Mac on Sports
One Of The Best To Ever Play Fast Pitch Softball
Rick Minton To Be Inducted Into

National Hall Of Fame
    Anyone who has watched fast pitch softball in the Decatur and Macon County and elsewhere around central Illinois, the state of Illinois and the Midwest knows Rick Minton.
    In fact, those who follow fast pitch softball unequivocally say he is one of the best to ever play the game and he will receive an accolade that is long in coming, but it is approaching as he is to be inducted Saturday (Oct. 21st) into the National Softball Hall of Fame in Greensboro, N.C.  The Hall of Fame itself is in Oklahoma City, OK.
    There are only about 200 men and women fastpitch players in this Hall of Fame.  
    Minton was a member of the two-time USA softball national championship team, six-time first team All-American and won two Pan-American Games silver medal teams in 1987 and 1990.
    However, no one has more pride in what Rick has achieved than his brother, Jim, who shared these thoughts with me, "Rick played softball for almost 27 years, starting in 1981 with Herbert Trucking and finishing playing "A" ball in Cerro Gordo.  It is a great honor for Rick to be inducted into the Illinois ASA Hall of Fame, but I really believe that he deserves to represent Illinois, and especially Decatur, in the national ASA Hall of Fame." 
    What Jim wished for at the time he spoke at Rick's induction into the Illinois HOF has come true.
    Here's some excerpts from Jim's remarks back then since Rick has been shy to talk about with this reporter, "The first “C” that I would use to describe Rick is competitor.  It didn’t matter if it was the Pan American games or Wednesday night in Cerro Gordo--Rick showed up to compete.  He started as a pinch runner and outfielder, and finished as arguably the best second baseman in the history of the game. 
    "I remember one year after Shelbyville High School won the state basketball championship, we honored them out at Borg Warner Field.  We had some shirts printed up that said, 'Shelbyville basketball and Decatur Pride Softball--Winning is our business, and business is good!'  I think that phrase really describes Rick. 
    "The second “C” I would use is character.  I am using that term in a Babe Ruth or Harry Caray sort of way.  How many people do you know that go by the nickname of “Bonehead” and like  it?  (Mark) Tupper (executive sports editor of the Decatur Herald and Review) called Rick the “soundtrack" of Decatur Softball.  It took an awful lot of money to play softball Decatur style, so it not only needed to be a game, it needed to be a show.  Rick played with flair; people showed up and paid their money because they wanted to see what Rick might do.  Sometimes it was having a heated discussion with [umpire] Ron Runyon over the proper application of the strike zone, but sometimes it was hitting the dramatic home run."
    Jim continues, "It always amazed me though, how as soon as the game was over, it was over.  Guys that Rick was in a knock-down, drag-out fight with 20 minutes ago were buying the first round for him.  Long time teammate Brent Stevenson said, 'I traveled and played the game at the highest level with Rick, and I can tell you he was respected and liked by everyone.  It was war between the lines and then great friendship off the field. 
    "Finally, the last “C” is for champion.  1984 International Softball Congress World Champion.  1988 gold medalist, playing for the USA in the International Softball Federation Worlds.  1994 and 1995 ASA National Championships.  You can even throw in a couple of over-40 National Championships.  Rick has six silver medals from U.S. National Sports Festivals and Pan American games.  He played in Pan Am games in Cuba and Argentina. 
    "I remember the 1987 Pan Am games in Indianapolis.  It was right after his son Ryan was born, so Rick was driving back and forth to Indy every day to play.  I rode over with him once and saw that this team of the best players in the U.S. had Rick batting cleanup that day.     
    "Dave Boys also wrote a letter to the committee for Rick.  Now, Dave wasn't too bad of a player; he played on some decent teams, with some above average teammates. . .  of course, I am playing this down.  You have more rings than fingers, right, Dave?  Dave said, “I honestly think Rick Minton is the best big-game player I have ever played with.  "
    So the final “C,” Rick, is “congrats.”  Momma Minton would be proud.

'Play Aggressive,' Illinois Coach Underwood Says

  Brad Underwood, left, and Geoff Alexander at Hickory Point Banquet Center

    At Sunday night's Special Edition of SportTalk on WSOY 1340 Decatur, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood told the crowd of more than 250 at Hickory Point Banquet Center that he wants his Illini to play aggressive this coming season that begins with their first game Nov. 10.
    Accompanying Underwood to the show was his assistant to the head coach, Geoff Alexander, whose father Neil coaches at nearby Lincoln.  Geoff told me his father is expecting a good team this fall during our chat before it all started.  Geoff is also thrilled to be back with Underwood since they have been together in multiple other sites, including at Western Illinois University when Alexander played and Underwood coached.
    In response to a question from host Mark Tupper, who is executive sports editor of the Decatur Herald and Review, Underwood said he wants his team to shoot the ball within seven seconds of it getting the ball and those three shots can be threes, layups or free throws.
    He also said his "play fast" system begins on the defensive end of the floor, admitting, though, everyone wants to talk about offense.
    I will have more on this developing in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.


