History of NAFA…How it all started…
The North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) annually hosts the largest men’s fastpitch softball tournament in the world. This incredible fastpitch organization was founded in Chicago in March of 1993 by Pat Bucknell, Jim Williamson, Loren Lathrop, Ronn Kopp, Roger Regez, Milt Waschow and Bill Musolf. It was founded by and for fastpitch players to serve the fastpitch community of North America.
NAFA is in every U.S. State that plays fastpitch, seven Canadian Provinces, and Mexico. In our World Series we have had players from all over the world including New Zealand, Argentina, Australia and Japan. NAFA World Series team participation has grown from 61 teams in 1993 to an expected record of over 250 teams this year. Our regular World Series have been held in Crystal Lake, IL, Salt Lake City, UT, Hutchinson, KS, Salem, OR, Albuquerque, NM, Fargo, ND, Eau Claire, WI, Des Moines, Iowa and Appleton-Kimberly, Wisconsin, Mankato, Minnesota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our Specialty World Series events for the “OPEN” Division is held annually in Middleton(Madison), Wisconsin at Bowling Green Sports Complex on the last weekend in July and our Masters East has also been held there and in Rockford, Illinois and (Middleton, Wisconsin) and our West Masters has been held in Carson City(Reno), Nevada and our AA-Major event has been held in Bay City, Michigan as well.
The NAFA World Series dates and locations are posted after October 15th each year on this website. We have the most extensive men’s fastpitch database in the world with over 2,700 teams. Our major sponsors are A.D Starr, DeMarini, Gamewearteamsports.com, Chappell Insurance and Delp’s Awards. We promote men’s fastpitch year round.
NAFA is an international organization run by fastpitch people to help all levels of men’s fastpitch teams and especially those teams at the A, A-Major, AA and AA-Major levels of play considered Intermediate and lower although in the past 3 years, NAFA has taken more of a leadership role in the Open Division to help keep that level alive which helps to foster the levels below that for continued success.
Our mission has always been to provide a set of rules to help the game and promote the sport.
Qualifying for the NAFA World Series
Over time we have adjusted our qualifying method to allow any team that plays in a sanctioned NAFA Tournament or League to attend the World Series in all states but Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan and California who have healthy grass roots programs, large state tournaments and have developed their own qualifying method. Any Team or Tournament Director can sanction a league or tournament with NAFA for $25. If no qualifier or league exists in your area (especially for Open, AAA, and AA-Major teams) they can receive a direct berth from the Executive Director through the President.
The organization is led by Executive Director Benjie Hedgecock, who assumed those duties September 1, 2003 from NAFA’s founders Pat Bucknell and Jim Williamson, who still both serve as Director’s Emeriti for NAFA. NAFA has a 13 person Executive Board and has State Directors in most states and Canada. Our International Umpire Staff is recognized as one of the best in the World. We work closely with the ASA, ISC and Softball Canada. See our Contact List of Directors for a contact in your area.
Today’s Challenges…Team Classification, etc.
The greatest challenge NAFA faces is the classification of teams. Fortunately we have had great success compared to other organizations in classifying teams with the help of our State Directors, our National Classification Committee and our Executive Board. Getting new players into the sport, having an aging sport and finding playing facilities for leagues & tournaments continue to be top challenges as well.
(which still ring true today are)
1. No Time Limit
2. No Tie Breaker
3. Use a real FP Ball
4. Have an enforceable pitching rule and don’t over-penalize for violating it
5. Play on real FP fields with homerun fences at proper distances
6. Provide an early method of qualifying for the World Series by allowing time to raise money and plan a quality trip.
7. Provide a unique 3 Game Guarantee Bracket so that teams could stay longer and enjoy the World Series.
8. Pick the best fields and cities for our teams to enjoy their event.