Did you go to the NAGAAA Hall of Fame Dinner event at last year’s GSWS? If not, you missed an unbelievable and often emotional night honoring all of our brothers and sisters that have paved the way for today’s gay softball players to play the game in a nicer, safer and more accepting environment.
NAGAAA Archives showcasing photos and logos of Gay Softball World Series’ past.
In a week that was marred by an unusual weather pattern and what seemed like endless schedule changes, the Hall of Fame Dinner might have been the week’s crowning achievement in a tournament that was just happy to get champions crowned on Saturday.
The Bullock Texas State History Museum rotunda served as an amazing setting for the special evening as the NAGAAA Hall of Fame welcomed four new inductees into an elite group composed of former players, managers, delegates and board members. The four inductees, Jim Ingrund & Dave Denninstoun of the Twin Cities, Mona Garcia of Milwaukee and Jim”Pearl” Bailey of Birmingham gave moving speeches. All of the inductees showed the crowd why they love the game and reminded the audience of why this game is important. After all, as Chris Balton, NAGAAA Commissioner stated at the event, “NAGAAA is about more than just softball”.
Roy Melani, NAGAAA Hall of Fame Director presided over the ceremony which featured a talk by the founders of Nike’s Be True campaign, videos outlining the tragic event in Orlando and an overview of the 40 year history of the GSWS were shown. Hall of Famers received custom Hall of Fame jerseys, which were made by Right Choice, the official apparel provider of the GSWS. Each jersey had the person’s last name on the back with the number indicating which year they were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The NAGAAA Hall of Fame needs the help of younger players and managers to continue to grow the Hall of Fame and the induction ceremony at future World Series events. Too many times we get wrapped up in what we are doing as individuals. Players and managers should use the same principles in terms of how we treat our teammates and teams. Support these trailblazers and legends of gay softball. Support your “teammates”, because in a way, we are all on the same team now more than ever.
This year’s NAGAAA Hall of Fame Ceremony is set to take place at Nike Headquarters near Portland, Oregon and it might be the hottest Hall of Fame ticket yet. Managers and their players should make plans now to be there and to offer their support for these people. The magnitude of humility, honor and respect shown at this event moves even the most stoic attendee to tears. These overachievers and influential names deserve our respect and celebration of their accomplishments, because in a way their accomplishments are OUR accomplishments.