The Perfect Example...

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Jun 11, 2022.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    The other day i chastised the board president for an article where she said things with no substance attached to the comments made. I know from experience, it's easy to make claims, proving them with supporting information is far more difficult. Putting meat on the bone is always more preferable.

    It's why most of the threads i write are lengthy and filled with history. There's usually a reason i feel and think the way i do. Perhaps the most often repeated phrase for me in my writings is "building a sense of community." There's a reason for that, it was how Sun City was built and why it was so successful.

    It's easy to say that, but reinforcing that point is even more simple. Literally, the proof is in the pudding, as the old axiom goes. Here's a short list; the PRIDE, the POSSE, Sunshine Service, SCHOA, Del Webb Sun Cities Museum, Friends of the Library, CAN, COA and a host of other organizations.

    Virtually every one of them was started by a member of the community who saw a need. Most of them were born of very humble beginnings and grew and flourished when Sun City residents jumped in, joined hands and turned them into long standing spectacular organizations. Truly a community effort that needed those living in Sun City to donate their time and expertise to make the community function as well as it did/does.

    Sun City and its sister city, Sun City West are similar in construct. Both have these supporting organizations that newer, smaller age restricted communities don't have. They don't have the need, they weren't built and sold around an infrastructure where volunteerism was a key ingredient for their success. They were just "fun cities."

    I know everyone tends to focus on the Rec Centers of Sun City and all they offer. Honestly it is the attraction. Eight golf courses, eight rec centers, the Sun Bowl, Viewpoint Lake and the amazing grounds with it. All coming at a fraction of the price compared to our competition. Most often, it isn't until you move here and grow to understand the value of all of the other organizations on the periphery that makes us unique, special.

    There is an organization, now long since departed, that epitomizes that sense of community. In all likelihood, you've never even heard of them. Their efforts were quite frankly astounding. I had never paid any attention to them. Now that i am digging into their history, even i am blown away.

    Tomorrow's another day and we can start looking into how it all unfolded. Stay tuned.
  2. suncityjack

    suncityjack Active Member

    One of the most intriguing cliffhangers ever....
    eyesopen and BPearson like this.
  3. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    If i told you this all started in 1932, you might raise an eyebrow, but indeed it did. If it old you that for some 33 years, the saga was unfolding, you probably would be scratching your head saying, what the hell is he talking about? If i told you the names involved were the "Queens" and the "Ramblers," only the sharpest knives in the drawer would have any idea where this is going.

    Until a few months back, i was as clueless as most of you. I've been kicking around the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum for more than a dozen years, read countless articles, led hundreds of museum tours and written volumes on Webb and Sun City. Never once did i pay any attention. This amazing group simply didn't register on my radar screen. In fact, they stayed out of the limelight. Their purpose was to let this amazing group of young female softball players be the story. The reality is, without the back drop of the Sun City Booster's Club, the Sun City Saints wouldn't have lasted for much more than a year or two.

    Here's the back story; The Queens and the Ramblers were the two most successful fast pitch softball teams in Arizona. Their storied past runs from 1932 to the mid 50's for the Queens and until 1965 for the Ramblers. Their roosters have any number of players in the Arizona Softball Hall of Fame. Some of them are true legends. In the 30's and 40's, coming out of the depression and through the war years, they routinely drew several thousand fans to the stands. They were that big.

    In 1965, the Ramblers ceased to exist. Around that same time, Sun City Arizona had become a hot spot, a landing zone for retirees wanting to stay active. Everyone knew Webb's passion for baseball, having just sold the New York Yankees (1964). Inquiries were made about the possibility to move the Ramblers team to this newly formed community. The local newspaper, The News Sun started talking to merchants who advertised heavily in those days. They also ran a questionnaire and asked residents, should Sun City have a girl's fast pitch softball team. The answer was resounding yes.

    Negotiations began with DEVCO and local business leaders. The Del E Webb Development Corporation (DEVCO) constructed a field near the corner of 108th and Grand Ave. It was nothing fancy, with chain link fences, rest rooms, concession stands and the old DEVCO sales office (which by the way is attached to the museum and is our theater). The stadium had a 1000 seats and more often than not, sold out. Total cost to build it, $11,000. Webb's people considered it one of the best investments ever made.

    Several of the Ramblers former players joined the team. One in particular stands out, Bev Dryer. The old franchise belonged to Ford Hoffman and when the team moved, it was ultimately put in Bev's name. It remained there until 1973 when she retired. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

    The News-Sun also ran a contest to name the team. There were more than 800 entries, several suggesting the "Saints." Turns out C. E. Kingsley's submission had the earliest postmark and he received a season pass to home games and gift certificates from the Grand Ave Merchants. Before the first pitch was ever thrown out, the interest levels for this newly formed team of transplanted athletes was high.

