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Loss of a legend: Ty Stofflet dies at 79

January 24, 2021

Allentown, PA - - Loss of a legend: Ty Stofflet dies at 79



by The International Softball Congress (ISC)

 

With the passing of Ty Stofflet, the world has lost one of the greatest pitchers to ever play our game of fastpitch softball. The ISC extends our deepest sympathies to the Stofflet family during this time of sorrow.

Ty's story starts with his father Harold, a baseball and softball pitcher, showing Ty and his one-year younger brother, Larry, the place of sports in a person's life including the advantage that a lefty might have over a righty. During his children's early years, Harold put all balls into their left hands. Even though he was a righty, all his children are southpaws.

Harold took the boys with him for his local ballgames and later was a coach on the first Allentown team that went to the ISC World Championships, the Allentown Patriots, led by Ty in the pitching circle. According to Bill Howell, who played a career's worth of games with and against Ty: "In 1963, the Allentown Patriots won an ISC qualifying tournament and accepted a bid to participate in the ISC World Tournament. The Patriots were led by a 22-year-old phenom from Coplay, PA, Ty Stofflet, who threw hard but hadn't as yet learned the intricacies of pitching. Nevertheless, some people within the ISC recognized the star power that Stofflet projected because he was voted the most popular player in the ISC tournament two years in a row."

Stofflet and the Patriots rose to 2nd place in the 1967 ISC World Tournament. Ty was selected MVP of the tournament. It should be noted that throughout his 30 years of competition at softball's highest levels, Ty maintained a .300 career batting average. His MVP status typically included recognition for timely hits, RBIs and runs scored, as well as catlike fielding and overpowering pitching. Ty had all the tools, and "between the lines" he neither gave nor expected less than full effort. However, outside the lines, this phenom was a guy from Coplay who invariably showed interest in players, officials, and fans. He was often a one-man embassy, extolling the virtues of his chosen sport and bringing new fans to the game.

In 1968 and 1969 Stofflet went from the Allentown Patriots to Sal's Lunch, a team from Philadelphia, PA. He competed in ISC World Tournaments in both years and in 1969 won first place for a team best described as great pitching, good fielding, almost no hitting. Sal's Lunch batted 19th out of 23 teams and scored a total of seven runs in five games. Ty struck out a record 86 batters in 42 innings without giving up a run in the tournament. He batted .279 in the tournament and was voted Tournament MVP.
In 1970, Ty moved back home to the Reading Sunners and played for them under one or another team name for the next 16 years. The Sunners were aligned with the ASA and therefore were restricted from ISC competition until 1984.

Ty appeared in ASA National tournaments with the Sunners from 1971 through 1986. In his first six ASA Nationals, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978, he was voted Tournament MVP in every tournament but 1976. The Sunners, with Ty as their ace, won the ASA Nationals in 1975, 1977, and 1978. Because of the 1975 victory, The Reading team was selected to represent the United States in an International Softball Federation Tournament held in Lower Hutt, New Zealand in February 1976. Stofflet had, by his estimation, the best tournament and best game of his life. In a contest against New Zealand, and Kevin Herlihy, their world class righty, Stofflet threw a 20-inning no-hitter including a perfect game for 18 2/3 innings. He drove in the winning run in the 20th inning, to go along with three other game winning hits for the US in this tournament. For his all-around excellence, he was voted, separately, Most Valuable Pitcher and Most Valuable Player in the ISF World Tournament.

It should also be noted that during the years 1977-1978, Ty won a total of 71 straight games for the Sunners. To say that he was unstoppable certainly felt accurate to those who faced him throughout the '70s. In 1980, Stofflet suffered a work injury to his left wrist that would turn him from a reliably overpowering presence to a pitcher who could beat anyone in a single game. From 1980 through the rest of his career, Stofflet retained days of brilliance, but was unable to single-handedly get his teams to the gold ring.

In the May 28, 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated, Ty Stofflet was the topic of an 11 page article entitled, "This Guy Can Rise It, Drop It and Pop It at 104 MPH" as his pitches were the equivalent of a 104-mph MLB fastball. https://vault.si.com/vault/70832... The August 11, 1985 issue of The New York Times Magazine ran an article about Ty, calling him "The Fastest Pitcher in America." https://www.nytimes.com/.../the-fastest-pitcher-in...

In an appearance on "The Dick Clark Show" in 1979, Ty faced Davey Lopes, Reggie Smith and Steve Yeager in Dodger Stadium. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWK_AnfuYYM After the program, in which a foul ball was considered an accomplishment, Davey asked Ty what he was doing next. After Ty told him that he would be returning to his electrician's job at Mack Trucks, Lopes pointed to his left arm and said incredulously, "with an arm like that, you have to work for a living?"

