* Radigonda seems resigned to the fact that adult softball participation is following the arc of its namesake slow pitch. "I don't think we'll see those numbers that we once saw, because society has changed so much," he says. "When I first started running softball leagues in 1972, the entry fee for a team for 10 games was $30. It's not $30 anymore. It depends on what part of the country you're in, but teams are paying between $60 and $100 a game in entry fees. The economics are never going to get back to where they once were, and that has something to do with how much people play. I was a four-night-a-week player. I played all the time. Economically, I don't think you'll see that people will be able to afford to do that."
* Ron Radigonda, executive director of the Amateur Softball Association of America, points to a pair of societal shifts at play. The first is the aging of the baby boom generation, which counts among its members Radigonda, who once played fast-pitch softball four nights a week and ran leagues in Sacramento, Calif. The other could be viewed as a departure from the "me generation" mentality. "The bubble of the playing population is not as big as it once was," Radigonda says. "And we're seeing more parents foregoing their participation in recreational sports in order to provide recreational opportunities for their children."
For some, it's not so much a lack of personal drive as resources. "I have kids, and I definitely have had to look at that myself a little bit more during the hard economic times," says Bob Adams, leisure services director for the city of Greeley, Colo. "Instead of me playing softball, I'm definitely making sure my kids are able to do the sports programs they're wanting to do."
* The "Me generation," as the baby boomers have been called, are no longer in their prime athletic years, as they were when softball flourished in the late 1980s. Then, the city of Lansing alone had 270 teams one year. It has about one-third as many teams now.
"Those guys who used to play in three leagues during the summer and would just basically tell their families, 'Hey, I'm playing softball on Monday, Wednesday, Friday — Good luck, family,' are now only playing once a week, " DeWitt Area Recreation Authority executive director Chad Stevens said. "I think people are spending more time with their families, which is great, which we need to recognize."