Inland Empire Softball Hall of Famers listed on new kiosk at Merkel
They held a diamond jubilee Thursday morning at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.
With the unveiling of a new kiosk, the Inland Empire Softball Hall of Fame honored the area’s biggest contributors to the sport while acknowledging the contribution of participants past and present – tens of thousands of them.
The city of Spokane also got some props for the 2008 bond measure that helped boost recreational facilities throughout the city. The 20 or so softball enthusiasts and city officials were surrounded by what is considered one of the better facilities in the region.
But the attention on Thursday focused on a new kiosk that lists the 386 members of the Inland Empire Softball Hall of Fame. It replaces the small plaques handed out each year and puts a public face on the association.
“We needed to do something, especially in such a nice park,” said the hall’s board chairman, Dan Fry, one of eight board members present at Thursday’s gathering and also a Hall of Fame member.
“It’s a big deal, that’s our reward,” said Fry, who played for 15 years and coached for 11 more. “You get to be in the same sentence as the guys before you.”
Fry estimated that 30,000 to 35,000 players have participated in softball in Spokane since the 1940s.
Noted fellow Hall of Fame member Doug Bender, “It’s great for the younger people to see what teamwork does.
“Everybody who played softball was a fan, I don’t care who you played against,” said Bender.
Fry noted that the plaque also recognizes past winners of the organization’s $1,000 scholarship award for area girls. Bender said the group hopes to increase that in the near future.