Erie Times-News

A Fantastic Softball Pitcher

Jim Adamczak, a veritable Paul Bunyan of the softball pitching tribe, not only locally, but in "furrin parts", is the selection of the Times-News sports department as Jamestown's sports personality for August.

A strapping 6-2, 220-pounder and a fellow who prides himself on retaining peak physical condition 12 months of the year, the master of the "rise ball" pitch, whose climb to the top of his class in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania has been little less than meteoric, has reached the summit in a seven-year span.

Real old-timers among softball fanciers in our town compare Adamczak with Rochester's Shifty Gears, whose wizardry lifted him to fame among his fellows of the Eastern United States game in the late tinsel Twenties and the early Thirties.

And, although comparisons are faulty as well as odious, owing to the march of time with attendant changes in playing conditions and equipment, a cursory glance at the Adamczak record of some 25 no-hit, no-run games racked to his credit in his seven seasons, approximately twice that number of one-hitters and an IBM-stuttering number of two and three-hitters would seem to justify the OT's judgment.

Noteworthy along the path of casual Big Jim record scanning is the fact that, for the last six years, one or more of the teams he pitched for has won pennants and playoffs.

Closer scrutiny of the statistical annals reveals the local Big Train has averaged 14-1 5 strikeouts per game in each of the six Rec Open League pennant winning campaigns, 20 to 21 Industrial League whiffings during his 13-3 won-lost achievement in 1963, and the same average in the Rec Open League's regular 1964 schedule, during which he hung up a 6-0 log.

Naturally, this sort of pitching has been bruited about and the big fellow's services have been in strong demand by teams competing in tournaments.

Take the ebbing '64 season as an example. Adamczak, on the hill for Erie's winning Golden Goose Taverneers in Jamestown's Early Bird tourney, spun two victories in the three decisions, recorded the same mark for the same team in Erie's Great Lakes spectacular when his side finished second to a Buckeye State array, and was on the losing end on two verdicts won by one of the four Ohio nines entered.

"Those Ohioans really produce some great teams, both defensively and offensively," Jim told a Times-News sports writer more than a little ruefully.

Adamczak concentrated on softball as his major after tearing ligaments in one of his knees while pitching for the Chautauqua County Baseball Association Sugar Grove club during the 1957 season. It was a freak happening, Jim catching his spikes on a corner of the plate while batting. Freak or not, the injury caused a six-month layoff from his job at Proto Tool. Jim can smile about it now, remarking "it was an expensive 'vacation.' "

During the following winter, Jim and a bunch of his fellows varied the routine of idle monotony by playing softball in a neighborhood warehouse.

Come the 1958 spring and Adamczak enlisted with the Rec League's New-Way Restaurant entry. The future hill ace was "wilder than a hawk" (his own description), issuing an average of 14 bases on balls per game. The budding career nearly came to an abrupt ending as he dropped three no-hit games. But Jim persevered, working daily on the control problem throughout the ensuing winter.

And he won the battle. He joined Skippy's Grill team in 1959, the unit winning the Rec League gonfalon. In the next three seasons, he was on the pennant-winning National Worsted Club, twirled for the Jamestown Merchants in 1963 and is with Stravato's Grill championship combine this year.

Of Jerry Eggleston, now inactive, his catcher in 1958, Jim says, "he was a hard-working fellow and most of it was my fault." He gives those who have been his catchers, including the now retired Joe DiMaio, a world of credit, as he does the Stravato's players of this season, such as Ron Neubauer, Bob Johnson, Dick Christensen, Randy Shenefiel, Stan Burford, the old Falconer pitcher, and Jim Lamb.

Adamczak notes he has been on the receiving end of many career thrills but the high spot of all came in the 1963 Great Lakes Tournament when Erie's Fulton Club entry became the first in the event's history to win the title in four straight games, with Jim pitching them all and averaging 15 strikeouts per game. He was also the title winning Jamestown All-Stars' pitcher in the Eden Tournament and hurled the same team to second place in the 12-team New York State finals at Niagara Falls.

The rise ball ace is a busy fellow during the season, playing four games per week on the average normally, and appearing in a near 100 games last season but that the present season's output is in the neighborhood of 50 because of frequent rainfall spates.

"Then, too, I'm getting older," he said reflectively.

"Maybe so, but I notice old age is not affecting that delivery to any extent," came a listener's rejoinder.

And, barring the untoward, it would seem the end of Jim Adamczak's pitching span is due for a lengthy delay.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Adamczak, of Jamestown, Jim married the former Marcia Pachol of this city in August of 1958. The Adamczaks have three children, Lori Ann, 5; Jim, Jr., 4; and Sally Ann, 10 months.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.