How many people know that when the ASA Open Nationals started in 1953 that teams from the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area would dominate this event for the next 13 years? Shield's Contractors from Newport, KY won the inaugural event in Cincinnati in 1953. Waldeck's Tavern from Cincinnati won in 1954, Shields was fourth, Lang's Pet Shop from Covington, KY (pictured above) beat Tresler's Comets from Cincinnati in 1955. Defending champ Waldeck's finished fifth. In 1956, Gatliff's Auto Sales from Newport, KY (also pictured above) dethroned Lang's Pet Shop. Gatliff's repeated as champion in 1957 by defeating a team from McAdenville, NC. Finally in 1958, no team from this area finished in the finals, two time defending champ Gatliff's finished seventh, Boone's Bar from Covington, KY finished third. However the drought was short lived because, in 1959 Yorkshire Restaurant from Newport, KY brought the title back to where it started. Hamilton Tailoring from Cincinnati captured the championship in 1960. Defending champ Yorkshire Restaurant and Gatliff's tied for seventh. The Hamilton Tailors repeated as champions in 1961 with Gatliff's finishing a close third. 1962 was another drought year for this area but in 1963, Gatliff's stormed back to once again capture the title by defeating defending champion, Skip Hogan A.C. Gatliff's made it to the finals in both 1964 and 1965 before falling to Skip Hogan's both times. Before it was all said and done, teams from this area alone captured 9 of the first 13 ASA Open titles and finished runner-up 4 times. Not bad. They even attempted to come back and play in the first USSSA World Championships in 1968. Joe Gatliff's Auto Sales finished 9th out of 52 teams in the world.
Look at this old picture from 1957
Myron Reinhardt as he looked at his ASA Hall of Fame Induction in 1973
Here is Don Rardin as he looked at his ASA Hall of Fame Induction
Another Hall of Famer from Kentucky - Ray Whitey Brown
And Hal Wiggins at his ASA Hall of Fame Induction
Some of the legends from this area include ASA Hall of Famers; Myron Reinhardt (5 time ASA all-american including MVP in 1963, ASA home run and batting leader in both 1953 and 1957, plus 1965 batting leader. There was no MVP award given out in 1953, 1954 and 1957. If one had been awarded in 1953 and 1957, Myron Reinhardt would most certainly had won them due to the fact that he played for the Champion and also was the tournament home run and batting average leader in both years. He would have had three MVP's total. But one can only imagine, because the awards were not given out. Don Rardin (3 time ASA all-american plus an ASA Industrial MVP in 1966 for IBM) , Hal Wiggins (3 time ASA all-american and 1956 ASA batting leader at .667), Wiggins also batted .650 for Gatliff's in the 1961 ASA Nationals. Ray 'Whitey' Brown (3 time ASA all-american in addition to still being active in the masters programs, he has made a few ASA Masters all-american teams in the 1990's for 55-over and 60-over.) Hal Wiggins by the way led the 1989 55-over ASA Nationals in batting (.625) and made all-american. Other superstars of the area included Walt Wherry (4 time ASA all-american including 1959-MVP), Bo Stuntebeck (2 time ASA all-american), Tom Imfeld (2 time ASA all-american), Vern Roberts (1956 MVP), Jack Carmichael (1955 MVP and home run leader), John Drees (1954 home run leader), James Caldwell (1954 batting leader), Gene Dittoe (1955 batting leader), Don Heilman, Mario Valvano, Bob Trainor, John Henry, Don Whitford, Paul Nutley, Bernie Roeckers, Ron Cutter, Leo Wilham, Steve Massong and the fellow pictured below, Sam Minniti. Sam is standing with Jim Harper, the 1961 ASA MVP from Knoxville, TN. Jim played for fifth place Ready Mix Concrete. Sam Minniti won the 1960 MVP and could have easily won the 1961 MVP as well. He had the game winning home run to win the championship in 1961 over Plateau A.C. from Maspeth (NYC), NY. Plus, he was also one of the best pitchers to ever play in the ASA Nationals. Industrial Softball was also big in this area as the first few Champs hailed from ... you guessed it, Cincinnati. The Turbine Jets won three straight World Industrial Titles from 1957-59, their 1958 photo is shown below. Also, some of the greatest Women's ASA teams were from the Greater Cincinnati Area such as Dairy Cottage and Dana Gardens.
