Story by KHQA's Ace Henricks
"I started in January getting it started by calling some teams to come up here and play - it allows these little diamonds with 230 foot fences to actually be played on. I got a good response, and the teams are here,"
Rocco Ramsey is one of the Tri-States biggest fast-pitch softball diehards. Off the radar for most, Ramsey is trying to revive the dormant sport here at home in Bowen. Take one look at today's tournament and its obvious - Rocco isn't alone in his love for the game.
"I missed the game so much, I came out here today after playing fast pitch all my life since I was 12 years old. It died out years ago but I'm glad they have this wooden bat tournament,"
"It was a big game 20, 30, 40 years ago. It used to draw a lot of crowds where you could fill the stands and have people come watch you,"
There was a time when most every area town had a traveling fast pitch team, but lately the popularity has tailed off. Nowadays, its misunderstood as a leisure sport - far from it. The players will tell you a 75-mph pitch is difficult to handle. Its got the dimensions of softball mixed with the speed of baseball.
"Seeing it coming underhand is a completely different concept, you've got to teach yourself to pick it up from the hip. it's a quicker game than baseball. You'll see some good pitching, and you won't see many home runs or hits - a good pitcher can take you a long way in this game,"
"The short game comes into play where we're bunting or slapping and it can really be a pitcher-dominated game. There's guys out here who have never played baseball, they'll just pick it up, and they're good at it because its something different, and they'll play it,"
Ramsey is the perfect candidate to expose the sport to a wider audience. A hall-of-famer in 2 national fast pitch organizations, his goal is to keep the sport thriving, both with veterans of the game and a new, younger crowd.
"Trying to get the young kids to play is the toughest thing to do right now. They play baseball and then try to play this game where the ball moves different and they're not used to it, but if we can get the young kids involved, it has a chance,"
"If we brought fast pitch back it would have a good following again, because we're getting young kids to play who really love the game, and its a sport that I love and I think people would like it more if we had more of it,"
You don't have to play the game to get the fast-pitch experience. It's a culture unlike any other, and that's what gets you hooked.
"Its a commitment, its a big commitment, but its a commitment I love and I'm not changing. I'll have a team until they put me in the grave, I just love the game,"