Orvel Cox began his Tournament Director career during the “hay day” of slow-pitch softball in Southern Illinois in 1971. His directorship of USSSA state tournaments and his 13 years of guiding the NIT “Firecracker Classic” only added to the amount of participation.
Due to his efforts, teams such as the Shamrocks, Brauns, Fults, Victor Drugs, First National Bank, First State Bank, and many others provided the opportunity to create a hot bed of competitive teams that would assemble in and around the small community of Red Bud each summer. Many of these teams also received national recognition due to his guidance and the opportunities provided.
Orvel’s first major test as a director occurred in 1973 as he put together, with the assistance of USSSA Central Division Regional Vice President, Charlie O’Donnell of the St. Louis area, a 64-team (two weekend) tournament with teams from 5 different states. With the success of this single tournament, the word quickly spread that Red Bud was the place to be for competitive softball, as USSSA events were the best by far. Orvel admits, “With the support of State Director Brenda Paulson, we were provided qualifiers and state tournament opportunities that allowed many of our local teams to advance to national tournaments.”
Prior to his retirement in 1989, Orvel received the 1988 USSSA Distinguished Service Award, but considers his biggest accomplishment was gaining the respect of the players in the leagues and tournaments that he served as director for many years. He feels that being fair in his classification determinations of teams from his area, was instrumental in the growth of USSSA in southern Illinois. “They just wanted to feel like they were getting a fair shake,” he added. He also reflected on how the cooperation with all the neighboring communities around Red Bud helped provide some great state tournaments.
State Director Brenda Paulson, who presented the first State Director’s Award to Orvel in 1985 commented, “I am so glad we can honor hard work and dedication to the USSSA, as he played a huge part in the USSSA’s success downstate. For many years he ran the largest state tournaments and held tournaments that featured some of the top teams and players around the country. His involvement has been instrumental and his Hall of Fame honor long overdue.”
Orvel reflected on his years as a USSSA director with these words, “USSSA Slow Pitch Softball – what a game, what memories.”
Many softball players would agree, thanks to his efforts, fairness, and memories he has provided them.