Skip to content

Bradford Sports Dome boss tosses slo-pitch world title onto resume

'In two years, I saw massive changes in terms of calibre (in Europe). It’s growing significantly over there,' says Ryan Wood, recently returned from event in Spain
Ryan Wood led his team to the crown at the World Slowpitch Softball Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

Ryan Wood has long been pursuing slo-pitch as both a player and an organizer.

The Barrie sports fan recently returned home at the top of his game as a member of the world championship men’s team winning the Worlds Slowpitch Softball Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

It was a sweet win, he says, having handily defeated the Montreal team which won the tournament at the first championships two years ago in Italy.

While Wood has developed a slo-pitch circuit organization based in Barrie, his championship team consists of eight members from across Ontario, including Wood, who pitched six of the team’s eight games. The squad also included three players from Quebec, one from Nova Scotia and another from Alberta.

The location was special, too. The championships were held at the same stadium that also hosted the 1992 Olympic baseball games.

“So that was pretty cool,” says the local father of two.

Wood is president of All World Slowpitch (AWS), the governing body for recreation and competitive adult slo-pitch games, which he launched in 2019. The organization follows a style of play and rules more tied to the game in the United States, which includes the ball used and the bat standard and home-run limits.

While slo-pitch is well established in Canada, he felt that many competitive players are left out of some competitive play, given the different rules here.

“I started AWS as an alternative to help grow the game and have Canadian players learn to play the game like it is played down in the U.S.,” he said. “Many good players in Canada have received the opportunity to play in the U.S. at a very high level, but because the game in Canada is different than the U.S., not all the players have immediate success, so my organization is geared towards U.S.-based rules and regulations.”

The organization operates a tournament circuit at the Barrie Community Sports Complex in Midhurst appealing to those who are just out for the fun to those who are very competitive.

“We run a circuit where people come to Barrie multiple points throughout the summer … (and) we run and host tournaments all summer,” he explains, adding that the team that wins the overall title advances to world tournament in Las Vegas, which attracts 500 teams from Canada and the U.S.

Wood is also hockey director for the Purple Cobras Hockey Association that provides development for young players in that sport and is managing partner of the Bradford Sports Dome.

Wood says he is looking forward to returning to Italy in two years to defend his team’s title. And he expects to see more competition as slo-pitch continues to build momentum in Europe, building upon the strengths he’s seen players there develop.

“In two years, I saw massive changes in terms of calibre (in Europe)," he says. “It’s growing significantly over there.”

Wood attributes much of that to the former professional baseball players turning their attention to slo-pitch, which he describes as a faster, more accessible game.

“As you get older, you still want to play ball, but maybe you don’t want to play baseball” so slo-pitch provides a viable alternative, he adds.

“At this level, it is the best players in the world and the competition of it is just fantastic.”