The Fairmount Park Women’s† Softball League has been part of the women’s sports community in Philadelphia for over 40 years. The league is organized and operated by volunteers and has 10 teams competing in 1 division.
Games are played at Belmont Plateau in West Philadelphia at Belmont and Montgomery Avenues just off Route 76 (Montgomery Avenue/Mann Music Center exit). The Plateau is also accessible from West River Drive.
The FPWSL season begins at the end of April and ends with a championship playoff in mid-July. Games are played 6:30pm on Wednesday and Friday evenings, and at 10AM and 12PM on Sundays. Teams can expect to have roughly 18 games during the season, as well as playoff games in July.
Our fall season runs from early September through early November. Games are played Sundays between and 10:00am and 1:30pm at Blue Bell Park. Each team plays roughly the 7 games throughout the season.
All league members also enjoy the opportunity to participate in many social events such as the End of Season Party, volunteer days, and league/team parties.
†When the FPWSL was founded over 40 years ago, it provided a much need place where women, both gay and straight, could meet and play softball. As a league, we believe that it is still essential to provide a safe environment for women and also recognize the important ways in which language, gender, and politics have changed in these past 40 years.
In keeping with the spirit and intent with which the league was founded, the FPWSL promotes a climate that is welcoming and interprets the idea of “woman” in the most inclusive way possible. Any person who now identifies as a woman or ever has, 18 years of age or older, regardless of religion or lack thereof, country of origin, race, sexual orientation, or disability status is welcome to participate in the FPWSL.
Below is the text of our 2016 Player of the Year’s acceptance speech, a speech that captures the spirit of FPWSL:
“Thank you for honoring me this evening.
And Sharkey, congratulations to you, too, as we share this honor together.
I would like to thank my beautiful team, my beloved Free Agents, for their love and support, and all others who voted me this award tonight.
I would like to thank my wife Monika who understands that softball is a part of our marriage.
I would also like to thank my beautiful daughter Cecelia who is here tonight, too. She was born during season 12 when I played on a team called Goddess Babes.
I’m here today to offer my sincerest gratitude to the league, the board, and every participant past, present, and future.
The league has never been more organized than in these past few years, and that is a tribute to the dedicated board members. I can’t thank you women enough for your work.
Much as I appreciate this award and as grateful as I am for it, the greatest reward is the simple opportunity to do what I love most – and that is to play softball.
How lucky are we to have this league?
Let me attempt to create some perspective for you.
When I joined the league in 1982, Ronald Reagan was President and Bill Green was mayor of Philadelphia. I came to Philly from New York City to go to medical school. I was only 22 years old and felt like a Stranger in a Strange Land. For some reason unknown to me, Philadelphians did not like New Yorkers. So I decided that after my 4 years of school were over, there was no way I was staying here after I graduated.
My first team was sponsored by the women’s bar called Mamzelle’s. Other teams also wore on their shirts the names of secret gay bars: Sneakers, Sisters, and Hepburn’s. Back then, the only way to meet other women was in the dark alleys of Juniper Street and Quince Street in the middle of the night.This was long before the rainbow street signs and the designation of the “Gayborhood”, which, as my daughter informs me, is now a geofilter on Snapchat.
Before Facebook, there was Telewoman and Au Courant. That’s how we communicated with the community. Telewoman was an underground, mimeographed periodical, that actually was mailed to us in a plain brown paper envelope.You had to know someone to join the mailing list so that you could be kept in the loop.
I am only sharing this with you to paint a picture of what it was like to be LGBT 35 years ago in the City of Brotherly and Sisterly love.
It was pretty closeted and not so easy.
So imagine the exhilaration I felt on that Opening Day in May of 1982 when I first set foot on beautiful, sacred, holy, Belmont Plateau, and all I could see were dozens of dykes, with gloves, balls, tube socks up to their knees, and plenty of mullets.
They were throwing white soft balls.
Back then, we played modified fast-pitch. With bunting. And stealing. I was ecstatic to be there, and for 35 years have never lost that feeling of opening day excitement.
And because of this, I stayed in Philly.
Back then, a woman named Lois Schlachter was the Commissioner of the Fairmount Park Recreational Department, and we all have her to thank for starting the whole thing.
So thank you, Lois Schlacter.
Please do not take what we have here for granted. This league is a gift from God.
It is a precious jewel that is under the radar and over the rainbow.
I won’t bore you with 35 years of stories of FPWSL, but I’m always happy to share with anyone who asks.
In 35 years I was fortunate enough to participate on many championship teams, but I assure you that is not what I remember most.
It’s the love and connection and lifetime bonds that form here.
I will remember getting kicked out of the field 5 parking lot by the park rangers, because 9:30 p.m. is just too early to leave the field when you’re hanging out with your team.
I will remember Belmont Balls, like the one where I fell in love with Monika and danced the night away at Belmont Mansion.
I will remember all the friends I have made and relationships that have lasted for decades like Deb Kennedy and Bonnie, Susan, Jane, Karen McGovern, Linda Chen, and Kim Howes.
I will remember All-Star games when some years there were three hundred women out watching the games and picnicking and partying on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July.
I will remember the couples who have met here and stayed together and even got married and had kids.
I remember one time, a new girl hit the ball and got so excited that she dropped the bat and ran her ass off…. straight to Third Base!
I could go on and on…
Any woman can join this league. You can be a hotshot softball player from high school or college and make diving catches and hit the ball a mile.
Or you can be a shy newbie who never played, shaking like a leaf at the plate or standing in the field praying that the ball will not be hit your way.
But then it comes, and it always does, when you get your first hit or make your first catch, and your life just got better.
That’s what this league is all about.
So tell all your friends and come out for the next 35 years… You’ll never regret it!”