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Mike James one of eight to enter GPSA Hall of Fame

By Jeff Letofsky
The Pueblo Chieftain
Oct. 6, 2018

Mike James during his hey day as one of Pueblo's top slow pitch softball players. [Chieftain photo/file]Mike James during his hey day as one of Pueblo's top slow pitch softball players. [Chieftain photo/file]

Mike James is one of those athletes who was considered a winner.

Many of the teams James played on during his baseball and softball careers won. Many times. In addition, "Corn", as he was nicknamed by his peers, contributed his time in giving back.

For his efforts as an athlete and a contributor, James will be one of eight individuals inducted into the Greater Pueblo Sports Association Hall of Fame on Nov. 14.

"Very humbling," James said about getting the call for induction. "There's so many great athletes that have been inducted into the hall of fame. To look and see if I'm worthy of that, it's tough. I played against a lot of people, played against a lot of great people."

First, the nickname.

James, 64, came to be known as "Corn" because there were so many "Mikes" on his teams.

"Wayne Pechek was called 'Peanut' and all the other Mikes on our team had nicknames so he decided to call me 'Popcorn'," James said. "There's not a lot you can do with the name James so that's what they called me. It was shortened to Corn after a while and it stuck."

In fact, his grand kids call him "Poppacorn."

ames began winning at an early age as a member of the 1968 Old Timers Youth baseball state championship team. He was a member of the 1970, '71 and '72 American Legion state baseball champions.

And in high school, he was a member of the 1971 Roncalli state championship team and 1972 Central state championship team that included many of the same players after Roncalli closed. Both years he was an all-state selection, first at third base and the second at catcher.

James went on to pursue a college baseball career, enrolling at Mesa Junior College in Grand Junction. But an elbow injury deterred his career and he was forced out of the game.

Following graduation, James turned to slow-pitch softball and made a huge impact.

In 1990, he played in the USSA World Softball Tournament and during his softball career won a myriad of state championships in 16-inch, 14-inch and 12-inch tournaments. Many times, he was selected to the all-tournament teams and gathered in Golden Glove awards.

"I've always been fortunate in my life I've played with good athletes," James said. "I have to be grateful to people. Having great players around you that's how you become good."

His contributions as a volunteer nearly equaled that of his playing career.

He donated time to officiate fund-raiser basketball tournaments for South's boys and girls basketball teams, youth baseball teams and elementary teams. He donated time to climb the poles at Runyon Field to repair lights and coached in the John Powers basketball league for nine years as well as recreation teams.

Most recently, he started the "Bikes for Kids for Christmas" program which raises money to donate bikes, coats and toys for children during the holidays.

James has worked as an electrician most of his life, 35 years at Rocky Mountain Steel. He currently is a facilities supervisor at Vestas.

Click HERE to view James' Bio

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