Awards and Hall of Fame

The first group of individuals chosen for the British Softball Federation Hall of Fame were inducted at a ceremony during the Federation’s AGM in London on Saturday, February 17, 2007.  Subsequently, additional members have been inducted at the 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 AGMs, and total membership now stands at 48.

The individuals who have been inducted are primarily former players, umpires, organisers, national team managers or development workers who, in the words of the Hall of Fame statement of purpose, have “played a major role in the growth and development of, or demonstrated outstanding achievement and ability within, British Softball.”  However, those inducted in 2012, 2014 and 2016 include some people who are still active in the roles for which they were elected, following a change in criteria which allows entry to the Hall of Fame for those who have been active in a particular role for 10 years or more.

While the first Hall of Fame members inducted in 2007 were elected by a Committee established by the BSF Executive, nominations in succeeding years have been opened up to the British softball community as a whole and then voted on by the Executive.

 

Hall of Famers Inducted in 2016​


Players​

EMILY CLIFFORD

Emily started playing softball in 1998, aged 17, as an outfielder for the Canterbury Mets, a recreational slowpitch team in Kent.

In 2001, she took up fastpitch as part of the GB Development Team, and began learning to play first base.  By this time she had moved up to A-grade slowpitch, playing one season for the Pioneers, another local Kent team, when they won the National Championship in 2002.

Around this time Emily began coaching junior girls’ fastpitch softball, and was a key figure in developing fastpitch programmes for young girls in West London as a teacher and a coach with BSUK’s Grassroots Fastpitch programme and the Monkeys youth fastpitch team.

For 10 years, from 2003-2012, Emily was a key member of the Baker Tomkins Softball Club.  Always a force at National Championships, the team won the European Slowpitch Cup in 2008, and Emily won the MVP, Best Female Batter and Female Slugger awards at the same European club competition in 2009.

After BT disbanded in 2013, Emily joined Slammers and has played first base for them ever since, helping the team to a second place finish in the National Softball League standings in 2015.

Emily’s GB Slowpitch career began in 2003, when she played for a GB second team in the Turkey Shoot competition in Richmond, Virginia.  The following year, aged 23, she was selected to the squad for the European Slowpitch Championships in Linz, Austria, and has been a fixture in the team ever since, playing in the last seven European Championships and also in the 2005 and 2014 Slowpitch World Cups in Florida.

Emily and GB outfielder Ruth Macintosh, who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, are probably the most-capped GB Slowpitch female players.

In 2011, Emily won the Best Female Batter award at the European Championships and has had the top batting average among GB Slowpitch women players at European Championships in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013, when she hit .682.  At the 2008 Europeans, she was given the GB coaches’ Female MVP award.

At the 2014 Slowpitch World Cup in Florida, where GB won the silver medal, Emily produced one of her best fielding displays, and was again given the Female MVP award by the coaches.

Her proudest moment was being made vice-captain for Great Britain at the 2015 European Championships.

An observer writes:  Emily Clifford has been a fixture in the GB Slowpitch Team and in A-grade softball for more than a decade, and her tremendous work ethic and desire to improve has made her an outstanding first base player and a tremendously effective hitter, with the ability to hit the ball to all fields and down both lines.

An abiding memory of Emily – and one that sums up her approach as a player – is watching her at a European Slowpitch Championship getting a teammate to throw dozens of balls at and around her feet before a game so she could perfect her technique for picking low throws out of the dirt at first base.

That kind of dedication is unusual in slowpitch softball and explains why Emily has been instrumental for GB in so many European Slowpitch Championship triumphs.


RUTH MACINTOSH

Only a handful of players from Scotland have ever played on the GB Slowpitch Team, and the best of them has undoubtedly been Ruth Macintosh, who has been the team’s outstanding female outfielder and one of its best hitters for over a decade.

A former high-level tennis player who came late to softball, Ruth started playing in 1999 at the age of 25 when a friend asked her to help out his work team.  She was hooked on the game immediately and set up her own team to enter the Edinburgh Softball League the following season.  That team, the Rejects, went on to win the Edinburgh League, and when they folded after 14 years, Ruth joined another league team called the Souls, who won the Edinburgh League that year for the first time.

In 2000, Ruth, along with other players from Edinburgh who were keen to play more than just local league softball, formed the Chaos softball team, which toured weekend tournaments in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh for over 10 years, winning tournaments in each location.  In 2011 Ruth represented Edinburgh in the BSF League All-Star Championships and the team won gold.

Ruth played her first London tournament in 2003, representing Scotland at the Softball World Series, and was spotted by a couple of GB players who recommended her to then GB Head Coach Gary Crock.  Ruth was invited to attend a GB training session in January 2004 and became a full member of the squad immediately afterwards and was selected to represent GB at the European Championships in Austria.  Although advised by Gary Crock that she was being taken mainly as a pinch hitter, Ruth played herself into the team and was a starter in the final.

Since then, Ruth has represented Great Britain in seven European Championships and played in the final of every one, helping to win gold every time.  At the 2010 European Slowpitch Championships in Prague, Ruth captured the Female MVP award.

She has also represented Great Britain twice at the Slowpitch World Cup in Florida and at the ASA Western Nationals, as well as at tournaments in France and Holland.

In 2004, Ruth joined the Slammers to enable her to play A-grade tournaments and was a key figure in the Slammers team that won the National Championship in 2005.

In 2005, Ruth joined the Mad Cows Softball Team to play in the Advertising World Series competition in the United States and played every year thereafter until 2011, when she was inducted into the tournament’s Hall of Fame.

Although she now has two children, aged 1 and 3, Ruth has continued play competitive softball and plans to continue until family circumstances no longer allow it -- at which point she expects to become a taxi driver for her two boys!

An observer writes:  The dedication that Ruth had to learn as a promising young tennis player carried over into her softball, where she has always been single-minded and highly professional in her desire to improve as a player, making the journey from Edinburgh to the South week in and week out over the years to play in A-grade and NSL tournaments.  You can see the tennis background in her ability to drive balls to every part of the field, and in the outfield, has displayed a consistent excellence: Ruth reads the ball well, has great hands and an accurate arm and is very brave.

