It has been three decades since the formation of the Twin Cities Goodtime Softball League (TCGSL).
What started in the late 1970s as a goodwill game between the Minneapolis Police Department and a gay team now has blossomed into a 34-team league with more than 500 participants. And those numbers continue to grow as the years pass.
As one of the nation’s largest GLBT softball organizations, TCGSL has produced a series of offshoot events that seek not only to raise money for the league, a nonprofit organization, but also to raise awareness while doing so.
TCGSL participant and North Star Classic Tournament Director Andy Kellermann says, “The Twin Cities Goodtime Softball League is players of various skill levels competing with or against their friends. It is the fund-raisers at a sponsor’s place of business. It is the Miss Twin Cities Goodtime Softball League Pageant. It is the North Star Classic Tournament. It is the diversity of our players and fans. And though we do have a good time, our teams are as competitive as any team in any sport. Managers strategize their lineup and positions to give them an edge over their opponent; statistics are kept, so teams can be placed in the proper division(s); and players take the time to consider where to hit the ball, and give their team the best chance to win.”
Each summer, TCGSL sends teams to the Gay Softball World Series (an event the Twin Cities hosted in 1996).
For Kellermann, though, TCGSL is more than the games it conducts, or the events it hosts. It’s about breaking perceptions he admits even he had prior to joining the league.
Kellermann explains, “While each league player and fan has a different perspective as it relates to our 30th Anniversary, from my perspective, I see 30 years of inclusiveness and shattering stereotypes. You only need to watch a game or two before the gay-athlete stereotypes dissolve. Players from every skill level often play on the same team. Those players and our fans represent all sexual orientations, gender identities, racial backgrounds, and age ranges. Those with advanced skills spend time coaching and encouraging players that are new to the game, even while competing against them for a win. While these few examples may not be unique in contemporary organizations, they are worth bragging about, because even during times when homophobia slithered, often violently, through our society, the Twin Cities Goodtime Softball League has always been there with open minds and hearts.”
The TCGSL 2009 season began April 26, and runs through August. All games are played at the Northeast Athletic Fields in Minneapolis on Sundays, 9:30 AM-5 PM, unless otherwise scheduled. All events are open to the public.
On the future of TCGSL, Kellermann remarks, “It looks rather bright. In the five years I have been part of the league, we have averaged at least one new team per year, and our events have increased in their scope and exposure. This trend shows no sign of abruptly ending or even slowing. It is the diversity and quality of our membership, combined with an excitement for what we do, on and off the field, that drive our growth. Organizations like ours have the ability to change minds or perceptions. It is through the visibility and growth of organizations like ours that segments of our society that may otherwise be marginalized are legitimized and humanized.”