Seven To Be Inducted Into Norwood Sorrento’s Hall Of Fame January 26th At The Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront; Membership Swells To 154
Three male players, two female players, a senior softball player and a team sponsor will earn the highest honor in area softball with their induction into the Norwood Sorrento’s-Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame on Sunday, January 26th at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront in Covington.
To be inducted are shortstop Jeff Click of Amelia, Oh., outfielder Bob Massong of Fairfield, Oh., and 2nd baseman Mike Smith of Cincinnati, Oh., into the Male Player Category; pitcher Shirley Patterson of Kodak, Tn., and outfielder Vickie Stambaugh of Cincinnati into the Female Player Category; John Tomlinson of Newport, Ky. into the Sponsor Category; and Jim Spelbrink of Mason, Oh., into the Senior Category.
Jeffrey Dale “Jeff” Click was the pre-eminent shortstop in Greater Cincinnati softball during from the late ‘90’s until he retired in 2010. Respected as a complete hitter, Click hit for power early in his career, then changed his approach while batting leadoff for Watanabe. However, he was able to produce with whatever the situation called for. He was best known for being able to play a solid shortstop for his size, and his ability to hit from that position.
Click spent most of his career with two teams: six with Watanabe Optical from 1999-2000 and 2007-2010, and ten with 1st American Title/Freeze Concrete (1996-1998 and 2002-2007). He had a lifetime batting average of .610-plus and started every single game of his career at short.
Click’s teams won some fifteen National or World Tournaments, including an ASA A National title, three USSSA B National titles, and an NSA B World title. His teams also captured seven state championships, over twenty USSSA B NIT’s, and three ASA Open Metro crowns. Twice he appeared in the USSSA Men’s Major World Series.
Click has been named tournament MVP eight times, and to thirty-one All-Tournament teams. He was selected B co-Player of the Year in 2003, has been named 1st team All-City more than ten times, was picked to the All-Decade team in 2000 and 2010 and was named runner-up Player of the Decade in 2010.
Robert M. “Bob” Massong patrolled centerfield for several Greater Cincinnati “A” teams during his thirty-year career, including Diesel Excavating, Hammer’s, Avoca Park, Bushelman Construction, and Jay’s.
With his induction later this month, he and his father will become the third father-son duo to be inducted into the Norwood Sorrento’s Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame, and the first to both be inducted into the Player Category. Massong’s father, legendary slugger Steve “Hammer” Massong, was inducted in 1985. Sam (1987) and Marty (2002) Monterosso were the first father and son to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, in the umpire and player categories, respectively. Ray (1985) and Dick (2009) Ernst joined the Monterosso’s in 2009, also in the umpire and player categories.
Like Jeff Click, Bob Massong was a “complete” hitter, with a lifetime batting average of over .600 and with more than 300 home runs to his credit. He won three city tournaments, including 1984 and ’85 with Bushelman and 1993 with Jay’s. Also with Jay’s, Massong finished 5th in two USSSA “A” World Tournaments, and captured a USSSA A State Tournament in 1990. Massong went 19-for-21 in that event on his way to Tournament MVP honors.
Massong was named the Greater Cincinnati “Player of the Year” with Bushelman in 1984. He was picked to the Greater Cincinnati All-Decade 1st team in 1990, the All-Decade 2nd team in 2000, and also in 2000 was selected to the Greater Cincinnati All-Century team.
Most softball players never even dream about winning a state, national or world tournament.
But Michael Anthony “Mike” Smith had already won all three by the time he was only eighteen.
Playing with Avoca Park, J. R. Express, Freeze Concrete and H & W for twenty-four years, Smith – the common thread behind each team’s success – became a virtual icon at the B level in Greater Cincinnati. In fact, one could make a case that his name was synonymous with B softball for a quarter of a decade locally, and that he was the consummate – if not quintessential – class B softball player.
