Richard J. Dailey Friend of Softball Award
Unlike a lot of bar sponsors, Joe Rizza never sponsored a team expecting them to “pay him back” after the game. This attitude certainly produced a lot of happy wives whose husbands didn’t feel an obligation to stay out late after the game. All Joe Rizza asked was that a player or fan who was interested in buying a car check with him first for the best price.
This modest attitude was apparent in his nineteen-year sponsorship of 16-inch softball teams. He started sponsoring the Rizza Rockers in 1986 in the North Riverside Park District League. They took off with a bang that year, winning that league and placing fourth in the “A” Nationals in Indiana. They played in eight straight “A” Nationals before moving up to the Majors in 1994. The Rockers won the Life Newspapers Suburban Tournament in 1993, the last year it was held. They competed in the Forest Park No Glove National Tournament for fourteen straight years, winning it in 1998. Joe Rizza has also sponsored leagues at Clyde Park, Hodgkins, Mt. Prospect, La Grange, and Berwyn and has committed to sponsorship into the 2005 season.
Despite the many successes of the Rizza Rockers, Joe Rizza has never asked to keep the trophies from the many championships. Instead, he told player manager, Lane Niemann, to keep them, knowing they were a source of great pride to the players. While Joe Rizza may not have worried about trophies, he did care about the appearance of his teams on the field and spared no expense to make his players look good. While playing in the T.V. league, he never cared if they won or lost. All he cared about was that his players looked good. This attitude holds true to this day.
Joe Rizza was born in Chicago on September 20, 1942. He entered the automobile business in 1967 as an owner of Bonnie Brook Ford in Chicago. He now owns Joe Rizza Ford in North Riverside (1978), Rizza Chevrolet (1982), Joe Rizza Ford / Porsche of Orland Park (1988) Joe Rizza Lincoln – Mercury (1988), Joe Rizza Acura (1998), and Rizza Cadillac / Buick / Hummer in 2000. He is active in his dealerships and serves on many corporate and charity boards.
He and his wife, Nives, have been married for over forty years. They are the proud parents of four children.