USSSA History

Thank you for your interest in USSSA Softball. USSSA Softball has nationally gained positive recognition due to the philosophy “MORE KIDS PLAYING MORE SOFTBALL.” Adhering to the philosophy USSSA has designed four different classifications of play as well as a specialty program for “Recreation & Drafted Leagues.” This is how USSSA has effectively created opportunities for more kids to play Softball competitively at their level.

By sanctioning a league or organization USSSA that program will be entitled to receive All-Star Game Nominations, State tournament Berths, and World Series Berths. USSSA Softball allows flexibility within each program to allow the program to determine the rules and regulations that are suitable and fair to you. Each program determines the age groups, start date, end date, drafts, all-stars, etc.

Additional benefits, from the administration side, are the opportunities and financial gains generated by hosting USSSA tournaments. Communities have seen tremendous increase in economic impact when USSSA events have been brought forth.

In November 1996, USSSA founded a highly anticipated and much needed program, USSSA Softball. It registered over 1,000 teams in its inaugural season in 1997. The program also offered refreshing alternatives to the world of youth Softball.

In November 1997, USSSA reorganized to become the United States Specialty Sports Association, a multi-sport organization. Some of the divisions of USSSA include baseball, basketball, softball, flag football, volleyball, and more. Today USSSA is the largest multi-sport association in the world with over 3.5 million members.

In the 2010 season, USSSA Softball registered over 42,000 teams. The philosophy of USSSA Softball is simple. We strive to provide superior administration of a quality program that enables more kids more opportunities to play softball at their skill level and have fun.

History of the USSSA

1968 United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association Founded: chartered in Wisconsin.

1969 41 District Directors appointed.

1971 USSSA struggling in debt and directors resigning. Fall of 1971 in Petersburg, VA. TheExecutive Board had met in November of 1971. This meeting will always hold a place in USSSA history. The decision was made to continue and the Executive Board elected Al Ramsey, a 40-year old Petersburg native, as National President. The constitution was completely overhauled and Ramsey instructed the Board to pledge itself to operating on a sound business basis and launch an all-out campaign for new qualified personnel. The USSSA National Headquarters was immediately moved to Petersburg, VA. The Association was incorporated in the state of Virginia as a non-profit organization.

1972 30 Directors were replaced and 60 new Directors were appointed. In less than a year, the Association was completely out of debt and operating on a sound financial basis. Team and umpire registrations began to show considerable increases. The 1972 National Meeting was held in Rochester, NY, and some 75 directors attended.

1973 The USSSA expanded the Church Program.

1974 The Central Division was formed and the Association expanded the Men’s Program to include an eight-team World Series.

1975 Women’s Program expand to include Class B and the Men’s Program added a Class C classification. A National Invitational Tournament Program was added for Class A teams. The USSSA was growing by leaps and bounds.

1975 The USSSA filed suit against the ASA in Federal Court in Nashville, TN, to stop the threats to teams and players. In December of 1975, the USSSA and the ASA signed an agreement to allow teams of both organizations to engage in the play of amateur softball in an article of alliance between the two organizations.

1976The alliance was dissolved in January of 1976 after ASA amended its By-Laws to allow teams to participate in non-ASA sanctioned tournaments without penalty or suspension.

1977The USSSA was forced to reopen the lawsuit against the ASA to stop actions by some ASA Commissioners who refused to abide by the settlement agreement. On January 18, 1978, the Federal Court ruled in favor of the USSSA. The court ruling was a total victory for the USSSA and slowpitch softball teams.

1978 The Association elected its first members into the Hall of Fame.

1979 The 11-inch softball was adopted for the Women’s and Youth Programs in a dramatic move.

1980 A banner year for team and umpire registrations. The Southern Division was also born, the Mixed Program was launched, and the Association hired Ramsey as its Executive Director.

1981 USSSA purchases a 24,000-square foot building in Petersburg for its National Headquarters and Hall of Fame Museum. The support of the fund raising campaigns throughout the entire Association made the purchase a reality. The all-important Midwestern Division formed. The Divisional Meeting concept was introduced and the Masters “Oldtimers” Program was added.

1982 Jerry Ellis was elected the Association’s fourth National President. Team registrations had soar to 30,000 and umpire registrations reached 3,000.

1983 The Mens’s Class D and Women’s Class C programs expanded into large numbers. An insurance program was adopted to offer teams sound accident insurance coverage at low cost. The USSSA also secures liability insurance for its directors and umpires.

1984 Gary Wallick elected as the fifth National President. The Southwestern Division created. June 8, 1984 ribbon-cutting and Grand Opening of the USSSA Hall of Fame Museum in Petersburg. Virginia Governor Charles Robb delivered the keynote address. Team registrations reach 50,000

1985 Team membership soars to over 60,000, nearly doubling the size of the USSSA in three years. Youth, Mixed and Masters Programs continue to expand. Ramsey became full-time Executive Director. The Association pays off the $500,000 mortgage on the National Headquarters and Hall of Fame Museum Building. International Division Formed.

1986 Total membership reaches 80,000, includes 12,000 registered umpires. The Divisional and World Tournament qualifying berth system gains in popularity. Attendance at the National Meeting tops 600 delegates.

1987 USSSA passes 100,000 in total membership. Al Ciaccia is elected the seventh president. 20th Anniversary of the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association.

