The age of the new era of “Big Time Softball” is kicking off the first of the 2002 World Softball League’s tournaments in Daytona Beach, Florida this coming weekend March 22-24th. It wasn’t long ago when my good friend, Jerome Earnest said to me “Gordie, somebody has to bring this great game we all love to a new level someday to make this game more competitive and keep the interest of the sponsors, manufacturers, players and fans”. It wasn’t long after Jerome’s passing that John Daniels and I started discussing just that. At the time I didn’t realize what a promoter John was, having the knowledge he had to promote and form the largest snowmobile racing association in the country in his hometown state of Minnesota. JD had the knowledge and experience to bring this game to the next level. He said “we can help make “Big Time Softball” be what Nascar is today by obtaining many sponsors to be put on ! the uniforms of the teams, just as the drivers of Nascar have on their uniforms and cars. By obtaining corporate sponsors like that we will be able to promote television coverage nationwide and bring the game to the highest level it can be. That is exactly what JD did, contracting all 13 television shows this season to be aired on Fox Sports Net. John & I talked about it a lot and I suggested to John to secure two or three of the big tournaments to go along with our events. I told him I could get “The Pif” in Quebec, Canada, one of the biggest fan drawing tournaments held annually on the fourth of July. John & I flew to Montreal and met with their committee and confirmed the deal. I also suggested to go after the two biggest tournaments, “The Smoky Mountain Classic”and “The Dudley”. John did secure “The Smoky Mtn. Classic”, but the Dudley still will remain a USSSA event, but should be part of the television coverage. Hopefully that will occur in the near future. JD also has secured the ASA World Series and the NSA World Series to be the World Softball League events. I also believe that the USSSA and the ISA World Series’ should be a part of the World Softball League, but they have chosen not to participate at this time. Both of these events are quality events and should be part of the Fox Sports television coverage. Now as for the World Softball events, I can tell you that talking with the representatives from each of these tournaments that they will be very successful by the number of participating teams entered. I for one when we first picked the cities, was wanting to have no more than 8-10 teams entered in these events. The reason behind that was I wasn’t sure how much trouble it would be getting enough baseball fields in a city to handle more than 8-10 teams to complete a tournament in a weekend and also because of the round robin and the ! double elimination format that the NASH uses, we would need a bunch of fields if we were to go with more teams. I can tell you first hand that I took 16 teams for the Daytona Beach tournament and turned away 8 more because of the inability to get more fields that I could acquire because of a big college baseball jamboree being held in the Daytona Beach area throughout the month of March. It also is Spring Break here this month. I find it very amusing as I usually do on the message board how somebody wrote” why would some idiot have a tournament in Daytona Beach in March”. I guess that idiot knew what he was doing didn’t he, ha!! I had a very difficult time securing baseball fields for this tournament, due to mis-communications on the City of Daytona’s Park and Recreation Dept,. who had given our dates that we secured for the Jackie Robinson Stadium to the baseball jamboree for the month, and also gave us dates on top of them. They also! had made plans to sod the stadium for the minor league team the Cubs the same weekend as our tournament. I did secure three nice baseball diamonds in the Daytona Beach area, which will be a pleasure to play on. The expense was more than we expected securing these three fields, but with our help of our tournament title sponsor Resmondo Sod we will have three great fields to play on. I would also like to say it will be a pleasure to sit back and watch this tournament with ten of the top twenty teams in the nation unfold the new era in “Big Time Softball”. As for the other World Softball events Spartanburg, SC, Richmond, Indiana, Columbus, Ohio and The Pif Quebec, Canada they will be very successful with the response they are getting. “The Smoky” will be full along with the two World Series’ which will make this eight exciting tournaments that you won’t want to miss!!