2004 Male Player: Larry Sheppard

Larry Sheppard

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Since 1984, Joliet resident Larry Sheppard has played USSSA softball as an outfielder, infielder and pitcher in tournaments ranging from the Joliet City Championship to Major tournaments across the country.

Along the way, the strong, spray-hitting leftie has forged a .636 average that’s also produced 450 home runs. He’s contributed his sterling skills to three USSSA World Series teams, including a World Championship Class A team and five California and Illinois State Title teams.

He has played for and against some of the best local and national teams in existence at the time, including for 1992 USSSA World Class A Champion Herb’s Dynasty, California’s Sun Valley, DJ Sports, Joe Black’s, the Kamikazes, Illusions, Ken’s Beverage and Tron Piping.

Larry had a 17-7 record in USSSA State, Divisional and World Tournament play and 58-21 record overall on the mound. He has been named the Most Valuable Player in 13 Class A and B tournaments and 14 total times.

Nationally, he’s been All-Tournament at 11 Class AA to B NITs and Divisionals, and has been named Best Defensive Player five times. In Illinois, he’s been named All-State seven times. He is a member of the California 1980s All-Decade team as the left fielder.

Probably the thing I most admire about Larry was how hard he worked to keep his game at that level, and he worked just as hard to keep the team’s game alive. He’s one of the best team guys I’ve seen in a long time.
— Don Loid

Some athletes are just blessed with God-given ability in their youth and Sheppard was certainly one of those people. Not everyone is able to hang on to God’s gifts, but Sheppard worked diligently to do so.

“Probably the thing I most admire about Larry was how hard he worked to keep his game at that level,” Tron’s Piping manager Don Loid said. “And he worked just as hard to keep the team’s game alive. He’s one of the best team guys I’ve seen in a long time.”

At the top of his list of great softball thrills, Sheppard lists his World Title as part of Herb’s Dynasty. That is followed by a win over national powerhouse, Ritch’s Superior, in the 1993 World Series. Additionally, Sheppard fondly remembers his two USSSA Class B Illinois State Titles with Illusions and Ken’s Beverage.

Sheppard played in ten Joliet city tournaments, winning four titles and three runners’ up, with titles in three of the last four years. Along the way, he has also umpired for 11 years.

A well-traveled veteran of top flight softball in four different organizations, Sheppard appreciates USSSA softball, but would like to see greater cooperation between the organizations.

“Players should now be classified A, B and C with a list for all four sanctioning organizations,” Sheppard said, sharing just one of the many ideas he’s developed in his years of softball. Ideas, he said are crucial to the survival of the game. “New ideas are needed because the level of participation is going down,” he said.

We welcome Larry Sheppard’s continued participation in USSSA softball and celebrate his past participation by welcoming him into our ranks as an inductee into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2004 Male Player: Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy

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The general consensus regarding Tom McCarthy is that he was a talented and exceptionally competitive softball player who retired from the game far too soon. Tom wanted to be involved with his three sons as they grew up, and made the right decision, people are quick to say. Still, they contend softball is the less for it.

“It’s a sham he couldn’t have played longer,” Tom’s old skipper, Bank of Westmont manager Don Loid said. “We would have loved to have had him continue playing for us over the years.”

But Loid understood McCarthy’s motives back then and he understands them now.

“As his boys grew, he made the decision,” Loid said.

If McCarthy has been as good a father as he was a softball player, his sons are now lucky men. McCarthy epitomized the competitive softball player.

In 14 years of USSSA ball, played primarily with the Bank of Westmont, but also Bunca Car Wash and Burla Construction, the left center fielder forged a reputation as an intense competitor.

“He was a high intensity player,” Loid said. “His motor was always running.”

McCarthy said he reveled in victory and sorrowed in defeat, but that didn’t stop him from appreciating all that he was experiencing.

“During off time, I could relax with the best,” he said. “But when the time came to play ball, I was disciplined and expected all who played the game to give it as much effort and determination as I did.”

During off time, I could relax with the best, but when the time came to play ball, I was disciplined and expected all who played the game to give it as much effort and determination as I did.
— Tom McCarthy

At the heart of that attitude was an intense pride, both in his personal game and the game of softball itself.

“When I played on the Bank of Westmont, even though we did like to enjoy ourselves, we really dedicated ourselves to being a very competitive team, along with representing the USSSA in a professional manner,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy was mostly a good percentage hitter who would go long from time-to-time. He boasts .630 career batting average and over 250 home runs in 14 years during an era – 1978 through 1990 – in which the game of softball was played without the artificial boost of space age metals and trampoline effect bats. McCarthy was named Most Valuable Player at five Class B and A tournaments between 1983 and 1987, including a Class A tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan while playing with Bunca Car Wash. At this tournament, McCarthy went 28 for 29 against some of the strongest competition in the country.

McCarthy was able to keep things in perspective and never put softball ahead of some of the more important things in life; however, he may have gone too far in the mid-90s. Asked to list his All-State honors for the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame, he wrote down several years and added, “but I cannot find my trophies. I threw a lot of stuff out in the mid-90s.” Apparently, that included many of his National, NIT and World All-Tournament awards, of which he says, “There’s more, but I can’t remember!”

Others remember it for you, Tom. We just hope you choose to hang on to the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame plaque that marks the induction into the ranks of the hall.

2004 Male Player: Bill Bromenschenkel

Bill Bromenschenkel

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Over a 27-year career, all of which saw him compete in USSSA ball, Peru’s Bill Bromenschenkel has played on such notable competitive Illinois teams as Mendota Bud, Old Style Clippers, Mautino’s, Illusions, Aurora’s WWJD and Rockdford’s LT’s Bar & Grill. Along the way, he has earned seven State Tournament MVPs and Gold glove awards and been named All-Tournament 14 times.

Bromenschenkel played shortstop in his early years, but was primarily a pitcher. As a pitcher, he threw five one-hitters. A lifetime .650 hitter who considers himself primarily a singles hitter, he was also able to take the ball out of the park occasionally. His offensive prowess was still clearly evident when, in 2001 at age 42, he was named Offensive Player of the Tournament at the Class C Great Lakes South Nationals.

Bromenschenkel prides himself on being willing to give himself up as a batter to move base runners up, but that doesn’t mean he likes it.

“I always want to be the hitter up in the bottom of the seventh when we need a hit,” he said.

Bromenschenkel said his greatest thrill was going down to Kentucky for the 2001 Class C National Tournament where the unheralded LTs won it all.

“The best part was that this was a first-year team,” Bromenschenkel said. “Believe me, that weekend they [the team] all did a big part to win that tournament. I will always remember that weekend.”

In fact, Bromenschenkel fondly recalls many of the weekends spent playing State, Divisional and World Tournaments. They are the fruit of all the effort his teams put forth each spring and summer.

“Those are the tournaments your team works so hard to get to, the biggest you’ll play that year” he said.

Some of those big tournaments were USSSA, and some were other organizations, but he said he liked the USSSA ones the best.

“I have played in all the Illinois organizations, and I would have to say that the USSSA is the best by far,” Bromenschenkel said. “The tournaments are all run great and the directors are good people.”

The Illinois USSSA takes pleasure in returning the compliment as it welcomes a better than good player into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.