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Central Florida Softball League

One morning in May 1997 (or thereabouts...) Russ Crumley ran into Algieri Pabon and he chatted about his weekend in Tampa that had included watching a game of softball in Hyde Park. He commented "It's a shame Orlando doesn't have one..." and I replied "Why not start one?"  They both thought it would be a great idea. Russ had never played baseball or softball, and I think it was a first for Algieri, too. Russ talked about people who might be interested and I called many of them that week. He printed up flyers on his home printer and scheduled the first "game" at Delaney Park on a little league field. Vince and Russ papered Southern Nights and the Firestone parking lots, and got an immediate response. About 24 people showed up at the park for the first scrimmage. In fact, the field was so small almost everybody hit a home run! 
In June(?), a small group made some shirts and traveled to Tampa to play an informal game with one of the Tampa teams. There they learned lesson #1: summer is way too hot for softball!
Russ went online for research and called other leagues (Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.) to find out how they organized their leagues and incorporated the Central Florida Softball League in July 1997. It organized into teams -  and met in his dining room for the first year - and began planning a Fall season. The new league continued to advertise for players and fielded a total of 8 teams for the first season in the  Fall of 1997.  
Initial leadership: 
Russ Crumley - President
Vince Koehle - Treasurer
Steven Blackwell - Secretary
Due to the energy of the original group, the league quickly grew from 30 to over 400 members within 2 years. Russ quietly sold ownership of CFSL to the league for $1 in 1998. He didn't think anyone really knew he owned it!

He remembers Tom Dyer asking  why he didn't simply keep it and he replied, "I sold it for two reasons: 1) I enjoyed the startup phase most of all, and 2) it was a community-based group that belonged to the community. I'm glad I had a small hand building it, but the real kudos go to all the passionate members who invested so much of themselves into the league."
Last modified onFriday, 10 April 2015 10:03
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