Ultimate Mid-Century Sport?

Colorful nicknames, lots of action mark the resurgence of roller derby in the Bay Area
Derby
Undead Bettys in action. Photo: Daniel Quintanilla.

Is there a recreational or sporting activity that says 'mid-century' more than roller derby?

OK, maybe the hula hoop.

But aside from that, many an American can recall being introduced to the then-primitive world of televised sports at least partly via flickering, black-and-white images of rollicking roller derby action.

And just as the San Francisco Bay Bombers were nationally known champions in the sport's mid-century heyday, so the Bay Area remains a hotspot for its 21st century revival. From Antioch to Oakland, from Richmond to the City, leagues are alive and slugging it out for roller supremacy, and fans are lining up to see it.

"I think really the reason is, the Bay Area is so diverse," said Jim Fitzpatrick, San Francisco-born member of the old Bay Bombers, and coach and general manager of the similarly named Bay City Bombers of today. Noting that local teams have always drawn from all colors and creeds, he added, "It fit well in the Bay Area."

Derby
Bay City Bombers general manager/coach Jim Fitzpatrick and women’s team skater Lali-O. Photo: courtesy Bay City Bombers.

A few different opportunities loom in the coming weeks to watch women and men alike play this most colorful of sports in historic Bay Area buildings.

The Bay City Bombers host an American Roller Skating Derby league game against the Los Angeles Thunderbirds on August 23 in San Francisco's Kezar Pavilion. That same night, Bay Area Derby (BAD) Girls will skate a doubleheader at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, including its league championship pitting the defending champion Oakland Outlaws against the Richmond Wrecking Belles.

The opening bout in the Richmond doubleheader features two other BAD Girl teams, San Francisco ShEvil Dead against the Berkeley Resistance. The Resistance is also scheduled to head east to Antioch Indoor Sports Center on September 13 to take on the Undead Bettys.

For the record, the Bombers have a men's and women's team, the other leagues are gals only.

For tickets and more information about the Bombers, click here. For the Bay Area Derby Girls, click here. For the Undead Bettys, click here.