Eleven Inducted into Ohio USSSA Softball Hall of Fame

Columbus, OH. – On Sunday, December 7th, the Embassy Suites Columbus Airport was the site of the 2014 Ohio USSSA Softball Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies at which eleven USSSA softball notables were honored.

 

Among those inducted by the Ohio USSSA Board of Directors were Steve Dickinson, Perrysburg, Paul “Shorty” Lewis, Columbus, Tony Salamone, Cincinnati, and Tom Taylor, Milford, in the Male Player category;  Celia Fritz, Columbus, Pam Patrus, Cincinnati, and V.K. Lehman, Cincinnati, in the Female Player category; Don Rinker, Springfield, in the Special Service category;  Jackie Mone, Mentor, in the Executive/Administrative category; and Worthington Industries, represented by Rush Hatfield, Galloway, and Virgil Winlind, Worthington, in the Sponsor category.

Scott Kuhnen of Dayton served as Master of Ceremonies for the 3rd annual Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Scott Kuhnen of Dayton served as Master of Ceremonies for the 3rd annual Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

With both Rush Hatfield and Virgil Winland representing Worthington Industries, this year’s class of eleven inductees brings the total number of Ohio Hall of Famers to thirty one.

 

Scott Kuhnen of Dayton served as Master of Ceremonies for the gala affair.

 

Don Rinker Induction

 

The first inductee was Don Rinker, who has a softball career that spans six decades now.  From player to manager to tournament director to softball innovator, this Don Rinker has been involved in all aspects of the game.  He broke in playing fast pitch back in 1950.  His teams actually played both ways for a time, playing both fast pitch and slow pitch.  He was involved in more than 700 wins as a pitcher for the Sunbeam team which later became the famous Stroh’s team.  This team won multiple County and District Championships, and won 5 state titles.  Don Rinker has a long and storied connection to the country’s first NIT, the famous Stroh’s Tournament.  In fact, his involvement pre-dates the tournament even being called The Stroh’s to back when it first started in 1960 as the Hudepohl Beer Tournament. After volunteering to help with this important event, he got permission to host the event in Springfield’s Memorial Stadium (a baseball stadium), and also was instrumental in having ABC Sports’ Wide World of Sports broadcast the final game in 1965.  Broadcasters included Leo Durocher and Jim McKay. Working in the sporting goods industry this softball innovator is said to have made the first-ever order for white baseball spikes, worn by the entire team, and for which the custom-made price was $12.95 a pair.  The Stroh’s team was also well known for its softball bus, a fixture at many events around the Great Lakes and from which they apparently bootlegged enough beer to cover the cost of gas!  Don has continued to play in 60&Over, 70&Over, and now 80&Over program.

 

Speaking on Don’s behalf was longtime employee, the last Director for the famous Stroh’s Tournament, and the Secretary-Treasurer for Ohio USSSA, Mike Bartee.

Mike Bartee, the last Director of the Stroh’s NIT, and a longtime member of the Ohio USSSA Board of Directors, spoke on Don Rinker’s behalf.  Bartee recalled working for Rinker at his Meek’s Sporting Goods store, calling Rinker one of the most active salespeople in the business.  He also noted that Rinker not only played softball, but also officiated football and basketball at all levels for more than 40 years.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Mike Bartee, the last Director of the Stroh’s NIT, and a longtime member of the Ohio USSSA Board of Directors, spoke on Don Rinker’s behalf. Bartee recalled working for Rinker at his Meek’s Sporting Goods store, calling Rinker one of the most active salespeople in the business. He also noted that Rinker not only played softball, but also officiated football and basketball at all levels for more than 40 years. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Mike recalled meeting and then working for Don “Spanky” Rinker at long-time Meek’s Sporting Goods, well-known Springfield company in 1966.  He recalled one of the most active of salespeople in the business and a person who not only played softball, but also officiated football and basketball at all levels for more than 40 years.

 

Bartee shared that Don Rinker is a lifetime member of the Ohio Athletic Association for both Football and Basketball, a member of the Clark County Baseball hall of Fame, and has served as president of numerous officiating associations including the Southwestern Ohio Officials Association.

 

For his part, Don Rinker’s brief remarks revealed a person who tried to contribute to the success of numerous sports in his hometown of Springfield.  He shared with the audience that he was blessed to have the support of his entire family, including his wife of 63 years, Ginger.  And, that he continues to play this great game in the 85 and over Senior’s program, where he had just returned from an event in Las Vegas.

