By Laura Latzko, Oct. 3, 2014.

During the 2014 North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance’s Gay Softball World Series in Dallas, a longtime umpire from the Cactus Cities Softball League joined an elite group of individuals.

Jerry Fontes, became the fifth member of the Phoenix league to be inducted into the NAGAAA Hall of Fame.

Other Phoenix players in the NAGAAA Hall of Fame include league founder Don Welsh (2002), Mark Hoover (2008), Mark Hughes (2010) and John Deffee (2013).

“Jerry is an advocate for the Cactus Cities Softball League. Jerry is not gay, but he doesn’t look at it that way,” Deffee said. “Jerry told me, ‘I like the league and the people, and to me, it doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight or bi or white or black. I just like to be a part of an organization has that has integrity. That’s why I come back every year and am a part of the league.’”

According to Aaron Fullerton, Cactus Cities open division commissioner, Fontes has always stood out as an umpire because he has helped the local and national leagues in different ways.

“He definitely gives his time and supports the community wholeheartedly,” Fullerton said. “Every year, he says, ‘how can I help to make our league better?’”

Fullerton added that umpires often have to prove their worth because they are paid for their work.

“To get inducted as an umpire says a lot. He does it because he cares,” Fullerton said.

Fontes has worked as an umpire in the Cactus Cities league for 15 years, serving as the umpire in charge during the Saguaro Cup Sports Festival for over 12 years. He also served as the head umpire – and called games for 182 teams – during the 2007 Gay Softball World Series in Phoenix.

Fontes has also umpired for A to D division games during a number of different World Series and served as the head umpire at three World Series tournaments outside of Phoenix.

According to Deffee, who had the chance to vote for nominees as a member of the Hall of Fame, eligible candidates need to have made an impact on LGBT softball locally or nationally to be considered for this elite group.

Deffee said that along with being a fair and unbiased umpire, Fontes, a straight family man, has always been a major supporter of the league and the LGBT community.

“It is something the league is very proud of,” Deffee said.

Fontes was not available for comment.

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