Mens Fastpitch Softball, What Happened To It??? Written By Troy Olson
I find it very amusing that I tell people I have a softball game and they naturally assume I am playing slow pitch softball. Did you know that there is actually Mens Fastpitch Softball in America? I happen to live in Wisconsin and we have a lot of Fastpitch Teams in our state, the league I play in is in a small town called Cushing. Our league is consistently between 8-12 teams per year, just depending on who is around for the summer. Most tournaments will once again draw 8-12 teams with several traveling from Minnesota to participate.
At one time Mens Fastpitch was a huge sport in this country, in the 60’s and 70’s it was at its peak. There was all kinds of hugely talented teams and of course the most famous of them all “The King and His Court.” So what happened to this one time flourishing sport?
In my opinion its a combination of several things, first was the evolution of slowpitch softball. Most people aren’t happy going 1 for 3 at the plate, jumping to slowpitch would allow even poor hitters to put the ball in play all the time. It also seems with no practice one can still compete in slowpitch. Lets be honest if you are going to be successful at Fastpitch you have to put time and practice, you just don’t pick up a bat and hit riseballs out of the park.
The second part of the equation is lack of homegrown pitching, this has really hurt our sport. Pitching in fastpitch softball takes a lot of time and effort to be good. Most of the great pitchers right now in the Mens game are from foreign countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico. Don’t get me wrong there are some real good pitchers from America but we just don’t seem to produce as many as other countries.
The third reason I feel our sport is declining is TIME. To play this game and be good, its going to take a little time. This game is different than baseball or slowpitch. It appears to me a lot of young guys aren’t patient enough to take the time to develop into great fastpitch players. Our society as a whole doesn’t seem to have a lot of free time, we are all busy with work, school, family, and dozens of other things.
One positive thing I have noticed is kind of a resurgence of interest in Mens Fastpitch Softball lately. It is starting to slowly turn around and I have even seen a few new teams sprouting up. I think some of this is the fact that there is an entire generation that has never seen Mens Fastpitch, with the raving success that the womens side has seen I think guys are starting to get the itch to try the sport. I hope that men can take a look at how the women have been able to promote their sport and with a little help maybe we can revive this wonderful game.