 

Tony Salamone Induction

 

Inducted next was Tony Salamone, who played 2nd base for the top amateur teams in Greater Cincinnati for three decades, including ASA Metro champions like Savannah Café, Greater Cincinnati Sports, Sorrento’s Pizza, VIP/ETC, and McCluskey Chevrolet.  A perennial All-City selection, Salamone has been named to numerous USSSA All-State and All-Division teams, was a USSSA All-World pick twice, and was Greater Cincinnati “Player of the Year” in 1991.  He also earned All-Pro honors with the Cincinnati Suds professional softball team, was named first team All-Decade for the eighties, and to the Greater Cincinnati All-Century team in 2000.  Salamone’s teams have captured eight ASA Metro titles, a USSSA Division Championship, and a USSSA A World crown in 1989.  He has also participated in four USSSA Men’s Major World Series.

 

Sharing thoughts on Tony’s career was former team manager of Greater Cincinnati Sports softball team, Tom Rowan, who recalled a player of great tenacity and commitment.  Rowan described Salamone as a player who knew how to hit, but made himself into a vital force on many championship teams by developing and adhering to a workout routine which made him an outstanding defensive player, as well.

Former Greater Cincinnati Sports manager Tom Rowan, who introduced Tony Salamone, described Tony as a player who knew how to hit, but made himself into a vital force on many championship teams by developing and adhering to a workout routine which made him an outstanding defensive player as well.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Former Greater Cincinnati Sports manager Tom Rowan, who introduced Tony Salamone, described Tony as a player who knew how to hit, but made himself into a vital force on many championship teams by developing and adhering to a workout routine which made him an outstanding defensive player as well. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Tony graciously recognized the other honorees, and thanked the Hall of Fame Committee for his selection, and gave special thanks to Tom Rowan for introducing him.  He explained that his father provided him the wisdom and determination to play to win and recognize too that it is just as important to be lucky as it is to be good.

 

Thus, Tony recognized his good luck to have played with some of the best teams in Cincinnati men’s softball and with many of the very best players.  Teams like Greater Cincinnati Sports, VIP, Watanabe, and a year (1981) on the Cincinnati Suds, meant playing for such great team managers as Ron Baird, Tom Rowan, Dave Watanabe, and Jerry Weideman.

 

He remarked how fortunate he had been to have a career largely absent of serious injury, that statistics were not a major concern to him, and that he had the opportunity and good fortune to play with and against some of the best players and people of his time.

 

Pam Patrus Induction

 

Pam Patrus, the next inductee, was a consistent hitter with a .535 batting average, and ws known to be tough in the clutch.  She was inducted in 1995 into the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Hall of Fame in the Female Player Category.  Her 13 year USSSA softball career included 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/lost 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 NITs and was Cincinnati’s Female player of the year in 1989.

 

After the obligatory acknowledgement of Pam’s birthday (December 7th), USSSA National Hall of Fame Team Manager, Colleen Needham told the audience about a great athlete on great teams like Famous Recipe, which became Empress Chili, which was stacked with other Hall of Fame athletes.

National Hall of Fame manager Colleen Needham introduced Pam Patrus, sharing that Pam was a great athlete who was passionate for the game and who contributed to the team both on and off the field.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

National Hall of Fame manager Colleen Needham introduced Pam Patrus, sharing that Pam was a great athlete who was passionate for the game and who contributed to the team both on and off the field. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Finding ways to contribute both on and off the field, Pam volunteered for the most difficult positions, kept morale high by designing T-shirts after major championship wins, recruited top talent off other teams, and in preparation for the 1988 World Series even wrote her own team “rulebook” complete with ten sections which explained her expectation to win at everything including how to dress, a drinking policy, and specific regulations for team rookies!

 

Colleen shared that Pam’s passion for the game one day got translated into a passion for the raising of two daughters, Ryann and Kylie, and that she ended up being a Hall of Famer at both those pursuits.

 

Pam’s acceptance remarks revealed a young lady who eagerly took to sports in a house full of brothers with whom she played catch, played hockey, and competed relentlessly.  When she was about 8 years old, her father actually formed a girls softball league in the neighborhood and she played the game all through high school and turned that passion into a college scholarship at Northern Kentucky University.

