Although a couple current Church teams can be traced as far back as 1951, the modern church league has been around for roughly thirty years.
In 1976, a handful of Christian men came together in fellowship to form a small “Saturday afternoon” softball league. The name of this league was the Santa Clara Valley Church Softball League. Some of the Churches involved early in this adventure were Bethel Church, First Latin Assembly of God, Templo Elim, First Nazarene, San Jose Open Bible and Our Saviour Lutheran. Some of the fields used in the early days were Blackford Elementary School, Cahalan Park, Ocala Park and Willow Street Park. Al Barrientos, Lou Bocci, Dave Gary and Steve Peradia were instrumental in the leadership for the league, and were responsible for prepping the fields before each week’s games.
While the Santa Clara Valley Church Softball League grew to 10 or 12 teams by the late 1970’s, God had a plan for the 1980’s and beyond. In 1983, the league began to play Monday nights in the City of San Jose Parks and Recreation league. This change saw the league increase to 20 or 30 teams. Frank Carbajal became the league president in 1985; he and Vice President Al Barrientos continued the strong leadership. Among the Churches joining the league during this time were Crossroads Bible Church, Foxworthy Baptist, Cathedral of Faith, Central Christian, Victory Outreach and Twin Palms. Steve Wallace and Bubba Paris, both very large 49er linemen, played for Twin Palms, but in regards to their softball skills, let’s put it this way, they could play football!
The beginning of the 1990’s saw the league increase from 30-40 teams, while not losing the brotherly fellowship, prayer on the mound prior to the games, and commitment to devotions after the game had finished. Men such as Rusty Gray, Rod Carlson, Leonard Andrade, Bill Mockabee and Bill Harris stepped up to assist Frank and Al in the oversight of the league. Bethel Church, Jubliee and Cathedral of Faith enjoyed strong softball programs, sporting as many as 4 or 5 teams each season! The size of the league, 45+, quickly filled the available City of San Jose fields on Monday nights, and “byes” had to be incorporated into the schedules to accommodate the number of teams involved. The league also began a short fall season for those that weren’t ready to hang up the cleats until the spring.
The millennium saw a further increase in the teams involved in the league and with it the added responsibility of contacting the teams for schedules, sign-ups and meetings. The operation of a website to post scores, schedules and news was like manna sent from God. The league was bursting at the seams with 48 teams on as many as eight fields in the City of San Jose. For years, the leadership of the league had toyed with the idea of relocating the teams to Twin Creeks in Sunnyvale, where all the teams from Division One to Division Five would be at the same venue. Led by an infusion of new leadership including myself, Scott Falkowski and Lee Hickinbotham; the Board unanimously voted (8-0) to relocate the league to Twin Creeks for the 2003 spring and summer session. The league name was changed to the Greater Bay Area Church Softball League and a new website (www.softball4jc.org) was formed. Our first league included 49 teams in eight different divisions. We became a light for God in a place previously thought of to be a stronghold of darkness. As God continues to bless our fellowship, the number of teams involved in our league in 2004 has increased to 58.
We don’t have hard numbers regarding how many men have come to know Jesus because of this league, but would have to be quite a few since 1976.
We believe the best is yet to come, God Bless!