For the last 33 years, Charlie Baumgartner has been spending his summers patrolling the outfields of Illinois softball fields. Starting in 1972, Baumgartner has spent 22 of those years in the USSSA.
Aside from the outfield, which is his self-proclaimed main position, Baumgartner has played second base and catcher, as well as some time on the mound. He has played on such top teams as the Lantern of Naperville, Oswego Inn, Sands of Ottawa and Plano Softball Club.
Baumgartner, a player who could hit the ball to any field has hit for a career .650 lifetime batting average, but claims to have never hit a home run.
“I am not a power hitter, so I learned to spray the ball to any part of the field,” Baumgartner said. “I just try to get on base whether it is a walk, error or base hit.”
The 1994 season had many great memories for Baumgartner, who was playing the 40 & Over Master’s program for the Plano Softball Club. They won the State Championship, but it almost didn’t happen according to Baumgartner.
“In the 1994 Over 40 Master’s State Tournament, we gave up a seven-run lead in the top of the last inning, but then, in the bottom of the seventh, we scored three runs to beat the Foxes of Decatur to advance to the championship round, which we won,” Baumgartner said.
Besides the satisfaction of the team victory and championship, it was also exciting for Baumgartner on a personal level. He had a very solid tournament at the plate going 20 for 25 and was rewarded by being named to the All State Tournament team.
Softball can be a competitive way to escape the everyday grind and be with friends. This is something Baumgartner felt USSSA softball provided.
“I play softball to be competitive and win, but if not it is a great way to meet friends, be with friends and forget about the daily hassles of work,” Baumgartner said. “In over 20 years of playing softball in the USSSA, I th9ink they have done a fine job running tournaments. Along with setting up the different classes to make it competitive to all teams involved.”
In honor of a true pioneer of Illinois softball, we honor Charlie Baumgartner by welcoming him into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.