- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - The commissioner of the South Dakota Amateur Softball Association is stepping down after nearly half a century at the helm.

“I will be 83 at the end of the month,” Bill Maher told the Black Hills Pioneer (http://bit.ly/1kAHfQs ). “I am not getting it done in the time I used to.”

The league had 350 teams across the state when Maher started in 1972, but there are now more than 2,000 teams in the league. Maher cites the simplicity of the game as one of the reasons for that growth.

“It’s an inexpensive game by comparison (to other sports),” he said. “All you need are a bat, ball, T-shirt, and an umpire.”

Maher’s commissioner role complemented the playing, coaching, and umpiring that he has done through the years.

“It’s a fast game and was the only one in town,” he said of fastpitch softball’s appeal.

One of his fondest memories of his tenure as commissioner is when the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team played in Rapid City in 2008.

Maher’s resignation became official in December but he is helping incoming commissioner Gary Young with the transition early this year.

Bill will never be replaced,” Young said. “My hope is to carry on the tradition and standards he has set.”

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com