History of the Broadway Show League
In the early 1950's the casts and crews of Broadway shows got into the habit of walking up to Central Park on Wednesdays for informal picnics and softball games before they returned to the Theatre for the evening performance.
In early 1955, John Effrat, an employee of the Actors Fund, established a more formal league with several associates that would play on Thursday afternoons and called it the Broadway Show League.
Since then the League has continued to play on Thursday afternoons on the Hecksher Fields in Central Park. which lie just inside the park at Central Park West and 63rd Street. Many of the best known stars from the stage, films and television have played in the league at one time, as well as thousands of folks from behind the stage and in the "back of the house."
The League is comprised of people who work on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows: celebrities currently “on the boards,” and members of the casts, crews, and orchestras, as well as union teams and theatrical organizations. Having established itself as co-ed, the League requires two women to bat and play the field at all times for every team. The regular season schedule usually consists of nine or ten games, followed by playoffs to determine the champions in various categories, plus special games for charity, All Stars, and Old-Timers.
The 11:30 division is typically the home for new shows, since they frequently have Thursday afternoon rehearsal requirements, and Opening and Tony Nights that conflict with the beginning of the season. This division has frequently had a slight competitive handicap over the next division, which is made up of longer-running shows with veteran squads.
The 1:30 division, formerly dominated by the likes of Jujamcyn and Actors’ Equity, has become the crown jewel of long-running shows, gaining strength in the fundamentals of the game and hence much more competitive. The 1:30 division winner has become the favorite in trophy contention.
The 3:30 division includes teams that have a history together. This division is now dominated by veteran teams of players belonging to unions and theatre organizations, many with previous organized-baseball experience. Many of these players work side-by-side with us in the theatres on a daily basis.
Starting with the 2002 season, ActorsFCU joined the League, sponsoring its own team and distributing bottled water to all BSL teams in the 3:30 division. Their contributions to BSL increased in 2005 with sponsorship of the annual End-of-Season party.
And now in 2009 ActorsFCU has replaced Anheuser-Busch as the sole sponsor of the Broadway Show League. Continuing the Broadway Community’s tradition of “giving back” to its own, ActorsFCU makes a generous donation on behalf of the Broadway Show League to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Along with team registration fees, the Credit Union covers the expenses of the League including: pre- and post-season parties, Broadway Night with the Mets, and end-of-season awards.
Written By Dan Landon-Commissioner 1998 – 2003
revised by Ted Smits-Advisory Board Member – 2008
revised by Steven Sobotta-Advisory Board Member – 2009