Despite the fact that Smith spent most of his career playing at the B level, his skill-set was such that even the best teams in Greater Cincinnati recognized that he was one of the premier 2nd basemen in the tri-state, and unequivocally the best defensive 2nd baseman. Not only was he named to the All-Decade first team for the nineties in 2000, he was also selected to the All-Century team. Achieving such honors was virtually unheard of for a B player.
But those accomplishments were just icing on the cake for Smith’s 27-year career. Additionally, he has made ten world tournament appearances, captured three national titles – including the ASA 16-18 under Boys Youth Nationals in 1979 at the age of 18 – and ten state championships. His Freeze teams won back-to-back USSSA B National titles in 2003 and 2004. And in 1992, he led his 1992 J. R. Express team to an Open Metro title, which was an unprecedented achievement for a B team.
Smith’s individual awards also included being named MVP in two state tournaments and the ’91 Metro, and runner-up B “Player of the Year” in 1984 and 1995, and B “Player of the Year” in 1989.
In addition to his unrivaled defensive skills at 2nd base, Smith compiled a .609 lifetime batting average – most of which was done before the onset of composite bats. He also had great speed and was a renowned clutch hitter.
Shirley JoAnn Patterson was the pitcher for the most successful team in women’s softball in the 1980’s, Sorrento’s Pizza of Norwood. During an eight-year span from 1973 to 1980, Sorrento’s finished no worse than 4th in five Amateur Softball Association National Tournaments, winning the title in 1976. Patterson was named to the ASA National Tournament All-American team four consecutive seasons, winning National Tournament MVP honors in 1975, first-team All-American honors in 1976, and second-team All-American honors in 1977 and 1978.
Patterson spent twelve years pitching in Greater Cincinnati, playing for Sweeney Chevrolet in 1970, the Cincinnati Cardinals in 1971 and Rutenschroer Floral in 1972 before joining Sorrento’s in 1973. She was best known for pitching – especially her precision placement and high arch – and defensive skills. She had a lifetime ERA of 3.4, and in the 1976 Nationals she compiled an amazing 1.7 ERA.
Patterson’s husband Larry was Sorrento’s assistant coach. He would scout other teams and signal Shirley from the bench to pitch high and tight, low and inside, etc. And Patterson was capable of placing the ball precisely where players did not want the pitch.
Patterson recorded one no-hitter during her career, and had a lifetime won-lost record of 675 and 85. In National Tournament play she was 50-13. She was named to the Greater Cincinnati All-Century Team in 2000.
Amazingly, Vickie Stambaugh won three ASA National Championships with three different teams over a five-year span. Stambaugh’s titles came in 1972 with Riverside Ford, 1973 with Sweeney Chevrolet, then in 1976 with Sorrento’s Pizza.
Known for her speed and defensive skill in the outfield, Stambaugh started in either left field or right centerfield throughout her ten-year career. Offensively, she was a singles hitter who used her speed and ability to run the bases.
After spending 1971 and ’72 with Riverside, Stambaugh joined Sweeney Chevrolet for the 1973 and ’74 seasons before finishing her career with Sorrento’s Pizza (1975-1980). In addition to winning three national titles, Stambaugh’s teams earned a 5th place finish in the 1971 National Tournament, a 3rd place finish in 1977, and back-to-back 4th place finishes in 1979 and ’80.
Stambaugh’s two most successful seasons came in 1973, when her Sweeney Chevrolet team lost only three games and swept to the ASA National Championship with a 6-0 record, and in 1976, when Sorrento’s won ten straight games after losing their opening contest to capture the National title. Sorrento’s went 92-8 that season, and Stambaugh was named to the All-American 1st team. Stambaugh also earned All-American honors in 1972 with Riverside.
Stambaugh also captured five ASA Cincinnati Metro Championships.
Johnathan Edward Tomlinson Sr. has sponsored Men’s C and D softball teams in Greater Cincinnati under the “Saints” banner every year since 2000. And no team in the tri-state has a more recognizable “brand” or has played more games.
It is estimated that Saints Softball has played over 2,000 games, and Tomlinson has spent between $8,000 and $15,000 a year sponsoring the team. Early on the Saints had co-sponsors, like Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mizuno, Mike Foulks and Schmidt Plumbing, but since 2008, the Saints have been primarily funded out of Tomlinson’s pocket. Tomlinson typically pays for all of his team’s uniforms and entry fees.
