Ty Stofflet, one of the greatest athletes in Lehigh Valley history and one of most famous softball players in the world, died Saturday morning at the Phoebe Home in Allentown. He was 79.
Stofflet, a Coplay native and a Whitehall High School graduate, was an inductee into the American Softball Association Hall of Fame, the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame, and the Lehigh Valley Softball Hall of Fame and was recognized as one of the best softball pitchers of all-time.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Stofflet attracted overflow crowds to Patriots Park for men’s fastpitch tournaments and city league games.
“He helped to put Allentown and the Lehigh Valley on the map,” said Kim Baer, one of his three daughters.
Stofflet. known as the legendary lefty, was featured in numerous books and on television shows.
In 1978, he appeared on Dick Clark’s live national show from Dodger Stadium where he faced three Dodgers — Reggie Smith, Steve Yeager and Davey Lopes. He struck out Smith and Lopes while Yeager mustered a weak groundball that earned him a free TV as a prize.
He set a world record with a pitch that was clocked at 104.7 miles per hour. During a stretch in 1977-78, he won 71 consecutive games.
In 1975, he was featured in a New York Times story headlined “The Fastest Pitcher in America” and was featured in Sports Illustrated in 1979.
What many consider to be Stofflet’s most famous performance came in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, in February of 1976 in the International Softball Federation World Tournament.
The Reading Sunners were representing the USA in an international tournament and in a contest against host New Zealand, and world-classy righthander Kevin Herlihy, Stofflet threw a 20-inning no-hitter including a perfect game for 18⅔ innings. He drove in the winning run in the 20th inning.
In that same tournament, Stofflet had three game-winning hits for Team USA and he was voted both the Most Valuable Pitcher and Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
In the summer of 2004, Stofflet’s career was on display in an exhibit at the Liberty Bell Shrine in downtown Allentown.
Stofflet, then 63, talked about how much he missed softball.
“I do miss it,” he said. “I thought I could get over it, but it was such a big part of my life. I remember when the King and His Court came here and I beat Eddie Feigner 1-0. It was standing-room only at Pates Park and they were three-deep around the fence. I couldn’t even find a parking place for myself. I had to walk a couple of blocks just to get to my own game.”
After retiring as a player, Stofflet became a high school softball coach and was a volunteer assistant on the Northampton High staff in 1996 when the Konkrete Kids won the PIAA 3A title. He was also the head coach at Freedom in 2006 and 2007.
Stofflet also became an avid bowler and rolled several 300 games while in his 60s.
Wherever he went, people wanted to talk to him. At the 2004 exhibit in Allentown Stofflet said he didn’t want people to forget him and that he enjoyed being in the limelight from time to time so people could relive their softball memories.
“A lot of them told me they remembered me pitching with the Patriots,” he said. “The Pates always had a lot of fans. There’s a lot of people who thought I only pitched around here when the truth is I pitched all over the world.”
Stofflet said he always tried to stay humble and remember the values his father taught him.
“I‘ve always loved talking to people,” he said. “I have friends all over the country, people who would invite me into their homes. I’ve always tried to be nice. My father said ‘If you ever get too big for your britches, I’m going to kick ‘em.’ I’ve always remembered that.”
Services will be announced by the Heintzelman Funeral Home of Schnecksville.
Tyrone "Ty" Stofflett Obituary
Softball's lefty legend Tyrone E. "Ty" Stofflet, 79, formerly of Coplay, died Saturday, January 23, 2021 at The Phoebe Home, Inc., Allentown. Born in Whitehall, July 29, 1941, Ty was the son of the late Harold M. and Melba B. (Stettler) Stofflet. He attended the Whitehall Area School District.
Ty put the Lehigh Valley on the national softball map, leading his teams to National Titles in 1975, '77 and '78. He appeared in 16 Men's Major Fast Pitch National Championships. Ten times he was named an ASA All-American and five times he won or shared the MVP award in the National Championships. Between 1971 and 1979 the hard-throwing southpaw appeared in seven National Championships.
In 2004 Stofflet was inducted in the Hall of Fame after a 40-year career which will be difficult to surpass let alone equal. In 1978, he was on the Dick Clark Live show in California and pitched against three LA Dodgers players. On May 28, 1979, he was featured in a Sports Illustrated article entited "This Guy Can Rise It, Drop It, and Pop It at 104 MPH". In 1976, he participated in the International Softball Federation Tournament with the Reading Sunners where they represented the United States. The tournament was held in New Zealand. Ty was also a dedicated family man, father, son, brother, friend and pitching coach. Although all of his numerous softball achievements can not be all written here, he was honestly blessed to have experienced and accomplished so much in his lifetime. He was truly honored to have played with so many wonderful softball players through the years and grateful for all the friends he has met. He will be dearly missed by many family and friends and forever remembered.
Ty was employed as an assembly line technician at Mack Trucks, Inc. Plant 5-C in Allentown for over 29 years before retiring in 1994.
Survivors: Daughters, Kimberly A. Baer (Gregory) of Lexington, NC, Brenda L. Dougherty (Mark Binnig) of Schnecksville, Kristine M. Yessen of Northampton; Kathryn (Harry) Stofflet who was part of his life for many years; siblings, Lillian E. Lerch of Georgia, Larry C. Stofflet (Terese) of Whitehall; grandchildren, Andrew Baer (Madison) Jake Baer (Chelsea), Brooke Dougherty, Spencer Dougherty, Nikita Yessen; great granddaughter, Hadley Baer.
Service: A memorial service will be held 11:00 am. Saturday, January 30, 2021 in the Heintzelman Funeral Home, Inc.,4906 Route 309, Schnecksville with the Rev. Dr. Patience D. Stevenson officiating. Family and friends may pay their respects from 9:30 -11:00 am. Saturday in the funeral home. Private interment will follow the service at Jordan Lutheran Church Cemetery, Orefield. Online expressions of sympathy may be recorded at www.heintzelmancares.com.
Covid-19 restrictions will be followed; everyone must wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley c/o the funeral home, P.O. Box # 196, Schnecksville, PA 18078-0196.