Long before Steele's became the most traveled championship softball team in the US, Gary Coats and Denny Helmig from Lima Ohio put together a local Ohio team that ultimately became a national power. Steele's Automotive began playing in Ohio tournaments in Springfield, Cleveland, Middletown and Cincinnati and quickly became one of the top teams in the state, challenging, DuBois Chemical, Wilsman Trucking, Hillcrest, Bushelman's, Greater Cincinnati Sports and Worthington Steel.
Steele's Automotive featured players such as Larry Garrard, John Geckle, Denny Helmig, Rick Hasty, Tim and Tony Haley, John Brenner and Henry McBeth and began to travel more nationally and became known as a tough out in every tournament. Steele's became a member of the National Slo Pitch Conference in 1979 and beat teams like Howard's and Ken Sanders and continued to grow in 1980 when they added Joe Young. In 1981, they went all out at the same time they became a sporting goods company, moving away from the automotive sponsorship. That year, Steele's added Chic Downing, Herman Rathman, Al White and Jerry King, finishing 4th in the NSPC and 2nd in the initial ASA Super Division Championship to Triple Crown winner Howard's.
Also that year, Dave Neale, while managing Nationwide Advertising, became an investor in Steele's Sports and the following year, the team joined the Pro League. After the NSPC and the Pro League disbanded. Dave took over majority ownership of Steele's Sports and moved the company to Grafton, Ohio and began putting together his national powerhouse, combining his professional Cleveland Competitor stars Mike Macenko, Dana Andry, Steve Blanchette, Doc Booker and Jim Bizzell with Cliff Carpenter, Detroit star shortstop Rick Trudeau as well as Milwaukee Schlitz stars Dennis Graser, Phil Higgins and eventually Rick Weiterman. That was the launch of the Steele's Sports dynasty.