Soulful Softball Sunday founder sets sights on Nicholl Park and beyond

E-40, Mike Felder set to throw first pitch at Soulful Softball Sunday
A photo from Soulful Softball Sunday 2019. From left to right, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton (far left) stands with Keisha Green Joyner, Kennedy High graduate and daughter of Elijah "Pumpsie" Green; Pumpsie's wife Marie; Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia; and Rodney Alamo Brown. (Photo by Mike Kinney)

By Kathy Chouteau

Rodney Alamo Brown, founder of the iconic Soulful Softball Sunday, is readying for the team’s annual tournament this month while having another project on deck benefiting the Richmond community.

Leading things off will be Soulful Softball Sunday’s free-to-attend annual games Sat., Aug. 27 starting at 10 a.m. at Nicholl Park in Richmond. Throughout the day, activities will expand beyond the competitions to include free backpacks, job resources, vendors, health care info, community awards, gift card raffles, complimentary Soulful Softball Sunday T-shirts and more, per Brown.

The competition will include some of the best men’s teams from Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco and Redwood City competing for the Mayor’s Cup challenge, according to Brown. He noted that women’s teams will also “do battle as well.”

Brown said game day will also be a time to celebrate Marvin Webb Day, while also remembering Ryniqueka Dowell via a memorial game between Oakland’s Mo Bounce and Richmond’s Player’s Choice.  

Due to connections Brown has made recently, Soulful Softball Sunday will be broadcast live to the Caribbean island country of Curaçao. He also received some great swag in advance from the Curaçao Tourism Board to give out at the tournament in Richmond.

Curaçao, one might ask? Yep, Curaçao. Last August, Brown was in Livermore for the Intermediate League World Series (Little League) when he met Sherton Saturnino—the interpreter for Curaçao’s team—after discovering they had a mutual friend (Darold Brown, a scout for the Detroit Tigers).

Eventually, the meeting led down a path to Brown not only visiting the southern Caribbean island nation this past May—where he was named a baseball ambassador and threw out the first pitch at a game—but also hatching a plan to bring a Richmond youth team to the country to play ball.

Through a collaboration between Soulful Softball Sunday—and Amongst Us Softball Club and Curaçao Little League of Curaçao—Brown will organize and bring a Richmond youth team to the country to play baseball in Spring 2024. He’ll hold try-outs in Richmond to create a team of 12-14 year olds that will travel to compete against the Pabou Little League of Curaçao.

Brown said the effort is about goodwill ambassadorship between Curaçao and Richmond and that it will be “a life changing experience for these children to get the chance to travel the world…”

The trip is also an opportunity for Richmond youth to get some excellent experience on the diamond. Curaçao’s team earned their place playing in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA last August, but eventually lost to Hawaii.

So far, Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union in Martinez will be sponsoring the team’s trip, while Brown will also be doing additional fundraising. Meanwhile, he has been working with Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez to name Curaçao a “sister city” (i.e., country) to Richmond.

Nicholl Park, where the Soulful Softball Sunday tournament is happening soon, is located at 3230 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond. To contact Rodney Alamo Brown about sponsoring the Richmond Little League Team’s Spring 2024 visit to Curaçao, contact him at [email protected].

Soulful Softball Sunday founder sets sights on Nicholl Park and beyond
Photo courtesy of Rodney Alamo Brown.