In the late 1970s, softball on the Kenai Peninsula was a pretty loose affair, with local bar teams getting together every so often for a few unorganized games.
Then Steve Shearer came along.
Today, thanks largely to the efforts of Shearer and a few other dedicated softball enthusiasts, Kenai is home to a four-field softball complex and a league that includes men's, women's and coed teams comprised of residents from around the central peninsula.
On Friday, an official ceremony will be held at the newly christened Steve Shearer Memorial Park to honor the man whom many credit with making Kenai softball what it is today.
"He was kind of the ringleader," Shearer's wife, Kay, said Wednesday.
Although Steve died in 1998, his legacy will now live on at the fields, where a large rock and wood sign, as well as a small garden, have been built. The official unveiling of the sign will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a barbecue and commemorative softball game.
Kay Shearer said the softball game will feature both current and former Kenai players, including a number of people who were around when softball was in its infancy in the area.
"There's people coming from all over the country," she said, noting that some old friends of Steve's from Hawaii had just arrived in town.
The game and barbecue will be both a commemoration of Shearer's legacy and a reunion of old softball players who were around when the fields came into existence. In the spirit of getting everyone involved, Kay Shearer said the event is open to anyone who wants to show up.
"Everyone is invited," she said.
The fields are on city land along Main Street near the Kenai Green Strip. In December of last year, the Kenai City Council approved the naming and sign plan after Kay Shearer and a number of Steve's former softball buddies put together a petition asking to have the fields named for Shearer, who served as president of the softball association for a number of years.
In addition to getting the league started, Steve Shearer is credited with pushing former Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Kayo Mc-Gillvery to have the fields built.
"He nudged Kayo along," Kay Shearer said.
Anyone wishing to participate in the memorial softball game is asked to contact Steve Dexheimer at 262-2617. The game is scheduled to begin immediately following the sign dedication ceremony.
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