Beer League Softball: Putting the “Angry” in Angry Drunk Summer After Summer

Thousands of poems, books, and films have been dedicated to the sport of baseball, and rightfully so.  It is America’s pastime. A game handed down from generation to generation, beloved by father and son.  Some say it captures the American spirit.  As Susan Sarandon once said Walt Whitman said:

I see great things in baseball.  It’s our game – the American game.

That’s a nice sentiment. But for every sonnet and tale about baseball, another sport goes completely overlooked. A sport that, unlike baseball, far more people play, and perhaps…love? That sport is baseball’s drunken, retarded cousin. That sport is softball.

Why should baseball get all the glory? Is it because most people can’t play baseball? Anyone can shoot a basketball with friends, play some tackle football in the park, or take a time machine to the 90’s and play street hockey.  But baseball? Nope, it’s a really really hard sport to play, so for most it is a glorified game, always an arm’s length away. So instead we have softball, and tragically, no one waxes poetic about America’s true summer pastime.

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to find a few passages dedicated to softball, my pastime. There weren’t many, but I found two from pillars of American literature. We’ll start with a quote:

Softball is the number one cause of drunk driving and domestic abuse from April to September, but it is an enjoyable sport, no doubt brightening as many lives as its participants have ruined with their alcohol abuse – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou truly captures the essence of the sport with that quote. Although it’s hard to take her too seriously since she probably played in some weak ass coed league.  The boys of summer play baseball, the men of summer play in all male softball leagues. Here is a firsthand account of one such team that eternal American voice and brilliant softball player, Ernest Hemingway played on.

Stepping onto a softball diamond, that speck of unkempt dirt surrounded by poorly mowed fields, was a joy each and every time.  My teammates were a rowdy bunch, as evidenced by our name, one that was decided upon after much debate and even more scotch: The Unruly Sodomists.

There was Gin Timmy, our fleet footed second baseman who would imbibe an entire bottle of cheap Gin prior to the start of the match.  He was our first hitter, a skinny man of 130lbs, and our ablest runner.  He was killed tragically by a line drive in the second inning of the first game of our last season. His face was smashed in, nearly out the back of his skull, while playing shallow on the in-field to cut off any attempts at a ball batted to the opposite field.

Our center fielder, Fitz Hough McPherson, or as he was more commonly known, The Irish Faggot, was perhaps our best player. He possessed an unmatched range in the out-field while his bat was steady and consistent. Always capable of gaining two bases on any batted ball. He had a hot temper but was only liable to slap an opposing player across the face to rebuke them for any perceived offense. Many claimed it was because he was a sissy. Fitz Hough argued it was his gentlemanly temperament that permitted him the patience to reserve a closed fist for his wife only.

Among the rest of these motley ten was myself, the third baseman and clean-up hitter. I was known well by the league, its participants and administrators, as “The Third Base Bastard.” This moniker was applied to me on account of my habit of tripping base runners rounding for home and burying the broken glass from my many empty whisky bottles in the dirt just before third base. A slide to my bag took a great bloody toll on many a player’s legs, ass, and genitals.

Our team was not league champion any year it played. In fact only three games were won by us in our entire tenure. Two victories were accomplished honestly. Our third notch in the win column came during a rainout, one that was set to be postponed. However a forfeit of the other team was declared after I brandished a pistol and threatened the umpire with death should he not award our squad the win due to our opponent’s absence.  I do not remember the episode, as on the day of the rainstorm in question I had been imbibing since 10 o’clock that morning. I was assured by the sheriffs though that I had in fact put my revolver in the mouth of that intolerably fair umpire.

I will never forget those glorious summer days. Too drunk and full of competitive spirit to be anxious about the atrocities we committed on a weekly basis, The Unruly Sodomists lived as free men on that diamond. Perhaps only our felonies were more numerous than our errors, and each far more frequent than our victories, but a true softball player did not play to win. A true softball player arrived to drink, played to pass time, and left when he was forced to by league and local authorities.

–          Ernest Hemingway (1923)

Hemingway once said that only that only the atrocities he witnessed during the Spanish Civil War were more terrible than what he saw happen on the softball diamond.

I truly love the sport of softball. Tonight will be a glorious night.  For anyone else that has a softball game tonight, I hope these videos help get you in the mood:

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