By Mike Kinney
This softball tournament gets straight to the soul of the Richmond community.
The popular Soulful Softball Sunday will return to Nicholl Park on Sunday, Aug. 28, with an expanded field of 11 teams from around the Bay Area, all vying for the annual Mayor’s Cup Challenge Trophy.
In addition to action-packed softball, attendees are invited to benefit from a variety of community resources, such as a career fair, community information, giveaways, backpacks, prizes, and a raffle. DJ Alex Daniels and DJ Ron Webster are set to perform at this year’s event.
Brown, a Richmond native, founded Soulful Softball Sunday in the summer of 2015. A veteran softball player of over 30 years, he decided it would be a great idea to unify the community at large by playing the sport. The annual event has become a crowd favorite and household name, each year recognizing local residents who help uplift the community and giving scholarships to students headed to college.
“We’ve been able to stem the tide of violence in our community by allowing people to obtain their driver’s license and gainful employment,” Brown said.
In addition to players and residents, Soulful Softball Sunday events typically draw a wide range of community stakeholders, from elected officials to nonprofits, government agencies, labor unions and businesses.
Everyone shows up largely to enjoy each others’ company for a fun event, Alamo said. But there’s another reason Soulful Softball Sunday draws crowds.
“Richmond is known as a softball mecca,” Brown said. “Teams from the 70s and 80s won national championships, so we’re attempting to carry that same tradition. The environment is very conducive based upon Nicholl Park being an intricate factor in all of our lives, it’s almost like going to Disneyland when we were children.”
And while the Mayor’s Cup Challenge Trophy is the grand prize on Aug. 28, love has always been the best outcome of Soulful Softball Sunday, Brown said.
“Love is by far the most important part of Soulful Softball Sunday,” Brown said. “When you can get people from various areas of Richmond to have a day of atonement and reconciliation, it speaks huge volumes simply because merely a decade ago most of the participants were at odds with each other and wouldn’t speak to each other. Soulful Softball Sunday, has become an elixir of sorts to help stem the tide of uncertainty.”
Soulful Softball Sunday is more than a single event. The organization has hosted a number of charitable community fundraising events. When schools closed during the pandemic in March 2020, it worked collectively with the West Contra Costa Unified School District to distribute millions of meals to families in need.