The United States Sports Academy family is mourning the loss of longtime leading international softball official Don Porter, a former member of the institution’s Board of Visitors and a one-time member of its national faculty.
Porter passed away on Sunday, 7 June 2020, in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Okla., at the age of 90. Porter served in the Army during the Korean War (1951-52) and was awarded the Korean War Medal in 2001 by the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Korea.
Porter served as the president of the International Softball Federation (ISF) for 26 years and played a crucial role in softball’s inclusion in the Olympics. Porter helped to establish the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) in 2013 with current WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari.
In 2017, Porter was awarded the WBSC’s prestigious Collar of Honour award, that organization’s supreme recognition honoring those people who contributed to the foundation of the organization and its success.
Under Porter’s leadership, softball was first elected to be part of the Olympic program for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. After the sport’s removal from the Games following the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Porter helped found the WBSC, which set as a goal the inclusion of baseball and softball in the Olympic program. Softball will be reintroduced to the Olympic program for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.
In his service to the advancement of softball, Porter visited countries all over the world and was one of a small handful of sports officials to visit Pyongyang, North Korea, where he met government officials to discuss the growth of the sport in that country.
Porter started his career as executive director of the Amateur Softball Association in 1963, then became the secretary general to the ISF in 1965. He was elected ISF president in 1987 and led the federation until 2013.
Porter served four seasons as an official with the National Football League from 1976 to 1979. Porter also served the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as chairman and member of a number of committees including the Board of Directors from 1984 until 1998 and spent time on the USOC’s International Relations Committee. He is also credited as being one of the founders of the World Games.
Porter was honored for his 55 years of service to the sport at the Amateur Softball Association/USA Softball 85th annual meeting in Shreveport, La.
Porter was also a leader in the “Sporting Goods to Go” project, which has provided sporting equipment to those who don’t have it, especially in countries in the Middle East and Africa. The effort has provided more than $30 million in equipment to more than 70 countries.