Nearly 50 teams from Canada, Venezuela, and even Walcott, Iowa, have descended on Moline this week for the International Softball Congress World Tournament. In total, 48 teams from nine countries are participating.
Monday, organizers said that although a familiar face is missing from this year’s tournament, the legacy of “Mr. Softball,” or late park director Milt Hand, lives on.
“It’s the first national tournament, or in this case, international, since it’s been the Milt Hand Softball Fields at Green Valley Sports Complex. So, that’s really, truly an honor to Milt, and I think he would have loved to see this happening here again,” said host committee member Lynn Hunt.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Quad Cities was considered the hotbed for ISC. The tournament then took a 36-year hiatus from the area, until interest was revitalized in 2009. Now, for the third time in the past five years, Green Valley is playing host to the tournament.
“It’s huge, because it used to be here all the time. This used to be like the Mecca of fastpitch softball for men, and then it kind of branched out, it was in Canada and other places. Now, it’s finally come back here,” said Bill Chenault with the Walcott Lampliters.
Two years of planning have gone into the week-long tournament, which is expected to draw 5,000 players and fans to the Quad Cities.
“I think I’ve only missed one since 1995, but I think Moline’s about as good a place as we’ve been, coming from the Twin Cities,” said visitor Judd Berthiaume.
And Monday, players and fans agreed that many in the Quad Cities probably don’t even know how big of a deal this tournament is.
“There’s some teams, some names here that are Hall of Fame names, and there’s a lot of people that don’t know about it,” said Chenault.
“I don’t think they have any idea how much fun it is to come to a tournament where you have the top players in the world and see the intensity that they put into this,” added Berthiaume.
Play continues through the championship game on Saturday, August 17. You can find more information and the schedule on the ISC World Tournament website.