A Step Back In Time: Best Field Yet in 1960 ISC World Tournament

Written by Bob on July 24th, 2017

Joe Rodgers was the founder, owner, manager and shortstop of the Long Beach Nitehawks. During his managerial tenure, he led the Nitehawks to seven ISC World Tournament championships. Rodgers also served as an ISC Vice President from 1952 to 1967. He was inducted into the ISC Hall o f Fame in 1970. But Rodgers’ impact was even deeper than that in Long Beach: He was actually the original owner of the land where the Nitehawks softball field (since named Joe Rodgers Stadium) was put together, and he donated it to the city to ensure kids would continue to have the opportunity to play the sport that he loved. Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram Photo, Aug. 27, 1960

(Joe Rodgers’ column appeared Aug. 27, 1960 in the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram on the eve of the ISC World Tournament being held in Long Beach. The Nitehawks’ manager writes about his team, his players and the competition in the 21st ISC World Tournament.)

By JOE RODGERS
Manager, Long Beach Nitehawks
Aug. 27, 1960

LONG BEACH, Calif. – With the ISC World Softball Tournament starting tonight, (sports reporter) Hank Hollingworth graciously offered me the opportunity to write his column and devote it to my favorite sport – fastpitch softball.

And any of my friends know there is very little else I really care about. Softball is a great game and we here in Long Beach see the finest softball in the world.

It seems strange to me that people who have never seen softball say that they don’t like it because the pitchers are too good and there is not enough hitting. These same people I see at the Dodgers’ games saying they enjoy seeing a good pitching duel.

Anyone who has ever seen my Nitehawks first baseman Larry Silvas, outfielder Lucky Humiston or Second baseman Cleo Goyette can never say we win by pitching alone. Those boys swing from the heels like the best baseball players.

The teams that began arriving in Long Beach on Friday undoubtedly comprise what will be the strongest field in the history of the tournament.

Since softball is an amateur sport, any player is free to play with any team. Thus, each team in the tournament will have bolstered its lineup with the best players from its opposing teams. Therefore, there will be few, if any, weak teams.

Annually the best in the tournament are the California teams – headed by the Nitehawks, who I think could beat any softball team in the country in a three-game series.

However, this year, McComb, Illinois.; Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas, look strong enough to give any team a run for its money.

The popular Canadian team from New Westminster, B.C., strengthened by colorful pitcher John Ridley from Bremerton, Washington, also could be a spoiler.

McComb won the Illinois State Tournament by defeating perennial powers Rock Island and New Bedford and could go all the way.

But before any of those teams start casting eyes at the International Softball Congress title, they’ll have to reckon with my team.

We’ve won the trophy five straight times and don’t reckon to lose it this year.

The Nitehawks have had one of their best seasons, winning 31 and losing only 5. We have probably the best two pitchers in the tournament in Jack Randall and Leroy Zimmerman, while rookie Eddie Waymire is not far behind.

CLINT HERRON, one of the Nitehawks’ greatest players was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 1975. Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram Photo

Clint Herron has had a sore shoulder of late, but he’ll be back in the hot corner with the tournament starts. Stan White, Ted Herder and Nick Hopkins all had fine seasons.

Speaking of Hopkins, this kid could be the greatest player in softball in a year or two. He has all the tools for greatness – power, good fielding hands, speed – and the Nitehawks are really counting on this boy.

We are also counting strongly on the pinch-hitting of Lou Novikoff and Long Beach State’s Roger Hull. Novikoff, you’ll remember, was a great baseball player, but I always felt that he was an even greater player at softball.

AND ABOUT THIS FEUD between the ASA and the ISC…The other league, the Amateur Softball Association is trying to kill the ISC by forbidding teams to participate in ISC games.

In my 30 years in softball, I have strived to build clean, competitive softball. I saw many years when softball was nearly dead in this area, but I kept going and tried to rebuild interest. Now, Southern California is the softball capital of the United States, if not the world.

I am proud of the Nitehawks and the personnel that makes them click. I am also proud of what the Nitehawks have done for the city and youth of this town.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Nitehawks lost their opening game, and then proceeded to win nine straight to claim their sixth consecutive world championship (1955-1960) – a mark that stands today as an ISC World Tournament record .

And before the franchise disbanded in 1988, the Nitehawks had won ten ISC World Tournament championships (1953, 1955-1960, 1968, 1971, 1975) – the most in the 71-year history of the organization.

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Tom Stasik says:

    I was too young to play against that generation of Nitehawks, but we had a real battle with them at the 1979 World Tournament in Bakersfield.

    New Zealander, Kevin Herlihy, was pretty much unhittable during the entire tournament. We scored just enough runs to win the games. The Saginaw Bolters prevailed. Kevin won the championship again with the Lancaster, Chameleons.

  2. Cam Lind says:

    Awesome story, nice flashback.

  3. Maureen Robertson says:

    Clint Herron was my dad. My brother and I spent our childhoods watching Nitehawks games. We had no idea at the time just how special they were. When I watch the World Series it takes me right back to all the World Championships the Nitehawks won. They were very, very good. I also remember listening to Chuck Medic announce the games. He was totally blind and called the game by the sound of the ball and the bat. He was a sports writer for the Long Beach Press Telegram for years also.Talk about amazing!

  4. Bob says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of your dad and the Nitehawks. What great times those were!

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