Denise “Dee” Susin
When Dee’s seventh grade softball coach asked, “Is there anyone that could catch a fly ball?” little did anyone realize that this was launching a 37-year softball career for one of the most outstanding women outfielders in Illinois softball history.
While playing left field for Class A Chicagoans, she earned several national All-Tournament team selections at Sheboygan, along with Milwaukee and Cincinnati with her .573 career batting average. Her career ended with her retirement in 1992.
Born, raised, and still living on Chicago’s northwest side, she was the youngest of five, with a mother that was a huge Cubs fan. This instilled a love of the games of baseball and softball at an early age.
Dee attended Mother Guerin High School in River Grove, where she experienced her first opportunity to play organized sports under the direction of her first high school basketball coach, Gloria Kolbusz, who introduced many of Guerin athletes to AAU basketball and travel softball.
After a stellar high school career, Dee received a full ride scholarship for basketball from the University of Illinois Chicago, where she also played softball. This is where many of Dee’s teammates also became longtime team members of the Chicagoans.
She began playing USSSA softball for Stingers of Aurora and played with them in a World Tournament in Virginia. Her second World Tournament experience occurred when she participated with the Chicago Wind at Hutchinson, Kansas.
Even though Dee’s 14 years of on field USSSA participation are ones to remember, perhaps her most memorable off field achievement took place at the Detroit World Tournament; in an attempt to amuse her teammates, she ran full speed into the inflatable Miller Lite bottle, nearly resulting in putting her on the disabled list. She never did anything half speed.
Dee admits, “My long-term commitment and fondest memories are the many years playing with the Chicagoans.”
Even though she played mostly left field, she also played all other outfield and infield positions. She even pitched some, resulting in one of her most outstanding softball accomplishments when she combined with teammates (Herbert and Malpede) to toss a complete game no-hitter at the State Tournament.
Dee summarized her participation in softball by saying, “Softball has given me so many lifelong friends that I could never imagine my life without.”
For the Chicagoans and the Illinois Hall of Fame, we cannot imagine what it would be without Denise “Dee” Susin.