Seventy-five years strong. Traditional wedding terms identify that particular milestone as the "diamond anniversary." It just so happens the definition could not be a more perfect fit for the Oklahoma City-based Amateur Softball Association's current celebration, as 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of the organization's, well, organization.
The ASA " the national governing body for softball in the United States " was initially little more than an ambitious dream destined for the strikeout pile thanks to its seemingly ill-timed introduction. But the brainchild of Leo Fischer and M.J. Pauley instead became a reality in the summer of 1933 " smack-dab in the middle of the Great Depression " and the rest, as they say, is softball history.
Today, the ASA boasts a membership of more than 4 million people and 250,000 teams across the country. The organization has long been recognized as a driving force that has helped popularize the game of softball to the point where it is now recognized as an Olympic sport.
NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING
Later this year, the ASA will hold its national council meeting in downtown OKC, where more than 1,200 kindred spirits involved in the organization's network of 83 local associations nationwide will converge to celebrate its diamond anniversary.
"This is a historic time for the Amateur Softball Association," said Bill Plummer III, manager for the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. "Any time an organization reaches this sort of milestone, it's pretty special."
To help commemorate the landmark achievement, the organization will release a book " authored by Plummer " called "The Game America Plays," which offers a retrospective look at the ASA's 75-year history. The hardcover edition, complete with more than 150 pictures and an inside look at Fischer and Pauley's vision, is set for an October release.
"Basically, it's a historical look at the Amateur Softball Association from its inception all the way up to this year," said Plummer, who moved to Oklahoma when he became a part of ASA team as communications director in 1979. "The book is a great way to help commemorate what is obviously a significant date in ASA's history. To go back over 75 years has been quite an undertaking, but it's been a fun project and a real team effort."
He said the book is "full of a lot of great information, looking at how the ASA started and where it came from. Readers will be able to relive a lot of great moments in ASA history through tons of in-depth stories and rare photos."
Plummer has been involved in the sport for more than 40 years and part of a dozen book projects on softball, although this is the first he has solely authored. Elected to the ASA Hall of Fame in 1999 for meritorious service, the Syracuse, N.Y., native has played a key role in helping softball garner more national and local media attention.
"Bill is our in-house historian, and he's put a lot of time, effort and energy into the research and documenting of this book," said Kelly McKeown, director of marketing for ASA and USA Softball. "Bill was the natural choice to head this project because there is really no one else who could tell the ASA story like his background and knowledge allow him to. He's done a great job of piecing it all together and we feel the book is something we can all be proud of at the Amateur Softball Association." " Jay C. Upchurch