The History of OTSAM
There is little documentation relating to the association’s early beginnings. The concept is believed to have originated with early associates in Philadelphia and it was they who provided the format of which the present association was founded. It has been said that in 1951 J. Eugene “Gene” Ringsdorf, Paul Trautner and Charles “Spike” Zeiler were the first to propose an assembly of soccer enthusiasts to form a Maryland association. This first assembly met in Baltimore and chose Frank Heinle to be their first president.
There was a renewal of interest in the Hall of Fame largely due to the influence of Raymond G. “Granny” Kraft and Gene Ringsdorf and the association resumed the induction of athletes into what was known as the “Old Timers Soccer Association of Maryland Hall of Fame”. Inductions were limited to five, living, active members of the association. During Ray’s tenure as president the John A. Schmid Award was instituted to honor those who had provided outstanding service to the game. The annual dinners were shifted to the Overlea Hall and subsequently to Tiffany East to accommodate the increased attendance.
The elections of 1993..
Promised significant changes when a new executive board took office under the leadership of Nick Kropfelder. By 1994..We were sanctioned by the Maryland State Soccer Association as the official sponsors, promoters and guardians of the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame and the title of the hall of fame was changed accordingly. (This sanctioning has subsequently been withdrawn). That same year the new board took action to provide for the first posthumous induction of a candidate and non-members were declared eligible for induction. The number of candidates eligible for induction was changed to six. Coincident with these changes, the age of eligibility for membership was reduced to 30 (subsequently reduced to 21) and our welcoming of females into membership changed our “for men only” status.
The association had filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Maryland and became a corporate body governed by officers and an executive board. By 1996, a filing was made with the I.R.S and we were granted tax-exempt status (I.R.S. 501.C).
We experienced a surge in membership, which ultimately took our rolls up to approximately 350. Interest in Hall of Fame Night picked up and we found it necessary to secure a larger facility, ultimately settling in the Columbus Gardens in Fullerton where we continue to hold our annual inductions to this day. Our Hall of Fame dinner has evolved into a celebration of soccer where we not only honor the inductees but also recognize the male and female high school players of the year, an outstanding referee and a state youth coach of the year. Nick Kropfelder served a 3-year term and was succeeded by Willie Rush for a very brief period.