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Hall of Famers

Hall of Famer

Phyllis Bomberry

Inducted in 2023

Member Details

Date of Birth: 1943
Place of Birth: Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario
Date of Passing: January 3, 2019
Sport: Softball
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

Named Top Batter, All-Star Catcher, and Most Valuable Player
1967, 1968
Canadian Softball Champions with the Carpetland Senior A team
Tom Longboat Award – first female recipient
Canada Summer Games – Gold Medal
Canadian All-Star Catcher and Most Valuable Player
Ontario Summer Games - Gold Medal
Inducted into Softball Canada Hall of Fame
Hall of Famer Phyllis Bomberry


Over a storied career spanning nearly a quarter century, Phyllis Bomberry pioneered her own revolutionary road to unparalleled excellence in Canadian softball. A Cayuga woman of the Wolf Clan, Phyllis was born in 1942 on the Six Nations of the Grand River in southwestern Ontario. Emerging as a star athlete in the 1950’s, she defied limiting postwar gender roles and a pervasive, sexist assumption that team sports were an inherently masculine domain. As an Indigenous girl growing up in the Residential School era, Phyllis faced additional magnitudes of racial discrimination that might have deterred a less committed athlete. Taking up ice hockey, football, volleyball, badminton and lacrosse at school, she manifested a fiery competitive drive at a young age that would see her through tremendous adversity in pursuit of her dreams.
Phyllis’ father played amateur baseball, and softball quickly became her chosen sport when she began catching pitches for her father and brother at the age of seven. Playing women’s intermediate softball with the Ohsweken Mohawks, Phyllis helped the team win back-to-back provincial Intermediate B championships in 1960 and 1961. After moving to Toronto to complete high school, she was quickly recruited to play catcher for the Carpetland Senior A Team in the Ontario Senior Women’s League. As a dedicated athlete, and in order to attend practices, Phyllis worked on an assembly line in a commercial radio factory, only to encounter open hostility as the only Indigenous woman playing on the team. Always within earshot of the stands at the catcher position, Phyllis repeatedly endured racist insults from spectators while teammates, coaches, and league officials did nothing to stand up for her. Negotiating unkindness on all sides with courage, dignity, and professionalism, Phyllis drew strength from the deep attachment she held to her community at Six Nations of the Grand River, and to her family, who often drove to Toronto to see her play.
Helping the Carpetland team win Canadian Softball Championships in 1967 and 1968, Phyllis Bomberry was named Top Batter, All-Star Catcher, and most valuable player (MVP) in 1967, and All-Star Catcher again in 1968. Breaking new ground, in 1968 Phyllis became the first female recipient of the Tom Longboat Award, established in 1951 to recognize outstanding Indigenous athletes in Canada. Her winning ways continued with a Gold medal performance at the first Canada Summer Games in 1969, where she was once again named Canadian All-Star Catcher and MVP. Resolutely committed to excellence, Phyllis continued playing softball at the highest level in Canada for many years, winning a Gold medal at the Ontario Summer Games in 1976 before a knee injury forced her retirement from competitive sport. Returning to the home she always held in her heart at Six Nations of the Grand River, she became an inspiration to young people and a respected craftsperson known for beautiful bead and leatherwork. Since she passed away in 2019, Phyllis Bomberry has received recognition as a trailblazing softball superstar whose story of resilience, grace, and grit is finally reclaiming the space it deserves in the history of Canadian sport.