OKLAHOMA CITY – The legendary roster of the National Softball Hall of Fame will increase by nine with the selection of the Class of 2023 inductees set to be enshrined at the 42nd Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, October 28 at the Oklahoma City Convention Center. Honored for their accomplishments and dedication to the sport of softball will be meritorious leaders Doug Lindaman and Jim Craig; standout umpire Joe Massaro; coaching legend John Stratton; Olympian Valerie Arioto; slow pitch greats Sue (Corcoran Bupp) Ilyes, Monty Tucker and Ray Fleetwood; and the Sikorsky Aircraft softball team.
“We take great pride in being able to recognize the achievements of the individuals who have had a significant impact on the game of softball,” said USA Softball Chief Executive Officer, Craig Cress. “The Hall of Fame Class of 2023 is a prime example of the greatness of our game across all levels and categories. We are honored and excited to enshrine these nine individuals into the National Softball Hall of Fame in October.”
Recognized for their dedication to the sport, Doug Lindaman and Jim Craig will join the meritorious service category following extensive careers serving in numerous roles within USA Softball. Lindaman spans a 37-year career on the USA Softball council, which included various appointments on the Hall of Fame Committee, the Men’s National Team Selection Committee, the Fast Pitch Playing Rules Committee and the Player Representative Committee. In addition to Lindaman’s committee involvement, he also served in various positions for the USA Softball national teams programs including Team Manager for the USA Softball Men’s National Team at the 1995 International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship and the USA Softball Junior Men’s National Team at the 2008 ISF World Championship.
Craig began his renowned career first as an umpire in 1978, which was highlighted with working as the Umpire-In-Chief (UIC) for 61 national championships and five international championships while serving as the committee chairman of the UIC Clinic from 2007-21. Known for not only his contribution on the field, but off the field as well, Craig contributed to the reformat of National Umpire Schools in 2018, which has proved to be a huge success for the USA Softball Umpire Program. His accomplishments have earned him various awards over the years, including the Merle O. Butler Award of Excellence and Region 2 Award of Excellence while also being inducted into three Hall of Fames – Metro Buffalo ASA Hall of Fame (2003), Western New York Softball Hall of Fame (2011) and USA Softball of New York Hall of Fame (2021).
Selected for his experience in the umpire category is Joe Massaro, with an umpiring career that kickstarted in the 1970s and continued for nearly 40 years. Massaro began umpiring in 1979, which saw a career that featured seven national championships and the Women’s Major Fast Pitch championship game in 1996 and 2000. He also worked Men’s Major Fast Pitch and Slow Pitch, Women’s Masters Fast Pitch and Men’s Modified Pitch while attaining elite status, gold level in the medals program and being a member of the National Indicator Fraternity. Massaro’s contributions as an umpire also earned him selections into the ASA Union County Hall of Fame (2009) and the ASA New Jersey State Hall of Fame.
Enshrined for his impact as a manager/coach, John Stratton garners over 40 years with the Raybestos/Stratford Brakettes program – 28 of which he has spent as the team manager, with more to come as he continues his tenure with the squad. Under his tutelage, the Brakettes have won over 2,300 games with a dazzling .917 winning percentage and 16 national championship titles. Leading many standout athletes over the years, Stratton coached Hall of Famers Joan Joyce and Sue Enquist – both of which have made their mark on the sport of softball across the globe.
Earning her place among USA Softball legends, Valerie Arioto gained the Hall of Famer tagline after a long – and storied – career competing for the USA Softball Women’s National Team. Throughout her 11 seasons representing Team USA, Arioto helped the U.S. to 13 medals including four World Cup gold medals, three Pan American Games gold medals and two World Championship gold medals before capping her career with an Olympic silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Extending her impact beyond the playing field, Arioto served as an athlete representative on the USA Softball Board of Directors for various years where she played a key role in the growth and development of the sport of softball.
The slow pitch category increases by three with the selection of Sue Ilyes, Monty Tucker and Ray Fleetwood – each of which demonstrated distinguished careers, including one of the top all-around players in the women’s game and two power-hitting legends from the men’s game. Ilyes spans a 33-year playing career for teams in the Pennsylvania area, including the York Barbellettes and the Lakerettes. A standout on various occasions, Ilyes earned 13 All-American honors – four of which came in back-to-back years – while helping lead her team to 26 national championship appearances and two national titles.
Known as one of the top hitters in the 1980-90s, Tucker slugged over 2,000 home runs during his career with over 100 tallied in a single season nine times during a 10-year span – including 413 during the 1987 season. His dominance at the plate earned him four All-American honors and honorable mentions to the 1980 and 1990 All-Decade Teams as well as the All-Century Team.
Another threat at the plate in the slow pitch game, Fleetwood blasted over 2,000 home runs in his 26-year career from 1969-1994. With over 100 home runs hit in a single season for 11 consecutive years (1971-1981), Fleetwood earned four All-American honors and was named to the 1970 All-Decade Team in addition to an honorable mention to the All-Century Team. Additional honors include being named the Smokey Mountain Classic Co-MVP and OK ASA Co-Player of the Year in 1975.
Sikorsky Aircraft earned its place in the National Softball Hall of Fame in the newly added team category after fielding one of the most dominant Men’s Slow Pitch teams for over 50 years. Sikorsky Aircraft qualified for the national tournament 46 times with 19 titles, while also finishing as the runner-up eight times and finishing in the top five 35 times. Led by Hall of Fame members Eugene Kwalek and Ken Clark, Sikorsky Aircraft had over 50 players earn All-American honors totaling over 200 selections.
The National Softball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will increase the total number of inductees to 449 since its establishment in 1957. To view a full list of Hall of Fame members, visit USASoftball.com.
USA Softball will officially enshrine the group of Hall of Famers at the Oklahoma City Convention Center on Saturday, October 28 with the National Softball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony beginning with a happy hour reception followed by a dinner and banquet.
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