Play Ball! Ed Parsons Softball Kicks Off May 20

by Renata Toney

Sunday, May 20 at the field named in honor of the sports legend. Games for the 12-week season will start at 11 a.m. each Sunday on Fillmore Avenue (between Kensington and E.Delavan) just south of the Kensington Expressway. Come on out for food, laughs and down-home family fun. The public is invited to the front diamond at 12:30 PM at the season opener to pay tribute to Commissioner James Hartley who passed away last November.

His affiliation with the league spans over decades–in 1962 Hartley’s uncle took him to his first game as a youngster which made a lasting impression. He went on to later coach some of its championship teams and managed the league for more than 20 years. “Mr. Hartley also revived the league when it disbanded for a couple of years,” noted Demetrius Richards, newly appointed commissioner who will now lead the 12-week season.

James Hartley

“We lost our fierce leader who will be dearly missed, especially by me. He trained me to someday take over, I have some HUGE shoes to fill. I’m assured he will watch over and guide us to continue in the right direction. He was a mentor and friend.” Sonya Fields will resume her role as deputy commissioner. “I knew James Hartley for more than 30 years,” remembers Sonya. “I attended nearly every game when he served as a coach on the league. He was my protector, always looking out for me.

You could count on his honest opinion, good or bad, right or wrong. He mentored me as deputy commissioner to always stand my ground, he’ll be deeply missed.” The league also gives a warm welcome to newly appointed deputy commissioner A.C. Brown.

Plans are underway to the name two diamonds at the field in honor of Commissioner Hartley in the very near future. Stay tuned for more details on an official naming ceremony.

The season will culminate with two weeks of playoff games and the popular annual major league championship throw-down. Many thanks to Daren ‘Doc’ Thomas for his ongoing support with the promotional photo. Founded in 1959, Ed Parson, Sr. launched the Sunday Morning Memorial Softball League with a bold vision to design a local African American baseball and basketball alliance.

With the financial backing of the late Marshall Myles, a prominent East Side socialite and businessman, they recruited the city’s most versatile all-high players forming some of the most powerful squads in the region.