Welcome to our Hall of Fame. If you are looking for good players, then you have come to the wrong place! Sure, a good player gets a high five for great play, but years down the line they gradually slide from memory. No, in here you will find truly the best, both on and off the field, that we have seen pass through softball in Oxfordshire. The people who, in their own exceptional way, have made the Oxfordshire league what it is today, and will certainly be remembered for many years to come.
To qualify for Hall of Fame nomination, you must have either played in the League for more than ten years, or have parted company from us more than two years ago. At the close of each season, the full Committee then decide which of the nominees should be added to the Hall of Fame. There is no particular guidance on what should qualify someone for induction, and no particular intake each year (in fact the Committee can decide not to induct anyone). But the best usually stand out from the crowd, and the decisions aren’t too difficult.
So, in short, this is just our way of giving a nod of recognition, some respect and our thanks to those who have really made a difference along the way.
Chris D. 09/09/2008
This year we decided to recognise the two people who were the leading lights in setting up the softball league back in 1990. It’s because of you that we have softball in Oxford, and for that we are all extremely grateful.
We managed to track Kevin down. He’s now back in Canada (Charlottetown), and still occasionally picks up a bat, but says that it’s more tricky these days with family commitments. He sent us a few of his memories:
“My fondest memories are playing in South Park, with its incredible views of the city centre. Angel and Greyhound was another favourite, on an Island in the middle of the Cherwell: crossing a bridge to get to the field, and wondering if anyone would ever knock the ball into the river on the other side.
It started with pacing out the base paths, carpet tiles for bases, teams sharing gloves so there would be enough to go around. Taking orders for gloves from the keenest players on business trips to North America.
I’m thrilled to hear the league is still going strong. I hope next time I am in Oxford I will be able to take in a game.”
Kevin says that whilst the it was his idea to set up a softball league, it was Veronique who had the contacts at other companies that really made it possible. We dropped her a line (at least we think we found the right Veronique Mott!), but alas we haven’t heard back from her. So, if you are out there, do drop us a line to say hello; and if you are ever near Oxford, there are quite a few people who would be only too happy to buy you a drink to say thanks!
So, who should be inducted to the Hall of Fame for the inaugural year? That’s not an easy question to answer. Should it be people who set up the league way back in 1990- most of whom are now scattered to the four corners of the earth? Should it be the leagues “characters”? Or perhaps the players who have stepped up when we needed to get things sorted? Well, the answer is in fact all three…
This year we decided to recognise the players who started out in 1990, and are still with us. That’s 18 years straight of softball (so when they first took to the diamond, one of my team-mates was minus four years old!). All four are people who have supported their teams and Oxford Softball throughout their playing careers, and for that we thank-you.
Incidentally you’ll notice that the four inductees are in fact two married couples (both of whom met at softball). I’m sure there’s a good take-away message in that!
Steve wears his heart on his sleeve, playing with the enthusiasm of someone half his age (although these days his bad knees make him a step or two slower than he used to be). He has always hit big with the bat, and his crazy base running is a marvel to behold (and not to be watched by the faint-hearted). He is one of few players who can turn a scuffed hit straight into the ground into a home run! I can’t quite figure out what it is about his pitching that makes him so difficult to hit, but he chalked up the leagues first shut-out game several years back. Steve originally played for one of the Blackwell teams, and met Lesley when he guested for the Hammerheads one week. Not surprisingly he decided to stay on the same team.
In her own quiet way, Lesley has been getting on with being one of the best ladies in our League for the last eighteen years. In this time she has racked up a whole host of awards for best batter and home run champion. She has been a regular with the Bluebelles, and is probably going to more tournaments now than before she and Steve started a family. She has been a huge support to everyone in Devils, doing all of the organising off the pitch, as well as playing her part at the League level, by holding several committee posts across the years. It’s great to see her bring Jake and Ewan to the games each week, although those that know her best will appreciate that she actually looks after three boys!
Isabel has played for the Beavers all of her softball career. She has always been something of a natural pitcher, and is the only regular lady pitcher that we have ever had in the League. She certainly complains less about the umpires calls than any other pitcher I have known! She’s always been strong with the bat and usually features in the chase for the ladies home run competition each season. Isabel is a regular at tournaments, playing for the Bluebelles and guesting for a whole host of different teams. When she’s not pitching or batting, you can sometimes find her taking a sneaky smoke- yes, we saw you! She first met Jem when they both started out playing softball, and they’ve been together ever since.
If you had to sum up Jem in a few words, then something along the lines of “always cheerful and upbeat” sounds about right. Without wishing to draw too much attention to the fact, he is the Leagues most senior player, but is still pretty spritely around the bases (although it’s been a while since I’ve seen him make a head first slide!). He has always been a figure of calm when chaos surrounds, and a real support to both team-mates in the Beavers, as well as the League. He has taken up the Beavers captaincy on and off across the last ten years or so, and whilst he likes the occasional grumble about deciphering scoresheets etc. we know he loves it really!