Fastpitch West is an online publication, produced by Jim Flanagan in Southern California. The publication of FastpitchWest began in 1998, with the hope of helping to promote the game, teams and players of fastpitch, particularly those in Southern California and the West. In doing so, we pay appropriate homage to some of the people who have been, for the longest time, the “keepers of the flame”, ensuring that we in the world of fastpitch get our requisite dose of information about the exploits of our favorite players and teams: the late Ray Anderson, whose “Fastpitch Bulletins” still occupy an honored corner of my garage, and his top writer, the late Betty Stout who covered the game for years during the 1970’s and ’80’s. Bob Tomlinson, picked up the torch, and published the Fastpitch Chronicle serving as the “bible” of information for fastpitch for years.
Many times, I have had people ask or write to find out what is happening with fastpitch “out West”. We hope Fastpitch West will answer some of those questions. We hope that you find it to be informative and enjoyable. (Kind of like a good letter from Wayne Fisher)
We in Southern California — and here at Fastpitch West have been fortunate to have people helping to promote the game like fastpitch writer/photographer Bob Otto and Maddy Flanbagan.
Bob’s days as a fastpitch pitcher helps him capture the game of today with a great sense of observation, sharp wit, and keen sense of humor. Like the late-great L.A. Times sportswriter Jim Murray, Bob Otto helps us see a little deeper into the people that he writes about, so that we have a better sense of who they are when we look across the diamond at them, or down from the bleachers. We are pleased to feature, from time to time, Bob’s work at his own blog, “Otto in Focus” and provides many of the photos posted here, taken with that well-travelled 300 mm lense of his.
Maddy Flanagan has established herself at a leading photographer of men’s fastpitch, with more than 15,000 photos from the past decade featured at her popular site, “Maddy’s Photos”. Maddy’s work has graced many a page here at Fastpitch West, for the enjoyment of the games many fans.
The Internet has opened a door for the sport of fastpitch to reach a greater number of people, and to promote the game, no matter the geography. No longer do we need to beg for space in the local newspapers, often so hard to come by. While not everyone has a computer, or access to the internet, computers, web-sites, and email are becoming more commonplace, especially at our jobs, giving us a network that ties our community together. No longer do tournament directors have to mail out flyers or spend hours on the phone, waiting and wondering… they can promote their events online, or email hundreds of people in an instant. Al Doran is pioneering the use of the Internet technology with his daily missives via email to over 1,200 people, and growing. His companion website, Al’s Fastball is among the most frequently visited sites in the nation. When Al traveled to the ISC World Tournament, he brought us all along, by posting emails with details of every single game. Al Doran’s archive of the day’s emails from all around the world have become the “Holy Grail” of Men’s Fastpitch, , or “Fastball” as our Canadian brethren call the game.
When Fastpitch West first went online in 1998, fastpitch pitcher and internet aficionado, the late David Blackburn talked of the day when we might be able to listen to World or National tournament games via Real Audio over the net. In 2001, he and broadcast partner Ron Chambers made that dream a reality, giving thousands of fastpitch fans ’round the world to listen in to fastpitch games being broadcast on the internet.
Now, the advent of “streaming video” is upon us, and who knows what the next generation of technology will bring. If it seems at times that the doors to television have not been open to fastpitch, the coming era of “Webcast” games may make the point moot. How fortunate we are to be able to witness this rapid development. At the heart of it all, is the Internet, which ties our community together.
It is especially encouraging to me to see players and fans of all ages logging on. If anyone has the impression that it is just the younger generation logging on, our emails would tell you otherwise. The window to our game is wide open — and not just to the people who now play the game. Fastpitch can benefit from this connection we all now have, if we are open to its possibilities, which are endless.
We encourage you to share your favorite fastpitch websites with your friends. Let people like Al Doran, Bob Tomlinson, Iren Hodge, and David Blackburn know that you appreciate their efforts to keep us informed. Appreciate the efforts of pioneers and organizers of the game like Pat Bucknell and Jim Williamson of NAFA, Ken Hackmeister of the ISC who make it all possible for the rest of us. In Southern California, Chuck Vranich who toiled for a decade at the helm of the SCFA in Southern California, providing the leadership needed, passing the torch to Robert Hernandez, who ran the Alliance and SCIFL for many years, recently passing the torch to Jesse Ortiz. In Central California, it was Dick Grove and Iren Hodge who ran California’s top fastpitch league, the CCASA. Further north, Bob Chapel puts his heart and soul into the Western Fastpitch league. New fastpitch websites are springing up as fast as you can say “Google”.
While nothing will ever replace the thrill and enjoyment of seeing a fastpitch game in person, the Internet does give us an opportunity to more closely follow our favorite teams, wherever they may be, or learn about the people that make up our sport. The Internet is no longer just for “techies”, but offers each of us a wider and wider reaching view of the world of fastpitch. Instead of waiting days or weeks for results of tournaments, including the ISC World, NAFA World Series and ASA National tourneys, we are but a click or two away from getting all the details of the games of that very day. Digital photography has opened the window wider still, allowing fastpitch players and fans to get a close up look at games being played across the state, across the nation, or even across “the pond”.
Our goal here at Fastpitch West is to provide you with news and information about your favorite teams and players, to help you get to know them a bit better, to publicize tournaments and other games, and give you a place to find out the latest results. We strive to provide a familiar place for members of the fastpitch community to get together and take in “the game”.
As we head into the new season — and this next millenium, we look forward to FASTPITCH played and watched with passion, and with love of the game. Above all, we enjoy the game — for what it is — the finest amateur sport around.
Editor, Fastpitch West