Softball History

Softball has a long and rich history in Australia dating back to 1939. The following timeline traces this history.

1800s  | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000

1887 The first version of Softball was developed by George Hancock in Chicago Illinois. The earliest known game of softball was played on Thanksgiving Day in 1987 as a winter version of baseball between Yale and Harvard alumni. It was intended to be a way for baseball players to keep in shape during the winter. At the time, the sport was called "Indoor Baseball"
1895 Softball moved outdoors as an exercise for fire fighters and was known variously as "kitten ball", "pumpkin ball” or "diamond ball"
1926 The sport adopted the name softball
1933 Fastpitch and slowpitch were present at the 1933 World's Fair. After the tournament a Joint Rules Committee was formed, which developed unified softball rules. The Amateur Softball Association grew out of these meetings
1939 Softball was introduced into Australia in NSW when the Director of Physical Education in NSW, Gordon Young, began promoting the game in schools and colleges
1940s Fastpitch began to dominate the game
1942 Softball was introduced as an organised sport. US Army Sgt William DuVernet organised Softball as a recreation for the US nurses stationed in Melbourne and consequently the Victorian Women’s Softball Association was formed with Irene Burrows as President
1944 Adelaide Women’s Softball Association was formed
1946 An American, Mack Gilley, introduced the game in Queensland and soon thereafter the Queensland Softball and Baseball Association was formed with Mack Gilley as President. The Gilley's Shield (Open Women’s Championships) is named in recognition of the monumental efforts of Mack Gilley
1947 NSW Women's Softball Association was formed with Pat Young as President. Queensland issued an invitation for the first interstate championship to be played in Brisbane. NSW, Queensland and Victoria, together with a team from Ballarat, participated and Victoria won the series. During the series, a meeting was held where the possibilities of forming a national Softball body was discussed. The meeting closed with Irene Burrows, Mack Gilley and Pat Young taking responsibility for drafting a Constitution
1949 The Western Australian Women’s Softball Association was formed.

At the second interstate championships in Melbourne, the national body was formed as the Australian Women's Softball Council (AWSC). Founding members included NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The Australian Women's Softball Council met annually during the Australian Women's Championship held in March, with the host State providing the Chairperson for the meeting
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1950 The International Softball Federation (ISF) was formed under the auspices of the Amateur Softball Association of America
1951 Western Australia joined the Australian Women's Softball Council
1952 Tasmania joined the Australian Women's Softball Council
1953 Australia became affiliated with the ISF

Slowpitch achieved formal recognition when it was added to the program of the US Amateur Softball Association and within a decade had surpassed fastpitch in popularity
1954 Instigation of an examination for umpires
1959 The ACT Women's Softball Association formed
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1960s Men's Softball was played in various States and in the mid 1960s Nox Bailey promoted men's Softball in Western Australia. In recognition of his contribution to the sport, the Under 19 Men's Australian Championships was named the Nox Bailey Shield
1961 The ACT joined the Australian Women's Softball Council (AWSC)
1962 Three Australian officials, Esther Deason, Merle Short and Marjorie Dwyer attended the USA World Series, where they held discussions with American and Japanese officials with the aim of furthering international competition
1965 From the very beginning Australia took an active part in the ISF with representation at all ISF Congresses. The first international meeting was held in Melbourne during the World Championship. The past President of the ASF, Esther Deason, served as Vice President (South Pacific), from 1965 to 1970, and again from 1977 to 1979. Another ASF President, Rosemary Adey, also served as Vice President (South Pacific and then Oceania) from 1993 to 2005

Upon returning to Australia, invitations were sent for the first World Series to be played in Melbourne. The Series was a great success and Australia became the first World Champions competing against the USA, Japan, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
1967 The Australia Women's Softball Council (AWSC) changed its name to the Australian Women's Softball Federation (AWSF) with Esther Deason as its first President
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1970s John Reid, an ex New Zealander, fostered men's Softball in NSW which led to NSW hosting the State Championships in 1981. The Open Men's Australian Championship was later named in his honour with the John Reid Shield
1972 The AWSF changed its name to the Australian Softball Federation (ASF) and incorporated
1975 After several years of meeting during the Australian Women's Championship, the ASF decided to commit to a separate AGM in October
1978 NT joined the ASF
1979 The ASF realised its long time dream of having a full-time Executive Officer, Mr Kai Roland. The appointment was made possible by a grant from the Federal Government. 
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1982 303 Open men's teams and 61 junior men's teams compete in NSW, Qld, Vic, SA and WA
1983 A further grant from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) enabled the appointment of Jim Gibson as the first of many National Coaching Directors. Prior to Jim's appointment, a volunteer Coaching Committee administered coaching under the National Softball Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NSCAS). This Committee comprised State Women's coaches including Audrey McLaughlin (Qld), Joan Fitton (NSW), Shirley Schneider (WA) and Nancy Whittingham (SA)
1984 The first Australian Open Men's Championship played for the John Reid Shield in Sydney
1985 The National Umpiring Committee was established with a National Director of Umpiring, Margo Koskelainen and 3 Deputies, Lyn Bishop, Michael Palmer and Dan McKay. This Committee was established the National Umpiring Accreditation Scheme.

