Remembering stellar career of fast-pitch softball's Gary Endres
Several years ago a name stuck out throughout the area that few people can forget when the subject of fast-pitch softball is mentioned.
A lot of local teams played against him and can never forget the pitches that Murphysboro’s Gary Endres delivered across the plate.
“Gary had a fantastic drop, a great riser, but most of all a tremendous desire to win,” said Bill Pierson of Murphysboro, who was a catcher for him during that era. “He refused to lose.”
He was widely regarded as the best pitcher ever in Southern Illinois.
His team, the Murdale Martin Oilers, won the Men’s Major Fast Pitch State Tournament three consecutive years, 1970, 1971 and 1972. The team was the only team from the deep South to ever win the men’s major state tournament.
“Endres was the most successful pitcher of this era,” said Decatur Herald sports editor Bob Fallstrom, a big fan of mens’ fast-pitch softball.
If you mentioned the Martin Oilers fast-pitch softball team back then, no one could ever forget who watched any of their games the uncanny pitches he delivered.
“Definitely the best pitcher ever in Southern Illinois including the Southwest Illinois area and one of the top five pitchers I have ever seen in Illinois,” said Don Brewer of Murphysboro, a long-time manager of the Martin Oilers and current Illinois State Softball Commissioner.
The Martin Oilers disbanded in 1976, but Endres was not finished. He went on to pitch for Godfrey Leary and Meade and won the state title for them.He then pitched for the Decatur A’s and also won a state title. In between, he pitched for St. Louis Kutis, a team that was runner-up in the national championship tournament.
During his time with St. Louis, he defeated a Pennsylvania team that featured Ty Stofflet, who many regard as the all-time best pitcher on the national level. In a regular season game, Endres defeated Stofflet and the Pennyslvania Sunners.
Endres was selected first team 11 times in the Illinois Mens’ Major State Tournament series. His team won five state championships and he was named most valuable player in four of those tournaments. He won over a 1,000 games in his career and was inducted in the Illinois ASA (Amatuer Softball Association) State Hall of Fame in 1996.
He was born on Nov. 8, 1940, and passed away on Dec. 19, 2018. He was 78 years old and will always be remembered as a giant on the Illinois fast-pitch softball scene.
He will never be forgotten by the many players who played with him or against him as well as the fans who saw him perform.
I will be the first to admit that I was one of those fans who enjoyed an afternoon or evening at the ball park watching him deliver some of those uncanny pitches throughout the area.