Written by the league founder, Don Welsh, on July 25, 2009.
The early years of the softball league were influenced usually in an unspoken way by the HIV epidemic around us. I moved to Phoenix from Toronto in 1992 because of the large Indian hospital here, as my partner was of Hidatsu/Sioux heritage and thereby eligible for care and was fairly ill. I spent both the 1992 and 1993 Christmases at that hospital, looking out at the Madison softball fields given the hospitals proximity to Madison park. Doing preparation on starting a primarily gay and lesbian softball league got me out of the house and away from the desperation of IVs and my partners condition. At that time, our LGBT community was gripped with deep and repeated sadness, so Sunday morning softball was a huge release and healthier than all-night partying. At the time, Phoenix only had rodeo and bowling organizations.
League Founder: Don Welsh
In the summer and fall of 1992, i was able to connect with guys and gals who played softball. The women used to have a league at that played at Pierce park, but since had discontinued. Much of the recruiting for this new league occurred at Winks, Nutowne, Nasty Habits, the Biz, Country Club, Body Positive, and LBGT doctor offices throughout the valley.
Privacy was extremely important issue, as being 'outed' as gay or lesbian could cause loss of a job. Unfortunately this is still true for our teachers, policemen, dentists, high level government employees, etc. Over the years, we have had a couple people lose their jobs through 'identification' as a gay person which depending on the profession is still legal ground for dismissal in Arizona.
So early in 1993, I had about 188 names and phone numbers of people interested in softball and we had our first mass practices. Through a controlled draft, based on observed skills, we formed 5 initial teams: 4 open (men's) teams and 1 women's team. There was overall parity to this new league as people met and had a great time. The banquet for closing ceremonies was held at the Biz. All the other teams in the league were sponsored by Winks, Charlies, Bell Pest Control, and Golden Eight-Ball Pool Hall.
For the 1994 season, we opened up player recruitment with our first World Series in mind, meaning coaches were allowed to try and beef-up rosters freely to be as competitive as possible. We ended up with a very competitive C team, two regular C teams, and three newer D teams. The league sent our first two teams to a World Series, held in Nashville, TN, where we won enough games to attract national attention. The women refocused on having their own division, which took a couple more years to realize. While some of the women players participated on co-rec teams to help recruit, our 'secretly gay' teams entered city leagues as well. This resulted in many players getting better and better, and soon were winning games against other local straight teams. Now days, our A teams regularly win straight tournaments including tournaments played at Victory Lane.
The initial league leaders developed a more laid back leadership style and attempted to avoid having other topics like politics, publicity, and sponsorship interfere with the game compared to other cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. We placed great emphasis on developing good and open relationships with parks districts, and attracted the best umpires with higher fees paid on time.
The league has prided ourselves on running our league finances in the black, by giving everything we earn back to our membership. The Saguaro cup tournament has traditionally provided thousands of dollars in net profits for our traveling championship teams and World Series entering teams. For example, in 2008 and 2009, every World Series bound team was given $2,000 to attend the tournament.
Mark Hoover assisted mightily with helping the league become 501c3 and writing our constitution and bylaws. Bill Boydell helped coordinate the Cactus/Saguaro Cup each April, using our aggregate contacts with out of town teams from prior league friendships. We started with 28 teams entering the Cactus Cup in 1994, and over the years we became a spring habit with Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, and much of the west coast clearing their schedules to come to our spring tournament. The tournament's high quality fields, weather, smoothness of operation, and high competitiveness attracted growth from year to year from 50 teams, 60, then a generally an annual 80+ teams crammed into a two day tournament.
For much of the late 1990's, we were known for our open division B teams and high-rec ranked womens teams. The league had accomplishments like having teams take second in Seattle and a first in Dallas World Series in the open B division. Our kaddywhompus team won first in Toronto in the women's rec. division.
Since the 1990's, we have steadily grown to 20+ total women and open teams each spring. Our fall league has become huge and very competitive compared with early years of having only six to eight co-rec teams participate. As of writing this in 2009, our women are again steadily rebuilding, while our open (men's) division is expanding up towards the next threshold of twenty teams. The league can realistically expect to move up to one of the five to ten largest leagues in the country very soon. Each year, with our spring and fall leagues and our annual saguaro cup, we provide a healthy team sports outlet for several hundred lesbians and gay men, which is something we all should be very proud of.
Some little known facts about the league include:
We are very proud to have a league that is competitive on a national level. We continually strive to challenge all of our members to improve themselves on and off the field, travel to tournaments to compete representing their teams, CCSL, and themselves, and above all show good sportsmanship. The table below is a short list that highlights some of the accomplishments (top three finishes) of some of the Phoenix teams. Congratulations on all the hard work, accomplishments, and making Phoneix a great place to play softball!
