OKLAHOMA CITY – Herb Dudley, who had a fast-pitch softball career that defied imagination, passed away early Friday morning, March 16th, of congestive heart failure at Lynchburg General Hospital in Lynchburg, Va. Dudley was 87 years-old.
Dudley’s career in fast pitch spanned five decades, starting in 1940 and ending in 1981. Ironically, he started and ended his career with the same team—the Clearwater Bombers of Clearwater, Fla., who won 10-ASA national championships. In addition to the Bombers, Dudley played for teams in Atlanta, Ga., Ashland, Ohio, Levittown, N.Y., Long Island, N.Y., Fort Wayne, Ind., Miami, Fla., Mountain View, Calif., Rising Sun, Md., and Allentown, Pa.
It is estimated Dudley won more than 1,000 games during his career and compiled a record of 28-9 in16 ASA national championships. Five times he earned ASA All-America honors and was named as the most valuable player in the 1949 and 1957 ASA National Championships.
In 1949 he established the ASA national tourney single-game strikeout record when he fanned 55 batters in 21 innings against Okmulgee, Okla., in the ASA National Championship in Little Rock, Ark. After beating Okmulgee, 1-0, Dudley hurled the next game, fanning 12 more batters in a 4-0 win against Mercedes, Texas. During the six games Dudley hurled in the tournament, he fanned 130 batters, including 89 in 46 innings the last two nights.
That season was part of a five-year period in which Dudley won 142 games and lost only 10 for the Bombers, striking out 2,475 batters, hurling 110 shutouts and 45 no-hitters. He hurled more than 100 no-hitters during his career. Dudley was so well respected by the Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball, that each year at the conclusion of the ASA Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championship the Herb Dudley Outstanding Pitching Award is given to the tournaments most outstanding pitcher.
After retiring as an active player, Dudley worked for the Dudley Sports Company (no relation) until 1995 and was employed by the Clearwater Senior High School for 30 years as a teacher. He also gave pitching clinics throughout the United States during the summers.
Dudley, who was born December 19, 1919, was inducted into the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in 1986 in the men’s fast pitch category. He has also been enshrined in the Stetson University Sports Hall of Fame, Indianapolis Indiana Hall of Fame and the Florida Sports Writers and Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Dudley is survived by his wife, Lucille, two sons, David and Tommy, three daughters, Susan, Becky and Sharon, 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held March 23, 2007 at the Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Clearwater, Fla.
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