County Sports Manager Doc Linnehan lead some of the best teams in Long Island to prominance in the 1960's and 1970's. He started County Sports in 1966 after Musicaro's Foods folded. He picked up some of the Musicaro players such as 1963 ASA All-Americans Jim Galloway, Lou Russo and Oscar Steadman (Galloway and Steadman also made the 1964 ASA all-american team for Musicaros). He combined them with some of Long Island's best such as Bill Brown, Steve Shurina, Bob Schugman, Bill Molloy, Len Matcalevage and Charlie Forte to come out of nowhere to finish second place in the 1966 ASA Nationals. (Galloway and Brown were named to the 1966 ASA all-american team). After a third place finish in 1967 (Galloway, Brown and Shurina made the ASA all-american team that year), they finally won the 1968 Nationals (The ASA all-america team members in '68 were Lou Russo, Bob Schugman, Bert Smith (MVP), Bill Molloy and Jim Galloway). They then went on to finish fourth in 1969 (Bert Smith, Jim Galloway, Bill Molloy and Charles Forte) and 13th in 1970. After not making the ASA Nationals in 1971, He needed a change, so in 1972 he merged his County Sports team with another Long Island powerhouse, the Hicksville Astros. Hicksville came in sixth in the 1969 ASA Nationals (Joe Petriello and the 1969 national tournament batting leader, Joe Konicki at .800 both made the ASA all-american team for the Astros). Hicksville then elected to play in the USSSA Eastern Worlds the following two years, finishing fourth in 1970 (Oscar Steadman and Mike Foley made the USSSA Eastern all-world team in 1970) and third in 1971 (Steadman and Foley once again made the Eastern USSSA all-world team, Larry Chiapetta was the home run leader but did not make the team). Hicksville Astros had some Long Island superstars of their own in Joe Konicki, Mike Foley, Oscar Steadman, John Davide and Larry Chiapetta. They picked up young Long Island stars like Gary Richter and they were on their way. The team had backing from Doc's County Sports business, and also had backing from Empire Vending Company and was renamed Empire County Astros. They finished a respectable 11th in the 1972 ASA Nationals (Galloway, Molloy and Shurina made the ASA all-american team). Then in the 1973 ASA Nationals, they surprised everybody by finishing runner-up to a powerful Howard's Furniture team with former Long Island legend, Bert Smith winning MVP. Larry Chiapetta led Empire County Astros with 18 home runs in the tournament and was joined on the ASA all- american team with John Davide (.667, 14 HRs), Mike Foley, Joe Konicki, Jim Galloway, Gary Richter & Bill Molloy. They finished 8th in 1974 as Mike Foley and John Davide made the ASA all-american team. 1975 saw the name change to Empire County Sports where they finished 12th in the ASA's. The ASA all-american members that year were Mike Foley and Jim Galloway. Then in 1976 and 1977, Pepsico took over as sole sponsor, but by then the team had fallen to ASA finishes of 19th and 28th in those years. Mike Foley still however made the ASA all-american team in 1976. The 1976 team won the Bobby Fisher Springfield, Ohio tournament and finished runner-up to Howard's in the prestigious Smoky Mountain Classic. By 1978, the name was back to County Sports and the following three seasons proved uneventful until 1981 when County Sports now co-sponsored by Ken Sanders won the very first USSSA Class-A World Series. The team changed players and played mainly class A ball until 1987, when County Sports finished runner-up to Starpath in the ASA Major National Championships. The same year they also claimed a runner-up spot in the NSPC World Series of Softball. They fell to a powerful Smythe Sox team. Doc Linnehan was inducted into the ASA Hall of Honor in 1977 and is considered to have been one of the better managers in slow pitch softball history.
