CHICAGO (CBS) — In less than two weeks, the first ever Hall of Fame for 16-inch softball will open in west suburban Forest Park.
WBBM Newsradio’s Terry Keshner reports 16-inch “no glove” softball is still almost exclusively a Chicago sport, but is gaining popularity in other areas of the country.
For Larry Piekarz, executive director of the Park District of the Forest Park, the 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame is a dream come true.
“Four years in the making, with all private donations, no tax dollars were used … and Forest Park, Illinois, is going to be the world’s only and first 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame and Museum,” he said.
Although the 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame was founded in 1995, it hasn’t had a physical museum until now.
Al Maag, one of the museum’s organizers, was inducted into the Hall in 1996.
“Folks are going to come here and see displays that are talking about black history, women in the game, how Forest Park has such a big impact on softball,” Maag said. “It’s going to show generations of teams. … There are fathers and sons in the Hall of Fame. There are brothers. There are sisters.”
Rachell Entler, recreation supervisor for the Park District of Forest Park,said 16-inch softball “is still very much a Chicago thing,” but is starting to get more popular in other parts of the country, such as Portland, Oregon.
Ray Topps, the Hall’s vice president, has been helping build the museum in Forest Park.
“We’ve had people over the years bring us all kinds of uniforms, spikes, bats, balls, stuff that goes all the way back to the 30s that will be on display, where people will be able to touch it, hold it. We’re not going to put a lot of stuff behind glass,” Topps said.
The Hall of Fame will honor everyday players, and Chicago softball legends, such as Mike Royko.
The Hall’s official opening is July 19th, just days before Forest Park’s “No Glove” National tournament.