Bob Otto: I’m counting down to the NAFA World Series

July 21, 2013

Des Moines, IA



DES MOINES, Iowa – Just 17 days remain before the first pitch of the 2013 NAFA World Series in Des Moines. With that first pitch comes non-stop action from August 7 to 18. For a sports reporter and photographer, that’s a long challenging haul covering dozens of games in five divisions – about 160 teams in all.

I covered the World Series in 2010 when it was also held in Des Moines. And when NAFA Executive Director Benjie Hedgecock asked me for a return engagement, I said yes. Although my wife had some trepidation over my taking up the challenge again. She reminded me how tired I was when I returned home to California.


Granted, it’s a trying venture covering that many games and shooting that many photos – I figure about 65 stories and over 3,000 photos in 2010. But there’s also the challenge of, “can I really do this? Can I cover that many teams and that many games and write that many game stories and summaries and features and press releases?”

Well, we shall find out in 17 days. But I believe I can.


Plus, there’s the allure of Des Moines. I love the city. Love the friendly people. Love how easy it is to navigate its streets and freeways. If there’s a better city than Des Moines in the U.S., I haven’t found it.

And I appreciate how well the ’10 World Series was run. From the tournament committee to the scorekeepers, the concessions folks, and the tremendous work of the grounds crew, they all did a wonderful job. I remember a couple of cloudbursts that flooded the ball fields. I thought we wouldn’t play until the next day. But within four hours the umpires were shouting,” let’s play ball!”

So when you couple a great city with a great men’s fastpitch tournament, it’s a win-win situation.

The NAFA World Series is unique among all other national tournament offerings – whether it’s the ISC World Tournament or the ASA national tournaments.


No organization offers more divisional championships than NAFA: five in Des Moines that include the 23-Under, A, A-Major, AA and AA-Major. Along with the Open (held in Fargo in June) and the Masters’ East and West World Series in September.

Now that’s a lot of faspitch divisions to slot a team. Meaning that most ball clubs have a fair shot of competing within NAFA’s framework.

Exactly why 2013 Hall of Fame sponsor Mark Miller of Appleton, Wisc. enters his teams in the NAFA World Series: “I like the multi-divisions,” he said. “It’s good for competition for teams at their own level and it helps promote the game.

“I like the large volume of teams that get to play and there’s not a lot of restrictive rules. NAFA opened it up and said, ‘let’s play ball.’”

And come Aug. 7th there’s going to be a lot of that. And hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up.

See you all in Des Moines!