County Sports Manager Doc Linnehan and Mr. Softball himself, Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway, also known as Mr. Softball, played in 10 ASA National Championships. He hit 74 home runs, drove in 162 runs and batted .554 in these tournaments. Is it any wonder he made the All-American teams a total of 9 times? In 1963 playing for Musicaro's out of Massapequa, New York, he was 15 for 24 (.625) and tied for the home run title (6) with teammate Lou Russo? In 1966, he led the national tournament in home runs with 11 and RBI's with 29 as he led County Sports to an unbelievable run after losing their first game. They ended up with a second place finish against Michael's Lounge. People still talk about the home runs that he used to hit. Remember, they used kapok balls and wooden bats back then, but Mr. Softball was known to have hit 400' home runs before it became fashionable. When the Pro League started in 1977, the New York Clippers signed Jim Galloway along with amateur teammates Mike Foley, Larry Chiapetta, Steve Shurina and Gary Richter. The Clippers only lasted 1 year in the league before folding at the end of the season. Foley hit 32 HRs and batted .585, Richter hit 24 HRs and hit .587. Larry Chiapetta hit 12 HRs with a .528 average. And the big attraction, Mr. Softball, Jim Galloway at this time over 40 years old still managed to hit 26 HRs and bat .455. In 1978, these Long Island legends (with the exception of Steve Shurina, who elected not to play pro ball in 1978) were signed by the Trenton Statesmen. Foley made the all league team with 35 HRs, 109 RBIs and a .563 average. Richter (12 HRs, .493) and Chiapetta (5 HRs, .532) also decent years. Mr Softball banged out 28 HRs and hit .413. Jim Galloway was elected to the ASA Hall of Fame in 1984. He had in excess of 2500 home runs in his career and was the first true legend of the game.
Bert Smith came out of the shadows of Jim Galloway to be one of the most prolific home run hitters of all time. He played in 9 ASA Nationals and had a composite batting average of .669 (148-221) with 74 home runs and 160 RBIs. In 1968, he led County Sports of Long Island to the ASA title over Jo's Pizza. He was 23-37 (.622) with 11 home runs as he was named MVP. In 1969, he made the All-American team by going 22-34 (.647) with 14 home runs as County Sports finished fourth. County Sports finished a disappointing 13th in 1970, Smith was 9-15 with 4 home runs. In 1971 he left Long Island to play with the Virginia Beach Pile Drivers. He led them to the ASA National Championship as he was 15-22 (.682) with 7 home runs and 22 RBIs. He was named ASA MVP for the second time. He hit 217 home runs in 1972 for the renamed Indian Lakes Pile Drivers, but they did poorly in the ASA Nationals, finishing 24th. Smith was 10-14 with 4 home runs in 3 games. In 1973 he left Virginia and went to Denver, NC to play for Richard Howard. He came with a big reputation and turned out to be everything and more. For the season, he batted .694 and had 218 home runs. This included one particular tournament in Tennessee called the Pick 'O Dixie, where he was named MVP. Why? He went 31-33 with 27 home runs to lead Howard's. And in the 1973 ASA Nationals, he was named the ASA MVP for an unprecedented third time (and he did it with 3 different teams). All he did was go 25-34 (.735) with a new ASA record of 21 home runs and chipped in with 28 RBIs. In 1974, Howard's Furniture won the ASA Championship again, Smith was 17-32 (.531) in the ASA Nationals. He had his best year in 1975, as he broke his own season home run record of 227 set in 1972, he hit 231. Howard's finished second in the ASA Nationals that year to Pyramid Cafe. Smith was once again 17-32 (.531). In 1976, he hit 177 home runs. In fact his four year total for Howard's was 774 home runs and a .653 batting average. As a matter of fact he even played in the USSSA World Series in 1976 with Little Caesars of Detroit. He and Stan Harvey of Howard's joined Mike Gouin, Tex Collins and Denny Hogan in Detroit to lead the Caesars to a 4th place finish. Bert Smith hit 3 homers and drove in 7 runs in four games of the only USSSA World Series he ever played in. This may have been a prelude to how much he liked Detroit, because he left Howard's in 1977 to join the Detroit Caesars of the new Pro League. But before he played pro ball, he played with Jerry's Caterers in early 1977 and hit 58 home runs before he went off to Detroit in early May of 1977. He was named all-league in his first year as he hit 53 home runs in 52 games and batted .512 to lead Detroit to the Pro World Series Title. In 1978, he was injured most of the season, but still managed to hit 42 home runs in 44 games, while batting .529. He led Detroit to its second straight Pro World Series Title by going 15-16 (.940) with 5 home runs in the World Series and was named World Series MVP. He played one more season for Detroit, then left Pro Softball and joined Jerry's Caterers for the 1980 season, but due to ASA regulations, he had to sit out for one year. This kind of soured him on big time softball, he later retired to local softball in his hometown of Charlotte, NC. He was only in his early 30's and one would wonder how many more MVPs and home run title he would have collected had he played a few more years. All total, in a 12 year span between 1968 and 1979, he played on 6 National/World Championship teams and collected 4 "major" MVP awards. He made a brief comeback in 1990 with local Charlotte, NC based teams and even made the 1990 45-over ASA all-american team (along with Stan Harvey). He also was named to the 1992 ASA 45-over all-american team before finally retiring.
