Interview conducted on 12/18/2016
Who are you managing/sponsoring in 2016 and what teams have you been with in the past?
WORTH ASTROS / K&G / KLUTCH / WILSON / THORNTON / TROUPE. Name is not set in stone and could change slightly – still trying to find one more small sponsor. Astros has been part of the name for 47 years. Most recent years it has been Red's Astros.
Why do you like the game of softball?
Love the competition. Loved playing baseball as a kid and that carried forward to softball in college. But even better is all the great relationships and friends because of years of having a softball team.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen (by decade if possible)?
Some of the guys I admired in the prior eras were Britt Hightower (great all around player), Rick Scheer (extremely quick for his size), Stevie Williams (great shortstop), Stan Harvey (great swing), Jason Kendrick (great all around), Bruce Meade (legendary slugger and legendary mustache), Todd Joerling (great infielder and hitter), and Greg Whitlock (another great shortstop). A shout-out to Rusty Bumgardner who always treated me with great respect and was a great player. There are lots of current players among the best ever – too many to list them all – but Andy Purcell has had a great impact on the game. Greg Connell is the best hitter ever. Love Jason Branch's game as well as Andrew Collins.
Where do you call home?
Fishers Indiana – which is a northern suburb of Indianapolis.
What do you do for a living?
I am an IT Director for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency – a state agency in Indiana. I also do some tax work and have for over 28 years during the months of December thru mid-April.
What is your softball background as a player?
I played some fast pitch in college and then I started a company team in Anderson, Indiana in 1970 as the Anderson Astros. I was a decent hitter who hit a walk off to win the very first tournament I ever entered. I was hooked and never looked back – still the Astros 47 years later. But I realized if I wanted to be one of the best teams – I had to do the organizing and find better players to get me there.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
When I started that company team in 1970 and achieved some success, the burning desire to be among the best drove me – I just flat loved competing and loved the game; Fortunately my wife enjoyed the friends we made thru the game and approved. She has been a partner in this venture from the start and still is 47 years later.
What is your teams goal for 2017?
I have won lots of things and rings over the years but I want to win the USSSA AA Worlds more than anything else. I want to earn a spot in the Major World Series and make the top 4. I want our guys to be recognized for hard work, playing with class and representing our sponsors well.
Where do you look for talent?
There is a lot of talent in our tri-state area of Indiana/Ohio/Kentucky. That is where we start to find good players. Others make it known they would like to play for us. And we meet a lot of great guys through our membership in the Conference who also play well. I used to watch a lot of lower class tournaments but don't get to do that as much now.
How do you evaluate players?
I look for guys who excel in the game but also put the team goals ahead of personal goals. A prime example is Chad Mullins. He is a great hitter but still under rated. He has made some all conference squads so how is he under rated? He is so unselfish that he always tries to do the right things when hitting. He could easily hit double the home runs if he wanted to do so. He hits .750 by hitting half the home runs other .750 hitters do because he rarely hits a bad home run. Works on hitting backside and drawing walks. Love the guy. Steve Edwards is an example of a guy who succeeds because he works his rear off to be better. I am blessed to have a team full of guys in 2017 who both work hard and play the game the right way. And of course I love being involved with a great equipment company like Worth/Miken and gentlemen like Denny Helmig and Jason Kendrick. Always helps to swing the best.
What is your favorite sports team?
Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
Indiana Pacers (NBA)
Chicago Cubs (MLB)
Indiana Fever (WNBA)
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
I really don't have any that drive me.
What is your most memorable softball moment?
It is a recent one – being inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame. When you devote 47 years of your life to softball – there is no higher honor. I am very grateful to all the players, sponsors, coaches and friends that helped me achieve that honor. Special thanks to Red Moore.
On the field, it would probably be winning the 1986 ISA AAA Worlds in Marietta, Georgia. Because it was my first world.
What improvement/changes would you like to see in upper level softball that could bring in more sponsors?
I really wish I had some answers because I love this sport and want to see it flourish. But it will never be like it was in the 80s. Kids are not into it like they used to be – this goes all the way down to little league. In my childhood the whole neighborhood played. and played all day. Boys, girls all ages and skill levels. We played for fun. Now it is more organized but the kids have less fun – maybe too much pressure at an early age keeps kids from loving it like we did. I don't think anyone has the answers – not even TM55+.
What is your favorite non-World tournament?
The Smoky Mountain Classic. We played in the PIF in Canada a couple times and that was a blast too.
Who was the best team in softball history?
Howards had some great teams in their day as did others. And the top three teams now are great. But there are so many good ones that I can't put the finger on one team right now.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
A guy on my team rounded second and then ran toward the third baseman, sliding in at his feet. The third baseman tagged him out. He jumped up claiming he was under the tag. Except that third baseman was 20 feet up the line from the bag.
Tell us something about you that most would never know?
I am sentimental. I cry at weddings, funerals, sad movies, happy moments and sad moments alike. I love Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig cartoons – and the muppets.
What is your favorite way to spend an off weekend?
Concerts – I love live music and plays. Love all kinds of music and musicals. Journey and Alabama are my two favorite bands of all time. Love the old rockers like Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen.
What advice can you give a young player who is trying to move to the upper level?
It is hard for young guys to get a chance sometimes. I try and follow some but just can't like I used to. Try and get a spot on a better team and work your way up. Find the top players and hit with them. Unfortunately nowadays it can be a matter of being in the right spot at the right time. And knowing the right people. Make yourself known to those people and be persistent that you want a chance.
Pat Price introduced Sponsor Herb Price at the 2016 USSSA Hall of Fame inductions