1997 Male Player: Al Van Gampler

Al Van Gampler

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A shortstop whose defensive abilities were recognized by all who knew the game of slow pitch softball, Al Van Gampler also filled in as both a pitcher and outfielder over a 16-year career. A career .675 hitter, Van Gampler hit more than 300 home runs.

He played ball for Malnars Tap (Joliet), Lilly Air Systems (Itasca) and Joe Blacks (Highland).

Van Gampler played in five USSSA Major World Series. His 1985 Lilly Air Systems team, arguably the best ever from the state of Illinois, was ranked as high as fourth in the country by the National USSSA.

He twice won the Best Defensive Player award in USSSA Major NITs and was named to numerous USSSA Major NIT All-Tournament teams. A five-time Illinois Class A All-State team member, Van Gampler was named MVP of both the 1984 and 1987 Open A State Tournaments.

In 1996, he came out of retirement to play with Tron Piping, winning the USSSA 35 & Over Major World Title and again earning USSSA World All-Tournament team honors.

1997 Male Player: Dan Prater

Dan Prater

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An outfielder with a lifetime batting average over .600, Dan Prater was a power hitter with more than 1,000 home runs hit during his 17-year USSSA career.

Prater played for Crowther Roofing/Buske Electric (1978), Burla Construction (1979-1986), Brown & Lambrecht (1987), Joe Blacks (1988), Acutron (1989), Bank of Westmont (1990-1991), Joliet Merchants (1992), Belchers Constructions (1993-1994) and his last year with Mid America Concrete (1995).

Prater was named to two All-World teams, played on five Illinois State Championship teams, named State MVP three times, named All-State six times and was once named USSSA Open All-Regional.

Prater once hit eight consecutive home runs at the Milwaukee USSSA Major Qualifier, winning the home run title with 11 in just four games. He is a member of the 1996 Men’s Major 35 & Over World Championship team Tron Piping, as well as an All-World selection.