GBR

British Softball Federation

Name: c/o Baseball Softball UK

Address: Marathon House, 190 Great Dover Street

Zip Code: SE1 4YB

City: London

Country: GBR

bob.fromer@britishsoftball.org (Office)

s.gbr@wbsc.org (WBSC Official e-mail of the NF)

+44 2074537055 (Office)

+44 7837957562 (Office)

https://www.britishsoftball.org/


Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Instagram

Anthem

Founded 1988

History

Please find below the current Executive Committee of the British Softball Federation and their roles: Jenny Fromer - President | Laura Burkhardt - Treasurer | Bob Fromer - Administrator | Liz Graham - Competitions and Membership Officer | Alexis Markham-Hill - National Teams Officer | Chris Moon - Technical Officer | Mike Lott - Coaching Officer | Mike Jennings - General Officer | Stella Ackrell - General Officer | Steve Getraer - General Officer | Alan MacFarlane - London Liaison   History of the Federation: Baseball in Britain has roots that go back into the 19th century, and it is generally accepted that the game, rather than being "invented" by Abner Doubleday in the United States, actually grew out of English games including “ball and trap”, rounders and cricket. But softball has had a rather shorter history in the UK. In the late 1950s, a group of ex-pat Americans, many of them involved in the film industry, started a Sunday morning men's slowpitch pick-up game in Hyde Park in the centre of London.
 This game has gone on from now to the present day, but it was a fairly exclusive affair, so in 1972, two more Americans, Bob Fromer and Chris Rohmann, started a rival Sunday pick-up game in Regents Park, playing slowpitch or modified pitch.   The concept was the direct opposite of the Hyde Park game: a game open to everyone.  And though the Regents Park game again started mainly as a men’s ex-pat affair, it wasn't long before lots of British players -- including women and kids -- were taking part.  As a result softball -- the co-ed slowpitch variety – began to spread in London. By 1984, there were enough players meeting up every Sunday in Regents Park, and enough teams springing up around the capital, to need some organisation.  So at a meeting brokered by the British Baseball Federation, some of the leading lights among the softball teams got together and the South of England Softball Association (SESA) was born, along with a Men's and a Women's Slowpitch League. Don Porter of the International Softball Federation was quick to help the new organisation get off the ground, visiting London to lend his support and organising a tour to Britain by a TWA
Men’s All-Star Team in the summer of 1984 that played against local teams. During these years, there was also some fastpitch activity, again started mainly by ex-pats.  A small men’s fastpitch league existed for a few years in the 1970s, mainly on the South Coast and in the Midlands, and in the early 1980s, small women’s fastpitch leagues got off the ground both in London and in the North West, around Liverpool. In 1985, Britain saw its first international women’s fastpitch softball tournament, as the World Games was staged in London.  Softball, still in its pre-Olympic days, took part in the Games, and five countries -- the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Holland and Belgium -- sent teams to London to battle for the title.  It remains US legend Dot Richardson's first and last appearance on British soil! But the major growth in British softball wasn't in women's fastpitch or single-sex slowpitch: it came in co-ed slowpitch.  Suddenly, from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the game took off in London,
with hundreds of co-ed slowpitch teams, mainly corporate-based, being formed.  Softball was suddenly fashionable in London, and leagues sprang up in many professional industries: advertising, publishing, real estate, design, banking, the charity sector and the law.  Similar leagues soon took off in major cities around the country. To cope with all this required rather more in the way of governance, and so both a British and a London Softball Federation came into being in the late 1980s. While fastpitch remained a minority format in the UK during this period and ever since, struggling to find a place in a slowpitch-dominated country, it has to be recognised that co-ed slowpitch softball, which is 95% of the slowpitch played here, presents excellent opportunities for female players, and almost 47% of players registered to the British Softball Federation are women. The British Softball Federation has grown and developed over the years, receiving its first government funding in 1996, and working since then to develop fastpitch softball for women and men alongside co-ed slowpitch, and to put structures in place for youth and technical development.  With most of Europe dominated by the women's fastpitch format, Britain has worked hard to introduce and develop slowpitch in Europe and achieved a breakthrough when the European Softball Federation agreed to add a European Co-ed Slowpitch Championship to its tournament schedule.  Britain hosted the first European Co-ed Slowpitch Championship in 1998, with four teams taking part.  