History

Softball Australia is the national governing body for softball in Australia. Our membership comprises 8 States and Territories (Member States), Associations, Clubs and individual members who play, coach, officiate and support softball in Australia. Many of our members have received recognition from Softball Australia, the ISF and the Australian Government for the significant contributions they have made to the growth and success of softball across Australia.

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

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 1887 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Softball 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.
2015 Landmark decision by the hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to propose adding baseball and softball among five new sports for the Games in 2020.
Michelle Nancarrow resigns from the Board.
Fiona Crawford elected to the Softball Australia Board.