 

Pam knows that she was fortunate to have played with possibly the best known and most decorated women’s softball team in USSSA history, Colleen Needham’s Empress Chili.  Empress was loaded with a mix of veterans and youngsters who were talented enough to be in the USSSA National Hall of Fame and are now being honored at the state level, as well.

 

Pam recognized the love and guidance of parents who supported her every move, coaches and teammates who served as the sisters she never had but also set high expectations for winning results, and a family which continues to serve as a positive force in her life.

 

Steve Dickinson Induction

 

Steve Dickinson was inducted next.  Dickinson stepped away from the game in 2007 after playing for 22 years with some of the best known elite men’s teams in the country.  Storied teams like Lo-Temp, Gooslin Construction, Hague, and Maroadi Transfer all benefitted greatly by utilizing one of the most versatile base hitters Ohio has ever known.  Primarily a 1st baseman and DH, Steve was named the Outstanding Offensive Player in the 2001 Major World Series and for a time held the title as Career Batting Leader at the USSSA Major World Series.  He was named All-World 13 times on 11 World Tournament Champions and was a proud member of the 1995 Men’s AA Hague team which  accomplished a first when it won the USSSA Major World Series.

 

Speaking on Steve’s behalf was longtime friend and teammate, Tommy Thompson, who spoke of one of the most feared line-drive hitters of his day.  Thompson recalls the start of pitchers wearing shin guards and then pitcher’s masks and believes Steve Dickinson may have been the most recognizable driving force behind both additions to pitcher’s garb.

Speaking on Steve Dickinson’s behalf was longtime friend and teammate, Tommy Thompson, who described Steve as one of the most feared line-drive hitters of his day.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Speaking on Steve Dickinson’s behalf was longtime friend and teammate, Tommy Thompson, who described Steve as one of the most feared line-drive hitters of his day. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Thompson laughingly recalled a time in Milwaukee when a Dickinson line drive got through the infield without anyone even seeing it and an outfielder taking it on the shin so hard that he was knocked out of the game.  At the “AA” World Tournament in Shawnee, Kansas, a Dickinson line-drive went between the pitcher’s ear and his glove and, although it never really hit him, it drove him face first into the dirt, where he remained until others rushed to his aid.  He whispered that it scared him half to death!

 

Dickinson explained his start in the game at the local level in Northern Ohio at the age of 19 and his affiliation with Wapakoneta Eagles.  The Eagles were not loaded with talent, but clearly had determination and were willing to play any and all comers.  After a brief time away from the game, and while back in college at Bowling Green, Steve played a little baseball, but was soon recruited to play with Gooslin Construction.

 

With Gooslin’s schedule, Steve was soon rubbing elbows and comparing hitting notes and game preparation routines with the likes of Brad Farrar and Gary Perkins.  With mentors like that, and sponsors like Jeff Hague, world titles soon followed.

 

In his remarks, Steve shared his deep appreciation for the game as it was during most of his playing days…when homerun hitters hit homeruns and base hitters set the table and helped score the runs driven in by the power hitters.  He enjoyed the challenges and strategy of teams trying to pitch around the power hitters and really enjoyed the opportunity to burn them either way – whether hitting in front of power or behind the power.  The goal was always the same, however:  to win.

 

Finally, Steve thanked all his great teammates, the sponsors, but most of all his wife and family for their understanding and support through 20 years of playing the game he loved.

 

Jackie Mone Induction

 

The next induction was Jackie Mone, who is best known for devoting 33 of her 42 years in the game as league director for the highly successful Mentor Girls Softball League.  Through all those years, the opportunities she has helped provide to the community’s young ladies have passed from generation to generation as the mothers she once taught to play are now volunteering to help the league to continue to support both league and tournament opportunities for their own daughters.  The athletic skills she has taught are complemented admirably by the team spirit and sportsmanship skills which accompany every season.  Her dedicated efforts have produced hundreds of USSSA-sanctioned teams, hosted dozens of USSSA-sanctioned tournaments, and providing thousands of games for USSSA-licensed umpires to work in the Mentor area.  She is clearly one of USSSA’s Legends of the Game in Northeast Ohio.

