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.
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.