The rise and fall, and the rise again of USSSA Organization
This proud baseball organization was founded in 1968 with the original intention of being a slo-pitch softball association. This idea eventually grew into a multi-sport association with ties all over the world.
In their first year they appointed 41 district directors to lead and continue to organize the USSSA, but over the next few years they struggled in debt and many of the directors resigned. Finally, those remaining knew that they had to take action, or their precious organization would vanish. They elected Al Ramsey to be the National President of the USSSA organization, who proceeded to completely change the constitution of the company and look for more competent employees. The organization as a whole moved to Petersburg, Virginia and based their headquarters there.
Over the next few years, the company flourished under the leadership of Al Ramsey, they had come completely out of debt and many more teams and umpires were joining and volunteering to be part of the USSSA. They also formed a new Central Division and included an eight team World Series for the Men’s Program. Many more Divisions and add-ons were included for both the women and men programs, which all lead to the USSSA becoming more popular and well known.
In 1975, the USSSA filed a lawsuit against another baseball organization, the ASA in Nashville, Tennessee, in a Federal Court. The reasoning behind this suit was because there had been threats from the ASA to teams and players who played for the USSSA. These two associations eventually came to an agreement to let all teams from both organizations to play amateur baseball. The treaty was abolished the next year due to the ASA allowing its teams to play in non-ASA tournaments. But, when to treaty was abolished, some of the ASA Commissioners still refusing to follow the agreement. Eventually, the court ruled in favor of the USSSA, this was an ultimate victory for their organization.
More projects for USSSA; skyrocketing registrations
The next year was a great year for the USSSA as they elected their first members to the hall of fame. The 11 inch softball was adopted the following year for the Women and Youth Programs. This was a big move for them as nothing quite like this had ever been done before. In 1980, the USSSA took a big step with their organization by birthing a Southern Division to expand the number of teams that could play. That next year, the USSSA was able to purchase a huge 24,000-square foot complex in Petersburg for its National Headquarters and the Museum for its Hall of Fame. A new Midwestern Division was formed, further expanding the association by leaps and bounds. Jerry Ellis was voted into the position of the Association fourth National President. Along with this new blood in the leadership position, registrations by teams and umpires grew tremendously
2013 USSSA Hall of Fame Induction
In 1983, the USSSA adopted a large insurance policy to protect the teams and umpires from accidents on the field at a low cost which continued to further their reputation as a good and sound baseball organization. In 1984, Gary Wallick was elected to be the fifth National President and the Southwestern Division of the USSSA was formed. The ribbon cutting of the USSSA Hall of Fame Museum occurred signaling the grand opening of the large museum to be official to the public eye. The following year team registrations skyrocketed to over 60,000, which almost doubled the size of the entire USSSA from just about three years ago. The official International Division was formed as well this year.
More expansions to come
In 1987, the membership total passes 100,000, an all-time high for this organization. Al Ciaccia is elected to be the seventh National President of the USSSA, this year was also its 20th Anniversary. The Association expanded to eight divisions the next year, and also founded the first Women’s World Series and more World Tournaments for Men in the B, C, and D Programs. The USSSA ended up having to push their travel budget to over $250,000 every year.
Highlights of the organization, including a tournament in Russia; more tournaments
In 1989 Jim Ports was voted in the president position of the USSSA as its eighth president and American Airlines became the first official airline of the USSSA. The year 1990 was a very momentous occasion for the USSSA as the first slo-pitch softball tour of the Soviet Union occurred, with the team traveling through and playing in Moscow, Leningrad, and Tallinn. In 1991, the USSSA added world tournaments for Black Americans and Women. Jim Swint also became the ninth National President.
In 1992, the USSSA membership reached 120,300 with over 104,000 teams included in it. The assorted men’s world tournaments are expanded to include 32 teams instead of the old sixteen in 1993. Tom Raines was then elected to be the tenth National President. The USSSA expanded even more to have divisions in the army along with a couple other branches. Don DeDonatis earned a two-year term as the National President of the USSSA and during this time, a Bat Performance Standard was issued, with the USSSA being the first to do so. In 1997 and major event occurred. The USSSA met at Myrtle Beach, SC, and changed their name from the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association to the United States Specialty Sports Association.
Additional new sports in the year of Ramsey’s deah
In 1998, the organization was rocked with sadness as their executive director and CEO, Al Ramsey, died. The Directors went on to immediately elect Assistant Executive Director, Don DeDonatis to take the place of Ramsey. Robert Boudreaux became the 12th National President of the USSSA. Also during this year, many new sports were added to the USSSA roster including:
- Fast-pitch softball
- 5 on 5 basketball
- 3 on 3 basketball
- Traditional karate
- Disc golf
- Junior golf
- Flag football
2013 USSSA Major World Series
In 1999, Vice Presidents were named for the baseball and basketball sports and for the first time in the history of the organization, Robert Boudreaux was elected to a second term as the National President of the Association. After 30 years of service, National Controller Jerry Ellis retired. Added in to the roster of Championship Tournaments were the Men’s Major World Series and the National Golf Tournament.
In 2002 Danny Brown was voted into office as the 13th National President of the USSSA. Also during this year, Don DeDonatis made public the decision to move the USSSA National Headquarters and their Hall of Fame to Osceola County, Florida in 2003. In 2004, Danny Brown was re-elected to the position of National President and the Team Membership in their Programs reached an all-time high. In June of 2005, the USSSA Headquarters was moved to an 18,000 sq. ft. facility in the Heritage Park of Osceola County. This headquarters is where the illustrious sports association remains to this day.
The USSSA was founded to be the best slo-pitch softball organization that it could be, but from its success it grew into a huge international organization that was, and still is, associated with a large variety of sports. From baseball to golf, and basketball to taekwondo, the USSSA remains one of the largest sports organizations to this day.