hitter with a .535 batting average, and known to be tough in the clutch has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
Pam, from Cincinnati, Ohio, has a 13 year USSSA softball career playing with Sorrento Pizza, Famous Recipe, and three time World Series Champion, Empress Chili. Although she has played every infield position, she is best known for her performance at third base and as pitcher.
She has pitch 3 one hit games, and her world tournament won/lose record stands at 42 wins and only 14 losses.
In 1998, while a member of Empress, she successfully switched positions from third base to pitcher, when the team lost its previous pitcher to injury.
That year Empress Chili won the first Women’s World Series and Patrus was named series MVP.
The four-time all world performer was named MVP in 12 NIT and was Cincinnati’s Female player of the year in 1989.
Rick Wheeler, 1,600+ home run hitter, from Ontario, California, was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
Beginning with the East Coast Pioneer Squad of Capitol Insulation, Wheeler also played for Jerry’s Caterers, Gainely Ceramics, Elite Coating, Smythe Sox, Howard’s Western Steer, Ken Michael-Franey & Parr, Starpath, Ritch’s-Kirks, Bell Corp, Vernon’s.
Wheeler tied teammates Bruce Meade and Fred Trice for the home run crown to lead the elite coating to the 1985 Men’s Major World Series Championship.
He is in the top 5 in the following all time series accumulative categories: most home runs, most at bats, most hits, most runs, most RBI’s and most World Series appearances.
With a .655 career batting average, he was fiercely competitive whether playing first base, catcher, or his main position, the outfield.
Rich was named the Southern California Player of the Decade for the 80’s.
He was named MVP in 33 USSSA tournaments, including being the MVP of the 1985 Men’s Major World Series.
He played on the World Series Championship teams in 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1990.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1996
Doug Brown, who in a span of eight years was named to five All-World Teams, has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
From the time the Greer, South Carolina native began playing USSSS softball in 1979, he distinguished himself suiting up with some of the greatest teams in slo-pitch, including: Dave Carroll Sports, Jerry’s Caterers, Elite Coating, Smythe Sox, AJD-Russell, and Starpath.
Although he has played a variety of positions including third base, short-stop, right center, left-center, and catcher, Brown is primarily considered a second baseman.
As his greatest softball accomplishment, brown lists his three consecutive World Series titles with Smythe Sox in 1985, 1986, then Elite Coatings in 1987.
He was the Homerun Champion for the 1988 World Series, and he pounded out the highest batting average and most homeruns in the 1990 class “AA” World Tournament.
Brown has always been a top performer and is known as a ambassador of the USSSA program.
Allison Cole, a member of three World Series Championship Teams and five World Series All-World Teams, has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Female Category.
With Canton Softball Center in 1989 and Lady Blue in 1991 and 1992, the Wyandotte MI native led the teams offensively, and turned in stellar defense as an outfielder in route to each of these teams winning World Titles.
Cole, a member of the Michigan USSSA State Hall of Fame, has been tabbed for more than 30 All-Tournament teams from various national invitational tournaments through her career.
The outfielder has been a vital part of successful season of outstanding class “A” teams such as Tri-County, Tosti Raiders, Canton Softball Center, Steele’s, and Lady Blue.
Cole believes that the most exciting event in her softball career was during the summer of 1990 when she and several other USSSA all-stars traveled to the former Soviet Union for the USSS’s Russian Tour.
Says Cole, “Softball… has given me the opportunity to travel… to play on some great teams.. And by far most importantly to meet so many beautiful people with whom I’ve come to love very dearly.
Rick Robertson, the 1987 National Umpire-In-Chief Award recipient, was inducted in the United States Slo-Pitch Association Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has piled up a host of awards as an umpire, including the 1983 Southwest Division Umpire of the Year, the 1993 Louisiana State Co- Director of the Year Award, and the 1994 Southern Region Umpire of the Year Honor.
Among the high profile events Robertson has worked are:1985 Men’s Class “A” World Tournament in Lafayette, LA, the 1988 Hispanic World Tournament in Las Cruces, NM, and the 1994 Mixed World Event in Euless, TC.
He has conducted many umpire clinics and has attended every National Umpire Clinic held at the USSSA National Meeting since 1983.
On the future of USSSA Softball, Robertson said, “USSSA is advancing every day and is on the leading edge for slo-pitch softball.
We must all remember out teams who have made us what we are today.
Communication lines must stay open between directors, umpires, players, and coaches so that we can all listen to the needs and wants of each other.”
Robertson has always been known for his tireless efforts in dealing with umpires, players, teams, and directors in the field. His willingness to serve has been outstanding.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1997
Mildred Burrell, a pioneer in the women’s and girls youth programs, has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association Hall of Fame in the Longevity Category.
Burrell, a Chesterfield, Virginia native, has been an active member of the USSSA organization since the early 1970’s. S
he co-founded the Virginia Belles women’s softball team as manager, captured the USSSA Women’s “B” World Championship in 1975.
As Women’s National Program Director from 1981-1987, she was instrumental in building team registrations and laying the groundwork for the first women’s world series in 1988 at Garland, Texas.