Beyond her softball skills, Ruth has been a tremendous teammate in the GB Slowpitch Team programme, and no one is more loved or respected by everyone who has come in contact with her.


MOERA FLETT

Moe has made her mark as a player in both fastpitch and slowpitch softball since coming to the UK in 2002, and while her career on the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team was short-lived (and should have been longer), she was a tremendously productive player with the GB Slowpitch Team for almost a decade, and a key to four of their 10 European Championship triumphs.

As a club player, Moe played with a number of teams early in her British career and won a National Championship with the Stingrays in 2003.  But since 2005 she has been a fixture with the Chromies and has played brilliantly, mostly at third base or in the outfield, as the team has won six National Championships in the past nine years.

Moe has also been an important part of the Chromies’ three European Slowpitch Cup triumphs and has won four Softball World Series titles with the Anzacs.

Her expertise in both formats of the sport has been invaluable during her spell as an Assistant Coach with the GB Under-16 Girls’ Fastpitch Team and more recently with the Irish National Slowpitch Team.

Moe has a wonderful understanding of the game to go with her physical abilities: soft hands, a strong and accurate arm, great ability to read balls off the bat in the outfield and the skill to hit consistently and with power to all fields.  Above all, she is one of the bravest players that British softball has seen and plays with absolutely no fear.

Moe Flett’s playing career in British club softball is far from over, and anyone wanting to see great skill and game intelligence in action should make the effort to watch her play.


DANNY GUNN

Danny started playing softball in 1999 with a work-based team in Manchester, the GUS Growlers, who won Division 2 in his first season.  He went to GB tryouts that autumn and failed to make the grade, but this made him even more determined to improve and he made the squad in 2000.

Since then, as work has taken him round the country, Danny has played with league teams in Manchester, London and Leeds, and with a number of weekend tournament teams.  From 2005, he has been a fixture with the Chromies, who have won six out of 10 National Championships during that time.

Danny also met his wife through softball, and they have two children, Sophie (3) and Henry (1) who have already started hitting a softball off a tee in the garden!

Danny has played every position in co-ed and single-sex slowpitch softball except pitcher, and has exceptional skill as a hitter, able to hit line drives with power to all parts of the field.  Once he gets on a roll, there is almost no stopping him, and he has excelled as a leadoff hitter for GB over the years, helping the team win four European Championships and a gold medal at the Slowpitch World Cup in 2002.

His achievements in domestic softball include six Division 1 titles in the Manchester Softball League and two in Leeds, several B Nationals titles with Greensox, seven National Championships (six with Chromies and one with Stingrays), multiple gold medals at the Men’s Slowpitch Nationals with the Manchester Hoggs and a large number of other major tournament wins.

In addition, Danny has collected one gold medal and two silver medals with Chromies in the European Slowpitch Cup.

It was Alex Hall who first introduced Danny to softball in Manchester, and since Alex finally lost her fight with cancer, the Manchester softball community has raised over £500,000 for Christies for Cancer Hospital, where Alex was treated over a number of years.  Danny is proud to have been involved in this effort.

He is also proud of the lifelong friends he has made through the sport, both in this country and around the world.

Danny’s future softball ambitions include regaining the European Slowpitch Cup this year with Chromies, still playing the sport (at a lower level) when Sophie and Henry are ready to join the Manchester Softball League and coaching to help softball continue to grow and develop.


Administrator​

ANDREW BURGESS

Andy had originally played baseball with the Arun Panthers Junior Team in Chichester, and got into softball as a college student when he noticed a poster in the window of a sports shop advertising a series of indoor softball training sessions being organised by Solent League founder Chris O’Connor.  Andy mentioned this to a few friends and they ended up going along to all 10 sessions, which culminated in an exhibition game on Castle Field in Southsea.  By that time, those who had attended the course had split themselves into two teams – the Dodgers and Sharks – and thus the Solent Softball League (SSL) was born.

Because of his baseball background, Andy slipped into the role of coaching the Sharks and then got involved with the early SSL Committee, which consisted of a Chair and a few team captains.  His first role was Junior Officer.  Then, when Chris O’Connor decided to step down, Andy became the Chair and remained in office for a total of 10 years, during which the league continued to grow and expand.

Since stepping down as Chair, he has continued to sit on the SSL Committee, primarily in the role of Recruitment Officer, where he puts his 21 years of softball experience to good use.

Andy has enjoyed a long career as an excellent player with the Southsea Sharks and the Solent Mariners, and still turns out for the Sharks in weekly league games.  As Solent League Chair, however, he brought stability to the league, and also a number of innovations.

These included the creation of the Solent Mariners as a League All-Star Tournament Team, expanding divisions within the league and introducing Indoor softball for recruitment as well as training purposes.  Andy has also been central to the ongoing fundraising that the Solent League does on behalf of the Tom Prince Cancer Trust (www.tomprince.co.uk), and supported the BSF when the League hosted the European Slowpitch Championships in Eastleigh in 2008.

Andy was awarded the Glover Cup by the BSF in 2003 for his services to softball organisation, and the Solent League won the League Glover Cup for development achievements in 2005 and 2009.

Andy has written: “I would very much like to continue helping the Solent League to strive and grow, although not necessarily just in terms of simply adding more and more teams each year.  It’s important that all the current SSL teams look to create a stronger foundation for themselves and then eventually look to become clubs, consisting of perhaps two or three teams of differing grades.  That way they will hopefully become self-sustainable in terms of recruitment and also help provide a natural in-house progression for those players who are looking to advance through the various grades of play (and then hopefully onto GB).  It has also long been a dream of mine to see a junior slowpitch / teeball programme created within the SSL – something I may be tempted to take on in the not too distant future!”


Youth Coach​

JOCELYN THOMPSON

Laura Thompson was inducted into the BSF Hall of Fame as perhaps our best-ever home-grown women’s fastpitch player in 2012, and one of the reasons for Laura’s success was certainly her mother, Jocelyn Thompson, usually known as Jos, who has been quietly coaching young female fastpitch players in the UK for almost two decades.

Jos’s whole life has been consumed by sport.  Growing up in Zambia, she and her sisters enjoyed school athletics, and Jos later represented Zambia in field hockey and softball, travelling to many parts of the world to compete in international tournaments.

