Norristown Field Dedication Ceremonies - April 26, 2008

In 2006, the Municipality of Norristown undertook the much anticipated Norristown Softball Field Relocation Project, a roughly $1.2 million venture aimed at relocating the existing Wierman Field in an effort to accommodate the needs of the very active Norristown Area Softball League and the multi-million dollar expansion plan of the Elmwood Park Zoo.

The design and construction of the softball fields was made possible as a result of the generosity of both state and local funders. The Municipality of Norristown received $960,353.00 in grant monies from the Montgomery County Green Fields/Green Towns Program, and $203,132.00 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The Municipality of Norristown wishes to express its sincere gratitude to all those who made the completion of these softball fields a possibility ... The people present for this wonderful dedication include: Council President Mila Hayes, Councilman Caldwell, Senator Connie Williams, Representative Mike Vereb, Representative Jay Moyer and Norristown Police Chief Russell Bono. Pastor Dwayne Royster did the Invocation, Cameron Chandler sang the National Anthem, Steve Dimitry introduced Sully Gelet, Russell Bono (previously mentioned) introduced Lt. Patty Simons. Ambassador Hank Cisco moderated the ceremonial throwing of the first pitch for Sully Gelet (Heels Field) and Joan Morello (Simons Field).

Sullivan "Heels" Gelet Field

The Man of the Hour - Sullivan "Heels" Gelet


The Field Sign


The Gelet Family



The Norristown Council holding the donated check and the podium with before and after photos of the field



Sully Gelet's introduction Speaker Steve Dimitry and the emotions of "the man"


The ceremonial "First Pitch" - Sully Gelet along with Norristown Ambassador Hank Cisco




Signs and views of the new field



The Food Stand named "Jack's Snack Shack" and the Scoreboard donated by TNT's Sonny Termine



The Memorial Signs depicting the uniforms of the past fallen players of this league since 2001



The Sign depicting Heel's beloved companion - Jack the Beagle - Norristown Softball's #1 mascot, now and forever

The Introduction Speech

He is the ASA Commissioner of Montgomery County...He is an umpire...He was a very fast player back in the Day... He's been inducted into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Honor...He is one of the most well respected people in the History of Softball in the Norristown area and Southeastern PA for that matter....He is Sullivan Gelet...Some people call him 'Sully'....He is known as 'Heels' to those close to him...There was a shoe repair shop back in the day in Norristown called O'Sullivan Heels, that is where the nickname for the fleet-footed softball player stems from...But regardless of what you call him, he has done more for softball in the Norristown area than just about anyone has done for softball in any area..."If it wasn't for Heels, there would be no softball in Norristown. Sullivan Gelet or Sully or Heels as he is affectionately called by everybody in the Norristown Area. He is small in stature but he has the biggest heart of anybody I'm ever been associated with in this sport.

He was an outstanding fast pitch player and slow pitch player in is day, he pitched in the semi-pro Perky league even leading the league in wins one year, they called him the Harvey Haddix of Norristown because he never threw more then 50 mph and still people could not hit him. He has been involved in the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) since it first came to Norristown back in the mid 1970’s.

I have been privileged to see what he does more so than most. We have been close friends for over 25 years now. He will never try to change you; he lets you be the person and player you want to be with minimal but stern guidance on and off the field. Our teams in the 1980's and early 90's were not always the best in the league, but we won more so than most and more so, gained the respect from all the other teams. A lot of players wanted to be part of us, why, because of our manager, Heels Gelet. To this day, I can say he was one of the best if not the best manager I've ever had and his teams were the best times I ever had playing ball in my whole career. He made our team his second family and to this day, some of the closest friends I'll ever had were the teammates I had on that team. Heels Gelet was always there for his players, he visited them in the hospital, he lent them money, he had to answer phone calls from irate wives wondering where their husbands were. He always said the same thing; they are on their way home, even if he had no idea where the hell they were. But it bought us time and most of us out there who have dealt with very mad wife over a softball related event can understand this.

During all this time Sully was also running the Norristown Men's Slow Pitch League. He became the League President back in 1982 and has built it up to be arguably one of the best if not the best league in Southeast Pennsylvania. All good things have to come to an end as he 'retired' from coaching to concentrate on running the league and make ASA Softball the best it can be in Montgomery County. His players were lost at first and soon they all hooked up with other teams and to this day, we will hold 'reunion' tournaments and get-togethers and the man of the hour is always Heels Gelet. Even as his past players are all getting up in age, he is still our biggest fan and do this day will come over to us and make a comment to us when he sees us down because our team isn't winning or we had a bad night. And 99% of the time, whatever he says works. . He’s invited to all our weddings and is asked to come back and coach by one of us each and every year

