Sonny Kalishek
Inducted in 2012 to the Iowa
Fast-Pitch Hall-of-Fame
"What Do YOU Want to Know?"
Bill Prochaska

scored 2,124 points during his
4 year varsity basketball career at
Rudolphinum High School in Protivin.
He broke the state scoring  record in
1955 with no fanfare.
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Sonny Kalishek Elected to the Hall-of-Fame

Sonny Kalishek who pitched Protivin to the state
tournament in 1962 and was one of the most feared
pitchers and hitters for many years was elected to the HOF
August 11, 2012.  

He will be inducted this fall.

Below is the resume submitted on Sonny's behalf which
was used for consideration into the HOF

(Page down for Resume)

(A copy of the Press Relese to other members of the media
announcing Sonny's Selection)

Protivin’s  Sonny Kalishek
elected to Hall-Of-Fame

Sonny Kalishek who was one of the most feared pitchers
and hitters in the Upper Midwest from the 1950s through
the 1980s has been elected to the Iowa Fast-Pitch Softball

Kalishek now of New Hampton was elected by the HOF
committee during its annual meeting.  He will be inducted
this fall in Clear Lake on October 7.  (See left column for
more info)

Kalishek spent the majority of his time playing for the
Protivin Merchants and pitched them to the state
tournament in 1962 and 1972.  He also pitched his team to
the European Championship in 1965 while serving his
country in the military in Germany.   

Kalishek also played for teams from Cresco, St. Lucas,
Frederika, and also played some for Larry Lange Ford out
of Cedar Falls during his Hall-Of-Fame career .

Kalishek was overjoyed with the news  and said, “If it wasn’
t for all the great players I played with during the years in
Protivin and everywhere else this would have never

During the 1960s and 70s, Kalishek was one of the top
players in the state.  He is one of the few that ever
combined the ability to not only shut you down with 100
mph fast-balls and a deadly knuckle-ball from the pitching
rubber, but he also was a top hitter smashing over 400
home runs during his career.  

He had a pitching record of 815-147 with 401 home runs
against competition that was among the best in the Upper
Midwest during the majority of his career.
Fast Pitch Softball Resume of Clayton
“Sonny” Kalishek
Career mainly in Protivin, Iowa (Now of New Hampton,

It was 1956 and the regular pitcher for the Protivin men’s fast
pitch team was called to the military.  Protivin was part of a highly
competitive league in Northern Iowa and Manager Julius Shileny
had no idea what to do, so he had all the players warm up
pitching before the game against Puritan of Cresco a team full of
top hitters.

A strong young boy of 14 caught the eye of Shileny and Shileny
told the youth, “You’re going to pitch tonight”.  The young lad said
to Shileny, “I don’t know if I can do it”.   Shileny responded, “If you’
re going to play on this team, you’re going to do what I tell you”

The Protivin team won that game 7-2 and the opposing manager
said to Shileny, “Your boy is not very good”.   Shileny responded,
“But he was good enough to beat you”

The 14 year old boy was Clayton “Sonny” Kalishek.  The rest as
they say is history.
Kalishek got a lot better and would go on and win over 800 games
in the next  25 years and not only pitch his team from a town of
just over 300 to the state tournament, but also pitched his military
team to a European Championship in 1965, while in the Army in

Kalishek’s fast-pitch softball career was not only limited to some
amazing exploits from the pitching rubber, but he was also one of
the most feared hitters of his era cracking over 400 Home Runs
while maintaining a batting average of over .300 during his career.

Kalishek’s arsenal of pitches included deadly rise balls and drop
balls clocked by an engineer from McDonald-Douglas, using some
sophisticated equipment, at 96 mph in 1963. Many who faced
Kalishek said he threw as hard or harder than pitchers who
claimed to throw over 100 mph.   He also had an almost unhittable
knuckle-ball that when the wind was right he could almost
exclusively get by with it.

