Congratulations to the
2017 USSSA Hall of Fame Inductees

by Kaylen Little

2017 USSSA Hall of Fame inductees: front row (l to r): Saul Simpson, Scott Nastally, Arnie Burke and back row (l to r): Scott Brown, Kelly Kretschman, Scott Kirby and Mike Cornell.

Another year, another great group of people to induct into the 2017 USSSA Hall of Fame. As the seasons have slowly changed throughout the years, there was no slowing down for these eight individuals who have no doubt earned themselves a very special place within the USSSA organization. From impressive athletic careers to incredible contributions to our sports family, we are excited and honored to induct this year’s Hall of Famers. Please join us as we recognize our 2017 honorees.

Scott Brown

Originally from Oakdale, MN, Scott Brown now resides under an hour away, in Coon Rapids, MN. He comes from a family of USSSA HOF’s including his wife and father. While he grew up on the field watching both of his parents playing softball, he experienced a childhood that included many afternoons outside, playing at the park and getting involved in many sports. After graduation, his high school assistant coach asked if he’d play on his team. Thus, started his time at the C level for 3 years, and with lots of determination and hard work, he was picked up to play on Line Drive, an A team out of Minnesota. In 2001, he made his way to the majors where he played Dan Smith, Menosse, Backman and then went out to play for Bell Corp and Combat Major Teams to the end. He has always known that USSSA was the game to play as it was a faster moving game and the state was booming with teams and tournaments. From the beginning, back in 1991, he’s always felt as though it was his family, “They are the best in what they do and make all players feel that they are a part of the family.” One memory in particular was in 2001, winning the last “AA” World Tournament (until 2017) while also being named the tournament MVP. Right before the tournament, his coach Pat Stanchfield passed away unexpectedly, a man who was like a second father, and Brown made it his mission to win at all costs for him.

Brown would like to thank all of his sponsors and managers over the years including Todd Klingsporn, Jack O’Conner, Bill Beck, Harold Stewart, John Daniels, Scott Kevitt, and Brad Povlitzki. And special thanks to Dan Smith, Ed Menosse, Jerry Backman, Woody Bell, Don Cooper and Don DeDonatis. And his wife Erin, “For being my rock and the foundation of our family and giving up your goals and dreams for the years of my softball life to allow me to chase my dreams.” To his parents and my in-laws, my sisters and my sister-in-law, “For helping my family out with all your help to allow me to chase dreams.” He’d also like to thank his kids, “My oldest son Zander who gives 100% in all his sports all the time. My youngest son, Madden who loves the outdoors and is good at every sport he plays, and my daughter Mazy, who has the strongest personality in our family and is fun, funny, strong willed, and creative and I look forward to her being our best athlete.” Lastly, for his friends Dan Yocum and Gene Burdick, for always being his hitting partners when needed.

Scott Kirby

Scott Kirby is originally from Lakeland, Florida, but today resides in Destin, Florida. He grew up watching his dad play softball, which had a major influence on his decision to play. Between throwing the ball around and practicing with him since he was a little kid, he felt a drive to play the game, which stayed with him throughout his career. Kirby has always loved the game of ball and originally played minor league baseball for 6 years before moving to Destin, where a few of his friends called him up to play. This experience gradually turned into playing in a tournament for L&L Paint, an A team in 2004. From there, he ended up playing in the Major World Series that year, and was picked up as a roster add playing against Dan Smith, an Eastern sponsored team that Brett Helmer played for. From this experience, he could confidently say that the rest was history. In 2004, Kirby played center field but as he got older, he played many different positions. But if he has to admit, he liked to hit much more than playing defense.

His time with USSSA has been a great experience with many memories that will live on with him forever. “USSSA is awesome, they put together the best upper softball since I’ve been playing,” Kirby said about his time with the organization. Overall, the organization is so organized and consistent as far as the level of play goes, which was a major contributor to his successes and dedication as a softball player. While he can’t name just one favorite memory, he will always be proud of the many championship teams he’s been part of; the 2005 B World Championship, the 2008 Major World Championship, the 2012 Major World Championship and the 2015 Major World Championship. When asked what it means to be inducted into the 2017 USSSA Hall of Fame, Kirby said he was surprised, but it means so much to him, “It’s nothing that I ever expected when I started playing but as I kept winning championships and received individual awards, I always had that drive.” To say he was shocked was an understatement, and when he got the call, he was in disbelief but proud of what he had accomplished during his career with such a stand up organization. Kirby would like to thank his dad for supporting him since he was a little kid, his brother Steve, who played hours and hours of home run derby and backyard games as well as pitched to him his entire life. He’d also like to thank his wife who has supported his time with the organization and has put up with it for 14 years! Lastly, he’d like to thank Brett Helmer for believing in him all these years and the entire USSSA organization Don DeDonatis Junior and Don DeDonatis Senior to name a few, “They wrote the conference idea on a napkin and it was an awesome play that they poured their heart and souls into. Without that, I wouldn’t be playing, it’s really like playing in the mini big leagues.”