 

Speaking on her behalf, assistant league director Kim Guenther introduced the attendees to what she called an “amazing woman.”  She calls this founder and Director of Ohio’s largest non-profit girls league a Tasmanian whirlwind of devoted activity in her community to the game and all it represents.

Introducing Jackie Mone was Jackie’s assistant league director, Kim Guenther.  Kim called Jackie an “amazing woman” who was “a Tasmanian whirlwind of devoted activity in her community to the game and all it represents.”  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Introducing Jackie Mone was Jackie’s assistant league director, Kim Guenther. Kim called Jackie an “amazing woman” who was “a Tasmanian whirlwind of devoted activity in her community to the game and all it represents.” Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

To emphasize their support at this induction ceremony for the “Big Red” Mentor Girls Softball League, family and friends of Jackie Mone were outfitted with red holiday scarves and caps and this role model for girls softball shared her commitment to community and the many life lessons which have been passed to girls who then became mothers and brought their own girls back to play in this treasured program in Northeast Ohio.

 

Jackie was humbled and honored to be recognized by Ohio USSSA for what she claims she merely did for the love the game, love of the community, and love of the community’s youth.

Paul “Shorty” Lewis Induction

 

Inducted next was Shorty Lewis from Columbus, was one of the best known of the elite players in the state of Ohio.  He played with such notable teams as DuBois Chemical, Central Ohio Welding, Aqua Science, Willis Garage, and the great Steele’s Sports.  He was named to All-State teams here in Ohio six different times and to six All-World teams as well.  Shorty played the most demanding positions on defense, including shortstop, left field, and pitcher, where he recorded an unheard of three no-hitters and two one-hit games.  He was inducted into the Columbus Softball of Fame in 1997.  He was most recently recognized as one of the Top 25 players on the Columbus Softball Hall of Fame’s All-Century team, and was also recently named to the 2014 Ohio USSSA Columbus Legends of the Game.  Never satisfied with merely playing the game, this softball legend from Dublin, Ohio has continued to contribute to the game by umpiring for the last sixteen years.  Totally dedicated to the game, Shorty recalls playing a Saturday morning game, then taking a quick shower before marrying his wife, Bernice, that afternoon.

 

Speaking on behalf of Shorty Lewis was longtime teammate and friend, and a member of the inaugural class of Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame, Mr. Jerry King, from Maysville, KY.

Speaking on behalf of Shorty Lewis was longtime teammate and friend, and a member of the inaugural class of Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame, Mr. Jerry King, from Maysville, KY.  Jerry said he “never had a better teammate,” whom he “hated to compete against, but loved to play with.”  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Speaking on behalf of Shorty Lewis was longtime teammate and friend, and a member of the inaugural class of Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame, Mr. Jerry King, from Maysville, KY. Jerry said he “never had a better teammate,” whom he “hated to compete against, but loved to play with.” Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Jerry shared about Shorty Lewis that while he had played for decades and on many different teams, he had never had a better teammate.  Calling him a “brother from another mother,” Jerry described a player he hated to compete against, but loved to play with.  Although Jerry tried to explain that Shorty’s tirades at umpires may have been only for show, many in the audience didn’t believe it for a minute and all had a good laugh.

 

For his part, Shorty Lewis thanked Jerry and all the great teammates and sponsors he had the good fortune to play for.  He recalled a time when DuBois Chemical had to go to court to be able to break the stranglehold of suspensions placed on teams by ASA during the early days of USSSA.

 

Shorty then grew nostalgic when missing his old friend Orfeo Angelo, coach of the great DuBois Chemical teams.  He then sent out a special thank you to his wife, Bernice, for allowing him to play all those years and…still come home.

 

V.K. Lehmann Induction

 

V. K. Lehmann was inducted nextA polished outfielder who helped Empress Chili win three straight Women’s Championships, including the first Women’s World Series, Lehmann 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 as the morphed into Empress Chili. 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.

 

Speaking on her behalf, good friend and Empress Chili teammate Ms. Jan Deters, herself an Ohio and National Hall of Famer, described V.K. with 4 C’s:  Consistent, Confident, Competitive, and Clutch.

