Mens Fastpitch Softball, What Happened To It???

Mens Fastpitch Softball, What Happened To It???

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.

Troy OlsonTroy Olson has been playing mens fastpitch since he was 11. He grew up in a family of fastpitch players. His dad had 7 brothers and a cousin that made up their team in the 70's and 80's. This is his 30th year of playing this wonderful game. He helps coach a 16u team and is a member of their softball board. He has played in three National Tournaments over the years. His team the Siren Steel had his Dad playing 3rd, his cousin played SS, his brother played 2nd, his uncle pitched, and a couple cousins played outfield, and Troy played 1st. It was an awesome experience getting to play with his Dad.

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  • AndyWilliams1

    I, too, grew up watching Men’s FP softball in the 70’s…lots of teams, lots of great players. In addition to what Troy has stated, I see two other glaring issues that have contributed to the demise of the Men’s FP game.

    1. The rise of year round travel baseball. When I was young, the guys played baseball in the spring, then FP softball in the summer. It helped them develop a shorter compact swing and put the ball in play. Now the baseball players are playing baseball year round. 

    2. The lack of development of young pitchers. FP is a pitching dominated sport. Without enough pitchers, its hard to field teams. In most of the leagues, which are few and far between in my neighborhood, the pitchers are almost all in their 40s and 50s. Not enough young guys learning how to pitch FP softball to keep it going.

  • wanderoos

    I agree with everything, but I do think an additional reason for some is that young pitchers never really got a fair shot to pitch on some teams as the older pitchers weren’t always willing to step aside and give a younger pitcher a chance to pitch in league or tourney’s or even give advice on how to throw a pitch better.  At least that was my experience at times growing up in Wanderoos.

  • As an avid Fastball player and have been for  about 40 years I also am lamenting the decline of the Men’s game.  Playing in an open  league with ISC rules is fun and super competitive.  The flip side is no one wants to try and hit the pitching.  The one thing we have to take some blame for is the pitching rules.  We have let them basically disappear and as long as you don’t throw over hand it is legal.  We need to make the rules the same for all levels and stick with it.  Having a pitcher hop and land with his back foot land outside the circle is a bit circus like.  I have played in a league where you need both feet on the rubber to start.  This is great as the games are more like 8-7 as opposed to 1-0 and 20+ K’s  
     Another thing we should incorporate is bat the whole line up as it takes nothing away from the competitiveness and more are involved in the game. 
    Having played a lot of baseball as well, Fast pitch softball is a lot harder to hit and very rewarding when you do.

  • catcher05

    i myself played fastpitch softball since i was 18 years old and we had a real good bunch of teams i have to state i,m from green bay wis i played twice a  week and in excellant tournaments every week-end then we took our team down to kaukauna to the classic league it was a fun few years until the bigger sponsored teams starting bringing these pitchers in from over the pond then it was getting sad you couldn,t win the big teams were dominating in the following years meeting we brought up we thought this was amateur softball but now your paying pitchers and some players  and that,s why you lost fastpitch softball because of this    the guys just got pissed off andthe leagues went down the drain you can thak your big sponsors for ruining fastpitch softball in wisconsin it was a greed to win at a costly price good luck tom anderson