If people only knew how much time and energy Sully spent on this league. On a typical day from April through September, Sully will wake up at the crack of dawn and along with his trusty companion, Jack the Beagle (Jack has since passed away and left a bog void in the hearts of many, especially his best friend Sully) will go down to "The Field" and make sure all the trash from the previous night is picked up and put in trash cans so the field owners and local police don't get mad. If it rained, he will spend the day pushing water off the field and filling in all the holes with fresh dirt. He'll drag the field until it looks perfect. He'll then go back home and tend to his HVAC business. At around 5:00, he'll head back down the field to make sure the field is still in good condition (in case it rained that day, etc.). When the teams would start showing up for their games that night, Sully could sometimes be found tossing batting practice to the players. If an Umpire doesn't show up, Sully will fill in until the ump gets there and even finishes the game if he doesn't. He'll sit there through all the games that night, sometimes keeping score with the electronic scoreboard, chasing the Home run balls in the woods and even running the snack shack (now called Jack’s Snack Shack). His lovely wife, Iva always knows where to find him and she'll stop down to make sure he's OK and to say hello. His son Andy, arguably one of the best outfielders to ever play in this league and is still playing at a high level and when he first joined our team, you could see the gleam in Sully’s eyes as is so proud of him and his now family that includes his wife and daughter.

When all the games are over for the night, he'll turn out the lights and go out and have a beer or two with the players, and get home. The next day, he'll do the same thing all over again. He does this 5 nights a week for six months a year and the topper of the whole thing is gets Zero dollars for this. He charges the lowest league fees in the whole area. He does it because he wants to afford the young men of today the same luxury he had as a young man … just a chance to play ball. He’ll charge just enough to keep a slush fun in case of an emergency and over the past couple years, we have had the snack stand burned down, a flood the destroyed the field and numerous trees blown over onto the field crashing down the fence he rents every year. He makes all these repairs himself with the help of some players in the league and actually pays out of his pocket to pay the people and buy the supplies to help fix these things, He gains Nothing whatsoever by running this league except the satisfaction that we can play ball. Even after he became ASA District Commissioner and asked me to be his Deputy, I was so honored he thought that much of me. I would do anything for that man and I’ll bet my house, that they’ll be over 500 guys out here today that say the same thing.

When the Elmwood Park Zoo leased the land that the field is on in Norristown’s revitalization program, the days of our beautiful old “Wierman Field” were numbered. Wierman Field was "officially" put to rest in November of 2007 by vandals. Sully spent countless hours of his own time riding around looking for new locations for a field. Sully went to the Norristown board meetings every single week just to keep abreast of all the happenings surrounding the field and the situation that we are now faced. He always called me and filled me in on what had transpired and what may happen. He finally got us this new field and with the help of Norristown Recreation Director Bill Plichta who has supported Sully for many years and League Vice president Sonny Termine, who is one of his trusted advisors, they make this league work. I guess he treats me like his heir apparent for running this league. If that time ever comes where he has had enough, I can honestly say in my heart, that this is a job for no ONE man. I know for a fact that it would take at least three or four people to keep this league running as smoothly as it has for all these tears. And it’s not only the male softball players that cherish what he does, he is the “man” in the Norristown Women’s Slow-Pitch League. He is not at all involved administratively, but is invited to every meeting just to ask as an advisor and help them out. He runs a Women’s Early Bird Tournament and has done so since 1979 to get the Women’s ready for their season and this even has turned into one of the best Women’s Invitational Tournaments in the State. He has done so much for Women’s Softball in this area but never ever takes any credit for it.

Heels Gelet didn’t just manage softball teams, he molded friendships that endure long after the game is over. His love of the game is truly amazing....And if all that wasn't enough, this final tidbit of info will tell you everything you need to know about how revered this man is in Southeastern PA...Remember in the beginning of this speech when I told you he was inducted the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Honor?....Well that night the prices went off at $50 a plate, not much to many of you but a decent amount to some...Despite all that, 50 of his closest friends showed up to honor him that night...FIFTY!!!!....Not 30, not 40, but 50 people were on hand just for him!!

....Incredible...We're sure many of you have thrown parties where you could not get 40 people to come for free!!...Yet 50 people showed up and paid $50 a pop to honor this great man'...That folks, tells you all you need to know and we tip our cap to a true Norristown Legend....Sullivan 'Heels' Gelet and nobody is more happier for him than I am and I want to thank him and tell him I love him for asking me to make this speech for him. People who know me, know that my father is my true hero in my life and when I stand here today and tell you that Heels has been a second father to me, that’s all you need to know about this man. Heels, thanks for everything you have done for me personally in my life and also for the many, many people in this league’s history.

Lt. Patty Simons Field

The new Softball Field built for the Norristown Women's Softball League was dedicated and named the "Patty Simons Field". Stacey Clemens, commissioner of the Women's Softball League says they women in this league will play on this field and everyone single one of them will be proud to be associated with Patty Simons. Norristown Police Chief Russell Bono made the introduction speech in her honor. Patty was born and raised in Norristown. She joined the Municipality of Norristown in 1985 and was assigned as a dispatcher for the police department. patty was assigned to the patrol division where she remained until she was promoted to the rank of Corporal in 1993 and went on to become a platoon commander shortly after. In 2001, she was promoted again, this time tot he rank of Lieutenant and remained in charge of the patrol platoon.

