Pitchers, Catchers, and More – Oh My!
This week Austin hosts the 40th Gay Softball World Series
By Dan Gray,
2:30PM, Tue. Aug. 16, 2016
Rain or shine, this week Austin plays home base to one of the world’s largest single gay sport events – the 40th Annual Gay Softball World Series. The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance hosts an estimated 5000 LGBTQ-folk as they descend on Austin to win glory in the coed series.
At Monday’s press conference, representatives for the City of Austin’s Parks Department and NAGAAA officials informed the press that the World Series would continue no matter how much rain we receive this week. The pair are doing anything they can to make the fields playable as soon as possible including lifting field curfews so teams can play well into the night if necessary. Proud to support the games, Austin police are offering any assistance they can, on and off the field.
Softball teams from all over the United States (and one from Canada) will compete for the gold. Of course, they’re also coming to socialize and explore our great city. Many players have found and built lifelong friendships through the league and look forward seeing one another each year. With 187 teams total participating – nine of those representing Softball Austin – this will be the “largest Series to date,” says Softball Austin commissioner and World Series advisor Albert Rodriguez. “Hosting is a huge honor as we will be one of the youngest leagues to ever host the event.”
After winning the bid to bring the World Series to Austin over San Diego two years ago, the city began preparations for the LGBTQ visitors. Players of all skill levels had to qualify to be invited to the World Series. One local team participating is the Austin Warriors in D Division. NAGAAA has five divisions: A through D (and a masters division), with A featuring the most highly skilled players. According to Warriors outfielder Emmanuel Winston, “Austin teams qualified by either having the best record during regular season or winning the top-two place of the end-of-season tournament.”
Hosting cities see a large raise in fabulousness and money spent within the community. “The GSWS last year made a 5 million dollar impact on the city of Columbus,” explains Rodriguez. “With more teams this year, we expect the World Series to do the same for Austin.”
But the economy boost is not the only perk to having 2,000 extra queers in the city. A strong sense of community and sportsmanship bond the players together, not to mention nighttime activities. There are socials, charity events, and at least one party each night to celebrate this historic occasion. To start, Travis County Commissioners Court officially proclaimed August 15-21 Gay Softball Week. Winston explains, “For me, it's the chance to show other athletes how amazing our city is.”
Most games are played at Krieg Field on South Pleasant Valley Road, others on Havins Fields at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park on North Lamar and Southeast Metropolitan Park in Del Valle. Volunteers are not only needed, they’re greatly appreciated.
Monday kicked things off with the opening ceremony at the Long Center celebrating the 40th anniversary with Kristine W and DJ Delicious. Tuesday, Aug. 16, the Bullock Museum hosts the Hall of Fame Banquet where the gayest and greatest players of yesteryear are inducted into the NAGAAA Hall of Fame. Rain on Fourth Street will host the afterparty.
For Softball Austin, the World Series is not only about playing ball. “We use the opportunity to raise money for our local LGBTQ organizations as well,” says Rodriguez. “On Wednesday we will have a Casino Night where 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Octopus Club.” The banquet is at Ironwood Hall from 7-10pm with the afterparty at Iron Bear.
Saturday concludes the series with an awards ceremony at Krieg Field following the championship game. OCH will host a block party afterwards from 10pm-2am featuring DJ Dave Audé.
“We live in one of the most diverse and accepting communities in this country,” Rodriguez concludes. “We can't wait to show everyone why we are so proud to call Austin and Travis County home!”