EAST TEMPLETON — Hockey players often grow to be the very best softball gamers with their solid wrists, acute coordination and ability to swing a necessarily mean bat.
When it arrived to ice hockey, Ed Zifcak had a extraordinary career that took him to the 1958 Planet Hockey championships prior to he turned one particular of the ideal shortstops for a range of neighborhood softball groups.
The 87-year-aged Zifcak grew up in the city of Burrillville, Rhode Island, on the condition border about 25 miles from Worcester. When he was 8 a long time aged, he started skating on neighborhood ponds and participating in hockey.
He attended Burrillville High College, actively playing hockey and baseball, and following his 1952 graduation he played each sports activities at St. Lawrence College in upstate New York.
Immediately after university, he was invited to try out out for the countrywide hockey group for the 1956-57 year. Even so, shortly soon after he was chosen to the crew in Oct of 1956, he received drafted.
Remembering a legend: “Ziggy” Sund Shined on Nearby Softball Diamonds
Zifcak wound up serving at Fort Banking companies in Winthrop, a shorter length from the Boston Backyard garden, which authorized him to follow with the national team.
Amid his teammates was Bill Cleary, the former mentor at Harvard College who went on to play for the 1960 U.S. Olympic group, which captured the gold medal at Squaw Valley.
In March 1958, Zifcak was a member of Team United states of america in the World Hockey Championships in Europe. That 12 months the national staff played in Moscow and Prague, ahead of having part in the 10-team championship in Oslo, Norway. The Globe Championship was gained by Canada which upset the 1956 gold-medalist Soviet Union crew.
In 1960, Zifcak landed a task at Mead Container and moved to Gardner. He also tried out for the Providence Reds semipro squad and caught on with the Rockland Estes out of Braintree. Even so, his work curtailed the prospect to check out out for the 1960 US Olympic workforce.
Instead, he showcased his softball expertise on the Gardner scene, helping to direct the Jackson Eagles sluggish-pitch crew to championships in 1960 and 1961. Later, he was invited to enjoy for the speedy-pitch Napoleon Club squad, starting to be their shortstop right after getting mainly a heart fielder and pitcher in higher university, and an outfielder in school.
“When I very first arrived below, that’s wherever they place me (shortstop),” he said. “It was an adjustment (from slow pitch to fast pitch), but I received used to it. I was mainly a pull hitter, for the reason that my wrists had been possibly solid from hockey.”
Zifcak was the shortstop for the 1963 Napoleon Club crew that received the Condition Class B title.
“It was a terrific team of fellas and a genuine massive offer winning that condition title,” he stated. “We played some excellent groups. We performed with each other and we played to win.”
He continued with the Napoleon Club until eventually the squad broke up in 1968 and then joined forces with the Richard’s Realty staff which won the title in 1969. In 1971, they turned John’s Activity Shop and the subsequent 12 months stunned the rest of the league by successful the title.
Playing in a league comprised of generally superior school and school-aged gamers, the John’s Activity Store workforce was a squad in the twilight of their softball occupations, seeking for one particular last hurrah.
John’s turned the City League version of the Cardiac Youngsters, normally spotting their opponents significant prospects, only to arrive again in late innings with incredible rallies.
Probably the team’s best asset was its capacity to rating operates, and plenty of them when wanted. John’s scored in double figures 12 moments in the course of the typical season, a few occasions scoring additional than 20 operates for every sport. They continued their cardiac comebacks via the 1972 playoffs.
In their quarterfinals sequence with Jandris, John’s Sports Store trailed 2- in each individual of the to start with two game titles before rallying for wins of 10-3 and 17-11.
Right after a sweep of the Winchendon VFW in the semifinals, Zifcak’s three-operate homer aided seal a 7-3 victory over Purple Onion in Activity 3 of the finals. John’s Sports activities Shop secured the title with a 16-13 victory in Match 4, rallying again from an early 5- deficit.
For Zifcak, it was his very last period participating in softball.
He ongoing enjoying hockey into his late 40s in Nashua, N.H., nonetheless it bought to be also a great deal with work at Rand Whitney in Worcester. He retired from that career in 1996.
Zifcak has lived on South Primary Avenue in East Templeton considering that 1968. His wife of 52 years, Alberta, passed absent in 2016.
He enjoys looking at sporting activities on Tv set, and will take occasional bus journeys.
“I’m fortunate. I’m healthy and I’ve had a excellent everyday living,” explained Zifcak with a youthful smile belying his status as an octogenarian.
(Do you have a recommendation for a foreseeable future “Where are they Now” section? You should speak to Mike Richard at [email protected] or in producing Mike Richard, 92 Boardley Rd. Sandwich, MA 02563)