The Sports Illustrated article referred to Ty as "The Prince of the Back Porch," capturing the essential character of this Pennsylvania Dutchman. While he has traveled around the globe to play softball, he never drifted very far from his roots. Raised in and around Allentown, PA, Ty and his wife of 41 years, Kathy live next door to his parents, Harold and Melba, and within hailing distance of his brother, Larry, sister Lillian, his three daughters, Brenda, Kris and Kim, and their families. It is impossible to think about Ty without considering the importance of his family in his life.

In 1984 Stofflet was voted into the ISC Hall of Fame. He was named All World five times, and won the MVP Award and the Top Pitcher Award twice each. We will never know the full extent of what he might have accomplished, but it is safe to say that the contributions in World Tournament would be dwarfed by those that would have occurred at the height of his career. After receiving the Hall of Fame award, Ty pitched in ISC World Tournaments for the next ten years. Incredibly, in 1984 and again in 1992, at age 51, Ty was voted to the All-World Team. He finished his ISC World Tournament career with 38 wins.

In answer to the question, Did Ty ever face Eddie Feigner? The answer is "Yes, and he beat him two out of two." For Ty, no game was an exhibition, it was all for real. During his career, he pitched more than 500 one-hitters and 650 shutouts among his approximately 1,500 wins. He hurled 172 no-hitters and 58 perfect games.

After his fastpitch career wound down, Ty continued the traditions that have provided supports throughout his life. He was active in his community, particularly as a bowler who threw two 300 games and was in pursuit of an 800 series. He was a high school softball coach and enjoyed helping girls master the intricacies of fast pitch, but mostly enjoyed his time with his wife near his family being a very proud grandfather.

 

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OBITUARY

Tyrone E. "Ty" Stofflet
1941 - 2021

 Softball's lefty legend Tyrone E. "Ty" Stofflet, 79, formerly of Coplay, died Saturday, January 23, 2021 at The Phoebe Home, Inc., Allentown. Born in Whitehall, July 29, 1941, Ty was the son of the late Harold M. and Melba B. (Stettler) Stofflet. He attended the Whitehall Area School District.

Ty put the Lehigh Valley on the national softball map, leading his teams to National Titles in 1975, '77 and '78. He appeared in 16 Men's Major Fast Pitch National Championships. Ten times he was named an ASA All-American and five times he won or shared the MVP award in the National Championships. Between 1971 and 1979 the hard-throwing southpaw appeared in seven National Championships.

In 2004 Stofflet was inducted in the Hall of Fame after a 40-year career which will be difficult to surpass let alone equal. In 1978, he was on the Dick Clark Live show in California and pitched against three LA Dodgers players. On May 28, 1979, he was featured in a Sports Illustrated article entited "This Guy Can Rise It, Drop It, and Pop It at 104 MPH". In 1976, he participated in the International Softball Federation Tournament with the Reading Sunners where they represented the United States. The tournament was held in New Zealand. Ty was also a dedicated family man, father, son, brother, friend and pitching coach. Although all of his numerous softball achievements can not be all written here, he was honestly blessed to have experienced and accomplished so much in his lifetime. He was truly honored to have played with so many wonderful softball players through the years and grateful for all the friends he has met. He will be dearly missed by many family and friends and forever remembered.

Ty was employed as an assembly line technician at Mack Trucks, Inc. Plant 5-C in Allentown for over 29 years before retiring in 1994.

Survivors: Daughters, Kimberly A. Baer (Gregory) of Lexington, NC, Brenda L. Dougherty (Mark Binnig) of Schnecksville, Kristine M. Yessen of Northampton; Kathryn (Harry) Stofflet who was part of his life for many years; siblings, Lillian E. Lerch of Georgia, Larry C. Stofflet (Terese) of Whitehall; grandchildren, Andrew Baer (Madison) Jake Baer (Chelsea), Brooke Dougherty, Spencer Dougherty, Nikita Yessen; great granddaughter, Hadley Baer.

Service: A memorial service will be held 11:00 am. Saturday, January 30, 2021 in the Heintzelman Funeral Home, Inc.,4906 Route 309, Schnecksville with the Rev. Dr. Patience D. Stevenson officiating. Family and friends may pay their respects from 9:30 -11:00 am. Saturday in the funeral home. Private interment will follow the service at Jordan Lutheran Church Cemetery, Orefield. Online expressions of sympathy may be recorded at www.heintzelmancares.com.

Covid-19 restrictions will be followed; everyone must wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley c/o the funeral home, P.O. Box # 196, Schnecksville, PA 18078-0196.

 Former softball ace Stofflet faced Victoria batters many times during legendary career

 

OTTO - Remembering Ty Stofflet (2009)

 

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