OKLAHOMA CITY — From its humble beginnings, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball has become one of the nation’s leading sports organizations. As the association celebrates its past 80 years in 2013, numerous individuals have helped make ASA/USA Softball the nation’s foremost softball organization. Here, we salute those who played a vital role in the third decade of ASA/USA Softball’s history.
The Emergence of Slow Pitch Softball: The 1950’s for softball was a decade of innovation and maturity. The innovations included the realization of a youth program, the beginning of a slow pitch program and an annual All-Star Fast Pitch Series for both men and women.
Great Players of the Era: John Hunter never lost in state or regional competition in 30 outings. He set a National record (since broken) in 1952 by fanning 19 batters in a seven-inning game. In his next appearance, he struck out 16. His lifetime record with the Clearwater Bombers was 275-19. He once retired 45 consecutive batters on strikes. In almost 30 years of pitching, Bertha Tickey posted a 757-88 record, including 162 no-hit, no-run games. She was named to the National All-Star team 18 times and chosen MVP of the National Championship eight times. She played on 11 National Championship teams. At the 1953 National Championship, she struck out 20 batters in seven innings. Of Tickey’s 74 National Championship wins, three were perfect games.
Teams to Remember: The Orange Lionettes of Orange, Calif. dominated women’s fast pitch in the early to mid-1950’s, winning five of the decade’s first seven titles. The Lionettes won in 1950, ’51, ’52, ’55 and ’56. The Rockets of Fresno, Calif. won three women’s fast pitch Nationals in the decade under three different sponsorships. The Betsy Ross Rockets won in 1953, the Leach Motors Rockets in 1954 and the Hacienda Rockets in 1957. The Raybestos Brakettes of Stratford, Conn. Finished the decade with two consecutive women’s fast pitch Titles in 1958 and ’59. Three legendary teams dominated men’s fast pitch in the 50’s. The Clearwater Bombers of Clearwater, Fla. won National Titles in 1950, ’54, ’56 and ’57. Briggs Beautyware of Detroit took back-to-back titles in 1952 and ’53, while the Raybestos Cardinals took two, one in 1955 and ’58. Gatliff Auto Sales of Newport, Ky. Was the only multiple men’s slow pitch winner in the decade, winning titles in 1956 and ’57. The Turbine Jets of Cincinnati, Ohio won the Men’s Industrial crown in 1957, ’58 and ’59.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed six World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.
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