Burrell was appointed as the Girl’s Youth National Program Director in 1975.
It was as Girl’s Youth National Program Director that she really hit her stride.
Beginning with only 168 teams in 1976, her program now boast over 15,000 team registrations.
She was the driving force to go to the 11″ ball in the women’s and youth programs, and worked to put the re-entry rule into the women’s program.
Her never ending work has been instrumental in organizing youth player and coaches clinics all over the nation.
In 1991 Burrell was presented with the coveted USSSA Presidents Award.
She was honored in 1984 as the USSSA-DeBeers Sportswomen of the Year, and in 1991 became the recipient of the USSSA/Worth Youth Director of the Year Award.
In 1991 she spearheaded the girl’s youth tour to the Soviet Union.
At the time Burrell’s induction into the USSSA National Hall of Fame she had previously been enshrined into the USSSA Oklahoma State Hall of Fame, the USSSA South Carolina Hall of Fame, and the USSSA Virginia State Hall of Fame.
To Mildred, the kids are her life.
Overseeing their development into fine adults from the good lessons they learn in softball is one of her main objectives.
A local television announcer best described the high regard with which she is held by players and parents alike.
When he quoted a young ball player as ,” Mildred gives the best hugs.”
Sharon “Crackers” Graham, a 13 year USSSA Women’s Class “A” veteran performer, has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Association Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
A 38 year old Cincinnati native, Graham played for such top teams as Sweeney Chevrolet, Tri-State Action, Famous Recipe, Empress Chili and Auto Body Panel.
Her main position has been second base, however, she did well in every position, known primarily as a solid singles hitter, she accumulated a lifetime batting average of .445.
In 1986 she was named Most Valuable Player in the USSSA Blue Chip NIT.
She has made All-State Honors on two occasions. Additionally, “Crackers” has been a member of four All-World Teams and has a number of All-Tournament Team placing to her credit as well.
Graham was recently singled out for distinction when she was named to the USSSA Team of the Decade for the 1980’s.
The slugger believes that softball has given her the chance to work with many talented people and has allowed her to latitude to travel and see many parts of the country.
Softball has also allowed Graham an opportunity to excel in sport which showcased her many talents.
Dave Neale, a veteran USSSA manager and sponsor in 1981, has been inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Team Manager Category.
The Brooklyn, Ohio native began his USSSA career as skipper of Nationwide Advertising in 1981-1982.
In 1983 the Steele’s Team emerged under his leadership.
Neale has managed in the USSSA Men’s Major World Series a total of 13 times.
In 1988 his Steele’s Silver Bullets club won the World Series titles in Long Beach, CA.
His lifetime managerial record in USSSA play exceeds 500 wins with fewer than 100 losses.
Dave has promoted softball all over the United States and is nest known for his Steele’s Silver Bullets team that barnstormed the country in the late 80’s.
During that time he managed the team which played in 44 states and went in areas that were not aligned with USSSA, but Neale promoted the USSSA program never the less.
Neale has said that the USSSA Men’s Major World Series in the greatest event in slo-pitch softball.
Rick Pinto, part of the USSSA since its inception in 1968, has been inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
Rick, a 46 year old Dearborn, Michigan native, competed for twelve straight years at the top level of USSSA softball.
He has played for several teams, but is best remembered for his outstanding career with Snyder’s.
During that time he had played all 10 positions, but his claim to fame came as a pitcher, Pinto was highly respected for his defensive skills on the mound and he compiled 610 wins as pitcher.
Sixteen of those victories cam in the Men’s Major World Series play.
Not a mere defensive specialist, Pinto’s bating average in top level play was .570.
Already a member of the Michigan USSSA Hall of Fame, Pinto was named Most Valuable Player in several Major USSSA events and won MVP honors in the Men’s Major World Series in 1976.
He was chosen for the Men’s Major World Series Teams in 1975, 1978, and 1977.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1998
Dale Davidson, 18 year veteran USSSA umpire was inducted into the United States Slo-Pitch Hall of Fame in the Longevity Category.
Davidson, a Rocky River, Ohio native, has served as the Ohio State Umpire-In-Chief since 1980 and has attended and helped conduct 17 national umpire clinics.
In addition to numerous state, divisional, and NIT tournaments, Davidson officiated at the 1982 Men’s Major World Series and the Women’s World Series in 1991.
He is one of the only three umpires to have worked both prestigious events.
He was selected as one of the four USSSA officials on the first Goodwill Tour of the Soviet Union.
He was the recipient of the 1997 Umpire-In-Chief Award at the national meeting in Myrtle Beach, SC.
“Basically, there’s probably about four people who real helped me along in the sat of Ohio,” Davidson explained.
“My good friend, the late, Great George Paupp, Floyd Salter, Mark Linnemann, and for all the time I’ve spent in softball I couldn’t have done it without the fourth person, my 15 minutes of glory here tonight are actually hers as well, to my wife, I love you.”
