Stars of the ISC – Jimmy Doyle
STARS OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL CONGRESS
(A Tribute to Past, Present, and Emerging Stars of the ISC)
May 2004 – - – Jimmy Doyle
Jimmy Doyle – - – The Saga of a Living Legend – - – Fastball Style
Flash back to the summer of 1943 – - to the little town of Flushing, Michigan – — to a ball diamond where a kids’ league game is about to begin.
It’s a battle between the boys of McDonald’s Dairy and another of the many youth fastpitch softball teams of Flushing.
Trotting out to the mound is a nine-year-old youngster about to throw his first pitch in actual competition in the sport of fastball as it is now commonly known.
That kid, that true “rookie” of well over 60 years ago, was a nearsighted youngster who had really big hands for his age. He came from a tough blue collar Irish family, the oldest of 10 boys – - – all of them athletes.
That kid was young JIMMY DOYLE. And that summer pitching debut was the first season of an incredible run of 59 years on the mound for fastball teams from Michigan and Ohio that might have gone well into its seventh decade had he not been drilled by a semi on his way home from wintering in Florida two years ago.
Yep, his Dad, Jim Doyle Sr., stuck him on the mound in ’43 and young Jim remained there until he was knocked out of the pitching rotation by that errant trucker.
And in between the summer of ’43 and early spring of 2002 – - – - well, how about over 2000 victories; how about 212 no-hitters; how about 26 “perfect games”?
And that’s just in the sport of fastball! JIMMY DOYLE has drunk deeply from the cup of life and of competitive sports. Consider that he also:
** Fought in Golden Gloves competition – - – and won middleweight championships of both Flint and the state of Michigan in 1955 and 1959.
** Drove stock cars at race tracks in Flint, Lansing, Detroit, and Auburn, Michigan;
** Played fastball on a team which included six of his brothers (Bill, Chuck, Ed, John, Joe, and Bob) and of course managed by the boys’ father;
** Threw his first no-hitter in 1956 in league play in Flint, Michigan;
** Threw a perfect game the day in 1958 when his son was born;
** Has served his hometown of Clio as both a policeman and as a fireman.
His loving and long-suffering wife, Connie, has chronicled her Jimmy’s pitching achievements over the 48 years they have been married and can provide documentation on just about every win, every tournament, every all-star award, every thrill and every heartbreak of his marvelous career.
Connie’s records include such things as:
** Getting his first MVP award in 1960 in Port Huron;
** Winning the batting title of the Flint league in 1969 with a mark of .359;
** Being a member of the Gold Medal winning U.S. team in Venezuela in 1981 at the Pan-Am games where he threw 17 straight scoreless innings;
** Being given an “Athletic Career Award” from the Sales and Marketing Executives group in Flint in 1980;
** Being part of the winning NAFA “AAA” championship team in 1996 at the age of 62;
** Being part of numerous state championship teams with squads from Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Midland, and Detroit, Michigan as well as Ashland and Piqua, Ohio.
** Pitching in numerous ISC World Tournaments and ASA National Tournaments with teams from Flint, Ann Arbor, Bay City, Midland, (MI)., Ashland and Piqua, (OH), as well as some NAFA Nationals and ASA Over 40 Nationals;
Jimmy Doyle’s awards include being inducted into the Greater Flint Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Michigan Hall of Fame in 1993.
This author first saw Jimmy Doyle when both of us were 29 years old and Jimmy was locked in a duel with the legendary “Bonnie” Jones in the championship round of the ASA East-Central Regionals in 1963. I also had the pleasure of sitting in the stands in the little Ohio town of West Liberty in May of 1986 watching as Jimmy Doyle rang up his 1,500th career win in an ISC Travel League game – - – and later that same season watching from the press box as Jimmy out-pitched the Allentown, PA. Sunners’ Ty Stofflet to post a 1 – 0 win over the game’s premier southpaw hurler. That game was a classic as it unfolded since it featured two pitchers who between them had at the time recorded nearly 3,000 career wins.
Jimmy Doyle is in the International Softball Congress record book as the oldest pitcher to ever post a victory in an I.S.C. World Tournament game. That action took place in Victoria, B.C. in the 1990 World Tourney when Doyle scored a 1 – 0 win over Darrell Bender. Doyle was a robust 56 at the time, and again this author had the privilege of watching that game.
Highlights of that nearly 60 year career as seen by Doyle who will celebrate his 70th birthday on May 29, 2004 center around his recollections of “all the wonderful friends we made across the entire United States”.
Jimmy Doyle added: “I truly loved playing in my home state of Michigan and also in Ohio. They were great places to play, and Connie and I have so many good friends we made in both states.”
It took a devoted Dad to get him started in the game – - – and that Dad followed his “kid” throughout his career until cancer took Dad out of the picture in 1989 – - – and it took an 18-wheeler to take the “kid” off the mound permanently.
Well, almost permanently. Contacted recently in his home town of Clio, Jimmy confided that he would be cranking up his right arm and the tempting rise ball which was his trademark for an encore exhibition game appearance in June of 2004 against the King and His Court – his seventh time to face the King over the decades!
The storybook career of JIMMY DOYLE – - – a true “living legend” in the game of fastball!
Note: The subject of this story can be reached for a “Happy Birthday” greeting at 3426 Field Rd., Clio, Michigan, 48420
By: Gordon Wise – - – - ISC Information Officer