A Man, A Plan, And a Softball
A man’s love of the game led to the hall of fame.
Paul Rowan, a Mount Carmel alumni from the class of 1974 and boxing chairman for Fight Night is now the fourth president of the Chicago 16 Inch Softball Hall of Fame. He is one of the four presidents to be elected over twenty-five years and will be replacing the retiring Ron Kubicki. Before all of this Paul Rowan grew up playing football all four years at MC and boxed for three years, while also being part of the Social Athletic Club.
Rowan grew up in Beverly and attended St. Barnabas for a Catholic education. “Beverly was a family neighborhood,” he says. “I had a lot of friends. My mother and dad wanted us to go to a Catholic school.”
Rowan grew up with his four brothers and two sisters. He was deeply intrigued by softball, and his love for the sport started when he was young. “When I was fourteen I would go up to Kennedy Park on Sundays,” Rowan recalls they would have double-headers with all the top teams in the city. “I just loved watching the game and I knew I wanted to play at that level.”
The teams Rowan joined up with were known as The Dukes and The Lot. Rowan was the leader of the Dukes for a couple of years and decided he wanted to leave the neighborhood and start to play nationally.
“At first you wanted to be king of the neighborhood,” he explains, “then we wanted to get to the nationals and travel around to the tournaments to show what we can do as a neighborhood team and at that time we were probably the only ones doing it.”
Throughout the year’s Rowan would get progressively better at softball, but what drove him the most towards his goal was the competitiveness of the sport.
“In 1983 myself and my friend formed a team with about three or four guys from other teams in the neighborhood. We ended up winning The Metro in 1983 which you had to qualify in, in order to play in the nationals and we ended up beating a team called Tahoe who had been the champ for many years.”
Rowan built a strong bond with his teammates on and off the field, some guys he still knows to this day. As Rowan and his team started to rise among the ranks they wanted to raise money in order to play in tournaments. Eventually, Rowan came up with the idea of starting a tournament known as the Best of Western.
“It started in ‘85 when we needed money to get into tournaments and pay for travel fees, so we started a tournament called The Best of Western,” Rowan explains “It was a men’s tournament at first and you needed to be sponsored by a bar in order to get into the tournament. Now it’s evolved into a men’s and women’s tournament and we normally get fifteen to twenty men’s teams and eight to ten women’s teams every year.”
In 2005 Mr. Rowan was inducted into the 16 Inch Hall of Fame, and around 2010 he was nominated to be on the board of directors. One of his roles every year was to raise money for sponsorship’s and ads. Now he is the president.
“I am so excited and honored that the board felt that I was worthy enough of being nominated and then elected to be president,” he says “It’s a great organization there’s a lot of 16-inch softball players and over 300 to 500 inductees as well as honorees. I am very lucky my sons and my wife support me in everything I do.”
Mr. Rowan would like to help the game of softball continue to grow and get everyone involved in the sport. He has a lot of determination to accomplish his goals, and surely the softball community would say the same.