Originally Published: May 1, 2006 4 a.m.
PRESCOTT ‹ After hopping around to different sites in the Phoenix area over the past 30 years, the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame may have found a permanent home here.
The Arizona Softball Foundation will officially relocate its Hall of Fame from Arizona State University in Tempe to Prescott later this month.
The Hall of Fame currently has approximately 170 enshrined members in five separate categories, including amateur men's and women's fast-pitch softball players, umpires, contributors and sponsors.
Grace M. Sparkes Memorial Activity Center (824 E. Gurley St.) will house the Hall and the wood-framed copper plaques of its members in a fairly spacious room situated at the far end of the Old Armory building.
This year the foundation plans to enshrine five or six new members and will add their plaques to the Hall's wall.
Prescott Parks and Recreation staffers as well as the new Hall of Fame project's managers, J.R. Barringer and Phil Kuritzky, refurbished the room where the shrine sits.
Ken Lindley Field, located a mere 50 yards away from the activity center, will host opening ceremonies for the Hall of Fame on May 27 at 9 a.m., before the city's annual Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Men's Fast-Pitch Softball Open Tournament kicks off.
An hour later, at 10 a.m., the public is invited to visit the completed Hall of Fame room in the Armory. After Memorial Day weekend, the room will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Prescott Parks and Rec staffers will be on hand to walk viewers through the Hall.
"Prescott's in the center of the state and it's considered a very strong fast-pitch softball community," Prescott Parks and Rec's Don Fishel said last Friday from his office in the Armory.
For years Veteran's Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix and Hayden Library on Arizona State's main campus in Tempe housed the Hall of Fame. However, the library ran out of space and could no longer hold the Hall's numerous memorial plaques and memorabilia.
Lacking a location and in a bind, Arizona Softball Association Vice President Karen Mischlipsy and the association's seven-member board crafted a deal with the City of Prescott's Parks and Recreation Department to relocate the Hall of Fame here. Both sides got the ball rolling for the move about a year ago.
"We want to keep the Hall of Fame in Prescott," Mischlipsy said. "Prescott's still considered the Softball Capital of the World."
As of late last week, some of the plaques were already hanging on the set-aside room's wall inside the activity center.
The Arizona Softball Association founded the Hall of Fame in 1974 and inducted new members every year until 1980. The Hall abruptly stopped enshrining new members for nearly 20 years, from 1981-99, because of a lack of volunteer assistance.
Not until 2000 did the hall pick up where it left off.
The Hall of Fame uses different criteria for judging men's and women's players who are candidates for enshrinement.
For women, the hall considers the number of years an athlete's played competitive softball and her national tournament appearances, as well as pertinent individual statistics (hitting, fielding and/or pitching).
Men are rated based on a points system that accounts for the number of years an athlete played competitively, his national tournament appearances and the times he was named an All-American, among other criteria.
"Probably every single one of our enshrined players played in Prescott at one time or another," Mischlipsy said. "It's a natural fit."
For more information about the Hall of Fame or its opening events contact Arizona Softball Foundation's Mischlipsy or Paul Rubin at 602-438-2928 or 602-229-8433, respectively.
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