By Michelle Frost

Portland has a softball league consisting of 16 teams from some of the most popular pubs, bars and lounges in SE.  The season began May 30 with games being played at Clinton and Westmoreland Parks and a statement on the league’s Facebook page claims, “Founded in 2013. We are an independent league of ballplayers striving to bring excellence and good times to the world of softball”.

2014 A.S.S. Championship team

2014 A.S.S. Championship team

Teams include:  Red Flag,  Laurelhurst Theater, Workshop, Firkin Tavern, Star Bar, Commodore Lounge, Blackbird Pizza, Baerlic Brewing, House Spirits, Bunk Bar, Roadside Attraction, Church, Rose & Thistle, Olympic Provisions, Landmark Saloon and Laurelthirst Pub. These are the current standings posted online June 20.

Monica Ransdell, owner of Midpoint Food & Drink at 3524 SE 52nd, explained the casual nature of the games.

“No uniforms, just t-shirts.  It’s no strikes, no balls. You’re at bat until you hit the ball.”  Monica plays catcher and has been playing pick-up games for years.

“Pabst sponsors the league and Cory, who owns Blackbird Pizza, organizes it. He’s the coach.” Cory Jones , General Manager of Blackbird Pizza and A.S.S. Coach, was unavailable for comment.

The first round of play-offs will be 12 teams competing in 8 games August 15 and semis and final with 4 teams in 2 games finishing the season August 22.

The history of softball dates back to Thanksgiving Day 1887, when several  alumni sat in the Chicago Farragut Boat Club, awaiting the outcome of the Yale vs. Harvard football game.

When Yale was announced as winner, a Yale alumnus playfully threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter. The Harvard fan swung at the balled-up glove with a stick, and the rest of the group looked on with interest.

George Hancock, a reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade, jokingly called out, “Play ball!” and the first softball game commenced with football fans using a boxing glove as a ball and a broomstick as a bat, according to NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network.

In 1991, women’s fast pitch softball was added to the roster of the 1996 Summer Olympics. Today, an estimated 40 million Americans engage in at least one softball game each year, including players as young as 8 years old and some over 60. Softball has become especially popular in Australia, China, and Japan.