Speaking on V. K. Lehmann’s behalf, her good friend and Empress Chili teammate, Ms. Jan Deters, herself an Ohio and National Hall of Famer, described V.K. with 4 C’s:  Consistent, Confident, Competitive, and Clutch.  Deters called Lehmann as sound a player as she ever competed with or against.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Speaking on V. K. Lehmann’s behalf, her good friend and Empress Chili teammate, Ms. Jan Deters, herself an Ohio and National Hall of Famer, described V.K. with 4 C’s: Consistent, Confident, Competitive, and Clutch. Deters called Lehmann as sound a player as she ever competed with or against. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

According to Deters, V.K. Lehmann could hit with consistency, field and throw with accuracy, was an outstanding base-runner, and as fundamentally sound a player as she ever competed with or against.  In fact, according to Deters, Lehmann’s only short coming in softball was her admitted inability to handle her beer.

 

Deters relayed a story of the 1989 USSSA World Series where Lehmann hurt her back on Saturday.  Apparently, while Deters initially considered advising Advil and physical therapy, somehow she instead suggested “a few beers.”  Lehmann took the advice and didn’t miss a game in the tournament, but some teammates recall her ending up in a hotel room shower after that first day of the tournament asking others if they had been put on a rain delay?  Not!

 

V.K shared her deep appreciation for all the years of love and support from family and friends.  She especially thanked such great coaches, teammates and friends as Jan Detere, Colleen Needham and Jenny Johnson for the privilege of playing and winning with them and all their other teammates.

 

While many people can claim that softball changed or enhanced their lives, to Lehmann such a reflection has much deeper meaning.  For after being a part of the team which traveled to Russia in 1991 to represent USSSA softball, and seeing the culture and unfortunate poverty of portions of that country, she decided to adopt her beautiful daughter, Ashley, and bring her to this country from Russia.  Lehmann shared that Ashley is, “now 16 years old and the best thing that ever happened to me.”

 

Between a bum knee and a daughter, V.K. gave up playing competitive softball but misses her teammates and the competition greatly.  More than that, she misses the camaraderie and the friendships the game brought her.

 

Tom Taylor Induction

 

From the heyday of Cincinnati and State of Ohio slow pitch, one of the most respected and best known power hitters of the game was Tom Taylor.  With approximately 1,800 home runs in his 29-year amateur and professional career, Taylor played with such legendary amateur teams as Gatliff Auto Sales and Century Tire, plus the Cincinnati Suds professional franchise.  Taylor was a six-time tournament MVP, including in the 1968 Springfield Stroh’s, despite his team’s runner-up finish.  In all he has captured twenty home run titles – including the first two USSSA World Championships in 1968 and ’69, and the 1972 Springfield Stroh’s – and was named to twenty-five all-tournament teams.  He played in either the ASA or USSSA World Tournament every year from 1967 to 1976, was a member of two city champions, and was first team All-World in USSSA in 1968.  A lifetime .575 hitter, Taylor’s primary position was right field, and he was known for his powerful and deadly throwing arm.  Taylor was named the Greater Cincinnati Player of the Decade and to the All-Decade first team in 1980, and to Greater Cincinnati All-Century first team in 2000.  He is a member of six Halls of Fame, including four in slow pitch softball, and has been named to two national teams of honor on Steve Dimitry’s Softball History website, including the Team of the Decade for the sixties.

 

 

Introducing his good friend, Tom Taylor, Mark Linnemann shared stories of a truly gifted athlete with amazing eye-hand coordination, outstanding power and batting for average, and one of the game’s greatest throwing arms.

Introducing his good friend, Tom Taylor, Mark Linnemann shared stories of a truly gifted athlete with amazing eye-hand coordination, outstanding power and batting for average, and one of the game’s greatest throwing arms.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Introducing his good friend, Tom Taylor, Mark Linnemann shared stories of a truly gifted athlete with amazing eye-hand coordination, outstanding power and batting for average, and one of the game’s greatest throwing arms. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

Linnemann also shared the observations of one of Tom’s former teammate, Myron Reinhardt, who was the first player inducted in the National Hall of Fame and was named the player of the decade for the 1950’s.  Myron said of Tom, when nominating him for the Kentucky Softball Hall of Fame, “My reasons for nominating him are not only for his exceptional playing skills, but also for his great character and morals.  I never heard him curse, argue with an umpire, or show any kind of questionable behavior.  In short, he is a first class person and a man of great character.”