Scott Nastally

Born and raised in Westland, Michigan, Scott Nastally now lives in Canton, Michigan where his love for the game of softball still lives on to this day. He was close with his father growing up, and he was a major reason for getting him involved in the game. He would help his dad carry his bag and he would watch him pitch at his softball games. All of these small instances led to major impact for Nastally, as he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a softball player himself. Once the fire was lit, it never went out, and Nastally went on to play softball which was a huge part of his life. He was a pitcher, just like his father, and when he came to know the USSSA organization, he knew that it was an opportunity to play the game he loved and compete at the highest level possible. That day came in 1996, when he was picked to play on the AA team, none other than the pitcher. Two favorite memories come to mind when asked to reflect on his time with USSSA. First, when his team beat Dan Smith at the Major World Series in 2001 as an A team. Second, when they lost the first game of the 2008 Major World Series, but then turned things around and ended up winning 7 straight games in a row to double dip Resmondo. While, there were many milestones and achievements throughout his career with USSSA, Nastally has always been thankful for the experience and opportunities the organization has given him.

Though sadly, Nastaly has lost both of his parents, he has an amazing son Jacob who is his life. “Being part of the USSSA team has meant a lot to me. I was very lucky to play with great players and it means even more to have my son present this award to me,” he said. He’d also like to acknowledge his brother Jerry Nastally, who has always been a big part of his life, and a special woman named Rachelle, who he appreciates every day. “Pitching USSSA softball was like no other. They were faster paced games, you had 5 seconds to deliver, and I just wanted the ball at every game,” which just goes to show how important he was to the game and how important the game was to him. With a father who encouraged him to play hard and dream big, he’d like to thank him for encouraging him to join sports and always do what you love.

Kelly Kretschman

While she was born in Long Island, New York, Kelly Kretschman moved to Florida at the age of 10, where she has resided for 27 years. Today, she considers the Satellite Beach area her home. Until the age of 15, Kretschman played Little League baseball and then switched to the game of softball during her high school years. She kept busy as a four sport athlete, playing soccer, volleyball, basketball and of course, softball throughout her four years. While juggling four different sports wasn’t always easy, she enjoyed and excelled at them all. During her baseball days, Kretschman took the roles of shortstop, pitcher and outfield, and on her softball team she played shortstop, catcher and in the outfield as well. In addition to her high school schedule, she also played for a travel ball team out of the Tampa area where her dad drove her two and a half hours there and back, once a week for practice and almost every weekend when playing in tournaments. His dedication to her love of the game was felt throughout her athletic career.

When asked about how her relationship grew with the USSSA organization, Kretschman mentioned a meet up with Don DeDonatis in 2009. She received a call from Don, who asked her to head over to Orlando, so they could talk about owning a professional team. Her dad joined her and the three of them sat down to discuss acquiring the rights to the team she had played for the year prior, The Washington Glory. The team was folding, even though they’d won the World Series in 2008. Kretschman called on her old Olympic teammates from that year to see if they wanted to play for USSSA and the relationship grew from there. One of her favorite memories of the USSSA organization has to be winning the Four League Championships with the Pride and playing with amazing teammates over the course of her career. It’s the people who made her experience just as special as her hard work and determination to play the game that she loved. Being inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor for Kretschman who said, “To be included with so many other great athletes is truly a dream come true for me.” She would like to thank her parents, Don and the entire USSSA staff including Laurie Timmons, Wendi Brockwell and Donny DeDonatis, along with many others who helped her along the way. “Their belief in my abilities and their continued drive to make myself and my teammates feel like true professionals is something I will always be thankful for.”

