Short-lived softball team recognized for big impact
April 15, 2015
by Keith Stewart
This past Saturday night may have been organized to recognize efforts and performances deserving of hall of fame status, but for the men and women involved, it was about recalling the smell of fresh cut grass, playing double-headers four times a week, and playing fast pitch softball on the Fourth of July.
The Sullivan Chiefs, one of five teams inducted into the Amateur Softball Association 11th annual Hall of Fame held at the Decatur Convention Center and Hotel Saturday evening, may have been last, but they certainly were not the least deserving.
“The Sullivan Chiefs didn’t play a lot of years, but they did win the state championship in 1970 with a truly outstanding bunch of players,” said presenter Joe Snedeker. “Our teams played against them many times, and they could hit, and they could run, and they could do it all.”
Before winning the state tournament in 1970, the Chiefs began as a 4H club that slowly evolved over the next few years.
There was, according to Moultrie County News archives, a Sullivan Merchants softball team that played throughout the 30s but disbanded in 1964. The next year, at just 19 years old, Larry Morrison decided to keep Sullivan’s fastpich softball alive by seeking a sponsor from Ed Dunphy.
“Believe it or not, we started out as the Sunnyside Fleaflickers 4H club,” recalled Morrison, who played first base for the team, including the state championship team. “My dad got sick after my freshman year of college so I came home, and we still wanted to play ball, but we couldn’t play 4H anymore, so we talked to Ed Dunphy, and he sponsored when we started.”
Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured are individuals who either played for the Sullivan Chiefs or a team just prior to their formation in 1970 who were present at this past Saturday’s hall of fame induction in Decatur. Back row, left to right: Carl Fieldbinder, Harold Martin, Barry Freeman, manager Ron (Sox) Sutton, Mark Wascher, Danny Green, Jerry Lane, and “Iron” Mike Shelton. Front row: Gary Yoder, Dean Mitchell, Larry Morrison, Richard Maxedon, Charlie Bland, Mike Orris, and Terry Phillips (team announcer and son of the late Joe Phillips). Not pictured is Buster Chumbley.