Three Locals To Be Inducted Sunday, December 4th, Into Ohio USSSA Hall Of Fame Class Of 2016
Columbus, OH. – Three Greater Cincinnati softball legends, including Sharon Graham, Bob Owens and Brenda Ryan, will be among the ten distinguished slow pitch softball figures comprising the 2016 class of inductees into the Ohio USSSA Softball Hall of Fame on Sunday, December 4th.
Elected by the Ohio USSSA Board of Directors and being inducted are: Mr. Dana Andry from North Royalton; Mr. Mike Bartee from Springfield; Mr. Bob Darden from Beavercreek; Mr. George Fejes from Akron; Mr. John Fleeman from Worthington; Ms. Sharon Graham from Alexandria, KY; Mr. Randy Kortokrax from Westerville; Mr. Bob Owens from Goshen; Ms. Brenda Ryan from Burlington, KY; and Mr. Billy Wilson from Sunbury.
The ten will be inducted during the 5th annual Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame ceremonies and banquet planned for Sunday, 4 December 2016 at Embassy Suites Columbus – Airport, located at 2886 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH, 43219.
This year’s class brings the Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame to a total of fifty distinguished members in the seven categories for outstanding contributions to USSSA softball in the State of Ohio.
Dana Andry, from North Royalton, played a 15-year career with some of the best known elite teams in N.E. Ohio softball most notably professional teams like Galati’s
Jaybirds, the Cleveland Competitors, and Steele’s Sports. Dana was a versatile player, known primary for his work on the mound and the ability to hit for both high average and with great power. His teams consistently recorded outstanding win-loss percentages and an 15-5 World Tournament record. During the heyday of slow pitch softball, his appearances in such significant events at the Smoky Mountain Classic, the Conway Twitty, and the USSSA Worlds led to multiple tournament and league MVP awards and a spot on the 1983 USSSA All-World Team. Dana was inducted, along with good friends Mike Macenko and Steve Blanchette into the Greater Cleveland Softball Hall of Fame.
In the Female Player Category, from Alexandria, KY, Ms. Sharon Graham played for such notable teams as Sweeney Chevrolet, Tri-State Action, Famous Recipe,
Empress Chili, and Auto Body Panel, winning countless National Invitational Tournaments and three World titles. Sharon was a solid defensive player, primarily at 2nd base, and a consistent singles hitter who accumulated numerous MVP and All-tourney selections including being named to four all-World teams. Her clubs competed in ten consecutive USSSA Women’s World Tournaments. From 1981 through 1989 they never finished below 5th and from 1986 thru 1989 they reached the championship game every year. Her competitive fire and team contributions led to her inclusion as one of USSSA’s Team of the Decade for the 1980’s. Sharon was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Softball hall of Fame in 1995 and the USSSA National Hall of Fame in 1997.
Mr. Mike Bartee, from Springfield, has been involved in the game in numerous ways over more than 40 years. From player, to umpire, to tournament director, to
USSSA Director, this Softball Legend has been involved in all aspects of the game. This Legend played in that event, fondly remembers putting together a pick-up team to compete in the event…and with that team had a 4th place finish, and eventually came to be one of the tournament directors for that prestigious event. In 1986, he served as Director of USSSA’s Ohio District III, the following year was appointed Secretary/Treasurer of the Ohio USSSA, and also served as USSSA’s Central Ohio State Director. As player, umpire, tournament director and USSSA Area Director he has served the game with great integrity and considers it gratifying to have helped Ohio USSSA become one of the nation’s best at serving the players. Although accomplished in all those multiple roles, he recalls the great satisfaction of both playing in and then helping his good friend, Danny DeWitt, to host one of the nation’s most celebrated tournaments: the Springfield Stroh’s Tournament. Mike Bartee was named one of the Greater Dayton “Legends of the Game” in 2009.
Mr. George Fejes, from Akron, was one of the best, and best known, softball umpires in Ohio USSSA history. Sought after for both his expertise and great attitude
on the field, George worked World Tournaments at numerous levels of play, including Men’s AA/A, B, C, D, where his crews were consistently requested to work the finals. That experience and attitude likely led to his assignment to work the 1992 Major World Series in Daytona Beach, FL, where worked the dish with a live microphone for the broadcast of the game by the Sunshine Sports Network. His work as District UIC and his dedicated partnership with such other Ohio Hall of Famers as Cleveland’s Dale Davidson and Akron’s Dave Thorley made him a valuable part of Northern Ohio USSSA and led to his induction into the Summit County Softball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Ms. Brenda Ryan, from Burlington, KY, is considered to be one of the most dominating players in Great Cincinnati women’s softball history. She made a huge
impact on the USSSA Women’s Program in 1977 as a member of the Women’s ‘B’ World Champions, Pabst Blue Ribbon, she did this at the age of 17. She was a member of the World Champions in the USSSA Women’s ‘A’ Program in 1985 with Northside K of C, in 1998 with UPI/Kinder, on two occasions she was chosen as the Most Valuable Player, at the Women’s ‘A’ World Series in 1985 and again in 2001 at the Women’s 35 & Over World Tournament. Brenda was a perennial all-City selection in Cincinnati and was voted as the Player of the Year in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1985, 1986, 1992, and 1993. She was awarded the USSSA-deBeer Sports Woman of the Year Richard Pollock Award in 1993. She was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Hall of Fame in 1999 and the USSSA National Softball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Mr. Billy Wilson, from Sunbury, spent almost 40 years in the game, stepping away from competitive softball in 2007. He was an outstanding hitter, often in the leadoff
position, with an approximate .750 lifetime average and was a great defense centerfielder for some of the Columbus area’s best known clubs. This included LaDolce Vita, Worthington Steel, Jequetas, Central Ohio Welders, and Wendy’s. These were clubs known for keeping the area’s best players together for years and years and competing at the highest levels, including States, National, and Worlds. Many of these players are enshrined in multiple Softball Halls of Fame, including in Columbus, Ohio, and nationally. For his outstanding career in Columbus area softball, Billy was inducted into the Columbus Softball Hall of Fame in 1995, was a member of the Columbus Team of the Decade for the 19070s, and named a member of the All-Time Top 15 players of Columbus.