 

Tom Taylor shared stories of starting to play outfield in 1957 at the ripe old age of 15.  He then proceeded to compete at a clip of about 100 games a year until his big break at the age of 23 when asked to play for then three-time world champion Gatliff Auto Sales, an all-Kentucky team.  His travels then took him to Milwaukee in 1968 for the very 1st USSSA World Tournament, for which he (like numerous others in USSSA) was suspended in 1969 from participating with ASA.

 

Tom took time in his remarks to thank many who were present for this year’s ceremonies, including Hank Bassett, Tom Rowan, and Don Rinker.  Of his experiences in softball, Taylor said, “Nothing in softball compares to a crowd of 5000 in Springfield’s Municipal Stadium for Don Rinker’s Stroh’s Tournament on a sunny Saturday morning against the top 10 teams in the country.”

 

Tom believes that he never would have received individual honors if it weren’t for playing with as many as 33 Cincinnati, Ohio, and National Hall of Famers, great sponsors, and mangers who guided his teams to great events.

 

Worthington Industries Induction

 

Worthington Industries is one of the most recognized and generous sponsors in Ohio Softball history.  Over a span of more than 50 years, Worthington Industries has made their mark both on and off the field of play.  Most notable among their achievements was the initial and subsequent very generous funding of the Columbus Softball “Wall of Fame” now sitting in the newly remodeled Gary Ogle Softball Complex at Berliner Park.

In his introduction of Rush Hatfield, Virgil Winland, Hatfield’s former teammate and a Senior Vice President of Manufacturing at Worthington Industries, said that as the team manager of Worthington Industries, Hatfield always represented the company in a fashion in which the company could be proud.   Photo by Mike McNutt.

In his introduction of Rush Hatfield, Virgil Winland, Hatfield’s former teammate and a Senior Vice President of Manufacturing at Worthington Industries, said that as the team manager of Worthington Industries, Hatfield always represented the company in a fashion in which the company could be proud. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

The reputation, success, and contributions of Worthington Industries to Ohio softball were notable enough to be represented by two people, Rush Hatfield, longtime coach of the most notable of Worthington Industries teams, and Virgil Winland, a player in his own right, and one of the influential executives (Senior Vice-President for Manufacturing) in the corporate structure.

 

In his introductions, Scott Kuhnen provided excerpts from the Worthington Industries’ website, including the many national corporate awards won by the company through the years and the company’s stated “Commitment to the Community” and Contribution Philosophy.”  The softball community is certainly grateful for both.

 

While most people acknowledge that Virgil Winland was the key cog to this sponsor’s contributions, Rush Hatfield, as team manager became the most noticeable face of Worthington Industries and always represented the company in a fashion which the company could be proud.

 

For his loyalty and dedication to Worthington, Hatfield says he never went to the company to ask for support that it wasn’t immediately provided.  Sponsors like Worthington enjoy the support of the very best players in the game, and Worthington Industries was no exception to this rule.  Virgil and Rush had the great fortune to play with such illustrious names as Jerry King, Bobby Swords, Bill Agler, and many others.  This complimentary relationship between good players and great sponsors is what breeds success in the game.

 

Hatfield’s experiences with Worthington Industries softball team were closely intertwined with his own family, as well.  He thanked his family for their willingness to call softball trips “vacations.” And, he recalled a time when his daughter, Anna, was taken ill in Columbus while the team was in Georgia, and the company, with help from Ken “Doc” Schone and Lynn Ringhiser, arranged for immediate transportation home to be at her side.

 

Ken “Doc” Schone, speaking on behalf of Virgil Winland, described a self-made man who went to work for Worthington Industries in 1971 as a welder and made his way up the corporate ladder to be responsible for 83 operations in 26 states and 10 countries.  However, his dedication to both the company’s community commitment and to the game of softball has led to contributions which have impacted not just Columbus softball, but softball around the state of Ohio, where other communities have copied the type of recognition generously provided by Worthington Industries at Berliner Park.

Ken “Doc” Schone, speaking on behalf of Virgil Winland, said that Winland’s dedication to both Worthington Industries’ community commitment and to the game of softball has led to contributions which have impacted not just Columbus softball, but softball around the state of Ohio.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Ken “Doc” Schone, speaking on behalf of Virgil Winland, said that Winland’s dedication to both Worthington Industries’ community commitment and to the game of softball has led to contributions which have impacted not just Columbus softball, but softball around the state of Ohio. Photo by Mike McNutt.

