WBSC Headquarters: Next chapter of international softball's amazing journey starts in Switzerland

WBSC Headquarters: Next chapter of international softball's amazing journey starts in Switzerland
16/07/2020
The International Softball Federation dates back to 1950 with its headquarters always on USA soil.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) last week opened its new headquarters in Pully, Switzerland. This article gives a historic account of where international softball has been based since the birth of its governing body.

While the International Softball Federation (ISF) opened an office in the Olympic Capital Lausanne to support the BackSoftball Campaign in 2008 and 2009, its headquarters have always been located in the US.

The ISF was conceived by Nick Barack, the President of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA, now USA Softball) during the 1950 Commissioner's Council meeting. At the time 250,000 softball teams were active in the US and Canada, with players registration approaching one million.

"Approval was received so that we may now organize National Federations in various countries," wrote Barack to ASA Commissioners. "From these National Federations will come an International Softball Federation which will be the representative body of Nations in the Olympic and Pan American competition."

Barack became in 1952 the interim President of an International Federation that counted as members the ASA, the Canadian Softball Association and the Confederation Deportiva Mexicana. Japan joined soon after and Australia became a member in 1953.

The ISF was merely an office in the ASA headquarters in New Jersey when Don Porter joined the organization as an assistant to Executive Director Gene Martin in 1962.

Porter took the Executive Director's job after Martin passed away three months later. During the ASA National Championship 1963 in Standford, Connecticut, Porter met the Vice President of the Japan Softball Association Jiro Iwano and three representatives of the Australian Women's Softball Council: Merle Short, Esther Deason and Marjorie Dwyer. Australia had discussed with South African Softball President Jan Crafford the idea of a Women's World Championship.

Australia eventually hosted the first Women's Softball World Championship in 1965 in Melbourne. Before the tournament, the ISF elected its first Board of Directors. Bill Kethan was the first President and Porter the first Secretary-General. One of the first acts by the new board was handing the hosting rights of the Men's Softball World Championship to Mexico.

The first Men's World Championship was played in 1966. The ASA and the ISF moved their headquarters to Oklahoma City the same year.

The ISF wouldn't have its own headquarters until 2000, when the body moved to Plant City, Florida. By that time, Porter had become the president of the organization. His tenure as the ASA Executive Director had ended in 1997.

The ISF entered the third millenium celebrating the 100th member federation.

After the merger between the ISF and IBAF in 2013, the WBSC Softball Division headquarters were in Plant City until the end of 2019.

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