A version of the league accomplishments may be downloaded here in portable document format.
|League Tournament Accomplishments|
|2011||Toros||Sin City Shootout||Las Vegas, NV||Open||A||1st|
|Toros||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||A||1st|
|Diablos||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||A||2nd|
|Desert Heat||Winter Classic||Palm Springs, CA||Open||B||4th|
|Firebirds||Winter Classic||Palm Springs, CA||Open||C||2nd|
|BS West||Golden Bear Classic||San Francisco, CA||Open||C||4th|
|Raw||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||C||1st|
|Bear Nation||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||D||2nd|
|Good Guys||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||D||1st|
|Battitude||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||D||3rd|
|2010||Toros||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||A||1st|
|Toros||Victory Lane Late Night I||Phoenix, AZ||Straight||D (Upper)||2nd|
|Toros||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Columbus, OH||Open||A||3rd|
|Diablos||Victory Lane Live Strong Cancer Benefit||Phoenix, AZ||Straight||Men's||2nd|
|Reloaded||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Upper (A/B)||2nd|
|Trojans||Emerald City Classic||Seattle, WA||Open||B||4th|
|Firebirds||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Open||C||2nd|
|Hellraisers||Emerald City Classic||Seattle, WA||Open||C (Cascade Cup)||2nd|
|Raw||Sin City Shootout||Las Vegas, NV||Women||C||1st|
|Raw||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Lower (C/D)||1st|
|Cash Cows||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Lower (C/D)||3rd|
|2009||Toros||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Milwaukee, WI||Open||A||1st|
|Toros||Victory Lane Late Night III||Phoenix, AZ||Straight||D (Upper)||1st|
|Toros||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||A||2nd|
|Diablos||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Milwaukee, WI||Open||A||3rd|
|Gotchya Back||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Upper (A/B)||1st|
|Moxie||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Upper (A/B)||2nd|
|Moxie||Sin City Shootout||Las Vegas, NV||Women||Upper (A/B)||3rd|
|Raw||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Madison, WI||Women||C||2nd|
|AZ Ice||Who's Your Daddy||Denver, CO||Open||C (Upper)||2nd|
|Spartans||Who's Your Daddy||Denver, CO||Open||C (Lower)||1st|
|Cash Cows||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Lower (C/D)||1st|
|Good Guys||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||Lower (C/D)||3rd|
|2008||Toros||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Seattle, WA||Open||A||3rd|
|Mavericks||Who's Your Daddy||Denver, CO||Open||C (Upper)||2nd|
|Bulldogs||Winter Classic||Palm Springs, CA||Open||D||2nd|
|Apollos D||Liberty Classic||Long Beach, CA||Open||D||2nd|
|Phire||Liberty Classic||Long Beach, CA||Open||D||3rd|
|2007||Edge||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Women||A||2nd|
|Edge||Winter Classic||Palm Springs, CA||Women||A||1st|
|Toxic||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||A||2nd|
|Other Team||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Phoenix, AZ||Women||B||1st|
|Other Team||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||B||1st|
|Apollos||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||D||1st|
|Apollos||Winter Classic||Palm Springs, CA||Open||D||1st|
|Apollos||Silicon Valley Tournament of Champions||San Jose, CA||Open||D||1st|
|2006||Jinx||Liberty Classic||Long Beach, CA||Women||C||1st|
|Trojans||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Open||C (Upper)||2nd|
|Apollos||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||D||2nd|
|Apollos||Liberty Classic||Long Beach, CA||Open||D||1st|
|Apollos||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Open||D||1st|
|2004||Heat||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Open||Upper (A/B)||2nd|
|Calamus Crush||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Dallas, TX||Open||B||1st|
|Desert Heat||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Open||C||2nd|
|2003||Martinis||Autumn Classic||San Diego, CA||Open||D||1st|
|2001||Aint Nobody's Biz||Saguaro Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Women||B||1st|
|2000||Ah So Nasty||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Toronto, ON||Women||Alt||1st|
|1999||Roscoes||Cactus (Saguaro) Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||B||1st|
|1998||Roscoes||Old Pueblo||Tuscon, AZ||Open||B||1st|
|Roscoes||Hurricane Showdown||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Open||B||2nd|
|1997||Tan Banana||Cactus (Saguaro) Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||A||1st|
|Roscoes||Midwest Invitational Softball Tournament (MIST)||Milwaukee, WI||Open||B||1st|
|Winks||Cactus (Saguaro) Cup||Phoenix, AZ||Open||C||1st|
|1995||Winks||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||Seattle, WA||Open||C||3rd|
|1994||Winks||Gay Softball World Series (GSWS)||San Diego, CA||Open||C||3rd|