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Real Men Played Softball

The Alabama Gazette’s Sports Writer, Stan Hurst, had to take the month off. We look forward to hearing from him again in upcoming issues. In the meantime, we were fortunate to have a great article sent in for this space.

Contributed by Kim Evans

Slow-pitch softball was extremely popular during the 1970s and 80s, and in 1977, with the opening of Lagoon Park, a state of the art complex, Montgomery became the epicenter of the softball world. Countless teams traveled here from all over the southeast and beyond nearly every weekend during the spring and summer to compete in top-notch tournaments. The local leagues were competitive and well organized, with games scheduled every night of the work week. All teams were sanctioned by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the governing body of organized softball. Many championship teams and great players were products of the Lagoon Park legacy.

On March 13, 2021, three of these outstanding local players were inducted into the Alabama ASA Hall of Fame at a banquet held at the Belk Center in Tuscaloosa. Brother Beaird, Steve Bailey, and Mike Pirtle were among the 16 softball legends from across the state to be honored at this annual event. Master of Ceremonies Jerry Logan welcomed the crowd of approximately 150, followed by Rev. Herman Bell’s rendition of our National Anthem, which he played on his harmonica (with all in attendance proudly standing). A delicious meal, catered by George Robertson’s BBQ, was served prior to the induction ceremony.

Sadly Brother Beaird passed away in October of 2020, a victim of Covid-19, but was admirably represented by his brother, Bill. With a picture of Brother placed on a table on the stage, the three Montgomery men graciously gave their acceptance speeches, with each one giving thanks and credit to God, family, teammates, coaches, sponsors, and the selection committee for their roles in contributing to the successful softball careers. Bill read a speech that Brother had written a year earlier, providing an emotional and inspiration moment for all in attendance.

Former ASA State Commissioner Pat Atkinson presented each inductee with a handsome plaque. Afterward, many pictures were taken, fist bumps replaced handshakes, and war stories of the “glory days” were recanted. It was a good time had by all.

Congratulations to Bro. Beaird, Steve Bailey, and Mike Pirtle on their selection to the Alabama ASA Hall of Fame. And thank you for graciously and humbly representing the Montgomery area and the entire softball community in such a professional and honorable manner.

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