The tournament has now been held on 12 occasions on a biennial basis, with as many as 11 countries competing.  Another sign that slowpitch was gaining ground on the European mainland came in 2007, when a European Co-ed Slowpitch Cup for club teams began.  This later moved from an annual European Cup to a biennial European Slowpitch Super Cup, and 16 club teams took part in most recent tournament in 2018. Britain remains the leading slowpitch country in Europe, having won the European Co-ed Championship on 11 of the 12 occasions the competition has been played, and Great Britain also won the inaugural European Men’s Slowpitch Championship played in 2018.  But continental teams have been somewhat more successful in the European Slowpitch Cup and Super Cup, with British teams winning only six of the nine competitions held to date. ISF President Don Porter attended the first European Co-ed Slowpitch Championship in London in 1998 and pledged that the ISF would re-instate a World Slowpitch event in the near future.  The World Slowpitch Cup held in Plant City in 2002, and repeated in 2005, was the fruit of that pledge.   Almost a decade followed without a Slowpitch World Cup, but the competition resumed on an annual basis in Plant City, Florida in 2014, and there are plans for the WBSC to introduce a Co-ed Slowpitch World Cup competition, played by national teams made up of passport-holders, in 2021. In 2000, the British Softball Federation took a fairly momentous step, combining with the British Baseball Federation (with support from Major League Baseball) to create a joint Managing Agency for the two sports called BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK).  This agency originally handled administration, finance, game development, communications, business development and some aspects of national team administration for both sports, but since 2007 has concentrated mainly on grassroots player development, including a girls’ fastpitch development programme that ran from 2002 to 2005 and again from 2016 to the present day and has led to our current structure of national youth fastpitch teams plus an off-season Academy (open to all players between the ages of 10 and 25) and a High Performance Academy (open to selected female athletes aged 14-21). In 2019, British softball had over 300 adult co-ed slowpitch teams in more than 20 leagues in cities around England, Scotland and Wales affiliated to the Federation, and there are perhaps another 200 teams in BaseballSoftballUK development leagues and projects.  There was a seven-team Great Britain Fastpitch League with women’s and men’s divisions, and a network of youth leagues and programmes, bringing a growing number of children into contact with both formats of the sport. Sadly, no organised softball play took place in the UK in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As far as national teams are concerned, the GB Co-ed and Men’s Slowpitch Teams are currently ranked first in Europe.  The GB Women's Fastpitch Team is ranked third in Europe and has played in every World Championship since 2006, finishing 11th in the latest edition in Japan in 2018, and then reached the final of the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2019 for Tokyo 2020.  The GB Men's Fastpitch team is now ranked #4 in Europe and #18 in the world.   GB Under-22, Under-19, Under-16 and Under-13 Women’s or Girls’ Fastpitch Teams have competed successfully in European Championships – though most of these age categories have now changed -- and the GB Under-19 Women won the European Junior Championship in 2016 in St Boi, Spain, marking GB’s first-ever European fastpitch gold medal.   Currently, the GB Women’s Fastpitch programme across all age categories is ranked #4 in Europe. A GB Under-16 Women’s Fastpitch Team took part in the Junior World Cup in Plant City in 2001 and 2005 and a GB Under-19 Men’s Fastpitch Team was revived in 2011 and has competed in European Championships ever since.  A GB Under-23 Men’s Fastpitch Team will compete internationally for the first time in 2021. So British Softball has come a long way from those ex-pat pick-up games in London parks.  Slowpitch is still the dominant game in Britain, and we are proud to have played our part in bringing the European Slowpitch Championship and the Slowpitch World Cup into being.  But our fastpitch teams have done increasingly well on the world stage since 2001 and our fastpitch development programmes are growing.

GOVERNANCE

JENNY FROMER

PRESIDENT

GBR

BOB FROMER

SECRETARY GENERAL

GBR

LAURA BURKHARDT

TREASURER

GBR

LIZ GRAHAM

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Alexis Markham-Hill

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Chris Moon

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Mike Lott

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Mike Jennings

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Stella Ackrell

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Steve Getraer

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR

Ieuan Gale

MEMBER AT LARGE

GBR