Friday Flashback: American Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League
Posted On June 3, 2016
In 1977, the Amercian Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League (APSPL) began the first professional softball league. The league opened with teams in Balitmore, New York, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Kentucky, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Chicago. They also had some strange nicknames whether from sponsors or just plain “goofy” such as the Minnesota Goofys.
Sports promoter Bill Byrne created the APSPL after his experience with the World Football League and the Women’s Professional Basketball League. The league began in May of 1977 and featured several top amateur teams who were willing to spend more money to compete on a professional level.
The league lasted from 1977-1980 when it merged with another league but by the late 1980s professional softball died.
The most dominate teams in the league were the Detroit Caesars and Milwaukee Schlitz. Detroit captured two “world series” titles while Milwaukee claimed three.
The Caesars (sponsored by Little Caesars Pizza played home games at Memorial Field near Detroit. A crowd of 9,000 turned out for their first game in June 1977. The Caesars were led by Ronnie Ford who hit 88 home runs and drove in 196 in only 267 at bats. The Caesars were the best team in the league in 1977 with a record of 42-14 and swept the Baltimore Monuments in four games to win the APSPL World Series.