Locals celebrate fast-pitch softball as part of Valley history series Saturday, Feb. 25

Contributed Article

The local popularity and global success of Central Valley men’s fast-pitch softball teams during the 1940s through the 1970s will be highlighted in a special talk on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Old Grangeville Church in Hanford.

Dan Ramirez, president of the Central California Fast Pitch Softball Legacy Project and the evening’s speaker, said his presentation will focus on teams from Taft to Fresno. Most Valley towns had at least one competitive men’s fast-pitch softball team when the sport was at the height of its popularity, he said, with four--one from Taft, one from Hanford, and two from Fresno--winning world championships.

“The teams represented the diversity of our population,” said Ramirez, explaining that players came from all racial, ethnic, and economic groups. “They just loved the game.”

Bruce Bentley, board president of the Kings County Historical Society, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Carnegie Museum of Kings County, said the Valley’s fast-pitch softball teams enjoyed enthusiastic public support.

“Before the times of around-the-clock sports TV coverage, people would flock to the arenas and fields to root for their favorite sports teams and fast-pitch softball was an area favorite,” he said. “One exhibition game played inside a modified Neighbor Field, drew over 3,000 attendees when Hanford’s population was under 5000!” 

In addition to sharing stories about the fast-pitch softball teams and their many successes in his talk, Ramirez, who played for the Dinuba Condors from 1963-1970, will introduce a few fellow former players.

“Co-hosting this lecture with the Kings County Historical Society is just one method the Carnegie Museum of Kings County uses to provide people with the opportunity to learn about an important, but largely forgotten, part of our communities’ sports history,” said Jack Schwartz, the Carnegie Museum’s president.

Ramirez’s presentation is part of a monthly Valley History Talks series developed by the Kings County Historical Society. January’s event featured a presentation on Hanford’s historic China Alley by local historians Arianne Wing and Steve Banister. Future talks will highlight the history and culture of the Tachi-Yokut tribe, Aileen Apperson’s book “The Pattern of the Land” and local veterans.

The Old Grangeville Church is located at 14060 Hackett St., Hanford. The social hall opens on Saturday at 5 p.m. and for an optional $10 per plate dinner that includes tacos, rice, beans, and a salad. Ramirez’s talk will begin at 6 p.m. in the adjacent old church. Admission is free but there is a suggested donation of $5 to support the Kings County Historical Society’s efforts to maintain and restore the historic church building.


Comments powered by Disqus