Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)


January 14, 1998

Back in 1935, in a tiny ballpark in Florida, a 23-year-old pitcher for the Nashville Vols stood on the mound and faced an American icon. There were two outs and a man on first, and Babe Ruth was standing at the plate with his bat at the ready.
Charles L. Huisking Jr. threw a forkball and struck the Babe out. ``I don't take any credit for that,'' Huisking said in a 1993 interview. ``He went down swinging and fell down because he spun around.''
Huisking, an unassuming man who ran the Sarasota Senior Softball Association for years, died Monday in a car accident in Manatee County. He was 85.
Huisking, who played in the minor leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, was not inclined to boast, and he brushed off his encounter with an overweight Babe Ruth. ``Striking out the Babe wasn't a big deal, anyway,'' he told his son, Charlie L. III, a Herald-Tribune reporter.
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he retired as owner of Air Craft Screw Co. in Long Island, N.Y., and moved to Sarasota in 1946 from Huntington, N.Y. In Florida, he worked in the citrus industry, and in the early 1970s, he started recruiting for a senior softball league in Sarasota.
He watched area softball games and afterwards approached any player who looked like he might be 45 or 50 years old to ask if he would like to join the senior league. Once he found enough men and arranged transportation for them, they started to play.
Huisking became president of the Sarasota Senior Softball Association.
Since then, senior softball has gone on to be played at a national level. Sarasota's team has twice won the World Series in senior softball, in two different age groups.
He was also religious and had for years been an usher at the 7:30 a.m. Mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church in south Manatee County.
"He helped out local organizations, but always behind the scenes, always anonymously,'' his son said. In addition, he organized charity ballgames for organizations such as the Easter Seals.
Born June 9, 1912, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Huisking was an Army veteran of World War II and a member of SaraBay Country Club.
In addition to his son, Huisking's survivors include his wife, Lillian Pat; a daughter, Sarah of Atlanta; two sisters, Jean Steinschneider of Westport, Conn., and Claire Hanavan of Wilmington, Del.; and a brother, Richard of Boca Raton.
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