1997 Honorary: Charlie O'Donnell

Charlie O’Donnell

Charlie O’Donnell was appointed an Area Director in 1971. He became the Missouri State Director in 1975. The following year, he was named Regional Vice President of the then Central Division with jurisdiction over Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Iowa. During his tenure as Regional VP, the Central Division became the largest division in terms of team and umpire registrations in the USSSA. Following realignment in 1988, O’Donnell became the Executive Vice President of the Central Division (Illinois and Kentucky moved to the Great Lakes Division at the same time).

Though O’Donnell is no longer directly involved with the Illinois program, he is still part of the new Northern Region, and his leadership and guidance is still felt by his older directors.

In 1993, O’Donnell was inducted into the National USSSA Hall of Fame as a Director. At the 1996 National Convention, he was honored for his contributions to the USSSA Hall of Fame.

2008 Honorary: Chuck Fischer

Chuck Fischer

Honorary 2008_Chuck Fischer.jpeg

In the spring of 1996, close to 300 people crammed into the Clock Tower Grand Ballroom to witness 13 of Illinois’ finest softball talents be inducted into the inaugural class of the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame. Being the Hall of Fame’s first ceremonies, it was important the induction ceremonies came off without a hitch, so State Director Brenda Paulson called upon a longtime friend to be that evening’s Co-Master of Ceremonies. Chuck had already had is “tryout” at the 1993 Women’s World Series when he organized the opening ceremonies and was the emcee at that Rockford event. Also, Mr. Al Ramsey, CEO of the USSSA was at this World Series and was so impressed with Chuck and Jeff Brown’s game play-by-play that both of them became a part of his team. Jeff became “the voice” of the Men’s Major World Series and Chuck has been the Master of Ceremonies at the National Hall of Fame banquet.

For those in attendance, it was evident that he was going to lead this banquet and future banquets with dignity, swagger and grace. No one else could ever get 300 people to go to the bathroom at the same time – prior to the beginning of the induction ceremonies.

This “silver-tongued” Southern gentleman with his Kentucky style for description became the voice of the Illinois Hall of Fame on that night; a voice that has become the trademark of the 13 Hall of Fame banquets that have followed.

At the conclusion of that evening’s inductions, the talk was not about the countless funny stories that came from the inductees but of the professionalism of the Co-Master of Ceremonies to arrange and guide the ceremonies in a timely manner. It was evident that the future success of the Illinois Hall of Fame was in good hands with Chuck Fischer and Jeff Brown at the microphone.

It was not like this was Chuck Fischer’s first trip to the podium. He had let the USSSA National Hall of Fame ceremonies since 1994. That experience allowed him to tackle the tough tasks of introducing people he did not know and making them sound like he had known them his entire life, while guiding the Illinois Hall of Fame inductees on and off the stage on his professional time table.

Chuck Fischer has an eloquent speaking talent, but his attributes to the game of softball go much farther as he has been involved with the USSSA since 1980 as an area director. He was appointed the Kentucky State Youth Director and the Women’s State Director in 1986. In 1990, he was appointed Co-State Director of Kentucky with Ed Williams. In 1998, Chuck took over the sole duties as State Director due to Mr. William’s retirement.

In 1988, Chuck was named the Great Lakes Director of the Year and in 1999 received the coveted President’s Award. In 2003, Chuck received the Richard Pollack Memorial Award for his leadership in the Women’s program. He has hosted and directed numerous state, national and world tournaments during his USSSA tenure. Not to mention, he directed the first three Super Series weekends at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. Chuck was inducted into the USSSA National Hall of Fame in 2007 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

State Director Brenda Paulson perhaps summed up Chuck’s contributions best as she stated, “I cannot imagine being involved with the USSSA without my good friend, Chuck Fischer.”

Without Chuck Fischer, there are many that cannot imagine what the Illinois’ USSSA Hallof Fame would be like either.