Six Enshrined Into Norwood Sorrento’s-Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall Of Fame At Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront
Covington, Ky.–Six more area softball greats were inducted into the Norwood Sorrento’s Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame during a banquet ceremony held in their honor on Sunday, January 31st at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront in Covington.
The ceremony, attended by over 200 people, brought to 189 the total number of people who have been enshrined into the Hall since its inception in 1985.
Inducted into the Norwood Sorrento’s Softball Hall of Fame were:
Tim Cocco, the winner of three USSSA World Series home run crowns, five national home run derbies, a World Series MVP award, and 25 World Tournaments; Amy Flaugher, an ASA All-American with Sorrento’s who earned USSSA All-World honors twice while pitching Empress Chili to back-to-back World Series titles; Jack Hatter, a Senior player and manager whose teams amassed over 30 World titles and who is a member of five Halls of Fame; Jon Jamison, a two-time National Tournament MVP and Greater Cincinnati Player of the Year, and a member of the 2010 All-Decade team who has clubbed almost 2,000 home runs; Bob Shad, sponsor of EAP for 28-consecutive years, whose teams have played in almost 3,000 games and captured some 50 NIT, State, National, World and Metro titles; and Eron Smith, manager of two ASA Major Metro, three National, and two World Championship teams who compiled a 1,086-408 record over two decades.
Jeff Piecoro of Fox Sports Ohio and host of the EMMY award-winning Reds Live served as Master of Ceremonies for the banquet.
The afternoon program commenced with a cocktail hour. After a buffet dinner, banquet sponsors and past inductees were recognized before the induction ceremony commenced.
Jack Hatter Induction
After capturing untold league and tournament titles during a 13-year fast pitch and 31-year slow pitch career, Jack Hatter turned his attention to the Senior program in 1987, amassing over 30 national and world titles. He was named SPA Manager of the Year from 2008-2010 after winning Major-Plus titles all 3 years. Hatter was a lifetime .500 hitter whose primary position was 1st base. He has been inducted into five Halls of Fame, including the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Introducing Hatter was his longtime friend and teammate, and a 2009 inductee into the Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame, Dick Ernst.
“It is an honor and a great pleasure to introduce my friend and a great athlete, Jack Hatter,” said Ernst. “His trademark is that he is a winner who doesn’t tolerate losing.”
Ernst recalled how Hatter had organized the first senior softball team from the Greater Cincinnati area, launching “an amazing 26-year career of playing and coaching.”
Though Hatter accumulated a number of rings with a number of teams, “his most recent championship team – Joseph Chevrolet – was feared throughout the softball world,” said Ernst. “They were the winners of every major 70 and 75 tournament in the country.”
Ernst said Hatter was the type of individual who would “jump on you or sit you on the wood for missing the cutoff man or failing to hit behind the runner, then buy you dinner after the game.
“He also assists friends and teammates in need and generously supports worthy causes,” said Ernst.
“I am proud to be your friend,” he concluded. “Congratulations on your induction.”
Hatter began his remarks by thanking Norwood Sorrento’s and the other banquet sponsors, the Hall of Fame Committee, and Dick Ernst for speaking on his behalf.
“I also want to thank all the sponsors of the teams I’ve managed and played for – Clyde Dowers of Ohio Tile, Marty Connor of H & S Sports, Norm Stafford of Stafford Sales, Loyd Smith of Masters 12, and last but not least, Dave Nieheisel of Joseph Chevrolet – just to name a few,” said Hatter. “Dave is one of the best sponsors in the country. He never let us want for anything.”
Hatter pointed out that his softball career not only gave him the opportunity to play teams from all over the United States, but also in Japan, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand as well. He then recalled numerous teammates who he missed playing with after he retired to spend more time with his family and watch his grandchildren grow up and play sports.
“All of them had the same dedication, initiative, and willingness to put forth the extra effort to enrich our team and make them a winner,” said Hatter. “I want to thank them for their outstanding effort. Not many teams or players have experienced the thrill of winning so many softball championships as we have. All the players who played for and with me can be proud of what they accomplished.”
Hatter closed by congratulating the other inductees, and thanking his family for all their support. He then encouraged everyone who plays softball “to keep playing as long as you can.
