SAGINAW COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME

ART GILLIS



                       


Art Gillis is often called “Mr. Softball” because he played

a major role in Saginaw softball circles at virtually every

level. Gillis started playing fast pitch softball at the age of

18 where he was a standout catcher for 26 years. He then

moved to the pitching mound where he toed the rubber for

an additional 13 years. During his pitching days, he

defeated legendary pitcher Bonnie Jones three times within

a two-year span. He batted clean-up for eight-time Western

Wayne County League champions Beglinger Olds. At the age of 56, he pitched Valley Athletic to the Saginaw City League title. Gillis was responsible for the conversion of Saginaw's Veterans Stadium into a national caliber fast pitch facility and accomplishing the project by using his own funds. Gillis sponsored the Saginaw Bolters for many years and his teams won 12 Saginaw city titles, along with regional, state and national championships – including the International Softball Congress World championship in 1979. His Saginaw Bolters' teams participated in five ISC World tournaments, never finishing lower than seventh. In 1981, he was recognized by then-Governor William G. Milliken with the state “Ambassador of the Year” award for the economic impact that softball had on the Saginaw community during the ISC World Tournament his team hosted that year. Gillis also coached women's softball at Saginaw Valley State University and SVSU became the first collegiate program in the state to win 50 games in one season as the Cardinals' 51-12 record led all NCAA Division II teams. Saginaw Valley also became the first women's softball team in Michigan to qualify for a NCAA national tournament in any division. Gillis, who coached basketball and baseball for a number of Saginaw catholic high schools, was elected into the Michigan Amateur Softball Hall of Fame in 2004 and the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame in 2006. He is the father of Doug Gillis, a 2005 Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, and Mark Gillis, a member of the '79 World Championship Bolters' team.

CLASS OF 2006