Stofflet and his ilk have, in effect, been partly responsible for the downfall
of fast-pitch softball. By raising pitching to a high art, they've brought the
best batters to their knees. It might be thought that able-bodied men from the
sandlots of America would want the challenge of fast-pitch; after all, 2 for 10
off Stofflet beats 10 for 10 off the ribbon clerk pitching for Shakey's Bar
& Grille any day. But, no, contact is the thing, as Stofflet will tell you
and tell you and tell you.
So by the time
Stofflet hangs it up, fast-pitch may have even fewer followers than it has
today. How many people know the name of Herb Dudley? Does anybody remember
Johnny Spring? Stofflet will be enshrined in the Softball Hall of Fame in
Oklahoma City, but that hall, unlike the one in Cooperstown, is hardly a
tourist attraction. Unless the Barbells or some folks in Reading take up a
collection, there will probably be no Ty Stofflet Day. As for Joseph Hartmann
down at the Ballietsville Inn? No testimonial dinners there.
worried about it," says Stofflet. "I've had my moments. That night in
New Zealand there were 10,000 people there. I bet I signed 500 autographs, and
I bet they never forgot that game. And what I'll remember most over the years
is the people who came up to me and said, 'We don't like you just because of
your pitching. We've seen you're a good sport and you pay attention to the
kids.' That's what I'll remember.
"But once I'm
finished with this competition, I'm through. A tour? I don't even know how it
could be done, to be honest. I've run around all these years, and when it's
over, I'm just going to disappear, know what I mean?"
Probably true. The
Stofflet legacy will be preserved only by occasional motorists or Ballietsville
Inn diners who happen to be passing down the road and see an old lefty
windmilling 'em in to an awestruck catcher. If they park for a moment, they'll
hear the sound of ball meeting glove. And they'll hear it plainly. Ol' Ty will
still be poppin' even when he stops poppin'. Know what I mean?