Arnie Burke

Arnie Burke was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and then moved to Garland, Texas in 1965. In 1982, he married his wife Carol and in 2005, they moved to Rowlett, Texas where they now reside with their two sons, Chad and Chris, as well as their “four-legged, long-tailed” daughter, Jenny. Burke had a typical childhood, as most kids grew up running around and playing sports. Burke went on to graduate from Stephen F. Austin State University in August of 1972 and in 1973 moved back to Garland, Texas where he played fast pitch, before deciding to that the game of slow-pitch softball was better suited for him. He was a coach and a pitcher for the Orchard Hills Baptist Reds, which was a competitive church softball team back in the early 1980s. He was introduced to USSSA in 1980 when he played in the organization’s Church World tournaments in Moore, OK, Pine Bluff, AR, and Garland, TX. Throughout the years of 1980 to 1982, the team finished in the top ten each year, a significant accomplishment. In 1982, Burke was asked to be the Treasurer of the Garland Adult Softball Association. That following year, he spoke with “Pawpaw” Bill Reagan, who was the GASA Church League Director, and offered his help if it was ever needed. In 1985, Reagan decided to retire and when re-election time came around, he recommended Burke for the job – the rest is history! To this day, he is still the USSSA Church League Director and has added the title of GASA President to his list of many accomplishments.

In early 1992, he added another title to his “resume” when he was appointed the North Texas USSSA Church Director. During his time, he moved twenty teams up to the next highest competitive level and a legacy was born. In 1999, he was appointed to the North Texas USSSA State Slowpitch Director and has held this position ever since. While there are many special moments and memories to account for, Burke is happiest when thinking about the many great friendships that he’s built with USSSA, “I’m honored to have so many friends and have so many people consider me their friend, too.” When asked about his induction in the USSSA Hall of Fame, Burke is humbled and honored, “I was inducted into the Texas USSSA HOF in 2008, and I said then as I will say now, this is not my honor but rather a collective honor for all directors, umpires, coaches, and players who have participated in the USSSA slow-pitch softball game, and that is who I share this with.” Both of Burke’s parents passed away in October and July of 2015, but their impact on his life will live on forever. “I owe my love of sports to my dad and probably my personality to my mom,” he said. He’d also like to thank his two sisters, Judy and Susan, for not ganging up on him when they were growing up! Lastly, he would like to thank Bill Reagan, Ron Neely, Danny Malone, Mike DeLatte, Chris Thames, Craig Anthony, Don DeDonatis, Kevin Naegele, and all of the other directors, players, coaches and staff that he’s met along the way.

John Riccio

John Riccio has a background in mechanical and structural engineering. He founded two steel tank fabrication companies back in the late 1980s and continues to build some of the largest silos and containment vessels in North America to this day. He also specializes in designing and building fueling terminals, chemical tank farms, and other specialized steel structures. In 1974, Riccio started playing organized softball at the C and B level where he played in a number of leagues and open tournaments in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York regions. He worked hard and made his way up to play class A and major level softball where he played center field in open tournaments against teams such as York Barbell, a nationally ranked team with the biggest names in the game at that time. “It was an exciting time in my life,” Riccio said, and while he was a successful power hitter, his career and businesses started to take off, making it harder to find time for the game he loved. In 1996, he began co-sponsoring a major team with Sojern Travel in New Jersey, and was an active sponsor for 2 years, then in 1998, he sponsored a team with Jeff Hauge which won the AA National Championship in Shawnee, Kansas. By 1999, he had moved his way up to the Super Major level with co-sponsor Dan Smith, working with talented players such as Carl Rose and Wendell Rickard. 2000 was a special year as he won his first USSSA World Series of Softball as a co-sponsor, which is one of his fondest memories to date. From there, he joined forces with Travis Resmondo and continued his co-sponsorship between the year 2000 and 2003 when they went on to win all four nationals, ASA, ISA, NSA and USSSA!

In 2006, he returned to sponsor Specialty Tank and finished second in the USSSA conference that year with players like Jeff Hall, Greg Connell, B.J. Fulk and Hank Garris to name a few. And since 2007 to today, he’s been actively co-sponsoring with Travis Resmondo, where their team has won a total of 10 USSSA World Championships, 8 of which he was a pat of. “No other team in the history of softball has ever won that many championships,” Riccio explains. When asked about his time with USSSA, he reminisces about the importance of the life-long friendships he’s made and maintained throughout the last 40 years of being involved with the beautiful game. He would also like to thank and acknowledge the late Frank Webb, “he was the most inspiring person to keep me involved in the sport and he was the best at keeping all these great teams together. I think of him often.” Riccio would also like to thank Travis Resmondo, Shirl Webb, Saul Simpson and the countless other players, too many to name, and sponsors who put their all into it for the game.

Mike Cornell

Mike Cornell grew up and lived in Virginia through to his high school years, and then moved to Florida and lived in Miami and Tampa most of his young adult life. Today, he resides in Kannapolis, North Carolina, which is where he’s been since joining Worth Sports in 1998. In 1982, he started playing the game of softball, where he played in a Law Enforcement League in Miami, Florida. Throughout his time playing the game, Cornell started in the outfield and then was encouraged to pitch. From then on, he spent most of his time on the mound moving forward. Cornell is being inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame this year, for his contributions as a manufacturer to the organization. His relationship with USSSA began when he was a territory salesman for Worth in 1998, where he sold softballs to many of the USSSA directors at the time. During that year, he traveled with Rick Hasty, who introduced him to Don DeDonatis during a trip to Petersburg, VA, and the rest was history.