“It was a great experience for me,” said Hatter. It helped to keep me active in my younger years and in retirement. I will always remember the great times I had playing softball. So until we meet again, good luck and God bless you.”
Amy Flaugher Induction
Inducted next was Amy Flaugher, who during her seven-year career competing with Sorrento’s Pizza, Northside K of C, and Empress Chili, was named a State Tournament MVP, ASA All-American, and two-time USSSA All-World selection. She pitched Empress to back-to-back USSSA World Series titles in 1986 and ’87. Flaugher’s lifetime batting average was .450, and her pitching record was 469-70, with a world tournament record of 23-3.
Flaugher was presented by is her former Empress teammate, a 1988 inductee into the Greater Cincinnati Hall of Fame, and a member of the USSSA National Hall of Fame, Jan Deters.
Deters described Flaugher as “an athlete who could go unnoticed because she wasn’t flashy.
“She wasn’t a power hitter, but she was an effective hitter and contributed offensively to our success,” said Deters. “With her bat control, she could spray the ball to any field, hit to the right side when needed and had good speed.”
While those were “valuable assets” to Empress, “it was Amy’s ability as a pitcher that made her exceptional.
“Of the pitchers playing for the top women’s major teams, I can honestly say Amy was the best,” said Deters. “She hit the corners, she had exceptional control, and she seldom grooved a pitch.
“Amy, your ability as a pitcher was a big reason for our World Championships. You raised our team to a higher level and you gave it all you had. We are here today to say thank you and to honor you for that. It was a pleasure to be your teammate and I am very happy to say ‘welcome to the Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame.’”
“I was fortunate to play for the best softball teams in his area, namely Sorrento’s Pizza, Northside K of C, and Empress Chili during my career,” said Flaugher after thanking Deters, the Hall of Fame selection committee and event sponsors, and her friends and family members who attended the banquet.”
Flaugher then acknowledged several coaches and sponsors who contributed to her career.
“I would like to thank Jane Meier from Northern Kentucky University, the late Merle Williams of Sorrento’s, Dick and Marilyn Goedde with Northside K of C, and finally Don Johnson and Gloria Hill with Empress,” said Flaugher. “I would also like to thank Joe and Carol Kiradjieff for sponsoring Empress, as well as our manager and coordinator of the Empress Chili team, Colleen Needham.
“The highlight of my softball career was winning back-to-back USSSA World Championships in 1986 and 1987,” noted Flaugher.
“I was fortunate to play at such a high level in this sport and winning two world championships was special for me,” she continued. “I will always cherish the many memories, experiences and lifelong friendships from the many talented and dedicated players that I played with and against during my career.
“Again, thank you for this great honor, which I will treasure forever.”
Bob Shad Induction
Bob Shad has been sponsoring teams under the EAP name for 28 years, which is believed to be the longest, continuously running softball sponsorship in Greater Cincinnati. His teams have played almost 2,900 games, capturing over 40 NIT’s, 5 State tourneys, 2 Nationals, and 3 Metros, including one Major title. EAP has consistently been recognized for setting the gold standard for good sportsmanship, fair play and honesty. Shad has also promoted the game by serving on numerous committees and panels, and three years ago he received the John Earls Award, the highest honor in the game next to the Hall of Fame.
Speaking on Shad’s behalf was the longtime manager of his EAP teams, Rob Schlemmer.
Schlemmer recalled “taking over the reins” of EAP eleven years ago, and said that since that time, he could never recall having a disagreement with Shad.
“Class and sportsmanship have always been a hallmark of the EAP teams over the last 26 years,” said Schlemmer. “They are also what Bob represents and are part of the reason he’s here today receiving our city’s highest softball honor.”
Another achievement was being presented the John Earls award in 2013. “And I know many of you here today know the significance of that award,” said Schlemmer.
Schlemmer said that while winning was “why we play, no matter the outcome Bob wanted a clean and respectful game.
“He demanded and received respect from his players. ‘Your name is on the back, but all of us represent the front.’
“EAP achieved some great things, but Bob isn’t about the wins and losses,” continued Schlemmer. “He is about family and team, and yes – again – class.
“Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present my friend, teammate, and now Cincinnati Hall of Famer, Bob Shad.”
After thanking Schlemmer, the Hall of Fame Committee, Sorrento’s, and all of the other sponsors, Shad expressed his gratitude to his wife, Linda, his family, “and all of the great teammates, players, coaches and managers who have put me in this spot today.