During the team’s heyday in the mid-to-late nineties, it was not uncommon for the Saints to play two or more tournaments every weekend.
For eleven seasons (2002-2011), the Saints have accrued at least 1,270 points playing USSSA softball, and as many as 2,470 (2009). They have been the top-ranked team in their class in either Kentucky or Cincinnati nine times and second twice. Six years they were ranked no lower than 4th in the Great Lakes Division, and have only been ranked worse than 7th once. Nationally, they have been ranked among the top fifty teams in the country eight of eleven seasons, with their highest ranking coming in 2009 (9th).
In 2009 the Saints won an unprecedented sixteen tournaments and finished second five times.
In addition to coaching or managing all of the teams he has sponsored, Tomlinson has also been active as a player too. He has played every position, compiled a lifetime batting average of .685, and is believed to have hit more home runs – 5,000 –plus – than any player in Greater Cincinnati softball history.
Tomlinson’s teams also have a long-standing reputation for sportsmanship, as the team does not tolerate players arguing with umpires, teammates, fans or opponents.
James A. “Jim” Spelbrink has been playing softball for 53 years, but it has been during the last 21 years, when he began playing in the Senior program, that his career really exploded. Since 1992, Spelbrink has played in 35 World Tournaments and won an incredible 26 of them while competing with Greater Cincinnati teams like the Tri-State Masters and Joseph Chevrolet, and national powerhouses like Nothdurft (Detroit, Mi.), Papa Johns (Louisville, Ky.), Dixie Gas (Miami, Fl.), and Suncoast Orthopedics (Venice, Fl.).
Spelbrink spent much of his early career playing Industrial ball with the G. E. (General Electric) Jets, with whom he won eight plant championships from 1960-1970, and with the G. E. Aces, whom he helped power to an ASA Industrial Metro title in 1987. In between that time he won thirteen league titles with Bramble Inn and 43 Bar, and later captured eighteen tournament championships with The Hut Café.
Spelbrink got his first taste of Senior ball in 1992, when his Tri-State Masters team captured an SPA National title, and Spelbrink was named to the All-American team. Since then he has been selected an All-American seventeen times.
A solid infielder at any position, Spelbrink’s primary position is 3rd base. But he is best known as adept line-drive hitter and a run-producer, with a career batting average of over .675, and more than 250 home runs to his credit. Once while playing in the 2009 SPA National Tournament in Dalton, Ga., Spelbrink went 23-for-24 (.958) and was named a 1st team All-American.
Spelbrink was one of thirteen individuals to be inducted into the inaugural Senior Softball Hall of Fame in 1996.
The Norwood Sorrento’s Hall of Fame banquet will be on Sunday, January 26th, at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront in Covington. A happy hour kicks off the function at 1 PM. A banquet ceremony follows immediately at 2 PM. Jeff Piecoro of Fox Sports Ohio and Reds Live will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
Tickets are available from Norwood Sorrento’s and Expressway Park. Norwood Sorrento’s is at 5143 Montgomery Road in Norwood (531-5070). Hours are Monday through Friday from 12 PM to 2 PM and from 4 PM to 10 PM, and from 12 PM to 10 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Expressway Park in at 689 Rt. 50 in Milford (831-2273), and the office is open from 10:00 AM-4:30 PM Monday through Friday.
Originally known as the “Hudepohl Softball Hall of Fame,” the Norwood Sorrento’s Softball Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 1985 as part of Cincinnati’s Hudepohl Brewing Company’s 100th anniversary. It is under the direction of a committee of longtime softball players, managers, fans, sponsors, umpires and administrators. Committee members include Myra Burwell, Jim Chastang, Ralph DeLuca, Jan Deters, Bob Fennell, Mark Linnemann, Dave Maury, Bob Owens, Danney Saylor, and Tom Taylor.
Short URL: http://www.cincysoftball.com/?p=8922