Jim Minton: ‘Build The Home, Change The World’ 

He's a former MacArthur and St. Xavier college baseball and softball catcher with the Decatur Pride amateur fastpitch softball team.
    He's also a husband, father and grandfather, who knows a thing or two about parenting with sons JJ and Kurtis and daughter Emily, two grandsons (Noah and Elijah), and admits he's made some mistakes along the way which he encapsulates in his 50,000 word book.
    He is Jim Minton, investment adviser with Investment Planners Inc. of Decatur with 20 years experience there and 25 overall since he worked with Prudential for five years before joining Investment Planners.
    The idea for his book came from Rob Rienow, who is the Dad of RW Rienow, who is Kurtis's teammate at Olivet Nazarene, who advised Jim to go ahead with his book project.
    "Build the Home, Change the World." 
    That's the theme of the book that he's written that is in tune with the times in which we live.

       Check out full story and photo in Wednesday, Oct. 4th's print edition of the Decatur Tribune and J. Thomas McNamara's "Irish Stew"

Pairings for 48th Annual Team Soy Tourney Set
    We now know who will play whom and when at this year's 48th annual Team Soy Decatur Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament which has become a Decatur tradition.
    Along with the Ursula Beck USTA Pro Tennis Classic and the Decatur/Forsyth golf Classic, the Team Soy Decatur Thanksgiving tournament is among the Decatur treasures, thanks to the Becks and Charles Kuhle in the case of the tennis classic, Cyndi Deadrick-Wolfer of the Decatur-Forsyth Classic and Mel Roustio for the Team Soy Thanksgiving basketball tournament.  Of course, their successes are attributable to all their sponsors and the numerous volunteers it takes to run such events.
    Bolingbrook is this year's top-seed followed by two-seed Eisenhower, three-seed Champaign Central, four-seed Harvey Thornton, five-seed MacArthur, six-seed Springfield Southeast, seven-seed Peoria Central and eight-seed Mount Zion.  The coaches seeded the field.  Champaign Central is rejoining the tournament for one year before it hosts its own tournament the following year.
    So, Eisenhower opens play against Peoria Central Tuesday night Nov. 21st at 6 followed by Champaign Central against Springfield Southeast.  On Wednesday night, at 6 top-seed Bolingbrook meets Mount Zion followed by Harvey Thornton against MacArthur.
    Tuesday night's two winners collide at 6 Friday night with Wednesday night's two survivors following around 7:30.  The losers of Tuesday night's two games meet at 1 Friday afternoon in one of the two consolation bracket games with the Wednesday night's losers meeting at 2:30.
    And then on Saturday, the winners of Friday afternoon's two games meet at 2:30 with the others meeting at 1 o'clock.
    The third place Saturday night will find the two Friday night losers meeting followed by the title game at 7:30 featuring the two Friday night winners.  Bolingbrook is going after its third Team Soy tournament title and second consecutive after beating Eisenhower last November, 69-42.  Rob Brost's team also won the championship in 2008 when it defeated Southeast 73-71.  Bolingbrook also has finished second twice in 2013 and 2014.
    So, it has played in three of the last four years title games, 2013, 2014 and 2016 with MacArthur defeating Southeast in 2015 for the crown, 66-56.
    Bolingbrook is led by an electric trio of Division 1 guards--senior Kaleb Thornton and juniors Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran.  
    Tim Finke, an Illinois recruit, who hasn't committed anywhere yet, leads Champaign Central, and MacArthur is led by the Brummett twins--Amir and Armon Brummett, who are going to play college football apparently instead of basketball, according to recent media reports.
    I will have more on this developing in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Henson to be Honored Dec. 16

    Lou Henson, the all-time winningest coach of both Illinois and New Mexico State basketball programs, will be honored Dec. 16 when the Illini face the Aggies in the United Center.
    Henson amassed a 423-224 record in 21 seasons with the Orange and Blue, highlighted by 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, a total of 15 postseason bids, and eleven 20-win seasons.  Henson's Illini won the 1984 Big Ten Championship and advanced to the Elite Eight.  His most successful season came with the Flyin' Illini, who won a then-school record 31 games and advanced to the 1989 NCAA Final Four.
    A 1955 graduate of New Mexico State, Henson coached 16 years between two stints at his alma mater, compiling a 289-152 mark.  He led New Mexico State to its lone Final Four appearance in 1970, and to a total of seven NCAA Tournaments and eight 20-win seasons overall.
    Over his entire 41-year career, Henson won 779 games; ranking 16th on the all-time NCAA wins list.  He is one of only four coaches in NCAA history to record 200-plus wins at two DI schools.  He also stands as one of just 14 coaches to lead two different teams to the Final Four. 
    Henson was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. His name adorns the courts in both Champaign and Las Cruces.
    Illinois and New Mexico State are under the direction of first-year head coaches.  Brad Underwood is now at the helm of an Illini squad that went 20-15 last season, advancing to the NIT Quarterfinal.  Chris Jans, meanwhile, takes over an Aggie team that participated in the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC Tournament and compiling a 28-6 record.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor

Decatur Tribune
Email Tom at

Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
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