Joseph Kurczodyna of Lake Forest, a pitcher in the Men’s 12-inch Softball League in Lake County has worn the same rebel leather baseball cap while pitching for 33 summer and fall seasons.
"I have pitched over 3,500 games wearing the cap I purchased in 1980s in Silverton, Col., while campin," Kurczodyna said.
The Lake Forest CEO has played in numerous park districts leagues wearing the deeply worn leather cap in 15 different states. The cap has seen 10 championships in the last 18 years in Lake Forest. The Lantern, Kurczodyna's team sponsored by Beth Tiffany owner of The Lantern of Lake Forest, just finished the summer season on Thursday night, Aug. 15, with a loss to Tilted Kilt at Deerpath Recreation Center.
The team finished third ending its reign of three championship seasons.
“We lost two close games by one run, in a double-elimination tournament" said Kurczodyna, who is also the team's manager. "Skoo Walker and Jeff Keske hit over 800 and played solid infield throughout the playoffs."
The 60-year-old CEO and founder of Patriot Mortgage Acceptance Corporation in Lake Forest said he will pitch the fall season with The Lantern wearing the cap. Kurczodyna, wearing his rebel leather cap, has faced more than 140,000 batters, thrown more than 500,000 pitches and won 70 percent of his games in 33 consecutive years.
Kurczodyna said he will be wearing his cap all day when his startup company launches in September.
"I've been wearing the same cap each season because, like most ball players I’m superstitious," said Kurczodyna, who has played in 20 park districts throughout Lake and Cook County and in Colorado, including Denver and Ft. Collins.
"I am often approached by players and umpires telling me where and when they faced me wearing the rebel cap before", Kurczodyna said.
Kurczodyna also pitches for his team “Silver Clout” in the 50 and 60-year-old division of Senior Softball Association USA league, which is sponsored by the Lake Forest startup, Patriot Mortgage Acceptance Corporation, he founded. The seasoned CEO and founder of PMAC said his companies have been sponsoring men’s league softball for more than 30 years because of his love for the game.
"My most memorable game wearing the cap was winning a Silver Medal in the 2009 Illinois Senior Olympics in Springfield. I was invited to play on a team from Barrington that had lost their pitcher to a last minute injury. It is always uncomfortable to pitch for a team that doesn’t know you especially wearing the rebel cap. I pitched seven games and took them to the finals where we lost by one run in three extra innings," Kurczodyna said.
Kurczodyna loves competing in amateur sports he played semi-pro football well into his 40s and at 50 was a finisher in the Madison, Wisc. Ironman in 2003.
Kurczodyna became a certified Yoga and Tai Chi instructor in 2012. He teaches a free class at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville on Mondays from 9 to 10 a.m. He is also a certified indoor cycle or spin instructor at Sky Fitness in Buffalo Grove.
Kurczodyna is currently substituting Yoga and Tai Chi classes throughout the north shore and suburbs.
"I welcome anyone that would like to attend at the Grove" said the CEO/amateur athlete.