During her career, she participated in the Salvation Army Law Enforcement Food Drive, the Norristown Police Athletic League and the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. in 2003, she received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Montco Chamber of Commerce.  Police Chief Russell Bono described Patty Simons as "tough as nails, but soft as a silk scarf".

Written by Times Herald's Gordon Glantz:
Norristown became a lonelier and darker place on Sept. 30, 2007. That’s when one of its enduring guiding lights went out. Lt. Patty Simons, whose impact went far beyond holding the distinction of being the first female police officer in the Norristown Police Department, reached a truce with her ongoing — and oft-silent — war with cancer. And so she died — at age 48 — leaving the rest of us with a road map on life and how to live it.

Perhaps her boss, Chief Russell J. Bono, said it best when describing Patty as being “gentle as silk ... tough as nails.” My first contact with Patty came in 2001. I asked Chief Bono about doing a feature piece on somebody worthy in his department and he didn’t hesitate suggesting her. But Patty was another story. She hesitated a lot. It was evident that the rewards she reaped came not in her newfound rank or newspaper articles. Through my considerable charms — or maybe just a promise to not spell Patty with an “i” at the end — she ended up giving me a pretty good interview. I didn’t include in that story that she had battled back from being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, as I saw it as a private matter and long-since in her rear view mirror.

While one of her brothers e-mailed me shortly after the story ran to say the family liked it, Patty never really thanked me. I understood. Journalists and cops share the common bond of having largely thankless jobs. We don’t hear it enough to learn how to say it. Patty and I stayed buddies. We never missed a chance to bust on one another, whether in person or via succinct e-mails. When I was promoted to managing editor, her e-mail read: “They must be really desperate over there. Good luck.” A few years back, I had a picnic at my house under the guise of it being my 40th birthday. I looked up, and there was Patty. Of the dozen cops who said they’d stop by, she was the only one who did. Whenever I was fortunate enough to win an award or two — or three or four or six or seven — for column writing, a typical Patty message would read: “I always said you could write better than you could play softball.” That’s kind of like saying Britney Spears is better at chewing bubble gum than at being a responsible mom, but I caught her drift. And I appreciated it.

Katie O’Connor soon replaced me on the cop beat and was so influenced by Patty that she is currently moving from the thankless world of journalism to the thankless, and riskier, world of police work. “She was a very big inspiration for me and was always supportive,” said Katie, an incoming NPD rookie. “I was blessed to have her as a friend.” The last two years, Patty’s cancer came back with a vengeance. Still, there was no use in asking her how she was doing. The answer never came in the form of a complaint. “Better than you guys,” she said once, after a gaffe of some sort had been in the paper. But I knew better. I’ve seen close family members — including two aunts not much older than Patty and a 12-year-old stepcousin — die of cancer. The bravery is nothing less than a miracle. “It was a topic that was always there, but she never once complained about being in pain or took any kind of pity on herself,” said Katie. “She still had a tremendous work ethic. Up until the end, she planned on coming back to work.” Bono says that it was obvious that Patty, who was a community relations officer the last few years, was starting to have more bad days and than good ones.

“She was very dedicated,” he said. “She didn’t let on how she felt. Some days, it was evident but she would refuse to go home.” The turnout for Patty’s viewing/funeral was a tribute to the bridges she built between all kinds of people — black and white, rich and poor, public servant and civilian — as a dedicated police officer. “She was able to get along with everyone,” said Katie, who will be issued Patty’s gun at the request of Simons family. “She touched many people’s hearts and lives. “She’s someone I’ll never forget.” Katie is not alone. “There is a big void,” said Bono. “There will always be one, but her presence in the department will always be there.” And that presence extends to the oft-mean streets of the hometown she served with such unwavering loyalty and verve. Norristown did become a lonelier and darker place on Sept. 30, but Lt. Patty Simons — the cop who was “gentle as silk ... tough as nails” — would want the light turned back on ASAP.

I don’t know if she would say thank you, but she would appreciate it.

Mary Patricia "Patty" Simons, of Norristown, passed away on Sept. 30, 2007, at home surrounded by her family. She was 48 years old.  Patty graduated from Norristown Area High School in 1977, and graduated from Gwynedd-Mercy College in 1984. Patty was the first woman officer and lieutenant on the Norristown Police Force. She was a member of the Norristown Bocce League, Norristown PAL, Montgomery Hose Company and co-captain of Team Norristown Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. She was past president of West Norriton Lioness Club, five-year member of the Wildwood Police Force, FOP Lodge 31 and was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Born April 21, 1959 in Norristown, she was the daughter of Mary A. Simons (nee Campbell) and the late James F. Simons; loving sister of: the late Michael Simons, Joseph Simons, Daniel Simons, M. Kate Simons, Stephen Simons, John Simons and his wife, Michelle and Kevin Simons; dear aunt of: Anthony Byrnes, John Simons, Christopher Simons and Justin Simons. She is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

More photos of the new complex

The original site was a dump site



The Entrance




Field Views



The Exit


The 'Master' at Work


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