Steve Schott, who grew up in Kelso where he still lives, will throw out the first pitch of the 29th annual Kelso Klassic men’s fastpitch softball tournament Friday in recognition of his upcoming induction into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame.
The 29th annual Kelso Klassic men’s fastpitch softball tournament that begins Friday will take on a celebratory vibe.
Steve Schott, who grew up in Kelso and still lives there, established himself as one of the sport’s legendary players during a lengthy career that saw him compete at a high level for some of the world’s premier teams.
It recently was announced Schott will be inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame during an August ceremony at the ISC World Tournament in Quad Cities, Iowa.
In recognition of Schott’s induction, he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch of this year’s Kelso Klassic, an ISC World Tournament qualifier. The tournament kicks off with games at 8 p.m. Friday at Kelso City Park.
“We just wanted to take the time to honor Steve’s accomplishments in the game of fastpitch and his induction into the Hall of Fame,” Kelso Klassic media coordinator Jerry Wolsey said. “The induction will forever recognize him as one of the best fastpitch players in the world. The ISC is the top level for fastpich. If you make that Hall of Fame, you’re one of the best.”
The 48-year-old Schott, a former standout baseball player at Notre Dame Regional High School, said he is humbled by all the recognition and looking forward to being honored in his home town.
“I’m just glad those guys really thought about me. It’s where it all started. I played many games on that field,” said Schott, the MVP on Notre Dame’s 1983 state championship baseball team. “That’s [the ISC Hall of Fame] a tough one to get into. That’s with players all over the U.S, Canada, New Zealand. … that’s a big honor. It was a long road getting there.”
Schott said he became hooked on fastpitch softball at an early age. Not only was Kelso a hotbed for the sport but his father, A.J., was also heavily involved.
“Back when dad played around here, every town had a team. Softball was a big, big deal around here back in those days. I’m sure that’s what got me into it,” Schott said. “Pretty well everybody in my family. … my mom played, my sister, my brother played. We grew up with it from day one.”
Schott began playing for local fastpitch teams at age 15 and by the mid-1980s he was being asked to compete for elite squads during weekend tournaments.
Steve Schott enjoyed a 20-year career playing fastpitch softball, including three years with the USA national team.
(Special to the Missourian)
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Schott, primarily an outfielder, wound up having a 20-year career playing for elite teams, which led to him participating in tournaments throughout America, Canada and New Zealand.
He was selected to the ISC All-World Team four times, played on six ISC World Champion squads, is a 10-time ASA All-American and is a three-time member of the USA Softball Team. He was inducted into the Missouri ASA Hall of Fame in 2010.
“It was a great ride,” he said.
Not only has playing elite-level fastpitch softball allowed Schott to travel the world and make countless lifelong friends, it also allowed him to supplement his regular income since top players are routinely paid quite well.
“We did make a little money playing and as far as travel, teams took care of everything. You really had no expenses,” he said. “Friends … absolutely. I could probably go to just about any state around here, Canada, New Zealand, and find some people I know. Softball is that kind of sport. It’s really neat.”
Schott, who works for Kelso Supply, said he stopped playing elite-level softball “about 10 years ago” and this year hung up his uniform for good.
“I played a little bit last year [locally], but at my age, after all the years I played, everything on me is sore,” he said with a laugh.