by Anita Moyt | edited by Sarah Rutledge Fischer
photos courtesy of Chuck Saylor
The 2017 Gay Softball World Series will be hosted in Portland, Oregon, September 3 to 10. On September 5, at the Tiger Woods Center, Nike Campus, one of Memphis’ own, Chuck Saylor, will be honored at the NAGAAA Hall of Fame dinner when he will be inducted into its prestigious hall of fame.
According to its website at www.nagaaasoftball.org, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) was formed in 1977, and is an international sports organization dedicated to providing opportunity and access for the LGBT community to participate in organized softball competition in safe environments.
There are more than 17,000 players from 46 cities across Canada and the United States who participate in member leagues, and the best of these teams converge once a year for head-to-head competition at its annual Gay Softball World Series.
Saylor was nominated for this award by Terry Brown and Chris Balton. (Balton was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.)
“People are submitted to the Hall of Fame committee,” Saylor explained the process,”and its choices are submitted to the voting members of NAGAAA. Two- thirds of those votes have to vote yes to induct an individual into the hall of fame. The first inductee was in 1997.” It should be noted that the inductees never see the submissions.
“The world series is for the best of the best,” Saylor continued. “Teams are considered for the world series if they have won the tournament for whatever city they represent,” he explained. “Umpires are selected every year, also, based on recommendations by other people and cities. I was actually asked to umpire in 2007; our commissioner submitted my name.” Saylor will be umpiring his tenth year in Portland.
Saylor has been and is still part of the Memphis softball leagues, both as player and as umpire, as well as administratively.
“I play on our league on Sundays,” Saylor said. “I umpire city games and world series. I umpire more than I play.” However, Saylor is prevented from umpiring in the league he plays on, due to conflict of interest regulations.
Saylor was instrumental in forming a softball team specifically for the Memphis gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“I started the first team in 1993,” Saylor said. “The Cruisers were not part of NAGAAA; we played in the Memphis City League. Later that year we found out there was a gay league in Nashville. It was pre-internet days and we didn’t know about NAGAAA yet. In 1993, 1994 and 1995, we drove twice a month to play in the Nashville League; and they would send one team to Memphis once a month.
In 1996, there were enough teams and interest that the Bluff City Sports Softball League was formed for the Memphis teams. Saylor is presently its commissioner. In 1998, Bluff City Sports joined NAGAAA, not an easy feat.
“We applied for membership,” Saylor explained. “We went to tournaments and made our presence known. We held two tournaments here. They watched how we were doing and saw us in other cities. They already have a fairly good idea about you by then (when you apply for membership).”
Saylor continues to support and promote gay softball in the Bluff City.
“Memphis is a small city,” he said, explaining gay softball here.” We have had seven teams the last two years. We want to increase and reach people to join and learn. We held our first skills clinic in March, before we started playing. It was for anyone who hadn’t played before to learn how to throw and hit and the basics of softball.
And how does Saylor feel about the honor?
“It is a surprise,” Saylor concluded modestly. “All I can say is thank you and I’m very humbled by the whole thing.”