She met her husband Ed during the late 1960s, and they were married in 1975.  When Ed retired in 1999, they moved to the UK and settled in Towcester, Northamptonshire.

Jos soon found a hockey and softball club, and with her youngest daughter, Laura, continued playing -- until her knees gave out!

Jos’s eldest sister, Pam, had played for the GB Women's Fastpitch Team in its early days, so the family knew about the GB programme.  At 13, Laura was selected to play for the GB Under-16 Team and by the time she was 16 had migrated to the Women's Team.

During this period, Jos helped in various ways as an Assistant Coach to Natalie Fox, and then went on to coach with the GB Under-19 and Under-16 teams for several years.  More recently, she has assisted GB Under-16 Head Coach Jeremy Thomas.

During 2013-15 she was part of a programme to roll out softball to schools in Oxfordshire.

Jos has been an active player/coach for her local fastpitch team, the Heyford Diamonds, and during 2015 she helped to start a softball section at her local rugby club and conducted weekly coaching sessions at a local secondary school.

Jos believes that it is important to share the things that others have taught her, and to give her time unstintingly to help other people.  The joy she feels in finding just one youngster with potential, and helping develop that into a love of the game, is palpable!

Jos has brought not only a deep knowledge, understanding and love of the game to many of the young players who have passed through GB youth teams, but has always provided players with support, reassurance and confidence through her emotional intelligence, sympathy and optimism.

Jos is the perfect example of the kind of volunteer who is rarely noticed, but whose selfless dedication has enhanced the sport and the lives of those she has coached and mentored.


Team Manager​

SARA VERTIGAN

Sara had a fine career as a player before becoming a Team Manager.  She began playing softball in 1996 and played recreationally in the London Surveyors League until recruited by the A-grade team Sixty-Niners in 1998 as a development player.  In 2004 she joined Chromies, playing until her retirement from A-grade in 2010.  Meanwhile, she continued to play for the Secret Agents Club in the Greater London Softball Mixed League – as she still does today – and was accepted via trials into the GB Slowpitch programme in 2001, playing until 2007.

During that time she took part in two ISF Slowpitch World Cups (and was part of the gold medal-winning team in 2002), an Advertising World Series in Florida in 2005 where the team won silver and Sara was the MVP, tournaments in France and Jersey and two West Coast World Series tournaments in Las Vegas in 2006 and 2007, where she also managed the team.

During her time as a GB player, Sara came into contact with a number of excellent coaches, and Gary Crock was the first to interest her in softball strategy and the importance of the tactical and mental aspects of the game.  Gary and Mark Saunders encouraged her early development as a coach, helping her to gain a Level 3 coaching badge.

Sara went on to gain an Assistant Coach position with the GB Slowpitch Team while coaching her GLSML club, running numerous clinics privately and for the BSF and travelling to Switzerland, Belgium and Malta on coaching assignments for the ESF.

She became assistant GB Slowpitch Team Manager in 2006, took the team to Las Vegas two years in a row and supported the then manager, Pearl Bramhall, at the 2008 European Championships.

In 2009 Sara stepped up to the position of Team Manager and took the Main and/or Development Squads to four further European Championships, two ISF Slowpitch World Cups, six Softball World Series tournaments in London and an exhibition tour in the Netherlands, as well as hosting numerous GB Challenge and GB Open tournaments.

Sara has written, “The Team Manager role is often demanding and sometimes stressful, but it offered me the chance to remain connected to the squad beyond my playing days.  I wanted to contribute something towards the future and was rewarded with some unforgettable times travelling and training with the team.  I learned a lot from other members of staff and the players, and the squad became something of an extended family to me.  I have seen so many people achieve so much during my tenure.  I’m incredibly proud of them and feel privileged to have played a part in such a successful programme.”

Sara continues to coach and manage at league and tournament level and is now focusing on identifying and developing talent that comes through league play and B and C-grade tournament softball.  She also continues to administer the BSF coaching scheme for B and C-grade teams and travels around the country to deliver many of the clinics herself.

In her seven years as GB Slowpitch Team Manager, Sara has been a great example in her dedication to the sport and to the GB Slowpitch Team in particular.  She has brought an important professionalism to the role and formed strong relationships with players and other federations alike, helping to raise the profile of the programme.

 

Hall of Famers Inducted in 2014
 

Players

STACIE TOWNSEND

Stacie Townsend is from Orlando, Florida, but her father was born and grew up in England and Stacie joined the GB Women's Fastpitch Team in 2005 at the age of 17.  Although she only showed glimpses of her talent that summer as a pitcher and infielder, by 2006 Stacie was pitching and winning games in the ISF World Championships in Bejing, helping the GB Team, which had entered on a wild card, to a surprising 10th place finish.

After Stacie left high school and was recruited to NCAA Division 1 University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), her softball career took off.  During her four years at UTEP, she set every school record for pitching and became the face of UTEP softball.  For the GB Women, Stacie became the team's #1 pitcher in 2007, and in 2009 led the GB Women to a highest-ever second place finish at the European Championships and to a first-ever World Championship qualification.

From 2009 through 2012, Stacie was the team's top pitcher and hitter and her work ethic, game awareness, sense of humour and support for her teammates was at the core of the team's success.  The GB Women came third in European Championships in 2011 and again qualified for World Championships in 2012, where, as in 2010, they finished as the 11th best team in the world.

In addition to some stunning pitching performances, including a no-hitter against the world's #7 team Chinese Taipei in the 2012 World Championships, Stacie was the sixth-best hitter in the 2010 World Championships in Venezuela and the second best hitter in the 2012 World Championships in Canada, where she was voted to the tournament's All-World Team.  As a pitcher, she also led the tournament in innings pitched and strikeouts.

In an era when world-class pitchers achieve much of their success with sheer speed, Stacie was different – and a joy to watch.  Her success came from movement on a variety of pitches, subtle changes of speed and the ability to out-think opposing hitters, often tying them up in knots.

Stacie retired from GB Softball after the World Championships in 2012 to pursue her post-graduate studies in law, and will complete her degree and be admitted to the bar later this year.
 

