was 1969 and slow pitch softball was starting to get
a foothold in the American summer sports scene.
Whether or not slow pitch would become popular was
dependent among many people doing everything they
could to boost slow pitch. Frank Bradley more than
did his part to help slow pitch become popular, at
least in Blount County Tennessee. As the parks and
recreation director, Bradley decided to hold a men’s
tournament in Maryville, TN and call it the Smoky
Originally, it was regional in scope. The first
Smoky was held in 1969 and Knoxville teams won the
first couple of years. But in 1974,
Furniture of Denver, NC, one of the most
successful men’s teams in slow pitch history,
entered the Classic. “After they (Howard’s) entered,
it (the Smoky) took off,” said Joe Huff, the Blount
County –Maryville – Alcoa Parks and Recreation
director and the tourney director of the Smoky for
more than two decades.
Howard’s won the Classic four times (1974, 1976,
1977 and 1981) and each year more and more of the
top teams penciled the Smoky in on their schedule.
Besides getting the best men’s Super and Major slow
pitch teams, the Smoky got the support of the local
community and the financial backing of major
sporting goods manufacturers, including Bike, Worth,
Louisville Slugger, plus the local newspaper, Blount
Today, helps sponsor the event and
does an outstanding job in covering the Smoky.
Although there isn’t a lot of bleacher seating, the
natural setting and the down-home atmosphere that
has been created through the years makes this event
the premier slow pitch invitational in the U.S.
“People enjoy coming to the Smoky,” said Huff. “They
bring their blankets and lawn chairs. We’ve had as
many as seven or eight thousand. (24,500 people in
1991). We even have face painting for the kids. It’s
a country fair atmosphere.”
Source: The Inside Pitch
Vol. 7, No. 6