“I am truly humbled, honored, and shocked to be a member of the Norwood Sorrento’s Hall of Fame.”
Shad pointed out that his teams weren’t always winners. In fact, in his first softball game, his team was “embarrassed.
“I vowed after that game that I would learn how to play the game and learn how to play it right,” recalled Shad. “It took a few years, but we kept practicing, kept working, kept watching the best teams in the city, and we finally became one of the better teams in the area. We were never embarrassed on the field again.”
Shad said that when he was assembling his teams, he surrounded himself with others who shared his drive and commitment. “I also take pride in that we always hustled, looked good, acted with good sportsmanship, and represented ourselves well,” he said. “And win or lose, we shook hands after the game, and went to share a beer.”
After recalling a few stories that helped make the game fun for his team over the years, Shad shared some special memories. Among them were winning his first Metro, winning a Major title in 2009, winning the John Earls Award, and winning a World title.
“Also the many players who I have made lifelong friendships with, and being inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Hall of Fame,” said Shad. “I never could have dreamed that I could end up here, and I cannot thank you all enough for this great honor. Thank you!”
“Big E” Eron Smith Induction
Eron Smith managed championship softball teams from 1989-2001, and is best known for winning ASA Major Metros in 1995 with Backstop/Easton and in 2000 with EMR/Meiner’s Café/Worth. Other notable championships included a B National crown, 35-Over and 40-Over World titles in NSA, and a USSSA B National and A-AA One-Pitch National in USSSA. He managed 11 Hall of Fame players during his career, and was an outstanding organizer and motivator whose players were fiercely loyal. Smith compiled a 1,086-408 overall record. His father was a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee.
Introducing Smith was his longtime friend and sponsor from EMR, Don Holden.
Holden said he approached Smith about running his team in 1999 and they set a goal of winning the Major Metro.
“He took the challenge on,” said Holden. “We both had the same mindset. We wanted good players, but we also wanted good men. And that’s what we got. And not only did we win the Major Metro, we did it the first year. Not even ‘Big E’ dreamed we’d do that.
“We went on to win two Major Metro titles, we won a handful of national titles, and we won a bunch of world titles. And that’s because we had the best coach in Cincinnati.”
Holden then expressed his appreciation to Smith for molding his team into a regional power.
“I am so grateful to ‘Big E’ for doing this for me because I’ve been playing this game all my life, and I’ve met so many good people in this game, and it’s something you talk about all of your life,” said Holden. “When you leave town, people knew us. They knew EMR. We didn’t start any problems. ‘Big E’ handled the team. He ran it. People knew us, and they enjoyed playing us, win or lose.
“He’s a great guy,” Holden continued. “Not only did I get a coach when he joined our team, but I got a very, very good friend. And I will consider him to be my friend my whole life.
“He’s a good coach, and I love him. God bless him, and God bless everybody here. Thank you.”
After thanking the Hall of Fame Committee, the banquet sponsors and Sorrento’s and the DeLuca family, Smith congratulated the other inductees, then thanked all of the players who had ever played for him.
“Twelve Hall of Famers, including my father, and the entire all-decade team of the 1990’s played for me at some point, and all of these men had a hand in my being here today,” said Smith. “Their efforts on the field are the reason I’m here.”
Smith said that after managing The Backstop, which he led to becoming the best team in Indiana in the mid-nineties, he switched to EMR, which was sponsored by Don Holden.
“I asked Donny, ‘what is your goal,’ and he said ‘beat Watanabe.’ And I said, ‘win the Metro?’ And he said, ‘no, I just want to beat Watanabe in a game.’ And I said, ‘we can do that.’ And we did, and on top of that, we did win the Metro.”
Smith went on to say that as a manager, “there is little you can do to effect the game.
“How you make a difference is the players you get to play for you, and by knowing the rules of the game.
“I prided myself on this,” said Smith. “Sometimes to the point of embarrassment. No one protested more than I did. No one lost more protests than I did, but no one won more protests.
Smith then thanked all his immediate family, present and not present. “I especially want to thank my wife, Yolanda,” said Smith. “She went to all those tournaments, and she understood, because she was a player herself.