MARTIN CARTLEDGE

Martin Cartledge started his playing career in 1996 with the team that was the Cilag, then the Earl Howe and then the Windsor Dodgers in the Windsor & Maidenhead League, but has also played A-grade softball with the Stingrays, Baker Tomkins and the Windsor Knights, and has been the team captain on many of the teams he has played for.  He was the Male MVP when the Earl Howe Dodgers won the BSF Co-ed Slowpitch National Championships in 1997.

Martin was selected to play with the GB Slowpitch Team as an outfielder at the first European Championships in 1998, and rejoined the team in 2006.  He has European Championship winner's medals from 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011, and is one of only two players to represent GB Slowpitch in three different decades.
After retiring as a GB player after the 2011 season, Martin has since re-joined the team as a coach, and as such has another winner's medal from last summer's European Championships in Pardubice.

Martin was not the flashiest or most noticeable player on any of the GB Teams he played for, but was an utterly reliable line drive hitter and a consistent outfielder who read the ball well and always made the right throw.  He was a student of the game and played with great intelligence as well as a quiet passion.

Apart from his playing career, Martin served as the Chair of the Windsor & Maidenhead League from 2009-2011 and as slowpitch softball's representative on the British Athletes Commission, and has always been happy to get involved in coaching, supporting and advising with his club teams and with schools programmes in the Thames Valley area.
 

DAVID BAIRD

David Baird was introduced to softball when, as a student, he did a work placement around 1988 at a London design studio that had a team called The Bureaux in the Designers Softball League.  He was given no choice about playing, but one game and he was hooked.  He came back to work for the same firm after graduating, bought a pair of trainers and his first glove and has been with the teams that evolved from The Bureaux – the 69ers and the Niners – all the way up until the Niners finally gave up the ghost in 2013.

Around 1990, David ventured into the world of competitive Men's League softball with one of London's most interesting teams, LFG or Live from the Ghetto, and seeing teams like Zoo Crew and Raiders really opened his eyes to the complexity of the sport.

As the 69ers and Niners became more competitive and moved through the Ad League into the GLSML and eventually became a top A-grade tournament team, David become the key player that the team relied on for his playing ability, his negotiation skills, his coaching and base coaching and his constant upbeat attitude.  He ran the team for its last five seasons, and no matter how competitive the softball became, the 69ers/Niners managed to maintain a fun-and-friend aspect that has always been very important to David and his teammates.
David also played for many years for LNZ in the GLSML and currently plays for H2O.

When a GB Slowpitch Team was first formed and went for a training/competition tour to Tifton, Georgia in 1997, David was on that trip, and he subsequently played in five European Championships as an outfielder, pitcher and occasional infielder.  He was excellent at any position and his speed, allied with a great line drive stroke, made him a significant offensive threat.

Once David realised that softball could be played competitively, the game for him was always about improving and trying to get better.

David has been a high-level BASU umpire for many years, helped refine the rules for Indoor softball when the sport was just beginning and has always been a huge fan and promoter of the game.  His wife Elissa, herself in the BSF Hall of Fame as a softball  organiser, said, “The seductiveness of softball for David has been being able to combine competitive sports, family, friends and fun.  Not many sports offer all of these things.”
 

Coach

RUSS SNOW

Russ Snow was a world-class fastpitch softball pitcher and player when he first arrived in the UK from his home town of San Diego, California, and as a player-coach led the London Meteors Men’s Team to the 1996 European Super Cup, one of the two European Cup wins in British softball history.

After asserting his dominance as a player-coach at club level, it was only a matter of time before his skills were put to use at a national level, and shortly after women's fastpitch became an Olympic sport, Russ was appointed as the Head Coach of the GB Women's Fastpitch Team.  Russ was the person who turned the GB Women from a casual into a serious programme with serious (Olympic) aims, and the team stunned the softball world by coming third in the 1999 Euro-Africa Olympic Qualifier in Parma, losing only 2-1 to Italy in the Page Playoff pre-final.  The team contained only four overseas-based players, which makes the achievement even more impressive.  Although Russ only coached the GB Women for that one competition season, his team laid the foundations for the successful GB Women’s Teams that have followed.

In 2005 Russ took up his second GB Head Coach appointment, this time for the GB Men's Fastpitch Team programme.  This gave him the distinction of being the only person in the history of British softball to coach both the GB Men's and Women's teams.  One of his greatest achievements during his time with the GB Men was coaching the team to a bronze medal at the 2008 European Championship in Copenhagen, which qualified them for World Championships the following year.  What made this particularly remarkable was that the team had just three overseas-based players.

Russ coached the GB Men to their highest-ever world ranking of eighth after the team qualified for the playoff round for the first time at the ISF Men's World Championships in Saskatoon, Canada in 2009.

After missing out on European Championships in 2010, Russ coached the team to a second place finish in the round-robin phase of the European Championships in 2012 in Amstelveen, Holland, thus gaining automatic qualification for the World Championships in 2013.  Those World Championships took place in Auckland, New Zealand and under Russ's leadership, the GB Men finished ninth, just missing the playoffs.  During the round-robin phase, the team lost only 1-0 to the eventual silver medallist Venezuela.

Russ retired from his position of GB Men's Team Head Coach at the beginning of 2014.

Over the years he spent coaching GB teams, Russ never left his London Meteors and continued to play for the club at various tournaments in Europe, even when his personal life meant he had to share his time between California and London.  The annual Zeister Slot tournament in Zeist, Holland, was among his favourite tournaments, evidenced by his near 100% attendance over the 30-year life of the event.  Russ won many accolades at the tournament, including multiple MVP and top batter and pitcher awards.  In 2010 his contribution to the Meteors and the tournament was honoured when he received the Zeister Slot Hall of Fame award.

Russ's softball legacy with GB is likely to be carried on by his daughter Alana, who was a star performer for the GB Under-16s at European Championships in 2013.
 

Administrators

LESLEY MORISETTI

Lesley Morisetti's career as a player, administrator and umpire in British softball has spanned more than 20 years, and is still going strong.

As a player, Lesley first played softball – or Teeball to be exact – in the United States, and was a early member of the Picts Softball Club in Edinburgh in the early 1990s.  Lesley then played in the Edinburgh Surveyors League and later the Edinburgh Softball League, and was a member of Edinburgh's travelling team, The Clan.

