History of Softball

Softball History

Downey Park History

Brisbane Softball History

Softball History

Softball evolved from baseball in the USA. The first version of the game was played in Chicago in 1887. Different variations were played under the names of "Diamond Ball", "Kitten Ball", "Mush Ball", "Pumpkin Ball" and "Recreation Ball". In 1900 in Minnesota, USA, the first softball league was organised and in 1926 the game was officially named "Softball". In 1933, the Amateur Softball Association (America) was established and a Joint Rules Committee was formed to standardise the rules. Softball flourished in the USA during the 1930`s. During World War II, American servicemen played the game wherever they were stationed, introducing softball to other countries.

Australia`s softball history began in 1939 when Gordon Young, director of Physical Education in NSW, began to promote the game in schools and colleges. In 1942, during WW2, US army sergeant William Duvernet organised softball as a recreation for US nurses stationed in Victoria. Another American, Max Gilley, introduced the game to Queensland in 1946. Australia`s first inter-state championship was played in Brisbane in 1947 and was won by Victoria. The second national championship was held in Melbourne two years later. It was at this championship that the Australian Softball Federation was formed with Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales being the founding members. The other States of Australia have since joined. Six Australian Championships are now conducted each year - Women`s, Men`s, Under 19 years Girls and Boys, and Under 16 years Girls and Boys. Softball has been a major sport in the schools program for some time now and it is estimated that more then 250,000 children play the game each year.

There are two forms of softball played around the world - Fastpitch Softball and Slowpitch Softball. Fastpitch, in which the pitcher pitches the ball as fast as he/she wishes, is the game most widely played in Australia, especially at competition level. In Slowpitch, there are rules governing the height and speed of the pitch, and is being promoted in Australia as a recreation sport.

With the success of softball in many countries throughout the world, the International Softball Federation was formed and Australia joined in 1953. The first Women`s World Fastpitch Championship was staged and won by Australia in Melbourne in 1965. Only five countries participated - USA, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Australia. Twenty one nations competed in 1990 in the seventh World Fastpitch Championship held in Normal, Illinois, USA. The first men`s World Fastpitch Championship was held in 1966 and international competition has developed to the extent that World Fastpitch Championships are now conducted on a four-yearly basis for women, men, Under 19 years girls and Under 19 years boys.

Fastpitch Softball is now played in over one hundred (100) countries around the world. Besides the World Championships, many other world competitions are also played, such as the Pan Am Games, South Pacific Classic, South Pacific Games and European Championships. In 1996, Women`s Fastpitch Softball was a medal sport for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Normally, three umpires are allocated to a game: one plate umpire and two base umpires. The plate umpire stands behind the catcher and judges the pitches (whether it is a "strike" or "ball"), determines whether a hit is fair or foul or bunted, calls plays at home plate. The base umpires are initially stationed at 1st and 3rd bases, and change positions during the game depending on where the baserunners are stationed. Base umpires call the plays at the bases and assist the plate umpire.

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Downey Park History

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Brisbane Softball History

Softball was played in Brisbane in 1945 at Victoria Park by a group of enthusiastic "youngsters" who had either learnt to play softball at the Bedford Playground in Spring Hill or from the American troops who were camped in the grounds of the Hendra School. Two of the "youngsters" shared their enthusiasm for their new sport with an acquaintance, an American named Mack Gilley, who had also been involved in the softball competition played by the American troops stationed in Brisbane. Mack Gilley was soon umpiring their games at Victoria Park.

In 1946 the Queensland Womens Softball Association was formed with Mack Gilley its President and

Mrs Gough, the Secretary/Treasurer. Through his association with the Queensland Baseball Association, Mack Gilley subsequently negotiated to have a softball competition at Perry Park in the summer months while baseball was in recess. Five teams, Laurel White, Laurel Green, Carlton 1 and Carlton 2 and Checkers played in the metropolitan competition. In 1947 the first Australian Womens Championship was held in Brisbane with players and officials from the metropolitan competition representing Queensland at the Championship. The following years would see several players and officials from the metropolitan competition represent Queensland at Australian Womens Championships with the exception of 1948 when there was no Australian Championship and 1952 and 1957 when a Queensland team did not compete. In 1949 the first Australian Womens Team played New Zealand in Melbourne with players and an official from the metropolitan competition representing Australia in the international tournament. The following years would also see several players and officials from the metropolitan competition go on to represent Australia at international tournaments.

Softball numbers increased, games were played at wherever a ground could be found, the competition was administered by the Metropolitan Delegates and Executive Committees of the Queensland Womens Softball Association and in January 1953 the first Intercity Carnival was held in Brisbane, with four teams competing in the Carnival, Brisbane, Ipswich, Maryborough and Townsville. 1954 saw the Intercity Carnival held again in Brisbane with six teams competing, two from Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Townsville and Lismore. Two Brisbane teams competed in the Intercity Carnival in Maryborough in 1955 and in Townsville in 1956.Three representative teams (two senior teams and a junior team) competed in the Intercity Carnival in Toowoomba in 1957 and in Cairns in 1958. In 1959 the Intercity Carnival became known as the State Carnival and again three Brisbane representative teams competed in the Carnival in Brisbane.

The following years saw softball continue to grow and the metropolitan competition continue to be administered by the Metropolitan Delegates and Executive Committees of the Queensland Womens Softball Association. The Metropolitan Umpires Committee allocated umpiring, St Johns Ambulance administered first aid, three Brisbane representative teams competed in State Carnivals and a senior and junior representative team competed in the Luchterhand Shield and the Jones Trophy, which were intercity competitions between Toowoomba, Gatton and Maryborough. Softball games were televised on ABC Channel 2 and 1960/61 saw Downey Park the only ground used for the season. The metropolitan competition now had a place it could call home.

In April 1964 plans were put in place to establish a new metropolitan association. In May 1965, at a Special Metropolitan Delegates Committee Meeting of the Queensland Womens Softball Association, the Brisbane Womens Softball Association was formed. The first Annual General Meeting of the Brisbane Womens Softball Association was held in September 1965 and Ruby Robinson was elected as the Patroness, Audrey McLaughlin, President, Keith Burke, Des Knight, Eunice Loff, Merv Lane, P McArthur and J Nixon, Vice Presidents, Vera Burke, Secretary, K McNamara, Assistant Secretary, Elaine Robinson, Treasurer and Dale Woodforth, Assistant Treasurer. Mrs Penwarn became Secretary in January 1966.

23 Clubs affiliated with the Brisbane Womens Softball Association for the 1965/66 season – Athletics, Brisbane Bears, Cannon Hill Stars, Hawks, Inala Carltons, Kedron Park Teachers College, Magpies, Mitchelton Missiles, Mt Gravatt Eagles, Oxley Rockets, Pandas, Panthers, Rebels, Saints, Spiro Tots, Southside Scamps, T-Jets, Tramway Terrors, University, Wildcats, Windsors, Wolves and WRAAC and 66 teams participated in the competition at Downey Park. The Brisbane Umpires Committee allocated umpiring, St Johns Ambulance administered first aid, three Brisbane representative teams competed in the State Carnival, Brisbane affiliated with the Queensland Womens Softball Association and also hosted the Australian Womens Championship in March 1966. It was reported "that the first season of the BWSA was very successful".

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Last updated 5/4/2004

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