2007 Male Player: Leon Kreher

Leon Kreher

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In the game of slow pitch softball, any player who has the ability to hit for a high average and power can help a team reach lofty goals.

Leon Kreher of New Athens used his tallents for 22 seasons as a member of a solid downstate Belleville Budweiser team, playing alongside his brother and shortstop Mike O’Connor (2002 Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame inductee).

An outfielder, Kreher hit an impressive .625 average over his career and he probably averaged one or more home runs per game. Kreher, who still competes in a 40 & Over league, says his club’s goals did not change much from year-to-year.

“Our team goal was to make it to a USSSA World Tournament every year,” Kreher said. “In 1984, we won the Illinois USSSA Class B State and finished second to Powers in the Class B Divisional Championship Tournament. I played in a World Tournament ever year from 1975 through 1992; most were Class B with two years being Class A.”

In that 1984 Illinois Class B State Tournament, Kreher put forth a solid effort that helped him be named to the All-Tournament team. He considers his most exciting moment in his career the time the team dropped their second game of that tournament, but were able to come back to win the title.

In the late 1970s USSSA league, Kreher was named most valuable player three times, while also leading the league in batting average and home runs in one of those seasons.

As far as his competitive days and the Illinois USSSA, Kreher has nothing but praise.

“Playing softball was a great experience in my life,” Kreher said. “I would play about 200 games a year. The Illinois USSSA is well-organized and they have great tournaments. I really enjoyed playing the game of softball.”

We honor Leon Kreher, a player who used his skills to help his team reach championship goals for over two decades.

2007 Male Player: Ken Dohm

Ken Dohm

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For over a decade, Grayslake’s Ken Dohm played on and against some of the top teams in the country and along the way earned many individual honors.

Dohm wore the uniform of such teams as Lilly Air Systems for two different stints, Joker’s and Joe Black’s. His main positions were left or right centerfielder, but he saw a little time at second base and third base. A career .716 hitter, Dohm clubbed an average of 28 home runs a year – this would be considered Major League level today. He retired from the game of softball after the 1990 season.

Dohm started playing for power house Lilly Air Systems in 1979 as he explained.

“I went from being released from professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals to playing 12-inch softball,” Dohm said. “I probably averaged over 140 games a year for ten years. [Softball] is a great game.”

Over his career “Dohmer” was selected to All-Tournament teams twice in Illinois State Tournaments, twice at NITs and four times in Divisional/National Tournaments. In 1986, Lilly Air Systems won the State Class A (open) State Tournament held at Belleville with Dohm helping lead the way. One big highlight of his playing days would be his All-World selection at Kalamazoo Michigan in 1990 with Joe Black’s.

“The first major tournament [I played in] was in Concord, California,” Dohm recalled. “The top 12 teams in the nation were there – the best of the best.”

The USSSA has become the best softball organization in the entire nation.
— Ken Dohm

Over his wonderful career, Dohm admits there have been many funny moments before, during and after games and tournaments, but feels the Hall of Fame bio would not be a proper event to talk about them all.

“There are so many amusing events through the years, but I don’t think the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame banquet would be the best place to relive them,” said Dohm.

Dohm becomes the eighth member of Lilly Air Systems to be inducted into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame (as of 2007), an organization he feels is head and shoulders above the rest.

“The USSSA has become the best softball organization in the entire nation,” said Dohm. “Illinois softball USSSA has become great only through the hard work of people like Brenda Paulson.”

2007 Male Player: Bernie Carroll

Bernie Carroll

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Certain players leave you in awe when you consider all of their personal and team accomplishments. To think one person could play at a high level for an extended period of time and earn that many rewards is truly amazing. The talented Bernie Carroll is one of those such players.

In over 30 years of softball, 21 in the USSSA, Elmhurst’s Bernie Carroll has played on some of the top teams in the state, gathering personal and team accolades along the way.

Carroll played on some powerful teams including One Hour Cleaners, Ken Adams Softball, Bank of Westmont, Mid America Concrete, Tron Piping and Ken’s Beverage before retiring in 2004. He mainly played as a pitcher and catcher, but he also spent time in the outfield, first base and as a designated hitter. A lifetime .575 hitter, Carroll had power to all fields as his 1,200 career home runs can attest.

Bernie was named Most Valuable Player in three tournaments over his career. The first was at the 1987 14-inch State Tournament held in Aurora, next in the 1985 Class B Qualifier in Downers Grove and finally at the 2000 Class B NIT in Joliet. Carroll was also selected seven times to a State All-Tournament Team, the last being in the 2000 45 & Over State Tournament. He was also an All-World Team selection in the 1995 35 & Over World Tournament and the 1998 40 & Over World Tournament. He played on 16 State Championship teams and three World Championship clubs.

In 1996 and 1997, his team captured the 35 & Over Major World Championships, and in 2002, with Ken’s Beverage, they won the 40 & Over World Title. He lists the 1996 championship as one of his greatest thrills while competing in USSSA play to go along with the Bank of Westmont State Title in 1989. He also played in a class A or B at State and World Tournaments from 1982 to 2003.

“I lived for softball in the 70s, 80s and 90s,” said Carroll. “I know for a lot of the people I played with and who ran the program, it was a lot more than recreation. It has been a huge part of our lives.”

There is no doubt that Carroll did live for the game of softball and the USSSA is where he made his mark. For over two decades, he used his skills to achieve personal goals as well as helping his teams reach their ultimate goals. Therefore, we honor Bernie Carroll, who typifies what the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame is all about.