Lesley was selected for the first GB Slowpitch Team and played in the first European Slowpitch Championships at Brunel University in 1998.

She also played cricket from 1992-95 with the Scottish Ladies team, winners of the Northumbria League!

So Lesley has had a solid career as a player, including a stint with GB Softball – but she has been elected to the Hall of Fame primarily as a softball administrator, fulfilling many roles.
From 1999 to the present, Lesley has been the League Co-ordinator for the Edinburgh Softball League, and from 2000 to the present she has been Joint Organiser (with Liz Graham) of the  Edinburgh Festiball, one of Britain's best open slowpitch tournaments.

In 2004, Lesley and Liz came on board as Tournaments Officers for the BSF, and brought order from chaos as far as National Championships were concerned, running these events together until Lesley stepped back at the end of 2012.  In 2007, they were jointly awarded the Glover Cup for services to softball.

Lesley became a BASU-qualified umpire in 1993 and has been umpiring up and down the country ever since, earning a reputation as one of BASU's best umpires.  She became ESF-qualified in 2004 and has been BASU's Assistant Umpire-in-Chief since 2009.
 

STUART HOUGHTON

It all began for Stuart when he put together a mixed softball team in 1984 consisting of workers from British Telecom called the Telecom Blue Jays and arranged matches against other teams.  In April 1985 Stuart arranged a meeting of team captains in Ealing and the Greater London Softball Mixed League, the first London-wide mixed softball league apart from the London Advertising League, was formed. 

Founder members of this league were: FSD Dodgers, Concorde I & II (British Airways), Guildhall, Richard Rogers Partners, Conoco Jets, Telecom Blue Jays, Camplan, Haden Young and Camden Softball Club. 

Then, at the South East Softball Association (SESA) AGM in March 1986 – where, under the Presidency of Mike Humphrey, it became the Great Britain Softball Association (GBSA), having broken away from the British Baseball & Softball Federation (BABSF) – Stuart joined   the National Committee as the first mixed slowpitch softball representative. 

Stuart led the GLSML through a rapid expansion during 1986 and 1987, oversaw the Advertising League’s crucial affiliation to GBSA and staged the first London-wide mixed slowpitch championships.  So large was the GLSML contingent that the league’s committee eventually morphed into the London Regional Committee, with Stuart as Director.  At the same time, as part of his national role, Stuart was building up a network of softball contacts across the UK.

In order to gain Sports Council recognition and access to funding, it was vital to demonstrate that the GBSA had true national coverage, supported by a regional administrative structure.  Stuart travelled round the country helping regional organisers and putting on coaching clinics.  He also organised a series of tours by international teams from the US and Zimbabwe.

In 1988, Stuart also organised a reciprocal visit to Austin, Texas, designed to attract more US teams to come over to Britain, where a British national team entered in USSSA World Slowpitch Championships.  The British came back with an enormous trophy awarded for sportmanship!

Stuart stepped away from the London Committee in 1988 to concentrate on his national role.

In March 1989 Stuart arranged the inaugural general meeting of the National Softball Federation in Birmingham.  At the behest of what was then known as the Sports Council, Stuart was installed as General Secretary of the NSF.  This coincided with the setting up of a Softball Commission, chaired by the Sports Council's Elaine Burgess, to oversee the establishment of a national governing body for softball, and Stuart was the leading softball member of this Commission.

After a long period of promotional work, meetings and reams of correspondence, Stuart’s work on the Softball Commission finally paid off in January 1991 when the Sports Council officially ratified the NSF as the national governing body for softball.  During 1991 Stuart had also taken over the production of softball’s national newsletter, ‘Homerun’, which boosted the NSF’s standing in the eyes of the Softball Commission.

Meanwhile, Stuart successfully applied to the British Olympic Association for ‘Associate Membership’ to help bolster the ISF’s case to become an Olympic sport.  Then, when softball officially became an Olympic sport in June 1991, Stuart stepped up to represent softball on the British Olympic Committee.  In November 1991, at the NSF AGM in Windsor, Stuart was elected to the vacant position of NSF President, and effectively coupled this role with that of General Secretary.

In August 1992 Stuart took a GB Women's Fastpitch Team to the European Women’s Fastpitch Championships held in Bussum, Holland.  Highlights were the only triple play recorded at the Championships by Great Britain’s Kate Allen against Belgium, and a tremendous come-from-behind victory over Russia in the bottom of the seventh inning.

During this time, now that the NSF was eligible, Stuart had also been working on the NSF’s application for grant funding.  Eventually, in September 1992, the NSF was awarded Stuart’s full application of £15,500.

In 1993, Stuart was admitted to hospital and underwent major surgery – the first of three visits to the operating theatre.  Thanks to the intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, Stuart pulled through, but it was months before he was able to return to his full-time job, and at that time, his softball activity more or less came to an end.

 

Hall of Famers Inducted in 2012
 

Players

SHAUN FINDLAY

A South African who spent the better part of a decade in the UK, Shaun Findlay was one of the most electrifying players British softball has seen.  Tall, thin and extraordinarily fast, Shaun took baserunning to new levels with his blinding speed, and he used that speed and a great throwing arm to make stunning plays in the outfield on a regular basis.

Shaun was a key member of the first three European Champion GB Slowpitch Teams, and his home runs helped GB come back from the brink of defeat to win their third straight title in the Czech Republic in 2002.  He was an impact player par excellence in both men's and co-ed slowpitch and he played briefly with the GB Men's Fastpitch Team as well.
 

BRETT GIBBENS

Brett Gibbens emerged from a recreational slowpitch team in the late 1990s to become the pre-eminent power hitter in British softball for over a decade.  Starting in the 2000 European Slowpitch Championships when he hit 16 over-the-fence home runs and drove in 43 runs in 10 games, Brett's power hitting led GB to six of its eight European titles.  In the 2004 Europeans, Brett's batting won a tight final against Ireland almost single-handedly despite a painful arm injury.  Brett also represented GB in two ISF World Cups, and in domestic softball, he helped three different A-grade teams to win National Championships.

Brett was among a small group of GB players who instigated the highly-successful GB Coaching Clinics that toured the country in the early 2000s, inspiring recreational players to higher achievements and helping the GB Team to uncover new talent.

