Don Porter, international softball leader, past WBSC co-President dies at 90

Don Porter, international softball leader, past WBSC co-President dies at 90
08/06/2020
Porter served as president of the International Softball Federation (ISF) for 26 years and played a pivotal role in softball’s debut on the Olympic Programme at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He was also Co-President, together with Riccardo Fraccari, helping to establish the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) in 2013.

Former International Softball Federation (ISF) President and World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Co-President Don Porter passed away on Sunday, 7 June, in his hometown of Oklahoma City (OK), USA. He was 90 years old.

“The WBSC and the entire softball community mourn the loss of Don Porter, the main architect of the internationalization of softball,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “Through his vision, efforts and decades of service, softball became an Olympic sport for the first time in 1996.

"Our long lasting friendship is full of special memories. He helped to establish, build and name the WBSC. He will be remembered forever as one of the most influential leaders in the history of the sport of softball, which is now played in over 130 countries around the world. In fact, he launched ‘World Softball Day' in 2005 and it’s celebrated every year on June 13th. Softball would not be returning to next year’s Olympic Games without the life and work of Don Porter.

"We send our deepest condolences to his wife Jean, Don's family and loved ones."

“Softball is saddened by the passing of Mr. Porter, a man who dedicated his life to globalising and growing our beloved sport,” said WBSC Softball Chairman Tommy Velazquez. “He inspired all of us with his leadership, perseverance, courage and vision, and he gave us the opportunity to follow the path he created. He will be sorely missed by the softball community, and his legacy in the sport of softball will continue to burn bright and touch millions of softball players and many future generations. Modern softball history is directly linked with the name of Don Porter, the most important softball leader ever, alongside the inventor and early developer of the game, George Hancock.”

In 2017, in front of the full WBSC General Assembly in Gaborone, Botswana, Porter was awarded the Collar of Honour, WBSC’s highest recognition of people who contributed to the foundation of the WBSC and its success.

In 1962, in his role of Amateur Softball Association (ASA) executive director, Porter helped conceptualize and launch the first-ever Softball World Championship in 1965, where he was elected ISF Secretary General.

From 1968 Porter was tireless in trying for softball's inclusion in the Olympic Games when in 1991 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed softball as an official sport at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Softball remained part of the Olympic program until Beijing 2008.

After failing twice to reinstate the sport in the Olympic program, Porter played a leadership role in 2013 in the merger of the ISF and International Baseball Federation (IBAF), giving birth to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), acting as co-president of the new world governing body until 2014.


Donald Emmett Porter was born on 18 May 1930. He married his wife Jean in 1949. They had three children.

Porter served as the ASA Executive Director (1963-1997), as the ISF Secretary General (1965-1987) and as the ISF President (1987-2013).

He was also on the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors from 1968 to 1988 and was one of the founding members and the first Secretary General of the World Games.

Porter also served six terms on the Executive Council of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF; 1984-2006). He was also on the Executive Council of the Association of Summer Olympic Sports Federation (ASOIF) and appointed twice (1994, 1997) to the IOC Press Commission. He was awarded the Olympic Order in 1997.