Softball for charity

When Dr. Patrick Murphy, chairman of Milwaukee-based P.J. Murphy & Associates Inc., steps onto the field of LaFollette Park in Milwaukee each June for the Sixteen Inch Society’s annual softball game, the afternoon transports him back to his childhood.

“It’s like going back to the schoolyard in Chicago where we played the game,” said Murphy, who also serves as an adjunct professor in the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Murphy grew up playing 16-inch softball every summer on Chicago’s north side and translated his lifelong passion for the game into a yearly charity event.

He founded the Sixteen Inch Society in 2002 as a charity organization to both support area nonprofits and give nostalgic 16-inch softball athletes like himself an opportunity to play in Milwaukee.

Past nonprofit beneficiaries of the game fundraisers have included Bridging the Gap Learning Center, House of Peace, and St. Ben’s Meal Program. Over the last 11 years, the society has donated about $100,000 to Milwaukee-based charities, all of which have connections to Chicago, similar to many of the society’s ballplayers.

“One of the things that I’m very proud of is 100 percent of the money donated goes to the charity,” Murphy said.

The game, always held on the second Sunday in June, draws donations from both individuals and foundations such as the Brewers Community Foundation. Additional support comes from Martino’s, which provides complimentary hotdogs to attendees, and Regis Marketing Group, which has covered the cost of game shirts each year.

The Sixteen Inch Society welcomes all interested players, regardless of age and skill, for a fun, friendly, philanthropic afternoon on the field.

“We feel that (donating funds) gives the game a purpose, and it gives those of us who identify with this a real sense of contributing in some way to the Milwaukee community,” Murphy said.

This year’s game is scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 9, at Milwaukee’s LaFollette Park on South 92nd Street. All proceeds will be donated to Messmer Catholic Schools.

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