In the early 80s, employees in the Offshore Projects Department at Saudi Aramco formed a softball team called the Offshore Trash. The team played together for several years, having very good success in the local Aramco league. In 1983, Chuck Henne arranged for Pan American Airways to sponsor a new team named the Clippers, in reference to Pan American’s use of the word “clipper” on their aircraft and travel lounges.

The Offshore Trash The Offshore Trash, early 1980 Photos courtesy Loren Schoenholtz

The Clippers formed in 1983 and ten years later, they were referred to as the “Team of the Decade.” The team went on to become the most successful traveling softball team to play outside the United States in the 80s and 90s. In 1983, the team won international tournaments in three countries; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Dubai. Some of the members of the team during the early years include; Chuck Henne, Mark Tucker, Mike Robinett, Randy Plank, Tom Fields, Loren Schoenholtz, Don Crawford, Mel Russ, Vic Crane, Jeff Myers, Neil Horton, Dave Thomas, Nelson Simmers, Roger Bennett, Joe Morris, John Arvai, Dave Thomas, Bill Pearson, Tom Hanson, Larry Wender, Jimmy Wilson, Monty Hallberg, Wayne Wolfe, Calvin Holms, Rich Hunter, Fred Kleve, Bill Lindsay, Billy Husta, Ken Chadwick, Stan Klop, Bill Lindsay.

Middle East Champs Middle East Champs, mid 1980s

Over ten years, the team accumulated an impressive list of victories, including an astonishing 27 tournament titles, seven 2nd Place and four 3rd Place finishes. The 27 tournament titles included 15 Middle East Championships and eight Arabian National Championships. At the end of the team’s first decade of play, things became even more exciting. The Clippers led the way in advancing high-quality international softball throughout the Middle East. Because of their reputation, the Clippers received invitations to play in exotic locations outside the Middle East. The Dhahran Clippers were invited to two new venues in 1995; they played at the South East Asia Invitational in Jakarta, Indonesia and the North African Softball Tournament Invitational (NASTI) in Cairo, Egypt. The Clippers once again expanded their reputation as “the team to beat” by winning both tournaments.

South East Asia International Softball Tournament South East Asia International Softball Tournament, 1998

During this period, many international traveling all-star softball teams formed. These teams used the Clippers philosophy of obtaining multiple local and international sponsors and proudly displaying their logos on team attire. The Clippers bagged an additional five titles by the end of the year. In 1996, the Clippers added several more venues to their travels. They attended the Pangaea Invitational in Manila and the King of the Mountain Tournament in Khamis-Mushayt, Saudi Arabia. The team won both tournaments. They also made a return trip to the North African Softball Tournament, winning their second NASTI Title. In all, six new tournament titles were added that year. From 1995 through 2002, the Clippers added another 23 tournament titles, giving them a phenomenal 50 tournament titles. The Clippers established a number of records along the way. They hold 50 international tournament titles, championship titles in seven countries, and they are perhaps the most traveled tournament team outside the United States. Far and wide, the Clippers were known as the team to beat. Their name was used to advertise tournaments around the Middle East and Far East Asia. Their trademark was their ability to come back late in the game; the Clippers won numerous tournaments by coming back through the losers bracket. You would sometimes hear players from other teams bragging that they had beaten the Clippers once.

3rd Pangaea International Slo-Pitch Tournament 3rd Pangaea International Slo-Pitch Tournament, 1996

One game in particular was, perhaps, the team’s greatest comeback. It took place at the South East Asia Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1998. The temperature was well over 100 degrees with the humidity approaching 100%. The team had played games earlier in the day and many players were on the verge of heat exhaustion. Somehow, the Clippers managed to make the championship game. It was bottom the 7th inning and the team was down by 11 runs. With only several hits garnered during the entire game, it was a “do or die” situation. The Clippers started one of the greatest rallies in team history and to the amazement of the huge crowd, the Clippers pulled off another unbelievable comeback to capture their second South East Asia Championship. This was to be the legacy of the team. Over the years, the team had some of the greatest players to play the game outside the United States. Many of these players were involved in coaching youth baseball. These players coached Little League teams that won at least six European Little Championships and took six trips to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, two Senior League European Championships, two trips to the Senior League World Series in Kissimmee, Florida, one trip to the Pony League South East Asia Championship in Beijing, China, and multiple AAU tournaments. Their early impact on youth baseball has paved the way for the continued success of youth baseball in Aramco. Over the years, many of the Clippers members played league softball on a very successful league team know as the Big Dogs. Some players are still active in the Aramco league today.

Dhahran Clippers, 1993 Dhahran Clippers, 1993

Loren Schoenholtz and his wife Barbara retired from Saudi Aramco in 2000. Barbara was a school teacher at Dhahran Hills School and Loren worked as a Staff Engineer at Berri Gas Plant. Since leaving Aramco, he did contract work in Iraq and Kuwait. Barbara is a Master Gardener and spends most of her time in her flower and vegetable gardens. They reside in Branson, Missouri. They have three sons; Brian and John both live and work in Uruguay, and David lives in Chicago. All three of them work for Brian's company, LimeCoral, doing graphic design, marketing and advertsing.