2006 Lifetime Achievement: Sonny Vercellotti

Sonny Vercellotti

The Stone City VFW has been synonymous with softball in the Joliet area since the early 1960s. They sponsored teams for years, beginning with fast pitch, then gravitating to men’s and women’s 16-inch and eventually 12-inch.

It was in 1975 when Sonny Vercellotti sat down with fellow Post members and hatched the idea of building a softball diamond on the Post grounds. Along with Jim Conroy, Wimpy Schmitt and others, Vercellotti oversaw the new leagues formed, especially after lights were installed in 1977.

The primary league was the elite league in the area and was home to many top teams over the years, such as Mole’s Den, along with Moran AC, Ligon Engineering, Malnar’s Tap, Bad News and Burla Construction.

At its height, the Friday night games were broadcast on the radio. Originally, the ball diamond was unused on the weekend, except for the picnickers who filled the facility every weekend.

In 1982, the USSSA formed a relationship with Stone City which gave the association a position in Joliet that still endures today. Sonny Vercellotti was “the” contact man for the formative years. He was the publicity man who got the results in the papers. He was out at the crack of dawn to assure the entire facility was read for the day, setting the bases himself. He was also in charge of the umpire scheduling. All of this was in addition to organizing and running the leagues, from pre-season planning to scheduling to seeing it come to pass on the field.

A former USSSA director said, “When I scheduled a tournament at Stone City, all I had to do was call Sonny with game times and the tournament almost ran itself.”

Without Sonny Vercellotti and the Stone City VFW, the USSSA would not have been able to enjoy the success in the Joliet area that it enjoys today.