Friday, April 27, 2012


In case you're new around here, here's something you should know: I love fast-pitch softball. I love playing it, I love watching it, I love doing statistics concerning it, and I love writing about it.

Some folks find my posts about softball dreadfully boring. I understand. One person's extremely enjoyable activity is another person's drudgery. I think MY WIFE would attest to that.

(Cooking, wise guy. I like to cook, she doesn't. If you thought I meant something else, shame on your dirty mind.)

So, softball season is here again. I'm playing on two teams this year, as I've done for most of the many years I've played the sport. One team plays on Sunday mornings, the other plays on weeknights.

This will be my 18th season with my Sunday team, The Bombers. My other team, Quencher Tavern, plays in the M Street Softball League, one of the premier fast-pitch leagues in the city. It's my first year with them, although I've had eight seasons in that league with other squads.

Anyway, I was going through a file folder full of softball photos and I decided it would be nice to run a post with my favorites. That way, I could get my softball blogging fix while not completely wasting the time of those people who can't stand it when I write about the subject. Everybody likes pictures!

Although it's not an action shot, and was taken in a parking lot, this might be my favorite softball photo of them all. It's just Fast Freddy Goodman and me, following the final doubleheader of the 2007 Sunday season. I love playing ball, but when I look back on what I've enjoyed about my time on a field, it's usually the camaraderie that I recall most fondly. Freddy has been my teammate for over 25 years. I'd trust that New York Jewboy with my life.

Bombers, following our loss in the 2010 championship. It was the closest I've ever come to being on a championship team, and I'm extremely proud to have been their teammate. We had a 14 and 2 regular season, just smoked other teams all year, and then swept the two opening round series. For the championship, though, we were undermanned. Five players were unable to make the games, for various reasons, and that included at least three definite starters. I have no doubt we win the championship if they were there. Still, we held a 1 - 0 lead through six complete innings in game one (games are seven innings) and Big Jay Atton almost dragged us across the finish line by himself, tossing the shutout through six and accounting for the lone run with a solo homer. We lost it in the seventh, then dropped game two, also. The guys pictured all had loads of heart. Despite the smiles, those hearts were a bit broken when this photo was shot.

L to R:

Front Row - Big Jay Atton, Joey Baszkiewicz, Fast Freddy Goodman, Tom Resor
Middle Row - Jack Atton, Jim Sullivan, Pat Atton, Ben Czarnecki
Back Row - Ron Johnson, Drew Atton, Danny Espinosa, Josh Lebron, Manny Hernandez

Me just prior to the 2010 Championship. Being at the field and anticipating the upcoming game is great. The day is always full of heroic promise.

This is just a shot of the field at M Street. I particularly like the evening sun, with shadows from the triple decker apartment buildings to the left encroaching on the field, and the way the various players are reacting to the ball (which appears to be a pop-up to left.)

Another group shot of Bombers, from an earlier year; possibly 2005. The dress code didn't appear to be too stringent then. This shot was taken at Cleveland Circle.

Front - Stu Stone, Jim Sullivan, Matt Widiger
Rear - Jack Atton, Charlie White, Ron Johnson, Matt Stone, Pete Maczkiewicz, Mike Martin, Andy Angelone

You should recognize this one. It's basically my avatar from this blog. The avatar is a baseball card with some airbrushing of the background, while this is the original shot from the 2004 season at M Street with the Sidewalk Cafe team. That was the most talented squad I've ever been a part of, man for man. We lost in a very exciting semi-finals series that year. For the record, it was while I was a part of that team that I hit my most recent home run. Yeah, it's been eight seasons since my last dinger. I was 47-years-old then, and I'm positively ancient now, so the prospects of me hitting another one are growing dim, but hope springs eternal.

Here I'm not quite so ancient. This is me from 1996, my second season with the Bombers, age 39. The shot is at Smith Field, Brighton, where we play the majority of our games. Notice the mullet hair. Also, compare to the previous photo. What can I tell you? Catchers like to squat.

Now back to being 54, from last season at M Street. Not too shabby for a fossil. I like the (almost) squared off lines between my forearm, my front shoulder, and the bat. Notice my rear foot. It's about four inches deeper than my front foot. That's the kind of stuff you have to adjust for when you play on city fields. I'd like to see what A-Rod would do if you gave him a batter's box like that.

(Well, of course, he'd still croak the ball, but he'd piss and moan about it first. We just play.)

