Another softball season is winding down and we have new champions crowned all around. Softball has been in my blood since I was 16 years old. I am 56 today, so that is 40 years of some great memories and friendships. . Memories that I will always cherish and hopefully I will be able to take them with me when I leave this world. The friendships are second to none and I always said that softball was just like a big fraternity on a college campus. It is tough to get into the upper level of softballs fraternity, but once you make it there then the rest is up to you. How long you stay on the upper level will be up to you. To this day, players are still asking me “ how do I get to the upper level of softball”?. So, if you are one of the few that get to make it there, remember to work your butt off and you should do just fine and don’t forget about the players from the past!
I am writing this article to talk a little bit about some of the players that in the last couple of years have gone to the playing field in the sky. These players helped pave the way for future softball players. They set the bar with their play..
First there is Stan, the Man, Harvey. Stan passed away on January 5th 2012, at the age 69 of a stroke. Stan was one of a kind as a person and as a softball player. I don’t think I ever heard him swear but I am sure he might have. He was like a gentle giant who could wheel a big stick game after game after game. In 1978, in Sacramento, he put on one of the best displays of hitting I ever saw. He set the record with 23 homers in ASA champi¬onship play. He was part of 2 way punch that kept Howard’s Furniture at the top of the heap for a long time when it came to Big Time Softball. He had one of the smoothest swings you will see. Today, Denny Crine reminds me of him. He has the same swing every time. He knows his pitch and when it comes in he would let you know it. Stan was your ultimate softball player…. could run, could throw, played the outfield, 1st base and he would come in and try to help Don Arndt with the pitching. My man, Stan….
Bert Smith, 66, passed away on Feb. 25, 2012 from injuries suffered in an auto wreck. Bert had a unique style when he played, but he could back up his words on the softball field by becoming one of the best players of his era. Softball seems to be separated in different eras. The different eras pertain to the field sizes and equip¬ment. Bert played when the fences were 275 and they used aluminum along with wooden bats. Four times he earned ASA All-America honors, including being named the tourney MVP a record three times. He played in nine ASA National Championships and compiled a .619 batting average, hitting 74 homers and driving in 160 runs. He was a member of four national championship teams.. Bert was inducted in the ASA Hall Of Fame in 1994 after a stellar career. Bert also played for the Detroit Caesars in the Pro Softball League in 1977 and hit over 50 homeruns his first year.
Charles Wright, we lost Charles a year and a half ago at the age of 59. He was doing what he loved to do best and that was hitting softballs. Charles really loved to hit softballs a long way. He really got into trying to perfect his swing at a young age. .At 6’5 and weighting 240 lbs., he was your ultimate athlete. He had a big frame and could play basketball better than anybody in the county. Charlie is going into the USSSA Hall Of Fame this year. He will be inducted in California at the USSSA Convention along with team¬mates Mike Shenk (Ritch’s Superior) and Dave Steffen (Ritch’s Superior). Charles played with such teams as Nationwide Advertising (81),York/Sanders (82), Elite (83, 84), Steele’s (86), Marlton, (88), and Ritch’s-Superior (91, 92)…. He was known as the Georgia Peach throughout the softball circles. I feel Charles did a lot for softball helping to promote it over the years. He hated losing and did not want anything but 1st place. In 1985 he left his team’s runner up trophy on top of the hotel they stayed at. Whenever he did hit a homerun he had the same trot every time. He always had a certain look about him when he hit a home run. He was that good. Pair of the best hands you could ever want to see. Top 5 all time player.
Next issue I will remember Jacques Millier, Kenny Carver and Ken Loeri. Remember to work hard in the off season. It is the old lesson, hard work pays off. Good Luck.
By: Mike Macenko
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!