Clyde Guy, a line drive hitter with power to all fields, has been inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
A 46 year old Ruffin, North Carolina native, Guy was one of the all time great players in the USSSA history.
Especially during the early years of the association. His 15 year career included All World Selections in 1979 while playing for Poindexters Lumber, 1984 and 1985 with Howard’s Western Steer and again in 1989 with World Champions Superior-Apollo Softball.
Guy compiled a lifetime average of .680 with more than 1,400 home runs.
In the 1989 Major World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, he was selected as MVP with an .862 batting average.
“First I’d like to thank God for giving me the talent and allowing me to pick and choose my life’s desires,” said guy.
“I’d also like to thank my sons James and John who spent countless hours chasing fly balls..to the wonderful sponsors I played for.. And to my teammates, from the start to finish.
Those countless hours or training, and playing in good and bad conditions finally paid off. Softball, I love you.”
Lyn Rose, women’s NIT 13 time MVP Award winner and 26 time All-Tournament Team member, was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
Rose, a 42 year old Cincinnati native, played the game for 23 years, 14 of those with USSSA.
She recorded a lifetime batting average of about .600 and shoed good power in amassing 300 career home runs. Rose played for some of the most successful women’s teams ever, including Famous Recipe, Dollarettes, DJ’s Lounge, McGlaughlin Oil, and she played a very important role with three-time World Champions Empress Chili.
In World Series play from 1992-1995, her batting averages were: .615, .590, .630 and .600.
She was selected to the All- World Teams in 1987, 1989, and again in 1990.
“When I joined the Class “A” Division of Women’s USSSA Softball in 1985, I was very excited to be playing Class “A” Softball, but I had no idea of the tremendous rewards that would reveal.
I’m not talking about trophies or plaques; I mean the real life awards I have accumulated over the years, playing with and against some of the best players and legends of the game, good sponsor (the Kiradjieffs) (who) treated us all like daughters, And we were a family.
USSSA HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 1999
Don DeDonatis has been inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Executive Category.
In 1981 Don DeDonatis coached a Men’s ‘C’ team by the name of Miller High Life.
After three years he had build this team up to where it qualified and participated in the USSSA Men’s Major World Series in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984. His team finished fourth in the event.
However, it would not be as a coach that Don would make his imprint on the USSSA.
In 1979 he was appointed as a USSSA Area Director in his native sterling heights, Michigan.
Four years later he was appointed as the USSSA Michigan State Director by the late Fred Schleuter.
At that time there were a little over 500 teams in Michigan playing USSSA.
In 1997 Don’s last year as the State Director of the state of Michigan registered over 9,500 teams with USSSA.
In just his second year as State Director he was presented with the prestigious President’s Award at the National Convention in 1984 at El Paso, Texas.
In 1988 he was appointed as the Executive Vice-President of the Great Lakes Division, the largest division in the country.
In 1996 Don was elected and served as the USSSA National President for two years.
After the vote for approving the reorganization of USSSA at the national meeting in 1997, at Myrtle Beach, he was appointed as one of the three Assistant Executive Directors of the association.
With the passing of Al Ramsey in 1998 he was selected to lead this organization into the next millennium.
His ideas and decisions in just the past fourteen months will effect this association for the better, for many years to come.
Mike Macenko was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Male Player Category.
Mike started his career with the USSSA in 1982 with the legendary Steele’s team that crisscrossed the country barnstorming tours in an effort to promote the game of slow pitch softball.
He was a feared power hitter with a lifetime batting average of over .600 while batting .541 in USSSA Men’s Major World Series play.
In 1987 he set the single season record with an amazing 844 home runs and astounded thousands at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium by hitting a softball out of the stadium during a home run hitting contest.
Participating in 17 USSSA Men’s Major World Series, he was a member of the All World Teams at the USSSA Men’s Major World Series in 1989 and again in 1994.
John McKinley was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Umpire Category.
John’s Umpire career started with the USSSA in 1968, and in 1971 he was appointed as the Umpire-In-Chief for Concord, California.
In 1979 John was selected to serve as the USSSA Division Umpire-In-Chief for the Western Division.
He conducted over 150 USSSA umpire clinics and has attended every USSSA convention umpire clinic for the past 21 years.
He is one of the only four umpires to have officiated in the USSSSA Men’s Major World Series and also the Women’s “A” World Series.
Serving on the USSSA National playing rules committee for the past 17 years, in 1989 he co-authored the first USSSA Umpire’s Mechanics Manual.
Mr. McKinley received the USSSA National Umpire-In-Chief’s Award at the National Convention in 1984 in El Paso, Texas.
Kathy Riley was inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.
With over 200 career home runs, Kathy has a lifetime batting average in USSSA play of .650.
She was a member of four USSSA “A” World Series Champion Teams with Cannan’s Illusions in 1990, 1994, and in 1996, and with UPI in 1998.
Kathy was selected to the USSSA Women’s All World Teams on six occasions and was the first female played to be inducted into the Texas USSSA Hall of Fame in 1997.
Kathy Riley is known as one of the hardest working athletes in the USSSA women’s program.