Softball leader Don Porter dies aged 90

Wed 10 Jun 2020

Former International Softball Federation (ISF) President and World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Co-President Don Porter, who played a pivotal role in getting softball into the Olympic Games, died on Sunday 7 June aged 90 at his home in Oklahoma City.

Porter served as President of the International Softball Federation for 26 years, from 1987 through 2013, when the organisation merged with the International Baseball Federation to form the WBSC.  During his time as ISF President, softball grew into a global sport, and Porter’s mission of getting the sport onto the Olympic programme was realised.

It was a major disappointment to Don Porter was softball, along with baseball, was removed from the Games after the Beijng Olympics in 2008, an event that led eventually to the creation of the WBSC as the best vehicle to get the sports re-instated.


Tributes

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said, “The WBSC and the entire softball community mourns the loss of Don Porter, the main architect of the internationalisation of softball.  Our long-lasting friendship is full of special memories.  He will be remembered forever as one of the most influential leaders in the history of the sport, which is now played in over 130 countries around the world….  Softball would not be returning to next year's Olympic Games without the life and work of Don Porter.  We send our deepest condolences to his wife Jean and to Don's family and loved ones."

WBSC Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez said, "Softball is saddened by the passing of Mr Porter, a man who dedicated his life to globalising and growing our beloved sport.  He inspired all of us with his leadership, perseverance, courage and vision, and he gave us the opportunity to follow the path he created.  He will be sorely missed by the softball community, and his legacy in the sport of softball will continue to burn bright and touch millions of softball players and many future generations.  Modern softball history is directly linked with the name of Don Porter, the most important softball leader ever alongside the inventor and early developer of the game, George Hancock."

On behalf of the British Softball Federation, Administrator Bob Fromer said, “It was sad to hear the news that Don Porter had died.  Don was instrumental in getting softball onto the Olympic programme and growing the sport worldwide, but he also contributed to the growth and development of softball in Great Britain.  In our fledgling days in 1984, Don sent a high-level American team here to play fastpitch and slowpitch exhibition games to promote the sport and he visited the UK in 1985 when a World Games featuring women’s fastpitch softball was held in London.  Later, he worked with the BSF to deliver the first-ever Slowpitch World Cup, hosted at the ISF’s headquarters in Plant City, Florida in 2002.  The development of softball as a growing worldwide sport over the past 40 years was largely down to Don Porter’s tireless efforts, and everyone in the sport, including the current world governing body, the WBSC, owes him a debt of gratitude.”


Achievements

Donald Emmett Porter was born on 18 May 1930 and married his wife Jean in 1949. They had three children.

In 1962, in his role as the American Amateur Softball Association’s Executive Director, Porter helped conceptualise and launch the first-ever Women’s Softball World Championship in 1965.

He was elected ISF Secretary General that same year and served until 1987, when he was elected as ISF President, a post he held through 2013.

From 1968 onward, Porter was tireless in promoting softball's inclusion in the Olympic Games, a dream that was finally realised in 1991 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed softball as an official sport at the Atlanta 1996 Games.  Softball remained part of the Olympic program through Beijing 2008 and has since been reinstated, as baseball/softball, for the Tokyo Games that have been postponed to 2021.

Porter played a leadership role in 2013 in the merger of the ISF and International Baseball Federation (IBAF) that produced World Baseball Softball Confederation and acted as Co-President of the new world governing body until 2014.

He was also on the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors from 1968 to 1988 and was one of the founding members and the first Secretary General of the World Games.

Porter also served six terms on the Executive Council of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), was on the Executive Council of the Association of Summer Olympic Sports Federation (ASOIF) and was appointed twice (in 1994 and 1997) to the IOC Press Commission.  He was awarded the Olympic Order in 1997.

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