The Pittsburgh Legends
Paul Tomasovich and Lou DelMastro of Pittsburgh, PA were elected to the ASA Hall of Fame together in 1992. This was only fitting, because they were the heart and soul of the 1960's greatest team. It all started in 1958 with a team called Colinger's Bar, which became Red's Cafe in 1959. In 1960 John "Hogan" Didinato became the sponsor and the team was called Hogan A.C. In 1962, Sam "Skip" Schipani joined in the sponsorship and the team was now called Skip Hogan A.C. That's the way it stayed until 1966, when "Skip" became sole sponsor and the name once again changed to Skip A.C. Jim Dilorio, with the backing of his Sporting Goods business became the teams' new sponsor in 1967 and the team now went by the name of Jim's Sport Shop. That's the way it stayed until the team eventually disappeared only to make a resurgence in the pro league in 1977 under the name of the Pittsburgh Hardhats. The owner was Jim Dilorio and the team had many new faces. Now Back to Tomasovich and DelMastro, These two guys were Pittsburgh icons as they played in seven ASA Nationals and their teams had a total record of 38-7. Skip Hogan A.C. which later became Jim's Sport Shop won 4 ASA National Championships in the 60's (62, 64, 65 and 67). They also finished second to Gatliff's Auto Sales in 1963 and finished 5th in 1960. Paul "Superman" Tomasovich was one of the best all-around softball players ever, he could hit for power, hit for average and had one of the strongest arms ever seen. He was named to the ASA All-American team 5 times. Lou "Nozza" DelMastro was one of the greatest pitchers that ever played the game. His overall pitching record in the ASA Nationals was 32-5 (.865 winning percentage). In the years that Skips/Jim's won the ASA title, he gave up only 160 runs in 29 games for an average of 6.5 runs per game. Lou DelMastro was selected ASA all-american 4 times. Playing in their first ASA Nationals in 1960, Hogan A.C. finished fifth (4-2), but they forfeited their last game in a dispute over the umpire's calls, This showed how competitive they were, they actually walked off the field and lost the game rather than continue with bad umpires, they were that mad. Hogan A.C. finished the year 37-12. In 1961, they failed to make the nationals and ended up with a 46-12 record. Then in 1962, Skip Hogan A.C. defeated East Side Sports of Detroit to win its first ASA National Championship. ASA all-american Mike Orlando drove in the winning run in the final victory over Detroit to give the "Skips" a 5-4 victory. Mike Kovach (9-17 .529), Lou DelMastro (9-15 .600, 4 doubles and 4 triples) and Paul Tomasovich (12-18 .667, 4 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs and 6 RBIs) were the 1962 ASA all-americans along with Mike Orlando. The Pittsburgh squad finished the year 55-11. 1963 saw Skip Hogan A.C. lose the final ASA title game to Gatliff's. Outfielder Jimmy Watts made the ASA all-american team along with Paul Tomasovich and Lou DelMastro. They finished the year 62-13. Then in 1964, the Skips had their best year with a 69-11 record including 6-0 at the ASA National Championships. In the final game against Gatliff's, trailing 16-13 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Skip Hogan tied the game at 16 and with two outs, pinch hitter George Siford hit a 2-run homer to give Skips the 18-16 victory and the championship. Paul Tomasovich was 17-24 (.708) with 7 home runs, 2 doubles, 4 triples and he was named MVP. Lou DelMastro and Mike Kovach were once again named to the ASA all-american team along with Tomasovich. In 1965, Ship Hogan A.C. repeated as ASA champ by going undefeated (7-0) at the Nationals and defeating Gatliffs in the final title game 23-7. Bill Downey and George Siford each had two homers in the game. Lou DelMastro was voted the ASA MVP and was joined on the all-american team by Paul Tomasovich, Ron Kaintz and George Siford (who tied for the home run lead (5) with four other players, including Tomasovich). Skip's A.C. as they were now called finished 16th in the 1966 ASA Nationals. They had no all-american selections, even though Paul Tomasovich went 15-29 (.517) with 7 home runs and 12 RBIs. Mike Kovach (8-16), George Siford (8-16, 3 doubles and 2 triples) and Lou DelMastro (8-15 .533) all had good tournaments along with Miller Adams, who had two home runs. Under new sponsorship in 1967, Jim's Sports Shop reclaimed the ASA Championship as Miller "The Killer" Adams was named the ASA MVP and Ray Kruel won the ASA batting title (.840). Both made the 1967 ASA all-american team. In 1968, Pittsburgh area teams dropped out of ASA and joined the new USSSA. The fact that the previous year's ASA champion was now playing USSSA ball gave the USSSA instant recognition. The other Pittsburgh national power, Brookline Young Men's (BYM) Club also jumped to the USSSA along with many other ASA teams. The first USSSA World Championships were held in 1968. Mueller Pipe Liners out of Milwaukee, WI were crowned the champs of the new USSSA. Mueller had to beat the Pittsburgh contingent to claim the crown. BYM Club with Lou DelMastro pitching (remember him) came in second and Jim's Sport Shop was third. DelMastro and Ron Engler (home run leader with 5) of BYM made the first USSSA all-world team along with Paul Tomasovich, Miller Adams and Ray Kruel of Jim's Sport Shop. In 1969, Jim's won the USSSA World Championship by defeating Warrens of Irwin, PA. Milwaukee Electric Tool (later they became Accurate Welding and Marasco Variety Faire) was third. The USSSA MVP was none other than Superman himself, Paul Tomasovich. Lou DelMastro and Miller Adams also made the USSSA all-world team for the second straight year. Jim's played in the USSSA Eastern Worlds in 1970, not fairing too well, then dropped out of national amateur competition in 1971. All in all, counting ASA and USSSA, they played 11 years on the national level, competed in 10 national championship tournaments. They won 5 national titles, finished runner-up twice, third once and fifth once. Other Pittsburgh legends include a player named Denny Brown, who made the Pro all-league teams three years in a row from 1978 through 1980 as a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Hardhats. He batted .600 in 1978, .504 in 1979 and .492 in 1980 (good for 2nd in the league). "Big" Tom Miller also starred for the Hardhats. In 1977, he hit 52 home runs and drove in 124 runs while batting .544. He made the Pro all-league team as well. In 1978 he was left off the team even though he still managed to hit 38 homers and collect 126 RBIs. Tom Miller was a former USSSA all-world selection for Joe's Army & Navy Store in 1975. He led the tournament in home runs with 6. He was also the home run leader in the 1974 USSSA World Series playing for Sol Mintz, he hit 6 home runs.
