Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame Celebrates 2nd anniversary by announcing the Class of 2019… by John Cardullo
Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame
Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame
Celebrates 2nd anniversary by announcing the Class of 2019…
by John Cardullo
It had been talked about for years - starting a Softball Hall of Fame - the debate, however, was will it be for slow pitch softball? Will fast pitch and semi-fast pitch be included? Will it just have men, or include women? After 20 years of going back and forth, on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at the Cranston Country Club, 33 men and women were inducted in a full house ceremony of over 300 people, the first ever class of the Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame.
“This has been talked about for years,” said board member Bob Berard, who can easily be elected in several categories himself. “Finally, we were able to get a diverse board together to get the ball rolling.”
The initial board includes longtime USSSA director Brian Cipolla, Scott Sunderland who has been involved in Mens, Womens, and Co-ed Softball for many years. John Cardullo who spent 55 of his 61 years involved in softball in one capacity or another, and Berard, who played competitive softball for some of Rhode Island’s top teams such as The Backstop, Warwick, and was a fixture on Rebel’s. Berard is currently the State Director of the new Freedom Softball Association located in Warwick but was for several years the State Director of NSA softball. “The initial idea was to have the board of four establish the Hall of Fame with the first two inductions, then expand the board by three more members after the second year, creating an odd number of votes.” Berard said. “We all agreed to check our egos at the door and none of us would be elected in the first class”.
It was agreed that there would be several categories that a candidate could be elected to, however, a candidate could only be elected to one category. A criterion was established with candidates having to have been in the sport participating at the highest level the State had to offer (at that time), and they have had to represent the state on a regional and National level.
“What we did the first year was to elect a diverse group of people who touched the game from the late 1950s to the early 2000s, this way candidates would be familiar to a greater amount of people”. The board elected the class of 2018, and as the names we made public they were met with overwhelming approval from the softball community.
The Mens category elected David Hawkins, Harry Mutter, Kirby Murphy, Leo Monastesse, Steve Yankee, Al Antone, John Mello Jr, and John Stephen. The Women who were elected were Lori Keenan, Tracy Miller, Donna Sunderland, Jo-Ann Avedisian, Carolyn Thornton-Iannuccilli and Brenda Morrison. Coaches included were John Vitulli, Phil Deluca, Joe Bernalewski, Richard Hochman and Vincent “Rebel” Fratazzi. The Directors were acknowledged by inducting current USA State Director Bev Wiley, Robert Urbani, Lou Capirchio and A. Joseph Mattera. An Umpires category was also part of the Hall of Fame with Jim Jackson, John Bonalewicz, Tom and Jack Soares going in as a father and son combo, and William Langlois electing to go into the Hall as an Umpire. The last category was for sponsors, Gregg “Dog” Madsen, Tom Logan, Rick Pollock, Ray “Bud” Pariseault, and Robert Clark from Clark and Sons, (who happened to be the first ever National Championship team from Rhode Island). As they say, and so the Hall was born!
“The easiest part of the job was completed, getting the first induction off the ground. The hardest part is to keep it going.” Berard went on to say. “Now that we have established the Hall, people start sending you names that they think of viable candidates. They have to meet our criteria and be vetted and then be voted on.” He goes on to say, “this is what we were hoping for, we didn’t want this to be a one and done! We want this to be an annual celebration event. We have just completed and voted on the class of 2019, which will be inducted on Sunday, November 3rd at the Crowne Plaza. We outgrew the Cranston Country Club and had to find a larger venue. Not too shabby for only our second year.”
The Class of 2019:
The Men’s category, Craig “Chicky” Palermo, Dan Mazzulla Jr., Tom Cabral, Norm Reels, Al Riveria, Anthony Calabro, Norm Levesque, Chuck Manz and Al Boddington.
The Women’s will induct Michelle Rawcliff, Nancy Santopadre, Kathy Pinto and Paula Locke. The Directors entering the hall will be Johnston’s own Dan Mazzulla Sr, and Robert Mernick from Warwick.
Umpires will be represented by Laura Nesteriak, and Ray Bonifilia.
Coaches that were elected were Dave Marland, Bob Hoxie and Tom Delany.
In the sponsors hall will be representatives Jim Tucker of All State Insurance, John Cardullo of the Players Softball Club, Lee Wilber of Lee’s Gals and Bill Taylor of Taylor Brothers.
“We feel that we did another quality job with the election of the class of 2019, but we can’t wait to get to work on the class of 2020, we may just have to book the Dunkin Donuts Center!” Berard concluded.