Austrian Baseball Softball Federation celebrates 40 year anniversary

Austrian Baseball Softball Federation celebrates 40 year anniversary
National Federation President Rainer Husty remembered the early days: "We started without equipment, playing in parks. We can be proud of what we built."

The Austrian Baseball Softball Federation (ABF) celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday at the Courtyard by Marriott, just "a ball's throw away" from the National Team home in Vienna.

In his opening speech, Rainer Husty, who has served as president since 2007, remembered the early days of baseball/softball in Austria: "In 1984, we used to play in the Danube or the Prater parks. We didn't have regular fields or equipment. Today, we can look with pride at what we built."

Husty addressed those who shared 40 years of history with him: "We made it with you, and it was possible thanks to you. What makes me proud is that I can still see the light in the eyes of our officers and executives every day. They still have enthusiasm for the game and mean to pass all this to the younger generations."

When ABF was founded on 26 January 1984, Heinz Plesnitzer was elected president. He would serve until 1987.

Plesnitzer explained how he got involved in baseball: "I was jogging at the Prater and saw a few boys playing baseball. I played with them and was immediately fascinated."

He did more than play. He met the mayor of Vienna, Helmut Zilk, to convince him that Vienna needed a baseball field. Zilk first sent him to the Ministry of Sport. He was later named Minister.

"I explained baseball to him with a pen and a piece of paper," recalled Plesnitzer. "I don't get all the credit for what we celebrate here. I was just the first."

Walter Herzog, an ABF founding member, remembered Marlene Campbell, who served as the president from 1987 to 2003 and passed away in 2019.

Sports Executive Philipp Trattner attended on behalf of Sports Minister Werner Kogler and honoured Husty and Herzog for their services to Austrian baseball and softball.

WBSC Executive Director Michael Schmidt and WBSC Europe President Kruno Karin attended the celebration.

The gala dinner welcomed 150 guests, including baseball national team top pitcher Christian Tomsich and softball legend Cornelia Chwojka. Tomsich, a senior at Winthrop University, flew in from the United States.

"Everybody agreed," stated the ABF official website, "the evening was a hit."