Last month we had the 40th anniversary of the tennis "Battle of the Sexes," the nationally televised, ultra-hyped contest in the Houston Astrodome between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that served as a boon to the entire sport.
On Oct. 19 at Patriots Park, softball will try its own version of the "Battle of the Sexes" as the New Jersey Waves, a women's team featuring several former pros, takes on the Diamond Kings, a top-level men's amateur team, in a pair of games.
The first one is set for 2 p.m. with a second contest to follow at 7.
The two teams will meet for the first time this Saturday afternoon in Sherrill, N.Y., and then bring the series to Allentown.
The Waves will feature Audrey LaFountain. She's a former member of the Philadelphia Force, the National Pro Fastpitch team that called Allentown home from 2006-09.
Other notable Waves players include: Robin Bumpus Penoyer, a former University of Minnesota standout and professional player; Kim Schweitzer, a former Seton Hall standout; former Rutgers-Camden All-American Michelle Schlichtig and Mallory Ingalls, a recent star at Utica College.
Kelly Dodson, who has been affiliated with travel-league softball for several decades, organized the Waves with hopes of getting into the professional ranks. She is hopeful of starting a new Northeast Division for professional women's softball as early as 2015.
Dodson said the Waves, who are based in Cherry Hill, are trying to spark interest in the women's game, which remains quite popular at the collegiate level thanks to ESPN, but lost some steam after it was taken out of the Olympics.
"I came up with the idea of playing a 'Battle of the Sexes' to showcase the women's game and show people that we can play just as well as the men," Dodson said. "I've played and coached softball for over 30 years and I just have that passion. I can't give it up. I want to keep the sport going."
She said that the Diamond Kings, who were originally formed as a tribute team to the legendary King and His Court featuring Eddie Feigner, were willing to participate and help promote the sport as a whole.
"They're playing in a national AAU tournament at Disney World in Florida in January and they're looking at these games as an opportunity to stay in shape and get in some good competition," Dodson said. "So are we. To play fastpitch softball in October is great."
Tickets cost $5 for the 2 p.m. game and $7 for the night game at Pates Park with proceeds helping the Diamond Kings with their costs for the national tournament.
Robert Roeder, a member of the National Football Foundation Lehigh Valley Chapter Hall of Fame, died on Sept. 29 at his home in Newark, Ill., at the age of 71.
Roeder was an all-Lehigh Valley League and all-state honorable mention quarterback at Emmaus, playing from 1957-59, and went to the University of Pittsburgh where he shined as a halfback and defensive back.
He was a member of the prominent '63 team that was ranked in top four in the nation in both the UPI and AP polls.
The Panthers finished 9-1, beating Penn State on Dec. 7 that year after the game was moved back by two weeks because it was originally scheduled for the day after the Kennedy assassination.
Pitt lost its only game of the season to then-No. 10 Navy, led by eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Roger Staubach.
"Bobby was a great player and a great role model for me," said Lehigh Valley sports historian Evan Burian, who followed in Roeder's footsteps at Emmaus. "He was not only a great player, but also an outstanding person. We lost a real good one."
Roeder, by the way, is not related to Jason Roeder, the Freedom coach, or his brother Ryan Roeder who is now an assistant coach with the New York Giants.