She keeps the lights on in Palm Springs for men’s fastpitch softball
By Bob Otto/Yucaipa, CA
(November 7, 2000)
A little smile creases the corner of her mouth when she talks about her players, her teams, and her tournaments. Her body language gives her away. She has a soft spot in her heart for men’s fastpitch softball.
Besides her love for the sport, Vicki Oltean is also one of those few people who put their leadership position, in position, to help the sport.
As the Park and Recreation Manager for the City of Palm Springs, Vicki has been conducting men’s fastpitch softball tournaments for as long as anyone in these parts can remember.
Originally, she teamed with Mary and John Courtney as a well-known fastpitch threesome who were keeping the game alive in the desert. But after the Courtneys left the area several years ago, Vickie became a solo act.
And because of her efforts, the sport refuses to gasp its last breath in this city of sunshine.
Where once countless men’s fastpitch softball tournaments flourished in the Inland Empire, a sparse few remain – Vicki’s Spring and Fall classics fall in that diehard club.
San Bernardino? Dead.
Lake Elsinore? Dead.
Fontana, Rialto, and even Victorville? All dead.
But not Palm Springs. It’s alive. And it’s well.
When March rolls around, Vicki kicks off the season with her Spring opener. And when the winds turn chilly in November, Vicki puts the sport to bed for the Winter. She is the opener and closer in these parts. No one disputes that.
But why, when most Park and Recreation Managers turn a cold cheek to men’s fastpitch softball, does she smile and say “welcome”?
Having been a former high school player helps, of course. But she openly admits she was no star. For her it’s a simple answer.
“I truly enjoy the game,” says Vicki. “I enjoy the players and teams and want them to have an opportunity to play. It’s getting harder for them to find places to play. When they come here I want them to get their games and their money’s worth.”
And that they do. Her tournaments come with at least a three-game guarantee and she says she strives to give them four.
But her softball resume doesn’t stop with her Spring and Fall Classics. She also has served four years as an ASA player representative, directed the 1994 Men’s Major ASA national tournament in Palm Springs – directing five national tournaments all totaled – including a boys 12-Under and 14-Under.
If that weren’t enough, she also hosts and directs ASA Alliance tournaments. Tournaments based on a points system which, when enough points are accumulated, earn a team a trip to a class B or C national tournament.
Through the years she’s seen countless players come and go. When pressed for a favorite, she hedges, but finally admits to one. “Eddie Alvarado of the Panteras (first baseman) always made it a point to come up to me and Mary and thank us for having the tournament,” says Vicki. “That makes it all worthwhile.”
When asked if she has any misgivings about the amount of work, the players, the scheduling, the hassles… “None,” she says with a decisive shake of her head.
Except for one minor inconvenience.
She admits to becoming a bit on edge late at night when extra inning games have extended the day. Fighting the city timer causes some concern.
“When it’s near two o’clock in the morning, I’m hoping for a double play,” she says with a laugh, “before the city turns the lights out on us.”
Thankfully, Vickie Oltean is keeping the lights on for men’s fastpitch softball in Palm Springs.
If you want to learn more about Vicki Oltean’s tournaments (and they do fill fast) you can reach her at her office: (760) 323-8277.