Softball legend Jennie Finch at Chicago Bandits August 1

Softball legend Jennie Finch at Chicago Bandits August 1

Get your headbands ready! For  one night only...softball legend Jennie Finch makes her way back to 'The house that Jennie built,' aka The Ballpark at Rosemont accompanied by a galaxy of softball/baseball stars of the past, present and future.

Finch, accompanied by Olympic teammates Leah O’Brien-Amico and Crystl Bustos, will return to the Ballpark at Rosemont,  on Friday, August 1  for a special pregame autograph signing. Located at Balmoral and Pearl Avenues, the park's honorary address is 34 Jennie Finch Way.

Finch, O'Brien-Amico, and Bustos will sign autographs from 6-7 pm. Then, they'll throw out the first pitch in preparation for the Bandits vs. USSSA Pride at 7:35 pm.

Widely credited with starting the headband craze during her days as a champion pitcher for Arizona State University, and a role model for more than a decade, Finch, Bustos and O’Brien-Amico were members of the 2004 US Olympic team that captured the gold medal in Athens, Greece.

Not only is Finch one of the most decorated NPF players, she is also one of the most decorated in NCAA softball history. A two-time recipient of the Honda Award, presented to the nation’s best softball player, Finch holds the NCAA record for most consecutive wins with 60.

Following her college years, Finch pitched for the Chicago Bandits from 2005-2010. As a rookie, she struck out 144 batters with an ERA of 0.88 in 95 innings pitched, and was named NPF Co-Pitcher of the Year. In 2007, she posted an unheard-of 0.11 ERA while striking out 119 batters and allowing just 10 walks. Finch helped guide the Bandits to a regular season championship in 2009 with a 27-12 record. She pitched two perfect games during her NPF career: the first came against the Philadelphia Force in 2009 and the second, against the Akron Racers in 2010.

I'm a role model for lots of young girls.

Jennie Finch

Finch, now the mother of three,  hopes a new generation will become role models with the reinstatement of softball and baseball into the 2020 Olympics.

She's been a tireless worker on behalf of a movement, and has called on women everywhere to show their support for softball (partnered with baseball as a single sport)  to be played at the 2020 Olympic Games.

As I'd discussed in a previous column, despite losing the final spot to Olympic wrestling, softball and baseball may still happen at 2020 Olympic Games thanks to new IOC President Thomas Bach.  told Google News the baseball issue would be discussed by the IOC executive board in December, and by the full IOC membership in the Russian resort of Sochi in February.

Bach, who took over for Jacques Rogge in September 2013, says he is open to including the sports at the behest of the host...Tokyo, Japan. Baseball and softball are very popular in Japan and there are many existing facilities in the Tokyo area that could be used if the sports were included.

Discussions were held at the 2014 Winter Olympics, after having the first broad discussion back in December 2013.  While no conclusions were made public, there is still time for softball and baseball to be included.

I'd spoken with Finch last summer at the Ballpark at Rosemont, asking her about the impact of eliminating softball from the Olympic stage. Shaking her head, she said, "It's been devastating, not to have that international stage, the television networks, the venues. Softball doesn't have the showcase that baseball does. Once, every four years, little girls got to see where their dreams could take them.  They don't have that now. That's why we're fighting hard to get this done"

In addition to the pregame autograph session with the former Olympic stars, the Bandits WWII Girls Baseball Living History League.  The league represents the four original teams (Rockford Peaches, Kenosha Comets, South Bend Blue Sox and Racine Belles) of the All American Girls Professional Baseball league that were portrayed in the 1992 film, “A League of Their Own”.

For more information about or to order tickets, contact the front office at 877-722-6348. Tickets can also be purchased by visiting us on the web at www.chicagobandits.com.

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