Pomp, pageantry, purpose and a poignant touch were on display as the South Florida gay softball league closed its 22nd season recently with its End of Season Ceremony.
The South Florida Amateur Athletic Association recognized its league season and playoff champions, inducted two Hall of Famers, honored its top newcomers, and awarded a handful of players for their contributions to the league at the event held at Southern Nights on July 9.
The league also took time to honor those who have died in the past year with an emotional tribute.
Longtime contributors David Campbell and Kenny Silverman became the 44th and 45th members of the SFAAA Hall of Fame.
Campbell, on his second stint as the league secretary, was recognized for his longtime service, success on the field as a player and coach, and for his time as director of the league's Thanksgiving weekend national softball tournament, the Hurricane Showdown.
"This award was long overdue," said SFAAA Chairman Tim Martin.
Silverman, a local Realtor and SFAAA membership coordinator, was feted for his time as a player, coach, league executive and sponsor.
A highlight was when Michael Moody, coach of the Broward Ballbusters, was presented the Ed Charters Sportsperson of the Year award for the job HE did in his first season as Hurricane Showdown director.
Charters, who passed away a couple years ago, was Moody's best friend.
Gym Bar Alive and Kicking was mentioned earlier in the ceremony for taking third place at last year's Gay Softball World Series in Austin, Texas.
The Ballbusters team packed a section of the bar in support of their leader.
"I am humbled beyond words," Moody wrote on his Facebook page.
The Joe Pawlik Volunteer of the Year award went to Josh Yeager of the Silverman Supervillains. Yeager stepped up this past season, serving on both the SFAAA by-laws committee and ratings committee as well as assuming the coaching role for a newly formed team, the Sidekicks.
"It was an honor to be recognized by the board of directors of the SFAAA," Yeager wrote on his Facebook page.
Former league commissioner Abe Hasbun was presented the inaugural Hurricane Showdown Volunteer of the Year award for his longtime work with the softball tournament. The award will be called the Abe Hasbun Award in the future.
"Nothing says that you're getting old more than when they name an award after you," Hasbun wrote on Facebook.
Other annual awards went to Jessenia Perez of Rumor's Wolfpack as the D Division Newcomer of the Year, and Thomas Dee of the Supervillains as the C Division Newcomer of the Year. Todd Eller of Scandals Saloon was given the specially created Pride Award for his contributions to SFAAA during the recent Stonewall Pride parade.
The most emotional moment came during a presentation honoring those with ties to the league who had passed away in the last year. Nine people died since the last awards ceremony, including three in the week leading up the event.
Those who perished were Bob Dias, Randy Gillund, and Billy Gilliland -- all former league executives and SFAAA Hall of Famers; former players Marshall Blackwell, Jr., Robert Falcon, Algiere Pabon, and Craig Wright; former Mills Pond Park and Piccolo Park umpire Beverly Lupo; and league supporter/cheerleader/scorekeeper Gareth Chapman.
The crowd hugged and the lights dimmed as Moody read the names of the fallen. Then the room erupted with a cheer of "Great game, guys!" to punctuate the moment.
Also honored were all the teams heading to the NAGAAA World Series in September. The teams include the GYM Bar Bombshells of the B Division; the GYM Bar Rebellion and Supervillains of the C Division; the Alibi Bombers and Rosie's Renegades of the D Division; and the Village Pub Code Blue and GYM Bar Hot Hitters of the Masters Division.
All seven teams will be competing for national championships in the annual World Series during Labor Day week in Portland, Oregon.
The SFAAA begins its fall season on Sunday, Sept.18, at Mills Pond Park.
Registration and ratings are scheduled for Sunday, August 20, and Saturday, August 26. A mini tournament of all the World Series teams will be held Sunday, August 27, at Mills Pond.
For more information, follow the league at www.sfaaasoftball.com
For information on the Hurricane Showdown, check out www.hurricaneshowdown.net