Nicole Bidwill and her father Bill pose with the Hall of Fame trophy given to Bill Bidwill's late father, Charles, from the Chicago 16-inch softball Hall of Fame.
For the better part of 20 years in the first half of the 20th century, most everyone who played 16-inch softball on the Southside of Chicago knew who Charles Bidwill was.
They either played in his stadium or on one of his teams.
During a time when America refused to let people participate in societal events based on their gender or color of their skin, Bidwill opened his softball doors to everyone.
From the 1930s to the 1950s, two or three games per night were played at Bidwill Stadium. The first game of the evening was reserved for women, including the Chicago Bluebirds, which went on to play in the National Girls Baseball League. Then the Windy City professional league would follow the women as would games with the Brown Bombers, the best Black team at the time, according to 16inchsoftball.com.
His acceptance of all kinds and his support for softball and diversity earned Bidwill the Richard J. Daley Friend of Softball Award on April 13 at the Chicago Sixteen-inch Softball Hall of Fame Inductee Dinner. Bidwill's granddaughter, Nicole Bidwill, accepted the award on his behalf. Charles Bidwill died on April 19, 1947.
"For obvious reasons my grandfather is very closely associated with the sport of football," Nicole Bidwill said. "But it wasn't just football that my grandfather was fond of. In fact, he was a fan of all sports and was a firm believer in the positive attributes they instill: teamwork, discipline, sacrifice and all the character-building elements that come from participating in athletics.
"For those reasons, one of the sports in which he also had a great affinity was 16-inch softball. My grandfather was very, very proud to be from Chicago. I know he viewed 16-inch softball to be perfect match for the city and its small, close-knit neighborhoods."
The Bombers roster included players who also starred for the Harlem Globetrotters, including "Sweetwater" Clifton, one of the first Black basketball players in the NBA.
Charles Bidwill was one of 23 individuals and four teams to be inducted in this year's class.