The Detroit Auto Kings were a professional softball team that played during the 1980 season in the North American Softball League (NASL), one of three men's professional softball active in the pro softball era. The Auto Kings played at Memorial Field in Eastpointe, Michigan (named East Detroit at that time) and took over as the Detroit professional team when the Detroit Caesars disbanded after their 1979 season in the American Professional Slow Pitch League (APSPL). The Auto Kings roster featured five members of Detroit Caesar teams - outfielder Dan Murphy, third-baseman Gary Geister, outfielder Mike Gouin, first-baseman Cal Carmen, and pitcher Tony Mazza.  Gouin also served as manager of the Auto Kings.


Two teams came to the newly formed NASL from the APSPL - the Cleveland Competitors, owned by Ted Stepien, NASL President and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with the APSPL champion Milwaukee Schlitz. Former MLB players Mudcat Grant and Joe Pepitone served as PR officials for the league. Pepitone was a former player for the Trenton franchise in the APSPL. Continuing the Caesars tradition of former Detroit Tigers turning to play professional softball, the Auto Kings featured former Detroit Tigers outfielder Mickey Stanley. The only two Auto Kings to appear in the top-ten categories were Gary Geister, who finished 5th in the NASL with 31 home-runs, while teammate Jerry Gadette finished 10th with 24. 3B/SS Mike Turk was the only Auto King to receive all-league honors in 1980.


The Auto Kings advanced to the playoffs with a 34-23 record winning the semi-finals 4-1 over Cleveland. Detroit would advance to the NASL World Series and lose to the Milwaukee Schlitz 5-2. Ken Parker of Milwaukee would take the World Series MVP trophy while Ron Olesiak of Chicago was the league MVP. The Auto Kings folded after the season and the NASL would merge with the APSPL to form a new unified pro league, the United Professional Softball League (USPL).  That league folded in 1982 ending the men's professional softball era.

1980 Detroit Auto Kings
1980 NASL

Regular Season Final Standings


Eastern Division 

Detroit Auto Kings 34-23 .596
Cleveland Competitors 28-31 .475 7.0
Cincinnati Rivermen 22-36 .397 12.5
Pittsburgh Champions 22-38 .367 13.5

Western Division 

Milwaukee Schlitz 44-12 .786 
Chicago Nationwide Advertising 42-16 .724 3.0
Lexington Stallions 29-29 .500 16.0
Fort Wayne Huggie Bears 10-46 .179 34.0

1980 NASL Playoffs

1st round

Detroit beat Cleveland 6-4, 8-7, 19-4, 5-10, 14-5; (4-1)
Milwaukee beat Chicago 9-13, 10-7, 17-12, 16-12, 10-17, 22-17; (4-2)

World Series

Milwaukee beat Detroit 19-11, 10-12, 12-16, 22-13, 13-4, 12-3, 11-9; (5-2)
World Series MVP - Ken Parker, Milwaukee

1980 NASL League Leaders

            Batting                                        Home Runs                                            RBIs

Ron Olesiak, Chicago .555                  Benny Holt, Cleveland 42                       Ron Olesiak, Chicago 124
Don Rardin, Lexington .548                Dana Andry, Cleveland 34                     Buddy Haines, Chicago 115
Benny Holt, Cleveland .533                 Mike LaFever, Cinn. 34                          Dennis Graser, Milw. 98
Tom Spahn, Chicago .527                   Ron Olesiak, Chicago 34                       Mike Krolicki, Chicago 98
Jake Jakobi, Chicago .520                    Gary Geister, Detroit 31                        Tom Spahn, Chicago 97
Buddy Haines, Chicago .518                Dennis Graser, Milw. 30                       Phil Higgins, Milwaukee 95
Ken Kamradt, Chicago .517                 Jim Bizzell, Cleveland 29                      Benny Holt, Cleveland 95
Paul Campbell, Cinn. .514                   Fred Ryan, Pittsburgh 29                      Mike LaFever, Cinn. 88
Rick Weiterman, Milw. .510                  Buddy Haines, Chicago 27                   Jim Bizzell, Cleveland 87
Willie Simpson, Chic. .506                   Jerry Gadette, Detroit 24                      Dana Andry, Cleveland 85


1980 NASL All Pro Team

Ron Olesiak, Chicago (MVP), Dennis Graser, Milwaukee, Phil Higgins, Milwaukee, Rick Weiterman, Milwaukee, Jim Dilliard, Milwaukee.
Mike Turk, Detroit, Benny Holt, Cleveland, Don Rardin, Lexington, Jake Jakobi, Chicago, Mike Krolicki, Chicago, Roger Snatchko, Pittsburgh, Willie Simpson, Chicago, Buddy Haines, Chicago,Dana Andry, Cleveland,Tom Spahn, Chicago, Mike LaFever, Cincinnati