Most Hall of Fame inductees make their names predominantly in one sport. It is significant that Tom Zappone might earned enshrinement for his participation in any of three – softball, baseball or bowling.
In each, Zappone has earned distinction, twice representing the United States in Pan-American games in softball, as a member of the Elk’s National Championship Bowling Team and as a standout baseball player at Ashland High School.
Known simply as “Zap” to most of his friends, Zappone is undoubtedly best known for his numerous softball accomplishments. A rifle-armed shortstop throughout his career, Zappone is currently playing in his 18th season of fastpitch softball, all with area teams.
After a one-year rookie stint with Creative Cartons in 1975, Zappone played for Faultless Rubbermen from 1976-84, Faultless/Garber from 1985-91, and for the amalgamated F-G/ESS the past season.
In that time, Zappone reaped nearly every personal tribute possible in softball. At the peak of his list of accomplishments are Pan-American games appearances (in 1987 at Indianapolis and in 1991 at Cuba) as a shortstop for the silver medal-winning U.S. squad. He was voted captain of the 1991 squad by his teammates.
A six-time First-Team All State selection, he was voted to the All-Regional squad three times. Zappone also earned International Softball Congress State Most Valuable Player honors in 1985 and the Open State Softball MVP in 1981. He was also selected the team MVP twice.
Zappone also started for one of the most illustrious area fastpitch teams, the 1981 Faultless Rubbermen, which finished second in the American Softball Association National Tournament.
Individually, Zappone probably enjoyed his best season in 1984 when he batted .421 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs for Faultless, while serving double duty as the team’s manager. He also player/managed teams in 1983, 1985 and 1991.
He was also part of the 1982 Faultless crew, which played in the ASA hall of Fame Classic and the National Sports Festival.
Still active as a softball player and bowler, Zappone’s first success came as a baseball player.
A three-year baseball letterman at AHS from 1971-73, Zappone was the initial recipient of the annual Floyd Zimmerman Award in 1973. In his senior year, he earned All Cardinal Conference baseball status, thanks in part to a glossy 12-0 record and 1.62 earned run average. That season, he walked just 21 batters while striking out 90.
One of the finest pitchers to graduate from AHS, Zappone was 19-1 over his Arrow career, also batting .300 as a junior.
Zappone is the only Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame enshrinee inducted while still an active player.
Nominator: Laurie Weiler