Elder, Dave

Inducted: 2022

Elder, Dave

Brooks, Kentucky

Dave Elder, from Brooks, KY, is definitely in the conversation as one of the greatest pitchers of all time in the slow-pitch era. His mastery on the mound included Elder originals like jumping from the rubber towards home plate, using every inch of the pitching plate to create different pitching angles, and covering the second and third base bags when force plays were in order. Covering those bases allowed the infielders to play deeper which was a big plus against the Major and Super hitters he faced during his career.

Also, David studied hitters and made sure he took advantage of any weaknesses he perceived. He gives credit to some of his pitching secrets to Kentucky Hall of Famer, Dave Burke, who worked with David as he made the transition from shortstop and outfielder to the mound.

It’s no wonder that the underhand pitching motion was so natural for Elder because he also excelled in another sport—bowling—where he rolled several perfect .300 games—that’s 12 straight strikes in a row for you non-bowling enthusiasts!

Of course, strikes, and always being able to pitch one when needed, were yet another weapon in Elders’ arsenal since he went deep in the count to many batters and tried to never give in to the pitch they wanted.

Gold Gloves galore line up in Mr. Elder’s trophy case—12 to be exact—as defensive pitching awards were won at the highest level in softball. At that highest level, he played in countless games against the best hitters and home run specialists in the world, and he came out on top for the most part.

His greatest weekend came in 1988 at the #1 tournament in the United States, the Smoky Mountain Classic, in Maryville, Tennessee where 20,000 fans lined the bleachers and the hillsides between the two picturesque Sandy Springs diamonds.

There, he won the most coveted individual trophy made—the gold-plated MVP bat designated for the MVP of the Smokies. His Starpath team stunned the super world, and Elder was the main reason why as he not only pitched his masterpieces, but he hit like Babe Ruth with a .750 plus batting average and 14 long balls.

Just one year later, in 1989, David pitched for the Olympic Festival gold medal team playing in Oklahoma City. On each side of the Smokies and Olympic Festival, Elder propelled his teams to several National and World Championships including 1985 with Elite (out of Georgia); 1987 Men’s Major and 1988 Men’s Super Nationals with Starpath; 1994 Men’s Major with Riverside Paving of Louisville; and three Smoky Mountain Classic championships in 1985 with Elite, 1988 with Starpath, and 1991 with Bell Corp. from Florida.

Individually, the G.O.A.T. won 19 MVP awards, 43 All-Tournaments, five-time All-American, and 12 Golden Gloves. No surprise that he was named Pitcher of the Decade ('80s) by Softball USA.

Dave Elder wanted to make sure his early Louisville teams were mentioned as local springboards to his national success. They were Tim Tams, LG&E Industrial World Champs, Angilo’s Pizza, Kentucky Model Shop, Bill Clark Heating, Superior Fuel, Burger Queen, and Southside.