Bill Zenk Sr.

Born Sept. 19, 1920, Bill Zenk predates organized sports in the Tacoma schools. He recalls there wasn’t a competitive team to play for until he was in 9th grade at Mason Junior High. That didn’t stop him from building skills that served him very well on the varsity teams at Stadium High. Bill earned six letters (3 basketball and 3 baseball), graduating from Stadium in 1938. The Tigers were state champs in 1937, going 18-0. Bill was the team captain in 1938. His triple and run scored won the league championship 1938.

Working as a machinist apprentice in 1940, Bill played basketball and baseball on shipyard teams. He joined the Navy in 1941. After the war he returned to the shipyard and played fastpitch for the Stores-Machinists and the Teamsters.

The Golden Era of fastpitch softball in Tacoma was clearly from 1943-45 with the Tacoma Teamsters, the Eagles, Stores-Machinists, the Coast Guard and the Elks all fielding highly competitive teams that we always in the race for district and state crowns and a trip to the Nationals.

Bill was right in the thick of the action when he patrolled left field for the Teamsters in 1943. Newspaper accounts indicate that early in the season Zenk cracked a homer against the legendary hurler Woodrow Red of the Eagles in a 3-2 loss. That was no easy feat as “Woody” was one of the all-time great pitchers in Tacoma softball history.

With teammates Bob Heugel, George Roket, Sonny Baily and pitcher John Rockway the Teamsters edged the Eagles,1-0, to win the District title. The club then competed in the World Series softball championships in Detroit where they lost of pair of 2-1 games to the Cincinnati, OH and Rochester, NY entrants.

In 1944 Zenk moved over to play left field for the Stores-Machinists nine but once again they were victims of another Woodrow Red gem as his Coast Guard team prevailed 1-0 to with the annual district championships at Jefferson Field before nearly 1000 fans.

Bill adds 94 years worth of baseball/softball memories in Pierce County to the Oldtimers Hall of Fame.

Front row l. to r.: Jim Martin and Bill Stocklin. Back row l. to r.: Bill Zenk and Joe Katich.

The 1936 Stadium High School Tigers went undefeated in the Southwest Washington League with an 11-0 season record. Home games were played in Stadium Bowl. After a lapse of seven years, baseball was making a comeback as a major sport at Stadium, brought back by Coach Heinrick in his first teaching year at Stadium.

Front row l. to r.: Jack Tanner, Nathan Hale, Ed Turner, Harry Werbisky, Fred LeVeque and Bill Stocklin.

Middle row l. to r.: Coach John Heinrick, Doug Turnbull, Tom Hall, Bill Zenk, Mal Stevens, Vince Lucich, Maurice “Mo” Turnbull, and Dick Pease.

Back row l. to r.: Bob Knesal, Arnold Schurb, Mel Gillespie, Al Libke, Marion Scott and Paul Barragar. Missing were Eddie Ploof, George Robinson, Ed Buscko, Earl Platt, Bob Bergman and Earl Weaver.

Photo courtesy of Tacoma Public Library