When asked what his favorite memory is with the organization, Cornell was very proud to enter the North Carolina and South Carolina USSSA State Hall of Fame’s as well, two major honors before being honored with this national recognition. He is humbled to join a select group of people to be inducted with and is thankful for the experiences and relationships he’s built along the way. “It’s an honor. To join the company of former and present work associates like Robert Parish, Denny Helmig and Pat Ryan, along with great friends and players like Jeff Hall, BJ Fulk, Don DeDonatis Jr, and Andy Purcell, it is completely overwhelming,” he exclaims. While he has many people to thank, here is a short list, Pat Ryan, Dennis Turner, Robert Parish, Denny Helmig, Mike Turney, Mike Cunningham, Rick Hasty, John Baer, Mike Thompson, Mark Kraemer, Tim Lord, Mike McCarron, Bram Krieger, Chad Robertson, Craig Lashley, Don DeDonatis Sr, Don DeDonatis Jr, Andy Purcell, Danny Brown, Bob Holland, Greg Huchingson, Andy Richards, Robert Boudreaux and Bubba Rinehardt. He would also like to give special thanks to his family, his wife Denise, daughters Nathalie and Rebekah, and his son Matthew.

Saul Simpson

Saul Simpson was born in Chicago, Illinois, but moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1954 at the age of 3. He went to school in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from Northwestern High School. During college, he attended Wayne State College, where he studied business and after graduation, spent a few years with Blue Cross Blue Shield where he met a good friend named Charlie Smith. In March of 1978, Simpson joined the IRS and is still here to this day. Charlie was his manager, and in 1972, started the team Blue Devils as a catcher. Simpson went on to play every position except for shortstop and left center. This began a 43-year career, until he was forced out of full-time coaching due to a medical issue in 2015. Simpson began traveling to tournaments in the mid-70s with annual trips as far as Florida. He has traveled to over 20 states from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, which gave him tremendous opportunities to see new places and meet new people throughout the country. During this time of scouting for his team, he developed a fondness for keeping stats. And when he was following the upper level of softball, he was befriended by members of Shen Valley’s team, meeting players such as Phil Jobe, John Mello, Todd Martin, Jason Kendrick, and Rusty Burmgardner. When scouting games for Jobe, a pitcher, he gave his sheets to Brent Rose, the team’s statistician, to help them out. When this interaction occurred the manager of the team asked to see the reporting Simpson had done and from then on, he asked him to continue and join him in the dugout. While Simpson believes his playing skills would never have gotten him inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame, he found that he could make a contribution to the sport by keeping stats.

Simpson has been coaching and keeping statistics on teams playing in USSSA conference tournaments and house leagues since the early 1990s. His career began with the organization in the late 1980s when they asked him to track stats for a tournament as his first official tournament assignment. To this day, he has continued in this role and still travels to tournaments to get the job done. His favorite memory was his first Men’s Major USSSA World Championship where he kept stats for Resmondo’s team in 2003. This was the first time they won it all and has won 10 tournaments in total with this team. When asked about what it means to be inducted into this year’s USSSA Hall of Fame, Simpson exclaims that he is honored to be placed in the company of so many great players, managers and sponsors. “This is a game I love and the fellowship and brotherhood created has been an important part of my life,” he said. He’s been committed to this organization and has traveled the country to be part of this team. The feeling is overwhelming to now be joining a group of other successful and dedicated inductees. He would like to thank Sammie Pulliam, Frank Webb and Mike Glascock, “These three gentlemen are no longer with us, however have helped me with my softball career.” Simpson would lastly like to acknowledge and thank his family, including his sister, nieces and godchildren.

Conclusion

Each of this year’s inductees have traveled throughout the country, worked hard, dedicated their time and made a significant impact to the USSSA organization. As each year passes and a select group of individuals is chosen for this honor, we get the opportunity to highlight their achievements as well as their passion for the game of softball. Whether they were a player on the field or were contributing to the success of a team from sponsorship to coaching to ensuring the equipment is just right, they have given it their all and it has not gone unnoticed. To follow one’s passion is to take on challenges, never give up, and build the people up that you surround yourself with. Each of our inductees this year have done just that, and we are honored and privileged to welcome them into the 2017 USSSA Hall of Fame. Congratulations!