Though an emotional player whose game could sometimes come unglued, Brett was also a courageous outfielder with one of the most powerful throwing arms in the sport.  And when he was focused at the plate, it was almost impossible to get him out.

Brett Gibbens has been one of the most watchable and controversial players British softball has produced.  But as an elite player at the top of the game, expecting the best and more from his teammates, he has been inspirational.  The Babe Ruth of British softball has earned his place in the Hall of Fame.
 

STEPHANIE JARDINE

Steph Jardine has been one of the best women slowpitch players in England since the early 1990s, a player who has maximised her skills through hard work and intelligence.  But beyond her playing skills, Steph has always been the most vocal and visible of team leaders, an inspiration for her teams.  She was at the heart of the Baker Tomkins team that won four national titles in the late 1990s and in the 2000 European Slowpitch Championships, she dominated the tournament, batting .688 (amazing for a female in slowpitch) and making the game-saving catch in the only game GB threatened to lose.

Steph has played for the GB Slowpitch Team in three different decades, one of only two players to do so, and has been equally effective as an outfielder, infielder and catcher.  In her late 20s, Steph took up fastpitch, and against all odds became a regular starter and a fine defensive first base player on a steadily improving GB Women's Fastpitch Team until she left the programme in 2006.
 

BRUCE SAUNDERS

Along with his brother Mark, Bruce Saunders started playing friendly games in Hyde Park with a team from The Economist.  The following year, the team was invited to join the Ad League and the next year Bruce and Mark formed Leytonstoned Again and joined the GLSML.  The team worked its way up from Division 6 to Division 1 and Bruce started to get noticed.

When trials were held for a first GB squad in 1996, Bruce initially tried out as a pitcher.  But he decided to give the outfield a go and that's when his career took off as a quick, brave outfielder with a strong arm who could track down almost anything hit to his part of the field, and a slashing high-average line drive hitter with power.  Bruce was selected for the first GB Team in 1998, and by 2000 had established himself as the starting right-centre fielder, where he was a key player in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 Europeans and the 2002 ISF World Cup.  Having retired as an international player, Bruce became an Assistant Coach for the GB programme from 2005-2010 and coached the GB second team in the 2005 ISF World Cup.

Domestically, Bruce has played with Slammers since 1998 and led them to the National Championship in 2005 as a Player-Manager.  He was also a key player for the Leytontestosteroned Again Men's Team, formed in 1999.
 

LAURA THOMPSON

Laura was the most promising young player in the early GB youth fastpitch team programmes run by Natalie Fox, and as a 14-year-old held her own against some of the top teams and pitchers in the world at the 2001 ISF Under-16 World Cup in Plant City, Florida.  At 17, Laura was selected for the GB Women's Team and has been a starting outfielder for the team ever since.  She was the first GB-based player to play in the Dutch League and the first to play college softball in the US, where she won All-Conference honours in her last two years at Division II Eastern New Mexico University.  She is probably the best female player that British softball has ever produced.

Certainly, no one in British softball has ever played the game with more grace and joy than Laura, and her ability to charge ground balls in the outfield and make quick and accurate throws, her surprising power at bat and her speed on the bases have always been trademarks.  When a high-level London Cup tournament was held in the UK in 2006, Laura completely dominated the competition, hitting over .700 and winning the MVP Award.  She led the GB Women in batting and on-base percentage over the World Cup and European Championships in 2011, going five-for-six at the World Cup against the US and Japan and making what was probably the best catch in the competition, a sprawling, diving grab at full stretch against Australia.  Laura also played the key role at bat and in the field in GB's 2011 European Championship extra-inning win over Russia that led to World Championship qualification.

Laura will be by far the youngest member in the BSF Hall of Fame and her playing career isn't over, but her achievements to date unquestionably merit her inclusion.

GB Women's Team Head Coach Hayley Scott wrote: “I have had the privilege of knowing Laura Thompson for several years and she epitomises the characteristics of a GB athlete.  She has always worked extremely hard, pushed herself beyond her limits and put her team's needs first. Laura is an amazingly talented player, she's speedy and knows and reads the game exceptionally well.  Laura started as one the the youngest athletes in the GB Women's Team after playing in GB youth teams.  It has been an honour to work with Laura and, as her coach, I am very proud of all she has accomplished and congratulate her on her addition to the Hall of Fame, a worthy achievement.”
 

Umpire

JES SANDHU

Jes got involved in softball some 21 years ago at a works recreational day and enjoyed it immensely.  He then found out there was a local league in Windsor and put in a team.  As part of the entry requirements, the team was required to send someone for umpire training, and because Jes was running the team he volunteered to go on the course. And the rest is history.

The same year, Jes was asked to join the Windsor Committee as their representative on a new umpire association being put together by the London leagues.

From this, BASU was born. A few years after this, Jes became BASU Umpire-in-Chief, a position he has held ever since and to great effect. Or, as Jes says,” No one else has been stupid enough to volunteer!”

Jes has qualified at ESF level in both fastpitch and slowpitch and at ISF level in slowpitch, and has been ever-present as an umpire both in the UK and in Europe, where he travels in support of our fastpitch teams every year.

Jes Sandhu has remained committed over the years to the improvement of umpiring standards in the UK and has been a key component in the development of BASU as a professional organisation serving the softball community.
 

Team Managers

MAURICE "MO" BAKER

Mo Baker founded the Baker Tomkins Softball Team in the early 1990s and managed the team for almost 20 years until they disbanded after the 2012 National Championships.  During the late 1990s and into the 2000s, BT was the pre-eminent A-grade team in British softball, winning four straight National Championships from 1998-2001, and competing in numerous other Nationa finals and semi-finals.  Unlike many A-grade teams at the time and since, BT took the game seriously enough to practice and their dedication showed on the field, as a tight-knit group of players demonstrated superior teamwork and resilience.

Under Mo's leadership, BT was also one of the first A-grade teams to expand to a club structure, which at various times encompassed two A-grade co-ed teams, a rookie midweek team, men's and women's slowpitch teams and a women's and two junior fastpitch teams.  The club's fastpitch teams, playing as the Monkeys, were instrumental in the development of many young players who went on to play for GB youth fastpitch teams and the GB Women's Team.

