Randy Piwoni, John Pitts and Bill Griffiths: A HOF Triple-Header

Each Was Very Unique

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If you were to pass Randy Piwoni on the street while he was in his prime, the words “fantastic softball player” might not be the first thing that comes to mind. He was not tall and he was not really built or bulky. He was simply a competitor. Piwoni is the first of the Koos/St Therese group to join the Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame and he certainly was pretty much the face of that bunch. Said long time teammate Chuck Haubrich, “He was very underrated at the shortstop position. He was also a very consistent hitter and he deserves to be HOF . I’m glad he was on my team.” Steady, consistent, a leader and a winner are all accolades paid to this Hall of Famer. Fellow former teammate Jerry Ruffolo echoed the praise saying, “As smooth and steady at shortstop as you could imagine, Randy made every play look easy. His bat always took second to his glove, and he was the perfect leadoff man for us”. Randy could make the difficult look common and he was there every game, always in the eye of the storm. He is the kind of teammate we all loved to have. Welcome to The Hall Randy Piwoni.

Ask 100 Kenosha softball experts “who was the best hitting shortstop in KTown”? The answers will vary and probably net about 9 different names. Ask those same 100 experts “who was the best fielding shortstop in KTown”? My bet is 94 of em would tell you it’s John Pitts. No one went back into the hole, flopped to get the ball, sprung up and threw the runner out as well as John Pitts. His true value came in the fact that back in the day, there were no triple-walled bats and 50 core balls. Back then, the defense actually meant something and there was no better defender than John Pitts. And that is certainly not to say that Pitts wasn’t a good hitter…he was, he just happened to be so fantastic with the glove that when his name was involved in a discussion, it was his defense that was the center of the conversation. My older brother loved watching John play and because John Pitts used a Wilson A2000, my brother was exclusively a Wilson A2000 man…and since my older brother is the person who most influenced my time in the sport, I’ve never owned anything but a Wilson A2002 (lefty) and that is because of the Hall of Famer John Pitts. Well deserved.

In 1979 Magic Johnson was a 6’9″ point guard …and a 6’8″ Larry Bird was winning 3 point contests…so how does the apply to the Kenosha Softball HOF? Well about that time a “Mountain” of a man was proving that a big guy could be athletic on the softball field. There had been men of size on the Kenosha diamonds for years but you would see them mostly on 1st base, catching, maybe pitching, or AH-ing where that was allowed. Bill Griffiths broke the mold of what a big man could and should be doing on a softball diamond. You have never seen anything until you’ve seen Mountain launch a ball into the left-center field gap and bust ass out of the box, hit every bag in stride and do a full Pete Rose type belly flop into third base. It really defied logic and all softball protocol. No one that size moved like that before him. Maybe no one that size has moved like that after him. A plus fielder anywhere he played, Mountain could be his own eclipse on one side of the field. Strong hitter, strong fielder, great teammate and just an imposing figure…Bill Griffiths was truly “Mountain”. The greatest thing about the Kenosha Softball HOF is the collection of personalities it has honored…Bill “Mountain” Griffiths is indeed one of those larger-than-life characters.

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