One month went by since Don Porter passed away on June 7th, 2020, at the age of 90.
Softball Europe President Gabriel Waage and Secretary General Ami Baran wrote a tribute to Mr Poter to commemorate him on the one-month occurrence of his passing.
This tribute to Don Porter comes from Ami Baran and myself as a personal tribute to the man who was the engine behind International softball with never-ending energy. For so many years, he worked for Softball from sunrise to sunset, and sometimes sunrise to sunrise.
It might not be the exact kind of tribute everyone expects, but I am sure Don would appreciate it, as we both have known Don for a long time. Ami was once told by Don himself that he would be the one whom Don would want to give the eulogy at his funeral.
Don Porter was a leader who took the vision of developing softball from a local continental sport in the USA to a thriving World International Megasport, ending up with it being included in the Olympics. There will be some that say along the line, Don did not know what he was doing, that it all was for his ego and had nothing to do with the players, coaches, or teams. We disagree with that assumption and truly believe Don dedicated his life to promoting the sport, the athletes, and the member federations involved in developing Softball.
Don was the Secretary-General of the ISF for 22 years and the President for another 26 years. Through the years, we had our difference, and, at times, we were not on Don's good side as we opposed many of his decisions, actions, and beliefs. However, Don always tried to find out why we opposed him. In many of the cases, he heard us out, and, when felt that our arguments were sensible, he changed his decisions and acted accordingly. This quality he possessed of understanding the "field" opened the door for almost half a century of dedication to the ISF and its members.
Don's ability in public speaking, addressing foreign dignitaries, and hosting international events was a uniqueness that not many heads of International Federations have. In many instances, he could make you feel important and that your ideas were going to be considered at some point in the future. Once, he jokingly mentioned that his reply to an idea that would come up in a conversation or a congress "thank you for your input, we will study it and take it into consideration" was something he learned from IOC President Jacques Rogge. Don had his ways and was adamant of what he believed in and how he thought he could get the job done, and for that, he deserves our respect.
The final road that Don took was the merging of Baseball and Softball into the WBSC. This merge was not easy for him as, for years, he believed and advocated that Softball should stand alone and not partner up with Baseball for numerous reasons. However, at one point, he understood that the only possibility of getting back into the Olympics after the devastating decision of the IOC in 2005 was to create along with IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari the WBSC. Don held the Co Presidency position until 2014 when he retired from the service of Softball.
Don Porter left us with many mixed feelings about Softball, ourselves, and what the future has in store for us. He taught us that to be a strong viable sport, we always need a game plan, need to play hard, steal a base, slap, and when it comes down to the last out in the bottom of the 7th hit one out of the park and win the game.
Now that is a lesson we all need to learn.
Farewell Don, you will be remembered by all of us.
Softball Europe President
/ Photo courtesy of WBSC