Mo also managed beyond his own club.  He organised the England team that won the first Softball World Series and managed the GB Slowpitch Team to its first two European Championship gold medals.

Mo Baker has never shied away from expressing his opinions and getting involved in softball politics.  But Baker Tomkins teams have always embodied the best traditions of British softball, playing the game the right way, nurturing new talent, and having fun.
 

PAUL RILEY AND DOUG CLOUSTON

Paul “Rocket” Riley formed Superchrome around 1988 or 1989 as a works softball team in the now-defunct London Design League.  Doug Clouston joined the team shortly afterwards.  The team's first-ever trophy was the Leukaemia Tournament Plate Trophy around 1990, but Paul  and Doug, who took on the role of joint managers, were gradually building a team that could play at a higher level.  The Chromies, as they soon came to be called, were frequent winners at Triple Crown tournaments that began in 1993.  The team won the London Ad League title in 1994 and first played in the Ad League World Series in San Jose, California that same year.

Chromies won their first BSF National Championship in 1997 and has been at or near the top of A-grade softball ever since as an independent tournament team, playing in six of the last seven A-grade or Premier Nationals finals and winning five more national titles. They also won the NSL title in the tournament's first season and won the Diamond Series in 2010 and 2011.

When the European Slowpitch Cup began in 2007 in Paris, Chromies were the UK's first representative and won the tournament easily, adding further European Cups in 2010 in Slovenia and 2011 in Bulgaria, and finishing as the losing finalist in Pardubice in 2012.

Paul Riley has become a well respected global ambassador for the game.  Many know him only as “Rocket”, the guy who is generally always seen with a beer and scorebook, bouncing off objects and people with his shoe laces undone!   But Rocket is tremendously dedicated and has picked up Hall of Fame and Character of the Game awards while managing the  London Mad Cows for over 11 years at the Advertising Softball World Series in America.  As one Chromies player said, “Rocket is a guy with a massive heart, insight, knowledge and dedication to the sport.  His passion for the game is unbelievable, his personality is infectious and he makes teammates listen and perform when they need to most.”

Complementing Rocket, Doug Clouston has never been afraid to make unpopular decisions to get the best from the team.  He leads by force of personality, is fiercely competitive when the team is playing, but is unfailingly loyal and protective of his team.

Paul Riley and Doug Clouston have guided the Chromies through their highs and lows for more than 20 years, building formidable squads of players, generating great team loyalty and keeping the team focused on success.  Along with Mo Baker of BT, also joining the Hall of Fame this year, they have been the most long-lived, long-suffering and most successful team managers in British softball history.
 

Administrators

GEOF ELLINGHAM

Geof has been heavily involved in both baseball and softball at a national and local level for over 15 years, including two years as BSF President and seven years as a member of BSUK's Board.  He has also served as youth officer with the BSF, the LSF (London Softball Federation) and BSUK.

Geof founded the London Meteorites Youth Baseball/Softball Club in 1994, and was club director until 2005.  During that time, the club ran a successful PlayBall! programme as well as youth baseball and softball teams in all age brackets.  He was a founder member of the Rainbow Raiders Softball Club, and was the Manager for the GB Under-16 Girls' Fastpitch Team for its first overseas trip to Florida in 2001 for the ISF Junior World Cup.

Throughout his adult life, Geof has been actively involved in voluntary sector roles for various organisations and is currently a director of the Moneywise Credit Union and a welfare rights charity, both in Newcastle. 

In his roles as BSF President, BSUK Board Member and BSUK Chair, Geof showed himself to be an exemplary and far-sighted administrator, and he has had a lasting impact on both baseball and softball in the UK.  Geof was the driving force behind BSUK moving from an unincorporated association to a company limited by guarantee and during this process, he developed a functional BSUK Board with a sound committee structure.

Until he stepped down as BSUK Chair in November 2011, Geof's focus was on building BSUK into a sustainable concern with financial stability  as the development and change agent working on behalf of the two NGBs.  Over the past five years, he fully achieved this. The fact that BSUK's governance is held in such high regard by Sport England and others is a testament to Geof's work as BSUK Chair.  And BSUK's achievements in meeting difficult funding targets has been a reflection of Geof's leadership and strategic skills.
 

MIKE JENNINGS

Mike has been one of the most hard-working and capable administrators in British softball for almost as long as the sport has been organised in the UK.  He was instrumental in the development of BASU into the capable and well-run organisation it has become and he has served BASU in the key roles of Umpire-in-Chief and Training Officer.  Mike has also been a key figure on the BSF Executive for many years, currently as Treasurer, and he has always been a voice of reason and sanity.  Along with Bob Fromer, Mike organised and ran the first European Slowpitch Championship at Brunel University in 1998.  He was ESF President for six years and was one of the first people from Britain to achieve a major role on the ESF, where he brought a welcome stability to the organisation.  Mike was also an ISF Vice-President during that time and he has been an umpire, TC and U-I-C at ESF tournaments for many years, and in 2013 was appointed as the ESF's Technical Director.

Mike has been a major figure among those who have fought for more democratic and transparent governance at the ISF (and has suffered at Don Porter's hands as a result).  Mike's analysis of ISF finances presented at the ISF Congress in 2011 may actually now force the organisation to live within its means, which would be a major achievement.
 

LIBBY MOSS

Libby Moss has been a strong proponent of softball scoring in Great Britain for many years.  A qualified scorer since her early days in Australia, Libby produced, single-handed, the statistics for the first (GB-hosted) European Co-ed Slowpitch Championship at Brunel University in 1998, before the use of computerised systems here.  Over the years, she could be found behind many fastpitch backstops in Britain and around Europe, providing this essential support service.

After Women's Fastpitch Softball became an Olympic sport and the BSF decided to start its first serious national team programme, Libby was the Team Manager who worked with Head Coach Russ Snow to recruit and prepare the team that shocked the softball world by coming third in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Sydney.  This team laid the foundations for the successful GB  Women's Teams that have followed.

Libby was the first British softball administrator to join the European Softball Federation Executive (she served as Tournaments Officer) and after she relinquished this role she continued with her involvement in ESF Technical Commission work. 