The ASF Board was established, consisting of President, Vice President and 5 Board members who were elected for a 2 year term. A Council, comprising the President, Vice President, 5 Board members and 1 delegate from each State was also established and met annually.
1986 Narelle Stafford was appointed as the Administration Officer
1988 Australia first participated in the ISF Open Men's World Championship
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1991 Announced that softball would be included in 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Formation of the Australian men's and women's National Fastpitch Softball League
1992 The Australian U16 Boys' National Championship commenced, with NSW winning the inaugural Arthur Allsopp Shield named in recognition of Arthur's contribution to softball

Australia first participated in the ISF Junior Men's World Championship
1994 The World Championships grew and 28 nations played in the 1994 World Series in St John's Newfoundland, Canada
1995 Bob Crudgington appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women's team
1996 Australia wins bronze at the inaugural Olympic Softball tournament
1997 Australia wins gold at the ISF V U19 Men's World Championship
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2000 On 28 April the ASF changed its trading name to Softball Australia

Australia hosts the Olympic Softball competition at Blacktown Olympic Park (NSW). Australia wins bronze.

Simon Roskvit appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women's team
2001 Australia wins gold at the ISF VI U19 Men's World Championship
2004 With the assistance of the ASC, many new initiatives have been introduced since 2004 that has set softball on a new and exciting path with increased participation from men, women, boys and girls nationwide

Australia wins silver at the Athens Olympics
2005 Australia wins gold at the ISF VII U19 Men's World Championship

Fabian Barlow appointed as Head Coach of the Australian Open Women's team
2007 In February, the Australian Softball Federation (ASF) Incorporated changed its name to Softball Australia Incorporated

Australia wins bronze at the ISF VIII U19 Women's World Championship
2008 In October, Softball Australia's Constitution was adopted

In April, the ASC published its report Too Few Too Much, a review of Softall in Australia. In response to that report, the governance and management of Softball Australia was transformed and modernised

Australia wins bronze at the Beijing Olympics

Australia wins the ISF VIII U19 Men's World Championship
2009 Australia wins the ISF XII Men's World Championship

Sue Noble commenced as CEO on 12 January

On 4 April at a General Meeting held in Melbourne, the new entity's first Board of Directors was elected

The 5-year Softball Australia Strategic Plan was ratified by the Board in May

In October, Softball Australia's first Annual Report was published

On 14 November, Softball Australia's first AGM was held in Sydney. Darryl Clout resigns from the Board.
2010 In February, Ashley Klein and Michelle Nancarrow join the Softball Australia Board.

Jenny Cassidy resigns from the Board

Bob Harrow reappointed as Head Coach of the Australian Open Men's team
2011 Kere Johanson appointed Head Coach of the Australian Open Women's team

Dennis Cullen elected Softball Australia Chairman

Annette Fidge and John Hollingsworth appointed to the Softball Australia Board

Softball Australia transitions the U16 Australian Championships to U17, retaining the Shield names in honour of Esther Deason and Arthur Allsopp

First Australian U15 Girls' and Boys' Regional Championship held in Rockhampton
2012 Peter Jon Hartshorne appointed, Helen Langenberg and Christine Heron elected to the Softball Australia Board

Australia wins bronze at the ISF XIII Women's World Championship

Australia wins silver at the World Cup of Softball VII

Baseball and softball present unified vision for the 2020 Olympic Games
2013 Australia wins bronze at the ISF XIII Open Men's World Championship

Chet Gray appointed Softball Australia CEO

Australia wins bronze at the ISF X Junior Women's World Championship

Australia wins bronze at the World Cup of Softball VIII

Australia wins silver at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship

Dale McMann, Canada, replaces Don Porter as ISF President
2014 Australia wins bronze at the ISF XIV Women's World Championship

Riccardo Fraccari elected first-ever president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation
in 'New Era' for Baseball Softball

In October, John Hollingsworth elected Softball Australia Chairman

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