Philadelphia’s LGBT softball league is in full swing, and the city is rolling out the welcome mat for LGBT teams from around the country.
The City of Brotherly Love Softball League hosted 31 teams from around the country for last month’s Liberty Bell Classic, and will for the first time stage a separate women’s tournament at the end of the month.
Cathy Harris, CBLSL women’s commissioner, said the women’s divisions have had trouble garnering participation from out-of-league teams in previous years, which she said could be partially attributed to the fact that the tournament is held on Memorial Day weekend.
“I can’t expect my CBL teams to pay for a tournament to play each other when we do that every Sunday,” Harris said. “So, I went to various leagues and asked them what we can do to get teams to come to a Philly tournament, [and] they suggested holding it on a weekend other than Memorial Day because so many women like to go away that weekend. Women’s teams just don’t seem to travel as much as the men’s.”
Harris noted that holding the women’s event separately from the men’s also helped to free up field space for last month’s tournament.
Jeff Sotland, CBLSL commissioner, said the Liberty Bell Classic drew about 500 players and another 500 spectators. The games, which were divided into B, C and D division competitions, were played at Stauffer and Metropolitan Fields in New Jersey. Women were also able to play in the D division.
The Boston Club Café Angels were victorious in the B Division, while the Providence Grind and the New York Dish topped the C and D divisions, respectively.
CBLSL had nine teams compete, although none made it to the trophy level.
There were 117 games played throughout the two-day tournament. The match-ups were picked out of a hat, and then all teams participated in a three-game series to determine the rankings before moving on to double elimination to narrow the field.
Sotland said the tournament has a two-pronged goal: “It is about competition, but it’s also a chance to get everybody together in a social environment who’s involved in softball.”
The tournament registration party was held May 22 at 12th Air Command, the same locale as the registration event for Fins Aquatic Club’s International Swim Meet that weekend, which allowed participants to network with both LGBT swimmers and softball players and their supporters from around the country.
The league also staged the Camac Street Festival May 23 and a closing dinner and awards presentation at Sisters the following night, as well as a Gayborhood bar crawl.
Sotland said the event drew participants from throughout the country, from Florida to California to New England.
Harris said the women’s tournament is more localized than the men’s event, with teams currently hailing from Harrisburg, Norristown, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., but that she expects a great influx in participation. Last year, just seven teams competed in the women’s division, but Harris expects 12-14 to participate this year, including up to eight CBLSL teams.
CBLSL will open the tournament with its registration party June 26 at Stir Lounge, 1705 Chancellor St. Teams will compete in three games that Saturday to determine their seed, and participants will unwind at Sisters, 1320 Chancellor St., that night before heading into Sunday’s double-elimination round.
Games will be played in Pennypack Park, just off of Street Road and I-95.
Registration for the tournament ends June 19.