Over thirty years ago, the Toronto B’nai B’rith region established a mid-summer slo-pitch tournament for its men’s leagues and invited B’nai B’rith teams from other Canadian cities to participate. In 1984, Toronto B’nai B’rith extended an invitation to teams from Detroit’s B’nai B’rith softball league to compete against the Canadian teams. In order to accommodate the American teams, the tournament was moved to Labor Day weekend and the Canadian B’nai B’rith Slo-Pitch Tournament became the International Jewish Men’s Slo-Pitch Tournament.
Many teams from all across Canada have participated in the tournament, representing Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. In addition to Detroit, teams from Minneapolis, Chicago and St. Louis have sent teams to the tournament to represent the United States.
The tournament travels to a different host city annually, which allows tournament participants to enjoy the adventure of visiting a different city each year. See the history pages for a glimpse at all the cities that have hosted.
Since its early years, the tournament format has remained relatively the same. Each team competes in the Qualifying Round, which consists of a six game round robin tournament over Saturday and Sunday. The top eight teams from the Qualifying Round compete on Labor Day morning in a single elimination Championship Tournament that culminates with the crowning of a tournament champion by mid-afternoon.
The tournament’s base playing rules are another area that has largly remained unchanged over the years. The following tournament rules contribute to the uniqueness of this tournament:
- There is no maximum arc to a pitch.
- A strike must hit any part of a mat that is 18″ wide and 60″ long, which is placed over and extends behind home plate.
- There is no relaxed step allowed on the bases. A runner may only leave the base once the ball has been hit.
- All plays at home are a force. The catcher must touch home plate, the front of the mat, and the runner must touch the back of the mat. If the runner touches the plate, the front of the mat, he will be called out. If the catcher touches the front of the mat before the runner touches the back of the mat, the runner is out, and vice versa.
- There is a Commit Line between third base and home. If the base runner passes the Commit Line, he may not return back to third base but must continue home.
Over the years, friendships have developed between players from different teams, from various cities and countries. Opportunities abound for participants to meet each other at various functions throughout the weekend including schmoozing in the hospitality room, at the Sunday Night Banquet, informal outings to sample the nightlife of the host city, and especially at the fields. The competition on the diamonds may be the initial attraction, but it is the special friendships that inevitably form that keep us coming back year after year.