Smoky Mountain Classic, Tennessee Walking Horse.
Now that the 20th Century is far behind us let us reflect back on some of the finest players to ever play this game. Some of the best softball players of the 20th Century. For me, to be able to just say, that you were one of the best, is what it is all about. I really don't like to say that one player was better than the other. At one time or another everybody on this page has been unstoppable whether it was Ted Larson controlling the game with his pitching or Craig Elliott hitting home runs repeatedly. Whether it was Ronnie Ford climbing the screen in left field at the Smokey Mountain to steal a game winning home run or Steve Loya hitting not one but two clutch home runs in the bottom of the 7th to win the ASA in 1975 for Pyramid Cafe.
"On the right is a photo of the Tennessee Walking horse that would show up every Sunday morning at the Smokey Mountain Classic. I use to tell the players that if we got to see the horse ride on Sunday then we would be playing for the championship. We did that a few times."
These players have all stood tall in their softball careers. We have just ended the greatest century of all time. Below I have put together a page with some of the finest softball players to play the game in the late 70's, 80's and 90's.. I don't have photos of all of the great ones but I do have a few. That's the reason for this page. Jerome Ernest took the majority of these photos. It is a shame that Jerome passed away at a young age and never got to do nothing with all the info he gathered over the years. So I decided to scan, reproduce or whatever it took to put these photos together for Jerome.
Jerome Ernest followed softball like no one else. He even had his own team when he first started his work with slo-pitch softball.. He had teams with players like Harold Kelley and Fred Miller on them. During his lifetime he took countless photos and wrote newspapers articles and started a couple of different magazines. Softball Insight was one of the magazines. He started that when he was working for Gary Hargis at Elite Coatings. He really did enjoy reporting on softball.
There have been so many great players that I don't want to say that one was the very best. That one player was better than everyone else. I have seen too many great plays made by all of these players below to say that one person was the best. No one player has ever won a tournament by himself . There has been times when one person would dominate a tournament and walk away with all of the rewards but did he win the ball game?
I have seen some of the greatest home runs hit in game winning situations, and I have seen that defensive play that just can't be described. Shelly Hoffman who has been a long time stand out softball player in the the Cleveland, Ohio softball area said he witnessed the greatest play he ever saw at the world tournament in Toledo, Ohio. He claims he saw 3rd baseman Jack Goodrich from Cleveland, Ohio actually jump into the air to catch a line drive at third and it was hit so hard that he flipped completely over and landed on his feet. How is that for a play.
You had to see it to believe it. The majority of the players in here I have played with or against one time or another. I played one weekend back in 1984 with the great Elite Coatings team out of Georgia, when Dave Neale fired me from Steele's for one weekend. Talk about a team. The team was so good that I went down to play with them and batted 10th. But I deserved to bat 10th. There was 10 great players ahead of me on that team.
These 6 players hit at Fulton County Stadium.. Denny "Uptown" Jones, Ray Fleetwood, Bert Smith, James Boyett, Crankin Craig Elliott, and Bruce Meade
I started playing Big Time softball on the 4th of July weekend in New Kensington, Pa. in 1975. I was 18 years old and I was playing with Dave Neale and a team he managed called Pesano's Restaurant. The week before I was playing AAA in a league in Lakewood, Ohio with my friends and had no idea what type of softball was out there. I learned real fast though what Big Time Softball was all about. The following weekend I was playing against the best softball players in the country. I can never forget the first time I saw some of the Big Time softball players for the first time that weekend. Johnny Dollar, Steve Loya, Big Jim Galloway, Big Tom Miller, Dave and Roger Snatchko from the BYM Club. I kept saying to myself who in the heck were these guys?
It was players like these guys that were paving the way for the future of softball. It was players like Bruce Meade, Craig Elliott, Joe Young, Rick Scherr, and Rick Weiterman that continued to carry that torch for the great game of softball. It was players like these guys who set the table for the players of today. So as we go forward with our softball in this new Millennium I want people and players to remember the players that have gone before you.
This is page 1 of 2 pages that I have been working on for people to see. Some of these players played in the late 70's and early 80's and some of the late 80's and early 90's. They are like a fraternity of softball players.
Some of these players played in the late 70's and early 80's and some of the late 80's and early 90's. They are like a fraternity of softball players.