 

In his remarks, Winland related merely that the company’s CEO, John P. McConnell, set a tone which he faithfully carried out.  Worthington’s commitment not merely to softball, but also other sports-related activities and franchises in the Columbus area, is well-stated by the words on their website:  “Since 1995, Worthington Industries has operated with the Golden Rule as our guiding philosophy. This way of life is evident in our community involvement.  Through volunteerism and charitable contributions, we work to improve the quality of life in the communities where our employee live and work.”

 

In this case, it is the softball community who was the benefactor, many times over, and this award and recognition is one way we can all say ‘Thank you” to Worthington Industries.

 

Celia Fritz Induction

 

The final inductee, Celia Fritz, started playing the game at the age of 12 and has been playing ever since…a career spanning more than 40 years now.  A vital member of eight National or World Tournament teams, including Empress Chili, Stewart-Glapat, and Ty-1-On, Celia was known for her all-around skills playing multiple defensive positions and excelled at clutch hitting to fit any situation.  However, she is likely best know for her over-the-300 ft-fence homeruns in championship play at Expressway, Berliner, Northside K of C, Disney’s Wide World of Sports, and a Little Miami River shot at now Mid-American Ballyard.  When not playing, Celia contributes to the game by being one of Central Ohio’s most professional umpires and continues to help younger female athletes learn to play and enjoy the game which has meant so much to her.  Celia was inducted into the Columbus Softball Hall of Fame in 2005 and in 2008 was an inaugural member of the USSSA Columbus “Legends of the Game.”

 

Speaking on behalf of Celia “Fritter” Fritz, Hall of Fame manager Colleen Needham described a person of boundless energy and enthusiasm.  Still playing and hitting for power in Senior softball, Needham knows a player and person who is an asset to any team on which she plays for a can-do attitude and willingness to share that upbeat attitude and help her teammates with tips or barbs…as the situation demands.

Speaking on behalf of Celia “Fritter” Fritz, National Hall of Fame manager Colleen Needham described a person of boundless energy and enthusiasm, and one who is an asset to any team for her can-do attitude and willingness to share it.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Speaking on behalf of Celia “Fritter” Fritz, National Hall of Fame manager Colleen Needham described a person of boundless energy and enthusiasm, and one who is an asset to any team for her can-do attitude and willingness to share it. Photo by Mike McNutt.

Known for her power hitting, Needham shared the story of Fritter’s first over-the-fence homerun in Senior softball, where her teammates went crazy for her, but she then touched the “wrong” home plate and was called out by the umpire.  Lesson learned with great laughter.

 

For her part, Celia shared with the audience that “live in the moment” attitude which is a hallmark of her success and approach to the game and life in general.  Be a good teammate, be a good mentor, give your all, and have fun while doing it…led her to a blessed life and more and more opportunity and great friends.

 

At the conclusion of this year’s inductions, the announcement of inductees for next year’s Ohio USSSA Softball Hall of Fame honorees was provided.  The class of 2015 includes Cleveland’s Steve Blanchette, Wilmington’s Tim Haley, and London’s Larry Garrard, in the Male Player Category; Columbus’s Sandy Edwards and Oregonia’s Lyn Rose in the Female Player Category; Columbus’s Jeff Hague and Cincinnati’s Tom Rowan in the Team Manager Category; Cincinnati’s Joe Kiradjieff in the Sponsor Category; and Sardinia’s Dan DeClaire and Wilmington’s Don Keys in the Executive Category.

 

Next year’s inductions will be held on Sunday, December 6th, back at the Embassy Suites Columbus Airport.  Please mark your calendar now.

 

Among the eleven individuals who were inducted into the Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame December 7th in Columbus, were, front row, left to right, Pam Patrus, Celia Fritz, Don Rinker, Jackie Mone, and V. K. Lehmann.  In the back row are, Virgil Winland, Rush Hatfield, Shorty Lewis, Tom Taylor, Steve Dickinson and Tony Salamone.  Photo by Mike McNutt.

Among the eleven individuals who were inducted into the Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame December 7th in Columbus, were, front row, left to right, Pam Patrus, Celia Fritz, Don Rinker, Jackie Mone, and V. K. Lehmann. In the back row are, Virgil Winland, Rush Hatfield, Shorty Lewis, Tom Taylor, Steve Dickinson and Tony Salamone. Photo by Mike McNutt.