Momentum building for the ISC World Tournament, thanks in large part to the Booster Club

From Bob Otto’s “OttoinFocus” blog:

Written by Bob on March 23rd, 2010

“…the World Tournament is more than just a softball tournament; it’s a community event that will impact various parts of our area…” –
Kyle Beane, president of Midland Explorers Booster Club

MIDLAND, MI – One man with one good idea can bring about profound change.

Lefty Bartos is one such man. In February 1986 Bartos conceived the idea to form a booster club to help support major men’s fastpitch softball in Midland.

And from his idea sprang the Midland Explorers Booster Club. The club recently celebrated its 24th year of existence. And it’s still going strong.

Lefty has retired after many years of service to the club. But he hasn’t been forgotten.

“I’m not sure who was on the original committee that began the process, but Lefty was the driving force behind it,” said Kyle Beane, president of the Booster Club. “It was created to help support a major men’s fastpitch team in Midland that would carry on the tradition of Midland McArdles, Valley Mechanical, and the Dow AC’s.

“But without Lefty there would be no Explorers.”

The Explorers travel throughout the U.S. and Canada competing in major men’s tournaments. Much of the team’s operating expense is paid for through the fundraising efforts of the Booster Club and its legion of about 75 faithful boosters.

“We sponsor the team,” said Booster Club treasurer, Sam Dewald. “It doesn’t mean we pay every bill. The players have to dip into their own pockets for some of the expense.”
But the Boosters ease the dipping pain by paying for motel rooms, tournament entry fees, and uniforms. But the club does much more.

“The club also organizes the team’s season, runs the Boulevard Lounge tournament, and supports activities such as the Lady Explorers fastpitch team, and other youth softball activities,” Beane said, adding that the club is a (non-profit) 501c3 organization.

“And the club has supported the Vassar / Reese developmental league that focuses on bringing young men into fastpitch. And for the past two years, we’ve had a Special Olympics / Explorers exhibition game during the Boulevard Lounge tournament, which has carried over to the Special Olympics / ISC exhibition game during the World Tournament.”


The Booster Club is comprised of Beane and Dewald, vice president Steve Horning, secretary Ellen Beane, and board members Clint Beane, Dave Lach, Scott Stasik, Bob Waite, and Don Walter. Along with past presidents such as Jeff Servinski and Lee Isenhart.

Without the Booster Club fastpitch life would go on in Midland, Kyle Beane said. There’s still a solid base of teams playing the sport. And Emerson Park stays busy throughout the summer hosting men’s fastpitch tournaments for all levels of play.

But would the Explorers still be around without the Booster Club?


Maybe, maybe not. But one fact stands out. With the Farm Tavern of Madison, Wisconsin recently calling it quits, the Explorers are now the longest running team in major men’s fastpitch, Beane said. 2010 will mark their 25th anniversary.

Over the past two years, the Booster Club has become increasingly busier since Kyle Beane and Dave Lach undertook an effort to bring the 2010 ISC World Tournament to Midland.

The Booster Club serves as the tournament’s host committee, with Beane and Lach serving as Co-chairmen. There’s much work to be done before the 48 World Tournament teams descend upon Midland August 14-21. And along with the teams, will follow thousands of fans who will fill Currie Stadium to see the best fastpitch softball in the world.

Although it’s been a challenging undertaking, the work is coming along just fine, said Dewald.

“I can’t begin to tell you how many hours the host committee and the volunteers have worked,” he said. “There’s been an awful lot of effort and we have progressed exceptionally well. I’d say we’re ahead of schedule.”


The excitement and the anticipation is building for the 63rd coming of the World Tournament to Midland, a city of 42,000 located in the central part of the state. On the streets and in restaurants and local businesses, people are talking about the tournament. Support has been high.

“We’ve had great support from the community embracing our efforts,” Kyle Beane said. “One of the things we focused on when talking to our partners was that the World Tournament is more than just a softball tournament; it’s a community event that will impact various parts of our area.

“The World Tournament is a tourist event – people from all over the world will be coming to Midland. It will have an economic impact. It continues a long-standing tradition of sporting excellence in Midland. Momentum has really started building toward this August.”

For more fastpitch news, visit these websites:

Al’s Fastball
Fastpitch West
International Softball Congress
North American Fastpitch Association
2010 ISC World Tournament, Midland, Mich.

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