Mr. Bob Darden, a Virginia native now living in Beavercreek, has played, coached, sponsored, and served as a director. His playing days date back to 1965 and include
both slow pitch and fast pitch. Through the late 1960 and early 1970s while serving in the USAF, he played at the highest levels of both fast pitch and slow pitch both domestically and around the world. As a team manager for both boys slow pitch and girls fast pitch teams, his teams competed at the highest levels including boys championships at the NSA Worlds (1990), and consistently high finishes in USSSA Boys Worlds in 1992 (1st), 1993 (3rd), 1994 (1st), and 1995 (1st). As Director, Bob and Vicki Darden are the cornerstones of one of the nation’s best youth programs, the Beavercreek Youth Softball Association, which has served more than 1000 kids each year for more than 20 years now. A little known fact is that it was Bob Darden who hosted the very first USSSA fast pitch tournament here in Ohio, even before USSSA had a fast pitch program. Bob hosted numerous USSSA Boys State Championships in a rotation established with Northern Ohio back in the day, and he was tournament director for the USSSA Boys World Tournament held in Dayton in 1997. Beavercreek’s Rotary Park, under the caretaking of Bob and Vicki Darden, continues to serve USSSA fast and slow pitch youth events to this day.
Mr. Randy Kortokrax, from Westerville, is one of the state’s most celebrated male players. Playing a 25-year softball career for such marquee teams as R&D, Lovell
Electric, Steele’s Sports, and Hague/Resmondo, Randy was versatile player in the field and an accomplished high-average hitter with power. His teams consistently won world championships in all associations and the individual awards, although not the reason he played, came with the territory. This included All-World awards for a solid decade between 1993 and 2003. Like another of our Ohio USSSA Hall of Famers, Jeff Hague, Randy is tremendously proud of being a part of the only non-Major team, Hague/Resmondo, to win the USSSA Major World Series in 1995. He is a member of numerous Halls of Fame, including The University of Findlay, Hancock County, and was inducted into the Columbus Softball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Mr. Bob Owens of Goshen has been the manager of Expressway Park in Milford since the park opened in 1982. Under his direction, Expressway has been a showcase
facility, distinguishing itself for is superior cleanliness, field conditions, field lighting, concessions, staff and umpiring. It is recognized and respected nationwide for its singularly professional operation and tournament management. Expressway Park hosted over 600 teams a year during 1990-2005 and still continues to book over 450 league teams per year thru 2016. As the flagship facility for Ohio USSSA for 35 years, it has hosted an unprecedented 1,500 state and national qualifiers, 210 State Championships, 310 NIT’s, 45 Nationals, and 6 USSSA World Tournaments. Expressway was honored with the USSSA National Award of Merit in 1985, and the Ohio USSSA State Award of Merit in 1993, and was named Complex of the Year by the Softball Operators and Directors of America (S.O.D.A) in 1987, 1991 and 1995. Bob received the Ohio USSSA State Director’s Award in 1995 and the S.O.D.A.’s “Man of the Year” award in 1997. He has been a USSSA Director for 35 years, served on the S.O.D.A board of Directors for 7 years, served on the Ohio USSSA Board of Directors as District Director for the Greater Cincinnati area for 20 years, and is a past President and Vice-President of the Premier Softball Association. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Mr. John Fleeman from Worthington has more than 40 years invested in and serving this game. John was a steady force on numerous Columbus-area teams
including Linworth Merchants, Russo realty, Central Ohio Welding, and Sycamore Café. A slick fielding shortstop with a solid batting average, John notes that he seldom if ever took home individual awards for All-Tournament or MVP. Yet, it’s possible that he could be considered the Most Valuable Asset in Columbus softball history. He served the game as head groundskeeper at Berliner Park from 1986 until 2003, was one of the founding members of Berliner Action Team for Softball (BATS), and is the moving force behind the Columbus Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame. That work, in recognizing and honoring others in this game is a hallmark of John’s great respect for and devotion to the game. He was recognized by Ohio USSSA as a Columbus Softball Legend in 2009 and was elected to the Columbus Slow Pitch Hall of Fame in 1996.
This year’s Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and banquet affords an opportunity for softballers from around the State of Ohio to gather, enjoy the rich history of Ohio USSSA softball, and celebrate the worthy of inductees in the class of 2016.
Ceremonies begin at 1pm with a cocktail reception featuring a cash bar. The banquet begins at 2pm, with induction ceremonies immediately to follow.
Tickets for this event can be purchased for $45 each from the following:
Scott Kuhnen, P.O. Box 31038, Dayton, OH 45437 (937-429-0029)
Jerry Pinoni, 7810 Chicory St. Blacklick, OH 43004 (614-560-0625)
Mark Linnemann, P.O. Box 18153, Erlanger, KY 41018 (859-991-3860)
Tickets should be purchased by Monday, November 28th if possible. Please send check made out to “Softball Hall of Fame” and tickets will be mailed to you.
We hope you will consider joining us at this special softball event to honor and congratulate our newest Ohio USSSA Hall of Fame inductees.
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