Kalishek’s pre-military career in Iowa was highlighted when he
pitched his Protivin team population 302 to the State Tournament
in 1962.  In those days, there was one class and one state
tournament limited to 8 teams.  At the state tournament, Kalishek
locked horns with Hall-of-Fame pitcher Leroy Carlson of Sioux
City.  At the end of regulation neither team had scored a run
against the opposing team’s fire baller.   The only run of the game
scored on an error on a bunt play in the eighth inning and Protivin
fell, 1-0.  The game ended with a runner on and a drive off the bat
of Bill Prochaska (later the coach/AD at Upper Iowa for over 30
years) to the deepest part of the park caught by the Sioux City
outfielder right at the fence.  The 1962 Protivin team also included
Bernie Kerian in centerfield the father of hall-of-famer Steve

From 1964-1966, Kalishek was stationed in Germany and was
considered one of the top if not THE Top fast pitch pitcher in
Europe.  He pitched his team to the European Championship in
1965 and was on the way to doing it again in 1966 when he was
transferred back to the states.

He returned home and in 1967 picked up where he left off in
Iowa.  Over the next several years though still one of the best
pitchers in the Upper Midwest he would suffer through some arm
problems and would play first base much of the time where he let
his bat do the talking with long home runs.

In the late 60s and early 70s he was recruited by Larry Lange
Ford out of Cedar Falls to be a regular.  They had a job and
everything all lined up for “Sonny”, but because of commitment to
the family business at home, Kalishek was unable to play on a full-
time basis.

He still had some big moments with Larry Lange including a
pitching duel win over Jerry Ralfs of Welty Way in 1970.
In 1971, while pitching for Protivin, Kalishek pitched and hit his
team to victory in a duel with Hall-Of-Famer Denny Linderbaum.  
In the early season game, Kalishek hit 2 2 run home runs
accounting for all his team’s runs in a 4-3 victory.  The team from
Cresco also included two other Hall-of-Famers, Jim Soverign and
Al Rausch.  

Mainly because of Kalishek, the team though from a small town
made up of local young players, never shied away from the
toughest competition they could find.    In 1972, through the first 8
games of the season, 4 double-headers against the defending
Wisconsin State Champs, the runner-up in Wisconsin and the
runner-up in Minnesota, and the team that finished third in Iowa,
the team was 4-4, but 4-2 in games Kalishek played and 3-0 in
games he pitched.  In addition, Kalishek had 3 home runs in the 6
games against the best competition in the 3 states.

The 1972 season was also highlighted with another trip to the
state tournament for Kalishek and Protivin, the third in 10 years.  
Also, during that season, Kalishek dueled against Clear Lake
“Buttr Top” the team that eventually ended up tenth in the country
and lost to them 4 times by 1-run.

The” Kalishek Influence” affected several others from the small
community.  John Svoboda practiced endlessly emulating Kalishek
and was considered one of the top pitchers in Iowa by the time he
graduated from high school in 1966.  Arm problems limited
Svoboda’s pitching career, but he did become a top player in the
Midwest as an outfielder for Larry Lange of Cedar Falls and
teams out of Kansas City.  Kalishek also had two younger
brothers that became top fast-pitch players; Gary who was a
tremendous outfielder and hitter and Joe who caught and played
third, while developing into a feared hitter.

The Sonny Kalishek influence can also be seen in the
development of top pitchers out of Protivin in the girl’s high school
game.  Three girls including Sheryl Vrba, Mary Lensing, and
Meagan Novotny from and around the community won over 135
games in their high school careers making Protivin the only
community of any size in Iowa (and maybe the nation) that can
make such a claim.  In addition, another, Diane Jirak won 99
games.  Kalishek’s influence directly and indirectly affected all of
them in a positive way.

Through the years, Kalishek and Jim Soverign (HOF) from nearby
Cresco had many battles on the softball field, with Kalishek
gaining the upper hand most of the time.  Kalishek would not only
pitch the team to victory, but many times deliver a big blow from
the plate.

Kalishek’s legend was such that during the 60s and 70s in softball
circles in the Tri-State area from Waterloo to Clear Lake from
Austin to Rochester to Winona to LaCrosse to Madison to Prairie
du Chien to Garnavillo to Manchester to Oelwein and all the
softball towns in between, though a popular nickname of the day,
when you said “Sonny” everyone knew who you meant.

It’s also a testament to Kalishek and the teams from Protivin that
during those years even though the top players from the top
teams from the circle mentioned above had trouble pronouncing
the town and most of its player’s names, they didn’t need a map to
know how to get there to play softball.

Sonny now in his 70s is retired and lives in New Hampton where
he still loves to talk about the game.
We have known Sonny for over 50 years and witnessed first-hand
much of what this “Mr. Softball” accomplished on the field and the
influence he has had on others who have achieved in the game.

