If you build it, they will come

Softball game honors veterans

Glenn Groebli has been involved with senior softball for 20 years, playing with the “Chicago Geezers 75s,’ a USA National traveling tournament league.

“It’s good to be active as you grow older. You have to find your hobby – your sport” Groebli advised. “And what’s really nice is the camaraderie.”

Groebli, president of the Sun City Softball Club decided to honor the many veterans in their softball club and bring the community to Eakin Field. Groebli, along with his committee, planned a softball game with sponsorship from Huntley’s Business community.

Honor Guard honors veterans from Marines, Airforce, and Navy before first pitch. (Photos by Christine Such/Sun Day)

Honor Guard honors veterans from Marines, Airforce, and Navy before first pitch. (Photos by Christine Such/Sun Day)

Groebli confided before the game, “I really hope that the community grabs this opportunity to support these guys.”

And the community did come through; spouses, children, grandchildren, along with Sun City Residents and friends crowded, the Eakin Field on August 9 to watch this first-time event. They did not come to cheer the various club teams, but instead, they cheered for our “Finest and Bravest” during a fun, yet competitive charity softball game.

50 Veterans from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force signed up to participate in this exciting event. Each player received a hat that depicted the branch of service, personal towel, and a shirt commemorating the event.

At 5 p.m., the players lined up in the field based on their branch of service; a member of each branch carried the military flag for their branch of service. The American Legion Post 673 presented the colors, National Anthem and God Bless America was sung by Kimberlee Burhans.

The event was the perfect opportunity to feature the armed service songs from each military branch: “Anchors Aweigh” for the U.S. Navy, “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” for the U.S. Army, “The Wild Blue Yonder” for the U.S. Air Force, “The Marines’ Hymn” for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Marines: Ralph Voyta, Tom Briglio, Tom Smith, Gordy Mueller, Howard Matthews, Mike Burns, Doug McMillian, Terry Paulish & John Czech

Army: George Goodhue, Ken Kalschuer, Tom Maley, Paul Segert, Dave Sanders, Dennis Kuta, Jim Czysz, Terry Johnson, Richard Pierce, Phil Haugens, Joe Mastrangelo, Wayne Wagner, Leo Olelette, Paul Schmitt, Alan Laya, Bob Lodewyck, Dan Donovan, Jim Martensen, Wayne Krueger, Leo Brandenburger, Tom O’leary, Fred Thomas, Ron Brzezowski, Tom Wiza, Don Campbell, Jack Sietsema, Jerry Weicek, Larry Wojtas, Bill Gagne, Wayne Weber, Dennis Finnell, Les Meuret & Doug Jenks.

Air Force: Gary Krewer, Ed Targos & Joe Bocik

Navy: John Downey, Scott Phillips, Bob Ruckholdt, Tom Noie, Pete Karembelas, Al Scott & Russ Howard

Deceased: Dennis Berg, Bob Cagle, Ben Wieclawek, Ken Wolf, Gordie Young, Marty Riffner & Don Lansu

Groebli introduced each “Softball player, past and present who have served their country” to the crowd after their song was played. Taps were played after Groebli read the names of the deceased Veterans who had participated in the Sun City Club.

Teams congratulate each other after the games.

Teams congratulate each other after the games.

Four Young Marines joined the ranks on the field. These marines participate in a program available to youth ages 8 through high school. The program promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Huntley Community Radio Station 101.5 covered the sporting event as Groebli took on the role of the color commenter as he gave a play by play giving a little information on each player that went up to bat.

The players were divided into the Yankees and Red Sox teams. Each team actually had an A and B group consisting of 11 players They played 6 innings with each of the 11 players on the A or B team batting and then taking the Field; giving each veteran 3 chances at bat. The camaraderie and fun along with the action made the game go too fast. The final score was 14-13 with the Yankees ending with the lead. Groebli applauded the players.

“This is a game of no losers. You as veterans are all winners,” he said.

After the game Dave Sanders, a 21-year veteran, and second generation Sun City Resident felt that this was the “Greatest day here in Sun City.” Sanders is a Softball enthusiast, participating in 4 teams currently playing both 12 and 16 in Ball.

Terry Johnson, who said people know him as “Skippy” (from Skippy’s Shanty at the field), was not able to bat or take the field in this year’s game because he broke two fingers. Johnson did coach first base.

One of the pitchers from the Red Sox, Pete Karambelas is a World War II Veteran who has been with the Sun City Softball Club since it began. Pete has had the privilege of playing in both Comiskey Park and Wrigley field. He was on the Steinmetz High School baseball team when they won the title of City Champions at Comiskey Park and unfortunately lost the Cook County Championship game at Wrigley Field.

Families, friends, and players stayed after the game to enjoy conversation with the players and some food and drinks – ending the successful event.

As Yogi Berra would say, “The game isn’t over until it’s over.”

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