H.T. Waller of Chipley, FL took the country by storm in the 1968 ASA Nationals playing for Jo's Pizza House of Milton, FL. He led them to a surprise second place finish behind County Sports of New York. He hit 9 home runs and drove in 17 runs along with a .619 batting average and was named to the ASA All-American team. In 1969 he led Jo's to another second place finish, but in doing so, broke the ASA National Tournament home run record with 16. He also had 28 RBI's and was 19-32 (.594). By the way, he was named the MVP too. He also led the Nation in home runs that year with 219. He stayed with Jo's for the 1970 and 1971 seasons where he led the nation in home runs both years with 195 in 1970 and 225 (in only 529 at bats) in 1971. In 1972 at the urging of his friend Bert Smith, H.T. joined the Virginia Beach Pile Drivers, who had won the ASA National Championship in 1971. Playing for the now called Indian Lake Pile Drivers in 1972, he had 201 home runs and in the ASA, they finished a disappointing 24th with a 1-2 record. All H.T did was go 12-13 (.923) with 12 RBI's in the 3 games. He did not have enough at bats to qualify for the batting title though. In 1973, he and Bert Smith joined Howard's Furniture and together with Stan Harvey of Tennessee became the greatest off season pickups in history. Howard's had never won an ASA National Championship. But with Waller, Smith and Harvey to go along with the already strong team, Howard's won the title in 1973 and 1974. They also finished second in 1975. Waller made the ASA all-american team in 1973 with a 27-39 (.692), 20 home run, 25 RBI performance. he stayed with Howard's until retiring in 1980. He had his best year in 1977 by hitting 212 home runs and batting .641 on the season. He also hit 10 home runs and drove in 23 runs as Howard's finished third in the ASA Nationals. He made the ASA all-american for the fourth and final time in 1978 as he hit 11 home runs to help Howard's to a second place finish. All total, H.T. Waller played in 11 ASA Nationals and was on 2 ASA National Championship teams, 5 second place teams and 3 third place teams. He was selected to the ASA Hall of Fame in 1997.
The home run that put Steve Loya in the record books was in the 1975 ASA Nationals when underdog local team, Pyramid Cafe defeated 2 time defending ASA champion Howard's Furniture. Loya came to bat in the bottom of the 7th inning, 2 outs and two guys on base trailing 10-9. He hit a dramatic 3-run homer to put Pyramid in the winners bracket finals against Poindexter Lumber of Winston-Salem, NC. He did it again in the winners bracket final by hitting a 2-run homer to lift Pyramid to a 10-9 win and send them into the championship. Pyramid Cafe won the ASA championship and Steve Loya was named the MVP even though he 12 for 27 (.444 Average). Without him Pyramid wouldn't have won. He was named to 4 ASA all-american teams during his career. Loya played his early years with Swing Inn, Gene's Sohio, Gene-Angelo's and Tuff-Kote. He posted the very high batting averages of .758 in 1970 and .746 in 1971, but it was said he could hit a home run anytime he wanted to. His brother Andy was also an ASA all- american and played with Steve most of his career, until 1977 when Steve Loya became the 1st player to sign a pro contract with the Cleveland Jaybirds in the new pro league. He passed away in 1991 at the age of 57. It was estimated that 2500 people attended his wake and funeral services. He was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame in 1993.
Here is an old photo of Chester Dungan from Florida. He played for Jo's Pizza back before HT Waller came aboard. Chester Dungan was the original single game home run champion. He hit 8 in a game back in 1968. It was then done by HT Waller in 1975 and then again in 1977, Craig Merrit in 1981, Bill Pollock in 1983, Craig Elliott in 1983, Mike Macenko in 1986, Mike Bolen in 1986 and Tim Rhinehart in 1986. The record today for most home runs ina single game is shared by 3 legends of the game with 10. Don Arndt hit 10 for Howard's in 1986, then Mike Macenko and Ricky Huggins both hit 10 in 1988 for Steele's.
Here is what Mike Nye looked like in 1976 playing for one of the best teams of all time, Warren Motors (94-2 on the year, including the ASA Championship). The year before playing for Nelson's Painting, he won the MVP awards in 7 straight tournaments that year (1975). All Mike Nye did in 1976 was set a national batting average record (.769) that took over 15 years and countless equipment improvements to break. A little know fact is that he also hit 65 home runs. He also won the ASA MVP (shared award with Ron Ford) and led the tournament in hitting (.793). Nye later went on to win the 1977 Pro league World Series MVP award and then lead the League in batting in 1978. He made all-league all 3 years in the league. The other picture is in the early 1980's with Jerry's Caterers. The man could run a 9.4 100 yard dash and bench press 500 lbs. He is an 8 time ASA all-american selection. He also received 1 USSSA all-world selection as well as being named NSPC all-league and all-american.
Take a look at
Mike Nye's interview with Mike Macenko
©1998 Steve Dimitry, all rights reserved.