We are deeply honored for this opportunity to respectfully submit
for consideration:
Clayton “Sonny” Kalishek for the Iowa Fast Pitch Hall of Fame for
the year 2012.


Randy Novotny
(former  fast-pitch player and high school coach)
316 Commercial Ave
Protivin, Iowa  52163
563-569-8242 0r 563-569-8510


Bill Prochaska
(former coach and AD at Upper Iowa University & a Founding
member of Protvin Fast Pitch in the 1950s)
Fayette, Iowa

Career Statistics for Sonny Kalishek
Pitching Career won 815 lost 147 winning pct .847
Home Runs 401
Making the State Tournament back in 1962 was a great
achievement for the Protivin Softball Team.  Only 8 teams
made it out of the entire state and most came from the
major metro areas of Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Rapids
and Sioux City.  
More on the 1962 Team

Jim Prochaska in the interview below talks about playing  
in those days and how the town really got behind the team.  
Prochaska also talks about newly elected Hall-of-Fame
pitcher Sonny Kalishek and what he meant to the success
of the team
Sonny with his immediate Family
Sonny with his Sisters and Brother
(LtoR Colleen, Sonny, Janice, and Joe)
They were all outstanding athletes including his late brother
Gary.  Janice and Colleen were basketball stars at
Rudolphinum High School, where Sonny also was an
outstanding basketball player in the 50s.
Brother Gary was a basketball star as well, while Joe was a
strong lineman and wrestler at Turkey Valley.
Joe and Gary both played softball on the same teams as
Sonny for many years with Gary being one of the best
center-fielders in the upper midwest and Joe an outstanding
third baseman and catcher.  They were all excellent hitters.
Sonny with his extended family including many nephews,
nieces, great nephews and nieces and spouses.
Sonny's induction ceremony
into the
Iowa Men’s Fastpitch Softball Hall Of

Fellow Inductees in the
Class of 2012

Front Row (LtoR)
Floyd Hazelbaker, John Muench,
Dean Whitebreast  
Back Row(L to R)  Sonny,
Pete Sandman, Roger Ruhs
Four new Hall-Of-Fame inductees were
honored at the 2012 Wrestling
Hall-Of-Fame Ceremonies at the
Cresco Country Club.

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Follow the Trojans
Above is Sonny on the far right with fellow
Hall-of-Famers from the area,
on the left from Cresco and
Denny Linderbaum in the center.  Three of
the best pitchers EVER in Iowa.
Below Sonny with some of the members
of his family
Sonny talking with a couple of guys he
played ball with early in his career.  In the
center is
Larry Svoboda who was one of
Sonny's early catchers.  Larry played with
4 different teams in the state tournament,
including Protivin.
 Dave Bouska is on the
far right.  Immediately below is
Sonny with
his wife Bonnie
and below that Sonny with
fellow inductee
Dean Whitebreast who
played alot of ball against Sonny for
various teams out of Waterloo and other
towns.  Dean claims he never got a hit off
Sonny (probably not true).  His fondest
memories of playing in the area was the
hospitality in Protivin and Tucheks in
Hall-Of-Fame Pitcher Denny Linderbaum
who grew up on a farm near Ridgeway,
went to school in Cresco and has many
fond memories of playing ball against
Sonny and Protivin.
On the ball diamond they were mainly adversaries, sometimes
teammates, but always friends.  Jim Soverign (left) and Sonny
Kalishek (right) a couple of Hall-of-Famers.  Of all the greats to
be inducted into the Iowa Fast-Pitch Hall of Fame these two have
had more people show up in support of them than anyone else.  
one a tie.
Sonny Kalishek in the center at his induction into the Iowa Fast
Pitch Hall-of-Fame.  To the left is
Leroy Wegmann, the President
of the Hall-of-Fame and to the right is
Doug Lindaman from the
ASA.  The plaque Sonny is holding was presented to him from the
last team he played for, Frederika.
 Kerry Bergman representing
the team recognized that though the majority of Sonny's
accomplishments were with Protivin they wanted to honor him
for being a great teammate.
Below is Leroy Wegmann introducing Sonny and some words
from Denny Linderbaum and the acceptance speech of Sonny.