Dear fellow slow pitch legends,
Yes, opening day at Busch is a thing of wonder. Hope springs eternal on the first true day of St. Louis spring. But, to some of us, that isn’t the true opening day. The true opening day is tonight, on a slow pitch softball field buried in the Meramec River valley.
Yeah, that’s me. Pasty arms and a goofy smile. Why did I allow this picture to be taken of me in a rec league basketball jersey on a softball field? Because Nations said, “My God…this is the most South City hoosier thing I have ever seen.” Maybe he was right, but I don’t care. We were out in the dirt among our little band of misfits named “The Icemen.” Our Wednesday nights in Sunset Hills are the things of legend. And we aren’t alone.
To us and thousands of others… from Forest Park, to St. Charles, to Overland, to St Peters…to whatever the hell happens in Illinois… beer league slow pitch is a way of St. Louis Summer life. The ping of the bat, the half drunken idiocy, the near fights, and the reach for youth that occurs during every double header are pure joy. You live and die with the losses in the moment, and then shake them off along with the dirt on your way to a Busch Heavy nightcap in the parking lot.
Look, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. That’s cool. But believe me, it’s a flat out awesome. There are dozens of leagues, half of which are run well. Hundreds of umps…5 of which have the actual desire to be there.
And on a side note to those umps. We don’t want you to be perfect, we just want you to put forth any kind of effort that proves you are A) breathing and B) are getting paid.
But I digress. Why do we love slow pitch so much? The reasons are varied. For me, next to shooting a basketball, hitting is my absolute favorite athletic activity. That feeling when you catch the ball just right on the sweet spot that you barely feel it leave the barrel…then watch it land in a grove of trees beyond anywhere an outfielder can jog…it’s otherworldly.
I asked some friends why they love slow pitch. Most answers came back with far too many f-bombs for me to edit and still get the point across, but a couple sum it up on both ends of the spectrum.
My buddy and fellow Iceman…who is nicknamed The Rat…and no one has ever explained to me why…he doesn’t look like a Rat…he looks like a Civil War Union General…well..anyway…he puts it like this.
“There’s nothing like slamming back a few cold ones with the boys, picking up a well-engineered metal bat, and trying to hit an over-sized ball over a 275 ft fence as if you were Mark McGwire in the mid-90’s. Men’s rec league slow pitch softball is a magical place where all your childhood dreams can come true.” -Corey the Rat
I cannot agree more. Until you’ve actually smoked a few over the left-field fence off some tool who claims he “played college baseball,” you can never understand.
On the other end of the spectrum, my buddy, and the man who runs this site, taps into the true, deeper reason we all do this.
“It’s closest thing to the camaraderie I had in the military… And it’s the only way I can make myself run.” -Mick Lite
I personally love to run, because I’m not wired right. But, the first part, that is the true value of the game. The countless nights under the lights, the endless mosquitoes, the broken bathrooms, the infuriating blown calls, the near drunken brawls, they’re all worth it. They’re worth it because you’re out there with your boys.
To paraphrase the great Roy Hobbs…”God I love softball.”
See you on the diamond my friends.
P.S. Huge shout out to Bartels for getting me into this game…and to Naysh for dragging me out of my mid-30’s retirement…
P.P.S. There no more devastating sound than when Daniel Trivinos really connects
Follow Sauls on Twitter @Will_ArchCity