    The first game in this new field, was on May 7, 1966, playing against the Phoenix Rainbows. On May 20, the Saints took the field against The California Cuties (wait for it); the "Cuties" were a team of men dressed as women and the reports claim it was "uproariously funny." During the winter of 1966/1967 a women's winter softball league was formed with teams from Prescott, Phoenix and Tuscon.

    1967 was the year the Sun City Saints Booster's were formed. Much like i suspect you are doing, because it was the same thing i did, is think so what? I have known about the Booster's for as long as i have known about the Saints. The Saints always were the story, and an amazing story it is. Truth be told, the Saints incredible journey would never have been possible without the Boosters. When i come back to finish the story, i suspect you will be as stunned as i was. I still find what they did, almost beyond belief. Stay tuned.

    You've got to love Sun City history, it's that damned good.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2022
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  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let me wrap this one up with the down and dirty. As i am working towards the Nov, 4 event with the Sun City Saints at the Del Webb Museum, the stories are nothing short of spectacular. I always knew the Saints had a boatload of memories, i never full understood the role the community played in helping insure they were a successful part of the equation. How much they added to the Sun City way of life.

    When i read Webb spent 11k on the stadium, i thought that was a big deal. That was just scratching the surface. Once Bev Dryer took over ownership of the franchise from Ford Hoffman, it all fell on her shoulders. There was no way she could have pulled it off without the community's help. The Daily Sun Newspaper and its owner Burt Freireich was immensely helpful. In talking with Ben Roloff the other day i told him about the survey they did in 1966 and how the claim was there was massive support. He had the newspaper article from back then, the poll they took only got back around 30 votes. It was 28 to 3 in favor of bringing the team to Sun City.

    Burt was always a promoter and the scant numbers didn't deter him. If you think back, 1966 was the year Sun City turned the corner and sales begin the upswing. Meeker was moving mountains to insure Sun City took off and Burt saw the potential for several things; advertisement revenue, a local sports team to report on and best of all, community involvement. Back in those days, everyone got the local newspaper.

    I never got my head around this until i started reading the articles. Owning and running a team wasn't cheap. I've read reports were the initial years, the cost to field a team was between $10,000 to $20,000 a year. The field had a 1000 seats and a ticket cost $1. There was some revenue there but it was never enough. Once they moved to the new stadium in July of 1971, the expense of running the team had exploded to well over 20k and by the time they played their last game it was in excess of $40,000 a year. And that was with rent at $1. When DEVCO sold the stadium in 1983 the new owners, once the lease was done for $1 told the Saints the rent would be $6,000 a month. They were done.

    The rest of the story, those years from 1966-1984 are the stuff dreams are made of. The Sun City Boosters took these young women in as if they were their own daughters. There are any numbers of reports, stating that's exactly how Sun City residents looked at these ball players. I've talked to several of the women as we try and put the event together and to a person their memories of those years are amazingly similar; a love affair between the community and the team members.

    It's no accident the team survived, the Sun City Boosters refused to let them fail. At one point i read there were 400 plus members of the Boosters. They raised a boatload of cash, they donated their time and expertise and were always there for them. During those 18 years, the team took any number of over seas trips. It was incredibly expensive to do that, but time and time again the Boosters made it happen. They also traveled across the country for major tournaments, the community always stepped up.

    We have an array of amazing photos of the those years. This November 4 gathering will celebrate the players and hopefully produce a video that will tell their story that will live on for years. In all likelihood the Boosters story won't be told all that much, other than by those who show up and tell us about that love affair between a community of seniors who adopted these (in many cases, young girls) and accepted them as their own.

    People wonder at times about my love for our history, our story. The Sun City Saints and Sun City Booster's epitomize and embody that term, "a sense of community." In my humble opinion, it's what is and has been missing of late. I hope we can help everyone understand the importance of caring enough to try and make a difference. We'll see.
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  5. OneDayAtATime

    OneDayAtATime Active Member

    Bill - have you found any of the Boosters? I'd love to know what they think about the event on November 4th.
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    If there are any, they'd be around 100. Remember, the Saints were mostly young women, ranging in age from 18 to their mid 30's. Ages now, early 60's to mid 80's. The Booster's were all Sun City residents who were at least 55.

    Once we start to firm up the details we will rely heavily on the Independent newspaper for local stories about the event and who knows? We may find one or two out there who would love to come. Just part of the allure, the intrigue.

    Yesterday i posted a picture on the AZ Softball Foundation Facebook page of a Telegram sent from Dot Wilkinson, who was a long time star for the Rambler's softball team. It was to Thelma Keith of the Saints who were playing in Bridgeport CT, the site of the 1973 National tournament. Heck, when's the last time you saw a telegram? Anyway, Dot is still alive and is 100 and is in the Hall of Fame. Truly a legend.

    So many stories, so little time.

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