“I also want to thank Mike Westerkamm, my assistant coach for fifteen years, and Buck Fulmer, who was my assistant for twenty-five years. No one loves the game more than Buck.
“In closing, I just want to say, ‘hey pop…scoot over. We need a little more room on the Hall of Fame bench.
Jon Jamison Induction
Jon Jamison has powered tri-state teams to untold invitational, NIT, State, National and World Championships, including the 2007 NSA and 2011 USSSA B World Series. He was named MVP in both events. Jon has been selected to 4 Metro, State and World All-Tournament teams, and has been named to 7 All-City teams, was runner-up Player of the Year twice, Player of the Year in 2007 and 2009, and in 2010 was named to the All-Decade team. He has also been a 3-time USSSA All-Conference pick, and has participated in 3 USSSA Major World Series. A lifetime .735 hitter, Jon has clubbed almost 2,000 home runs during his career.
Introducing Jamison was his longtime friend and teammate, and a member of the 2010 Greater Cincinnati All-Decade team, Bob Noeth.
“Jon is a great ball player who deserves to be here,” said Noeth. “He’s worked hard, hitting in the cold, rain and even 100 degree weather, sometimes two or three times a week.
“He is one of the top hitters around…one of the best,” continued Noeth, who played with Jamison on Lucke Homes, Freeze Concrete, Columbus Pipe and Watanabe Optical. “Not only did he lead our teams in hitting, but he would hit for power and hit backside. He would have a batting average of at least .700 or better every weekend.
“Jon played in Conference USSSA, and that says something about what kind of player you are. And Jon has been All-Conference numerous times.
“Not only is Jon a great ball player, but he’s also a good friend, and it is my pleasure to introduce 2016 Hall of Famer, Jon Jamison.”
Like the other inductees before him, Jamison also began his remarks by thanking Norwood Sorrento’s, the Hall of Fame Committee, and the sponsors, and by congratulating his fellow inductees.
He then thanked his family, including his late wife, Jamie, who died from cancer in 2011. “She is the main reason I was able to travel all over the country and play this game I love so much,” said Jamison. “She held down the fort at home.
“My mother and my sister have been my biggest fans, and my brother, Jim, and I have had some great times playing together.
“You are the guy I looked up to and wanted to be,” said Jamison to his brother. “I don’t think I would be standing here if you hadn’t pushed me to be a better player and teammate and even a better person.
“My four children – Jet, Madison, Lexi and Hope – are my world,” he continued. “I love you all. And my girlfriend, Ashley, thank you for being understanding as we live this chaotic life with sports. I love you.”
Jamison remarked that Bob Noeth “has been like a brother to me.
“I can’t remember when I needed your help that you were not there for me.”
Jamison then acknowledged sponsor Dan DeClaire of DeClaire Insurance and team manager Mike Hanselman; Shaun Lucke, Dan Feichtner and Trevor Foster of Lucke Homes; Jim Freeze, Mike Smith and Homer Matheny of Freeze Concrete; Dave Watanabe and Terry Walton of Blitz/Watanabe; Patty Brisben, Chris Cicchinelli, Nick Cicchinelli, and Dan Feichtner of Pure Romance; Ben Cosgrove of Headlines Sports Wear, Brett Helmer of Easton Sports, Brian Wegman of Mid-America Ballyard, James Arnold, Attorney at Law, Kevin and Tina Forwith of Premier Services, Mike and Angie Foulks, and Kelly Sledge of Kelly’s Distribution.
“Without these great sponsors, I would not have had the opportunity to play softball as long as I have,” said Jamison.
“In closing, I share this honor with my family, my teammates and my sponsors. I am truly humbled and deeply honored.”
Tim Cocco Induction
Tim Cocco developed into one of the game’s most feared power hitters early during his 25-year career. After competing as a teenager locally, he quickly exploded onto the Major level to star with R & D, Bell Corp, Chase, Sunbelt, Dan Smith, Long Haul, Jean Shoppe, Red’s Astros and Combat. In World Series play Cocco has won three HR crowns, an OOP award, and was named MVP with Chase/Reese in 2005. He won an unprecedented three consecutive USSSA national home run derbies from 2009-’11. In Series history, Cocco is in the top 10 in HR’s, rbi’s, hits and average. In 2012 he set a Conference USSSA record for HR’s and rbi’s, and was named Offensive Player of the Year. In 2013, he was inducted into the USSSA National Hall of Fame.