As well as retaining overall responsibility for issuing ESF Athlete Licenses, she still runs one or two ESF fastpitch events each season, with a particular involvement in men’s competitions.
 

HARRY SOMERS

Harry has been an active volunteer throughout the entire 20-year history of the Manchester Softball League (MSL).  He has had a significant impact in several volunteer roles, and has been League Head since 2009, during which time the league was awarded the League Glover Cup by the British Softball Federation for progressive development.  Harry has been a popular leader of the rapidly growing league.

In addition to his role as League Head, Harry collates statistics from every game and makes them available online within hours, a service hugely appreciated by players within the league.  Another of Harry's contributions is the weekly production of the MSL publication "Bases Loaded", formerly known as the MSL Review.  This high-quality publication is used in a variety of ways to celebrate league success, improve players' game knowledge and most importantly to promote a community feeling within the MSL.

Harry also played a key role in securing funding and overseeing the construction of the first purpose-built softball diamond in the North of England at Parrs Wood School and Sports Centre in Didsbury.  The diamond, which has a dirt infield and permanent outfield fence, has played a key role in attracting new players to the MSL, and the GB Slowpitch Team is planning to hold training sessions on the field.  Few volunteers in British softball have worked as hard or done as much over such a long period of time as Harry Somers, and his recent selection as an Olympic Torch Bearer is a well-earned reward.
 

BOB FROMER

See section at the end of this article.

 

Hall of Famers Inducted in 2010
 

Player

CHRIS BAYMAN

Chris started and remained a fixture in the London Ad League, but his talent level was far above that, and he became a key player for many years for the Slammers, a tournament team that grew from the Ad League.

Chris had amazing bat control and could spray hits to all fields, making him almost impossible to get out at times. He also made himself into a more than adequate defensive player at several positions, but his main ability was hitting for high average.  Chris also served briefly on the BSF Executive.
 

Coach

GARY CROCK

An outstanding player for many years after first coming to the UK from America, but with a unique background in slowpitch coaching, Gary led the Genies to the National Championship in 1995 as a player-coach.

But his greatest achievements came when he coached the GB Slowpitch Team to European Championships against the odds in 2002 and 2004, years when the GB Team was probably inferior to the Irish but still managed to beat them on both occasions.

After GB had lost twice -- and heavily -- to Ireland in the 2002 European Championships in Mlade Buky, Gary's masterful analysis of the Irish hitters on the eve of the final, leading to a plan executed brilliantly by GB pitcher (and Gary's successor as Head Coach) Mark Saunders, was the key to the GB triumph.
 

Administrators

ELISSA BAIRD

Elissa took over as Chair of the London Softball Federation in 1994 at a time when the LSF was still more important and influential than the emerging BSF, and guided the London Federation through four productive and formative years for softball, with a low-key common sense approach that served the sport well in a time of change.  Elissa was the recipient of the first-ever Glover Cup award in 1995.
 

CHRIS JANUARY

Chris was one of the founders of the London Surveyors League, which at one time was the second largest league in London, with close to 50 teams.  But perhaps more importantly, the Surveyors League under Chris' direction sowed the seeds for softball to spread from London to the rest of the country by leading expeditionary forces that resulted in Surveyors Leagues starting up in Leeds, Birmingham and elsewhere in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
 

RUSSELL PORTER

Back in 1986, softball was still a fledgling sport with little organisation outside a few established teams that played 'pick-up' games in London's Hyde Park and Regents Park.

Working for publishers William Collins (now HarperCollins), Russell Porter began his softball'career' by playing for the company team and helping to organise games against other teams.  After an enjoyable summer doing that, he became one of the founders of the London-based Publishers Softball League, which played its first League season in 1987.

Over the next two years Russell helped to establish the annual Horace Bent Tournament and in 1989 organised the first international Publishers Softball Game between a Publishers Softball League (PSL) All-Star team and a team of representative USA and Canadian publishers as part of the London Book Fair.  That summer, he led the PSL All-Stars as they entered the Greater London Softball Mixed League and was eventually invited to become Director of the GLSML.

During Russell's two years as Director (1988-90), the GLSML doubled in size, started a monthly newsletter, ran more tournaments and started a Weekend League.

Russell was an accomplished pitcher and continued playing for a number of teams in the PSL, the GLSML, the Weekend League and the Men's League.  But it was during his first tournament abroad, in Belgium, that he realised that club softball was the future of the game in the UK and in 1990 he focused his efforts into creating one of the very first softball clubs in the country, the Capital Softball Club.

For two years, under Russell's chairmanship, the Capital Softball Club made a considerable impact as it focused on playing at various invitational games and small tournaments around the country.  The club established itself at Rickmansworth, where it staged the first two-day tournament held in the UK, which also attracted teams from a number of US air bases.  The club took a team to Edinburgh to play at the first Festiball, played developing teams at Newcastle, entered the first tournaments held in Bristol and Bordon and in 1991 took 20 players to New York for a week's tour which involved games in Central Park and a tournament on Long Island.

The club also held the UK's first Indoor tournament during the off-season in 1991.

Through his league activity and the Capital Softball Club, Russell Porter's impact on the early development of softball in the UK was wide-ranging.
 

Development Workers

RICHARD ANDREWS

Richard was a PE teacher in Kent who loved baseball and softball and set up a very early softball development programme in the secondary school where he taught, as well as running an annual tournament involving a number of schools in the area.  That development programme produced a unique group of dedicated and talented players, many of whom are still involved at the highest levels of the game today, including Dan Spinks, Liz Keaveney, Kim Akehurst and Michael Lee, and led to the founding of the Pioneers as well as a softball league in Kent that no longer survives.
 

ALLAN MOLE

Men's fastpitch has always been a Cinderella sport in this country, but the fact that there was a Men's Fastpitch League throughout most of the 1990s, and a Meteors Men's Fastpitch Team that has always done well in Europe, was due in large part to Allan's dedicated work.

He was an early organiser for both the Meteors Softball Club and the Men's Fastpitch League as well as a player, and was determined to keep the format alive.  The more recent success of the GB Men's Team in qualifying for World Championships and achieving a ranking of eighth in the world (in 2009) has been built at least in part on Allan's efforts.