The Roanoker - July/August 2017 - 128
SOFTBALL |THE OBSESSION
Game of Throwns:
Roanoke's Obsession with Softball
PHOTOS BY DAN
Above: The view through
96 | JULY/AUGUST 2017
Softball has come a long way, baby, from a fast game for big boys to a slower game
for just about everybody.
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN "SOFTBALL" in the
Roanoke Valley was defined by large crowds, near-100mph fastballs, no-hit doubleheaders and adult male athletes whose names were as well known locally as those
of Virginia Tech football players.
That was 30 or more years ago. Over the years since,
"slow-pitch" has become the coin of the realm and what
was a near-professional sport here has become one mostly for weekend warriors of wildly varying skill levels, for
families, for circles of friends, for fully accepting lifestyles that are as varied as the skill levels.
Charlie Hammersley, recently retired head of the Salem
recreation department, says that even though softball players' numbers are slightly down overall in the Roanoke Valley ("People are playing more golf, I think," he says) there
are still plenty of teams and leagues around. Hammersley
played in the fast-pitch heyday when a few played at a
high level. He sees multitudes enjoying themselves these
days and celebrates the change.
The Salem Recreation Department, long known for
its successful softball tournaments, coordinates the valley's efforts in that respect. John Shaner, who directs the