Introducing Cocco was a former sponsor and 2015 inductee into the Norwood Sorrento’s Hall of Fame, Robert “Red” Moore.
Moore recalled hearing from one of his players named Gary Palmer in 1991 about “an 18-year old just out of high who could hit it a mile,” and Moore recruited Cocco to play for his Reds Boys team.
That year Reds won a prestigious tournament in Burkesville, Ky., with a 24-team field that attracted over 3,000 fans each day.
“That hooked young Timmy and the rest is history,” said Moore. “He climbed the ladder to the top of the softball world and set many national records. He had bat contracts with Easton and Louisville Slugger for over 20 years.
“After his rise to the top, he eventually came back to play for Herb Price and me. Boy did we see why he was so valuable to all the teams he had played with. He had learned all facets of the game.”
He also became a mentor to the younger players, said Moore.
“I saw him boosting morale for the team and taking time to work with young players. I caught him in the corner of the dugout more than once schooling Andrew Collins on the game. Collins went on to join Resmondo the next year.
“I am thankful to have this opportunity to speak for Tim and to be a coach and friend of one of the greatest ball players to have ever come out of Greater Cincinnati,” concluded Moore. “I would also like to thank all of the competition in Greater Cincinnati and across the United States. Competition only makes us better.”
“First of all, I would like to thank Sorrento’s for sponsoring the Hall of Fame,” said Cocco. “You all do a great job. It’s amazing what you all do, so thanks a lot. Next I want to thank my sponsors. To me they make the game. Sponsors I want to thank are Jeff Hague, Red Moore, Dan Smith, Hank Bassett, Woody Bell, Brett Helmer, Don Cooper, Robert Blackman, Larry Quartuccio, Travis Resmondo, and Cobbie Harrison. Without these guys, softball would not be the game that it is. They put out their hard-earned money. A lot of people take them for granted. So please thank your sponsor year after year for what they do. They do not have to do what they do.
“Also I would like to thank all of my teammates and competition, like Red said. Without your competition and teammates, I don’t get up here. If I don’t make it to the final three or four in a tournament, I don’t put up the stats I put up. It’s all about your teammates,” said Cocco.
“But the main thing I want to do is thank my family. If it weren’t for them I definitely wouldn’t be here. If you don’t believe me, just ask my mom. She’ll tell you it’s all because of her,” quipped Cocco.
“In closing, if I had to say one thing that I think is the best thing about softball, I would rather remember ten to one about a teammate. If you’re the best teammate, of all the congratulations that you get when you come here, my favorite one is that ‘hey, you were one of the top five teammates I played with.’
“If you become a good teammate, you’ll always win and always get recognized in the end, and you’ll end up being a champion in the end, I promise you,” said Cocco. “It’s all about the teammates. Thank you.”
Each inductee received a plaque courtesy of Norwood Sorrento’s, plus a Jostens Hall of Fame ring through the support of some thirty silver, gold and platinum level banquet sponsors.
Over fifty past inductees attended the function, including Norma Eschenbrenner Ante, Ron Baird, Tim Barker, Kevin Birkofer, Jack Collins, Ron Cutter, Dan DeClaire, Jan Deters, Max Dixon, Marvin Doyle, Dick Ernst, Ken Ewald, Bob Fennell, Marsha Friedhoff, Denver Gabbard, Roger Grein, Bobby Hays, Carol Weiss Kiradjieff, Joe Kiradjieff, Tim Klemm, V. K. Lehmann, Randy Lewis, Brian May, Paul McMullen, Jerry Meyer, Marty Monterosso, Red Moore, Gary Mounts, Jim Nageleisen, Colleen Needham, Leo Osterday, Dale Overman, Bob Owens, Joe Penwell, M. J. Ranz, Walt Roeckers, Tom Rowan, Brenda Ryan, Tony Salamone, Gerry Scaringi, Pat Shanks, Walt Shroyer, Lee Sledge, Carol Smith, Mike Smith, Clyde Stafford, Tom Taylor, John Tomlinson, Jim Wessel, Butch Whitaker, Donna Wolfe, and George Young.
Deceased Hall of Fame member Willie DeLuca was represented by his sister, Esa, and Loyd Smith by his son, Eron.
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