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Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame: Class of 2024 named – John Cardullo

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by John Cardullo, sportswriter

The selection committee of the class of 2024 Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame has named the inductees for the Directors, Umpires, Women players, Men players, as well as the Team of Excellence.

Beginning this year a special category is being introduced to commemorate the founding members of the original 35 and over softball league that began in Cranston, RI. This category which will commemorate and highlight the pioneers that helped expand and improve the Game of slow pitch softball.

Leading off the presentation of honored inductees will be the Directors category – Wayne Freitas and Robert Puopolo, who both served as directors of their respective leagues. Freitas began the first indoor softball league tournament center in 2010. Specializing in running events in the winter and overnight.  Puopolo served as the director of softball at Pawtucket’s Hank Soar field for 38 years. Those leagues continue to be very active to this day.

Ron Barr will be the lone Umpire inducted into the class of 2024. The USSSA Umpire in Chief since 2019, Barr has been umpiring men’s competitive softball for 18 years. Umpiring in the State, N.I.T., National and World tournaments. His dedication and integrity as an official has been widely known and his reputation has reached into the National level.

The two Women Players will be inducted. Paula Gordon and Karen “Boo” Rego. Gordon has been playing competitive softball for over 40 years, landing on Hall of Famer Steve Thomas’ Foxwoods team and continues today at the senior circuit. Rego’s career spanned 26 years, playing at the top level for several women’s teams throughout the years. Both have been longtime fixtures on the local, regional and national women’s softball scene.

Jeff Sinku, Mitchell Kuras, Stuart Crowley, Jim Angell, Ken Boucher and John Mello, Sr. will all be inducted into the Men’s wings of the Hall. Jeff Sinku’s career began in the late 1990s and continues today in the senior level. Often playing on regional traveling senior teams throughout the country, Sinku plays a heavy local softball schedule to this day at all levels. Mitch Kuras began playing for local teams in Warwick in the late 1970’s, and advanced to the “A” level for teams such as Mary’s Restaurant and Elmwood Sports in the “open” team classification, and played for Rau Fastener in the Industrial level, as well. Stu Crowley’s 16-year career was spent playing at the “A” level as well, establishing himself on open teams such as The Old Timers Tavern, Taylor Brothers and Pariseault Construction and playing for 14 years for Blue Cross in the top-level Industrial division. Jim Angell played for Brown Brothers, Taylor Brothers and the Providence Police Industrial team in his 16-year career. Ken Boucher was a South County legend playing for several teams in the 1960s included in the teams he played for were Woodmansee Insurance, We Three Tavern, which later became Mary’s Restaurant. He spent several seasons playing for the New England Pilgrims which was a professional travel softball team before settling back into the local level.  John Mello, Sr. also played in the early 1960s for the top-level teams the state had to offer at the time, and played close to 60 years while playing for local league teams.

The 2024 Team of Excellence will be the first team ever to win a National Championship title, the 1979 Clark & Son’s team that played out of East Providence. Clark & Son’s team continues to play to this day, surpassing 50 years of softball at a competitive level and continues to win league level championships.

The newest category being created will be those individuals, groups or organizations that have expanded or have enhanced the sport of softball on a local, state, regional or national level. The first group to be inducted will be the original members of the first organized senior softball league that comPeted in the early days of 35 and over comPetitive softball in the state. The five members are Louie Pennacchia, Danny Quinn, Pasquale DiMaio, John DiMaio and Raymond Chalone. They created the first know league of “seniors” in Cranston and planted the seed of “senior” softball that continues today. The idea was to alter the rules to accommodate players that have passed their prime in the Game but wanted to continue to play, leveling the playing field. Senior softball today is a much different sport on the national level; senior softball has classifications that have expanded to teams of players that are 80 years old and above. These members of the original league will receive special induction into the Hall of Fame for contributions to the betterment of the Game of softball.

The 2024 Induction ceremony and dinner will be held on Saturday, November 16th at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI. And tickets will go on sale on September 1, 2024.

The 6th annual Golf Outing will be held on Saturday, August 17, 2024, at the Richmond Country Club in Hope Valley, RI. This year, in addition to Golf, there will be a registration continental breakfast, an on-course lunch and a sit-down Steak Dinner. Prizes will be awarded during the dinner. The cost will be $140 per Golfer or $70 per diner.

Sponsorships to support the RISPSHOF by sponsoring a Tee or Green sign at $100 each, a Cart sponsor at $500 per cart, a Beverage sponsor at $1,000, an Outing Co-sponsor or a Hole-in-One sponsor at $1,500. If interested in any of these opportunities, contact co-chairmen Scott Sunderland at 401-623-6094 or David Marland at 401-447-9273.

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John Cardullo, sportswriter. John is a lifelong Rhode Islander. His sports experience is extensive, as a player, coach and sponsor of youth and high school sports. He has been the Public Address Announcer for the CCRI Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams. Both the Cranston East and Cranston West football, Cranston East Boys and Girls basketball for 12 years before moving onto the Central, Juanita Sanchez and Mt. Pleasant football teams. Also, Central HS Boys and Girls Basketball, Scituate High School Boys and Girls Basketball, Johnston High School Girls Basketball, Boys Volleyball, Girls Softball, Boys and Girls Soccer teams, and CLCF football.

John has been involved in Men’s softball for 61 years, starting as a batboy for his father’s team in 1964. He moved to the teams scorekeeper then became a player in 1975, and created the men’s team, Players Corner Pub, that went on to win 20 State Championships in their 35 year history. In the 1990’s he published the statewide softball magazine “The Fielders Choice” which was dedicated to all topics related to adult softball. As a feature writer, John and the publication won several media awards. In 2019 he was elected and inducted into the Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame which he also helped create. John is a softball umpire in Warwick, Rhode Island.

In his spare time John golfs with his life long friends on a weekly basis in season. After retiring from the printing Industry after a 45-year career, he now writes specialty sports columns for RINewsToday.com.

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