Softball tournament fans got an inside look at the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame at the open house July 26. The building will officially open next July, say organizers.Courtesy 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame

The Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame offered fans a glimpse of the future, by hosting an open house during the No Gloves Tournament. The exterior of the museum has already been completed and landscaped but the interior remains unfinished. However, replicas of the electronic exhibits were on display and the space was decorated from floor to ceiling with softball memorabilia.

These artifacts included uniforms from the 1920s, official rule books from the 40s and a heavily-weighted bat from the 60s. HOF Co-founder Al Maag pointed out the drill marks where lead had been inserted.

“We only have a small percentage of artifacts on display,” Maag said, “We have a warehouse of historic items.” Maag hopes that when the museum is completed, more memorabilia will pour in.

Maag was joined at the open house by the museum’s architects and contractor Ray Topps. “It was Ray’s idea to put the plaques outside,” Maag said, referring to Monument Park, “We could never have fit 300 plaques inside.”

Space is at a premium inside the 1,600 square foot museum. They did, however, slightly expand the former gas station. Large widows now look out from where the repair bays were located on the west end: while, the east end now has storage space and room for handicapped-accessible washrooms. Architect Andy Jasek said, “We took Ray’s ideas and made them come true.”

Ray Topps and HOF Committee President Ron Kubicki decorated the interior for the open house. “It gives the feel of how it’s going to be,” Kubicki said, “We’re hoping to have the interior done by next July.” So far, one-third of the $300,000 needed to complete the displays has been raised.

“We can’t say enough about Forest Park,” Kubicki continued, “It’s been a great partnership. The people at the Park are amazing.”

Those who would like to take a virtual tour of the museum, or give a donation to make the dream a reality, can visit www.16inchsoftballhof.com.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball...