By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO August 29, 2003 As a couple of softball players noted Tuesday night, Kenneth H. Somerville Memorial Field in Monticello felt a little bit like Cooperstown.
Cooperstown, of course, is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. On Tuesday night, the Monticello Mens Softball Hall of Fame welcomed its first inductees at Somerville Field.
Monticello Mens Modified Pitch Softball League President Mike Greco presented Hall of Fame plaques to those six inductees prior to the final game of the leagues championship series between Brave Hearts and Lewis Auto Parts.
Greco noted that when he took over the league this spring he thought about creating a hall of fame for players who began playing softball in Monticello half a century ago. After consulting with some longtime area softball players, he narrowed the field of candidates to six.
The inaugural members of the Monticello Mens Softball Hall of Fame are: Jim Bickham, Ed Coney, Jim Culligan, Norm Culligan, Fritz Kirchner and Andy Richardson.
Bickham began playing softball in Monticello in 1952, while Richardson started his career in 1955. Brothers Jim and Norm Culligan began playing in 1945 and Coney either played and/or coached in Monticello and other leagues from 1967 until 1993. Kirchner began playing softball in 1956. He started in a league in Jeffersonville, then in the early 1970s moved to the old Liberty Softball League. For the past several years, Kirchner has managed the Lewis Auto Parts team in the Monticello Mens Modified Pitch Softball League.
I played for about 47 years and I retired when I got my first social security check, Jim Culligan said with a smile as he and the other inductees reminisced about games from decades past.
Pausing to look out at the field, Bickham noted that he had many good times playing softball.
We just came out to play and have fun, he said.
You played to win, but you played fair and you played hard, Richardson added.
The men noted that no matter the games outcome, members of both teams would often get together after the contests to socialize.
Coney said he was proud to be among the first honorees in the hall of fame. He also noted that his brother Bill Coney was with him either as a teammate or co-manager in the 26 years he managed and/or played.
When I retired from managing, about half of the team members also retired because they didnt want to play for another team, Coney said. I was really honored by that.
Greco said he hopes to induct three new members into the Monticello Mens Softball Hall of Fame each summer.
Its because of these guys and several others like them that we have a league to play in now, he said.