1988 The Association votes to expand to eight divisions, directed by four regions, with a major realignment plan to meet future growth needs. The USSSA introduced the first Women’s World Series and World Tournaments for the Men’s B, C, and D Programs. These events pushes the USSSA Travel Fund for teams past $250,000 annually.

1989 Jim Ports elected the eighth president of the USSSA. The Men’s AA Program is introduced World Championship rings were presented to the Men’s Major World Champions. The USSSA Travel Program was born and American Airlines became the first official airline of the USSSA.

1990 The historic first slo-pitch softball tour of the Soviet Union with a 52-member USSSA delegation playing games and giving clinics in Moscow, Leningrad, and Tallinn. The USSSA joined forces with the AICEP, the Association of International Cultural Exchange Programs, to promote slow pitch softball and good will.

1991 The Association heads into 1991 with an expanded specialty program, with World Tournaments added for Black American and Women’s Industrial Programs. Under the AICEP International Tour Program a delegation of USSSA Girls’ Senior Youth teams and coaches heads for the Soviet Union and Sweden for a second tour abroad. Jim Swint became the ninth USSSA National President.

1992 Total Association membership reaches 120,300 which included 104,000 teams.

1993 The Men’s B, C, and D World Tournaments are increased from 16 to 32 teams in each event and World Tournaments are added in several of the Men’s Masters Program. Tom Raines is elected National President of the Association.

1994 The Association, at its National Meeting, approves a Mixed World Series for the 1995 season. Expansion programs were also made in the Armed Forces, 16-Inch, Masters, and Hispanic programs. Plans are made which launched two new programs, the Native American and the Super Modified Youth.

1995 Don DeDonatis is elected to a two year term as National President of the Association. The USSSA becomes the first Association to establish a Bat Performance Standard.

1996 The Association approves a Mandatory Licensing Program. World Tournament status is given to the Women’s Black American and Men’s Class B Corporate Programs. The Super Modified Youth Program is replaced with the Girl’s Fast Pitch Youth Program which included World Tournament status. Player registration becomes mandatory in the Master’s Senior Programs. A new Umpire’s cap becomes mandatory.

1997 USSSA National Meeting in Myrtle Beach, SC, the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association changes their name and becomes the United States Specialty Sports Association, becoming the first multi-sports governing body to oversee slow and fast pitch softball, baseball, basketball and golf. The Men’s B, C, and D World Tournaments are increased from 32 to 48 teams in each event.

1998 The realization of the impact of becoming a multi-sports association becomes a reality. Along with the joy, come waves of sorrow throughout the association with the death of our Executive Director and CEO, Al Ramsey. The Board of Directors immediately names Assistant Executive Director, Don DeDonatis as the new Executive Director and CEO. Robert Boudreaux is elected as the 12th National President of the Association.

1999 Change is the name of the game. From National Headquarters to the Board of Directors and through out the entire organization, no longer does longevity or seniority play a role. The association is revamped on hard work and determination. Each member of the association now has an opportunity to obtain new titles and positions. Vice-Presidents are named in both Softball and basketball. The USSSA has over 95,000 teams registered with 20,000 of the registrations being from fast-pitch, softball, basketball and golf. For the first time in the history of the association, Robert Boudreaux is elected a second term as the Associations National President.

2000 National Controller Jerry Ellis retires after 30 years of service. USSSA’s legal counsel Larry Palmer gets a long overdue judgeship position leaving him no choice but to break his ties with the Association. USSSA becomes partners with Disney’s Wide World of Sports, opening exciting doors for the Men’s Major World Series and National Golf Tournament. USSSA perfects their computer system and becomes part of the World Wide Web with their own internet server giving up to date tourna ment results and rankings. Communication lines are now wide open throughout the country. The B, C, & D World Tournaments are not only expanded to 64 teams but have implemented a policy to give the top team in each state a berth to the appropriate World Tournament.

2000 December, 2000 The United States Specialty Sports Association signs long term agreement with Innovative Sports Tracking Systems.

2002 Danny Brown is elected as the 13th National President of the Association. USSSA acquires Innovative Sports Tracking Systems (ISTS). ISTS becomes a totally owned subsidiary of USSSA.

2002 Don DeDonatis, USSSA Executive Director/CEO announces that the USSSA National Headquarters and Hall of Fame will be relocting to Osceola County, Florida in the spring of 2003.

2003 USSSA’s relocation to Central Florida is completed. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush phones Don DeDonatis thanking him and welcoming the USSSA to Osceola County, Florida and declaring the move as “another job and economic victory for the State and Osceola County”.

2004 Danny Brown is re-elected as the National President of the Association. Team Membership in the USSSA Program reaches an all time high.

2005 In June, USSSA moves into our permanent 18,000 sq. ft. facility, located in Osceola County’s Heritage Park. This facility provides 6,500 sq. ft. of office area on the second floor, while aloting approximately 5,000 sq. ft on the first floor for the state of the art USSSA National Hall of Fame and Sports Museum. The remaining 6,500 sq. ft. provides terrace box seating over looking the first base line of Osceola County Stadium, Spring Training Home of the Houston Astros. Also included, is a new visitors clubhouse adjacent to the USSSA Hall of Fame and Sports Museum. The Museum houses over 37 years of memorabilia and artifacts relating to USSSA’s proud history and the game of softball and other sports, now a vital part of the associations core program.