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RACINE — The nonprofit Old Timers Athletic Club (OTAC) began in 1956 by aging ball players from a Sunday morning softball league.

They noticed that city youth were in dire need of equipment and other necessities. Thus the OTAC was born. They procured members, elected officers and began fundraisers. Its first president was Bob Heck, a ball player with a penchant to promote progression of youth. Heck is still remembered by many as a longtime alderman from the north side and served at City Hall for countless years.

Other reputable and prominent names constituted the club’s first officers. They were Herb Gatzke, Cliff Wisby, Babe Lochowitz, William “Wigs” Konicek, Ed Welsh, Jack Dylla, Jack Herrara, Frank Klimmer, Felix Christiansen and Arthur O’Clair. Their original planning and ideas have carried over to the figures of today being well over $1 million for kids.

It should be pointed out that he club is not of old old-timers. The original members “dubbed” themselves as such. There are various ranges of age that take part in the club’s cause. The current president is Bob Petersen, a 1981 Park High School graduate. All officers perform club duties and find volunteers among regular membership for heavy-duty events. Elections are held annually.

The club’s original members launched a ball tournament in 1960. Fifty-eight years later it remains a two-weekend yearly event and is a prolific help toward dollars raised for youth in athletics. It has been proudly noted to be the longest continual softball tourney in the state of Wisconsin.

The other productive event is the club’s annual mostaccioli and meatball dinner held in late February. This is well attended by a supporting public. The club also promotes yearly cribbage and golf events to raise monies. Old Timers Athletic Club concessions can be found at certain civic events.

The club holds monthly meetings and has a four-person Executive Board and seven board members. Regular members also attend meetings and there is voting on issues. Everything is parliamentary. Recipients of club dollars must meet qualifications and give presentations, and representatives must assure good character, discipline and a sportsmanship demeanor for qualification.

The club supports youth ages 6 to 18.

It is a difficult time to retain a volunteer organization’s strength and membership in this era of technology and change. Different daily movements and purposes have become a barrier. Every day there are volunteers that care beyond self and are “quietly” out there to aid someone.

For more information, write to Al Dandeneau at greatlakesocean@gmail.com.

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