Dawson
Dawson

There was a time, back in the 1970s and 1980s, when softball was absolutely huge in York County.

York Barbell, led by its legendary owner, Bob Hoffman, was one of the driving forces behind the boom.

Hoffman was instrumental in building the Hoffman Softball Complex at Memorial Park.

He also sponsored a team that competed on the Super Major level. For those not familiar with softball, that meant that the Barbell teams traveled the country while playing against elite national competition.

At one time, Hoffman even wanted to make York the "Softball Capital of the World."

Softball in York was truly big time.

And the man who managed those powerhouse York Barbell teams was Ken Dawson.

Dawson was a well-known figure around the York County sports scene.

In addition to managing the Barbell teams, he also managed Hoffman Blue in the later 1980s and WSBA in the early 1990s. Both of those softball teams dominated locally as well as in tournaments outside the area.

In 1996, Dawson made the switch to baseball and led the York Yankees to Central League and Colonial York championships. In 1997 and 1998 he managed Mount Wolf in the Central League.

Dawson's love of sports, however, was not limited to the baseball and softball diamonds. He was also an avid golfer and coached basketball in the Salvation Army League for several years.

Last fall, however, Dawson lost his battle against ALS — better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. He died on Nov. 2, 2013.


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The men who knew Dawson best lauded him as a manager and a man.

"Ken helped to create a real family atmosphere with his teams which is often hard to find," said Ken Slenker who played on all three of Dawson's prominent softball teams. "Our kids grew up together and we were one happy family. We were a very talented team and Ken's style of managing made it even more enjoyable."

Scott Bortner also played on all three of Dawson's powerhouse softball teams. Like Slenker, he was a big Dawson supporter.

"We got to travel all across the country with the York Barbell teams," Slenker said. "... Ken was a great manager to play (for) and was a great teammate and coach in Salvation Army basketball, as well."

Now, Dawson's friends and family are organizing a golf tournament to keep Dawson's memory alive and to help fight the disease that took his life. The first Ken Dawson Memorial Golf Outing is set for Thursday, Sept. 11, at Briarwood East Golf Course. The four-person scramble tournament will feature a 10 a.m. shotgun start, with all proceeds going to the ALS Association. The cost for a foursome is $240.

That seems like a pretty reasonable price to remember a man who was prominent sports figure in these parts and, by all accounts, a fine human being. Even more importantly, it's small price to pay to fight a dreaded disease that ravages the body, but leaves the mind intact.

It seems even more appropriate to get involved in the fight against ALS this year. Just a few weeks ago, July 4, 2014, marked the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous speech at Yankee Stadium, which was given just two weeks after his diagnosis.

So, if you like to golf and hate ALS, the Dawson outing is probably an event you won't want to miss.

You'll remember a good man and help a good cause.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. For additional information on the Dawson outing, contact Jerry Sibol or Angela Stern at (717) 854-6247. Those interested in playing in the event can register at Jackie B's and ask for Jerry or Angela. The registration and payment deadline is Sept. 1.