2005 Male Player: John Wood

John Wood

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In over a quarter of a century of USSSA softball, Roscoe’s John Wood was able to quench his thirst for competition. Wood played with and against some of the most talented players in the state of Illinois during the early 70s through the middle 90s. Park Town Hall, Club 51 and Rogers Drywall were a few teams he played for over those years.

A right-handed pitcher, Wood really has no idea how many games he has won and lost over his years, but suffice to say the wins probably vastly outnumber the defeats. The modest Wood approximates he hit .475 with 25 to 30 home runs over his 25 years of playing, both of which are most likely lower than the actual numbers.

The first State Championship for Wood was in 1977 when his team, Schlichting Excavating won the B State Title. Two years later, Wood and his Club 51 teammates brought home a Top 10 finish at the Divisional Tournament at St. Louis. It was 1981 when Wood may have had his finest season when his team won the Class B Divisional at Milwaukee in a year they may have played over 150 games. In that tournament, Wood was named to the All-Tournament team, which for most players would be their fondest memory; however, Wood has another highlight in mind.

“Scoring the winning run in the Divisional Championship game was a great thrill,” Wood said. “It was raining all morning, but we played anyway to determine a winner. I tagged from third base and slid head first into home plate. I went between the catcher’s legs and slid all the way to the backstop. I was covered head to toe with mud, but safe.”

Illinois USSSA was my highway to play a game I loved to play. I would play any kind of ball, but I was competitive and wanted to play against the best.
— John Wood

In 1987, Rogers Drywall won the Class B State Championship in Champaign with Wood on the mound. Wood lists that he retired in 1996, but notes he is “still playing a little.” He also commented on how the USSSA gave him the opportunity to play the game he enjoyed.

“Illinois USSSA was my highway to play a game I loved to play,” Wood said. “I would play any kind of ball, but I was competitive and wanted to play against the best. USSSA ended up being the game to play in that regard.”

The Illinois USSSA takes great honor in returning the accolade as we welcome John Wood into an elite class of people – the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.

2005 Male Player: Bill Sahagian

Bill Sahagian

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In his 17-year career, which began in 1987, Bartlett’s Bill Sahagian has gathered many individual honors and team championships along the way. Sahagian mainly played first base with some time at catcher for teams such as Kings, KA Softball and Tron Piping, and is now retired from softball except for the 45 & Over program.

The slugging first sacker has compiled some impressive numbers with a .615 batting average and launched over 700 home runs for his career.

In 1987, Sahagian’s first season in softball, he was selected to the All-Tournament team at the Class C Divisional Qualifier that the Kings won at Downers Grove. That season he was also named Best Offensive Player at Class C State in Rockford, where the Kings finished third. He was also named to the Class B State All-Tournament teams in 1992 and 1995 and Tournament Most Valuable Player in 1996 while playing for the Kings.

Sahagian states his most exciting moment in his USSSA career took place in 1995 at Joliet when the Kings won their second Class B State Championship.

“It was 102 degrees,” Sahagian recalls. “We came back from the loser’s bracket to win five games on Sunday, and I was named to the All-Tournament team after hitting .735.”

In 1995, Sahagian helped lead Tron Piping to their first of five straight Major 35 & Over State Championships, earning his first of three consecutive All-Tournament honors. He also paced Tron Piping to back-to-back Major 35 & Over World Tournament Titles (1995 and 1996), while being named the Most Valuable Player at the 1996 World Tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida. Starting again in 1999, Sahagian was named to three straight Major 35 & Over State Tournament teams. Playing with Extreme Easton (2000) who finished third at Class B State and KA Softball (2001-2003) who won Class B State in 2003, Sahagian retired from the Men’s B program after the 2003 season.

“I would like to see [Illinois USSSA] have a better B program like in past years when there were 25 or 30 teams in the state of Illinois,” Sahagian said.

He feels as a whole, however, that USSSA in Illinois has a lot to be proud of saying, “USSSA has the most talented players and best-run tournaments of all the associations in Illinois.”

In 2004, Sahagian was named to the All-Tournament team at the Major 45 & Over World Tournament while playing for Ken’s Beverage, showing that the fire for competition still burns bright.

We honor Bill Sahagian and his great softball career by welcoming him into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.