A History of The Old Timers Soccer Association of Maryland, Inc.

There is little documentation relating to the association’s early beginnings. The concept is believed to have originated with early associates in Philadelphia and it was they who provided the format of which the present association was founded. It has been said that in 1951 J. Eugene “Gene” Ringsdorf, Paul Trautner and Charles “Spike” Zeiler were the first to propose an assembly of soccer enthusiasts to form a Maryland association. This first assembly met in Baltimore and chose Frank Heinle to be their first president. In 1952 the first Hall of Fame Dinner was held in Highlandtown at the Santa Maria K of C Hall. This dinner was attended by many of Maryland’s soccer notables and was reported to be “quite a bash”. Subsequent dinners were held each year until 1957 after which they were suspended for reasons that remain unclear to this day. There apparently were differences between key members of the soccer community that prevented selections for the Hall of Fame, however, the association’s members continued to meet socially at different locations in East Baltimore including Buettners Restaurant, Ikendrantz Restaurant and the Baltimore Kicker’s Club. Traditionally the association has held regular membership meetings twice a year. It is not certain what the original qualifications for membership were, however, some type of recommendation was probably required and prospective members had to be at least 35 years of age. The association functioned more like a club and there is little evidence of any formal structure. Several promotional activities were held including matches arranged between high school athletes in Baltimore and Philadelphia.


In 1980 there was a renewal of interest in the Hall of Fame largely due to the influence of Raymond G. “Granny” Kraft and Gene Ringsdorf and the association resumed the induction of athletes into what was known as the “Old Timers Soccer Association of Maryland Hall of Fame”. Inductions were limited to five, living, active members of the association. During Ray’s tenure as president the John A. Schmid Award was instituted to honor those who had provided outstanding service to the game. The annual dinners were shifted to the Overlea Hall and subsequently to Tiffany East to accommodate the increased attendance.


The elections of 1993 promised significant changes when a new executive board took office under the leadership of Nick Kropfelder. By 1994 we were sanctioned by the Maryland State Soccer Association as the official sponsors, promoters and guardians of the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame and the title of the hall of fame was changed accordingly. (This sanctioning has subsequently been withdrawn). That same year the new board took action to provide for the first posthumous induction of a candidate and non-members were declared eligible for induction. The number of candidates eligible for induction was changed to six. Coincident with these changes, the age of eligibility for membership was reduced to 30 (subsequently reduced to 21) and our welcoming of females into membership changed our “for men only” status. By 1995 the association had filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Maryland and became a corporate body governed by officers and an executive board. By 1996, a filing was made with the I.R.S and we were granted tax-exempt status (I.R.S. 501.C). By 1996 we experienced a surge in membership, which ultimately took our rolls up to approximately 350. Interest in Hall of Fame Night picked up and we found it necessary to secure a larger facility, ultimately settling in the Columbus Gardens in Fullerton where we continue to hold our annual inductions to this day. Our Hall of Fame dinner has evolved into a celebration of soccer where we not only honor the inductees but also recognize the male and female high school players of the year, an outstanding referee and a state youth coach of the year. Nick Kropfelder served a 3-year term and was succeeded by Willie Rush for a very brief period.


In 1999, Albert Salkowski was elected president. Under Al’s leadership, additional steps were taken to improve the association. In 1996, it was stated that Maryland should have a physical location to permanently enshrine our Hall of Fame inductees and in 2003 a fundraising campaign was begun to secure the necessary funds for this project. With the cooperation of Mike Woodard at the Du Burns Arena and the carpentry skills of Greg Watson, this project became a reality on May 13, 2006 when the hall of fame cabinets and nameplates were formally dedicated in the entrance foyer of the arena. Sixty-two donors contributed over $4,000.00 to provide the financial support necessary to complete the work and to provide for future additions. A second cabinet serves as a display case for soccer memorabilia and artifacts associated with the history of the game in Maryland.


On May 12, 2006, the first female member of the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame, Alfredda Iglehart, was inducted posthumously, thus opening a new era of innovative approaches to recognizing Maryland’s soccer greats. The principal of Francis Scott Key School and a dozen of Ms. Iglehart’s former athletes accepted of the honors.


The Maryland soccer community should be proud that six of its members have been inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, two of its members have been inducted into the National Referee Hall of Fame and one hundred sixty nine of its members have been inducted into the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame during the past 50 years.


For over 61 years, the Old Timers Soccer Association has carried out its mission of promoting the game of soccer, providing fellowship among the members of the soccer community, preserving Maryland’s soccer history, and honoring those who have achieved excellence in the game by their play on the field or their service to its purposes. In addition, we have provided financial support to such worthy endeavors as Special Olympics Maryland Soccer, the Brian Hunt Memorial Tournament, Kicks Against Women’s Breast Cancer, renovation of the Bonvegna Field, the Maryland High School All-State Match, and the East Baltimore Hispanic Soccer Program. The Walter Cohen College Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to two high school athletes through the proceeds from the annual Bull/Oyster roast.


Our association is currently at the crossroads of its existence. Many of the older members have passed on and left the future up to younger people who will hopefully carry on the work done in recent years. We are convinced that there are at least 500 soccer veterans in the Maryland area who potentially have an interest in our association. There is an obvious need for an association of our type. Communication with our soccer veterans will always be a top requirement and no other body has the ability to rally the entire soccer community together in the bonds of friendship, which we have forged over the years. Membership is open to all who meet our simple criteria: interest in the game, acceptance of our objectives and meeting the minimum age requirement.

 

Old Timers Soccer Association Of Maryland, Inc.


Celebrating 54 years of Dedication and Service to the Maryland Soccer Community

 

Officers

President . . . . . . . . . . . .Bill Schonowski
Vice President . . . . . . . . Fran McGrath
Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tom Bailey
Treasurer . . . . . . . . Len Lewandowski

Executive Board

George Bischoff
Stephen Craig
Tom Giordano
Ray Noppinger
Georgia Holland-Pence

Hall of Fame Selection Committee

Tom Bailey, Chair
Pete Caringi
Wayne Harman
Frank Olszewski
John Shields

 

 

Association Contact: Tom Bailey

All content © OTSAM 2006 :: Website by Stephen Mitre Craig