This is my all-time hero on a softball field, the ageless wonder, Bobby Ripley. This was taken in 2007 during my final year with the Flames in the Fenway League (I played with them from 2005 to 2007.) Bobby is 78-years-old in this shot. And he wasn't a coach. He played. He's probably still playing. Every time I start complaining about some age-related hurt, somebody should smack me on the back of the head and say, "Bobby Ripley!"

Probably my favorite batting stance photo, from a game at Cleveland Circle, 2010, versus the Reds. I have no idea what sort of pitch that catcher is expecting, though. He looks like he's checking for rain.

Another nice shot of Fast Freddy and me, with bonus of Big Jay Atton. Notice how the bench area slopes toward the field? And Big Jay is standing on the low end of it? And he still towers over Fast Freddy and me? That's why he's BIG Jay.

Guys, in general, don't mind showing off their battle scars, but softball guys, for some reason, seem particularly gleeful about it. This is my good buddy, Jack Atton, showing the aftereffects of being hit in the bicep by a batted ball.

Finally, a shot taken by MY WIFE, following my final game with the Flames. Dirt, Sweat, Knee Brace, Moody Lighting... What's not to love?

Soon, with more batter stuff.


Maggie May said...

You look good in your gear! Also happy in the sport you love! What more can any one want?
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Craig said...

You've still got the knees to catch at 55? God bless you! These days, when I play, I'm usually at first, where they put the old, slow guys who can still catch a throw. . .

That palm-up glove catching technique is real common in slow-pitch; can't imagine it would work very well in fast-pitch, tho. . .

Michelle H. said...

soon, with more batter stuff

Oh no! Not more crusty Krispy Kreme concoctions!

Sorry, couldn't help myself. You left yourself wide open.

Lovely photos. You are a true sportsman when you talk about old and new teams with fondness. Always looking at the bright side of things and grateful for all the experiences. Everyone most love having you as a teammate.

Eric said...

The photos are awesome, the commentary...well...just kidding lol. Thank you for sharing this with us. Tell those who don't like the softball stories to go elsewhere.

Buck said...

Bobby is 78-years-old in this shot.

Wow. Just WOW.

Craig said...

Ummmm. . . yeah. . . what Buck said. I forgot to mention that one. . .

Jackie said...

Eighteen seasons with The Bombers. What an accomplishment! I enjoyed the commentary with the photos, Jim.
When I first looked at the photo of you, Fast Freddy and Big Jay, I thought B.J. was standing in the foreground. After reading what you wrote, I looked again. My goodness, he IS a big guy. His shadow covers quite an area!
The fact that Bobby Ripley is 78 years old and is in great shape and still playing warms my heart.
I also commend you for being able to squat like that. Makes my legs burn just thinking about it. You are in great shape too, Jim. I hope that you keep playing and enjoying the game. I enjoyed your blogpost today. Read every word. :))
(I felt disappointment for your team as I read the commentary under the 2010 Championship game photo. But, I felt pride, too. A 14-2 season is awesome!! Proud of all you guys!!)

Uncle Skip, said...

What Craig said about the catcher... slow pitch.

I could probably do a Ripley ...if I could still run.

Stephen Hayes said...

More "batter" stuff--Love it. You look like Mighty Casey out there, but I bet you didn't strike out.

Shrinky said...

You're right, everyone DOES love photo's, and this is a great collection. Your passion for the game shines through, and I'm sure your enthusiasm rubs off on all your teammates, too - regardless of whatever the final score might be.

Tabor said...

You certainly had fun reminiscing. I like the description of a day full of heroic promise.

Shammickite said...

Good luck in the coming softball season.
OlderSon is playing with the oldtimers league again this year. (only 40 and he's an oldtimer already!!!) Last year he played for the Hot Tub Woodies, goodness only knows what his team name will be this year!

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Just for grins I Googled "ball."
Some home canners may be surprised if they find their way here.

BTW - Google "zerg rush" today for a nice distraction.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Correct me if my memory has failed but that last shot...wasn't that potentially going to be your last shot in a softball uniform ever from a couple seasons back? SO happy to hear you're still getting out & playing. Great shots & backstory always is nice. Hey, you read all my insane hockey rambling, how could I NOT read your softball recounting (esp since I don't even play hockey!). Here's to a great season! Maybe this could be your year at a championship...but either way hope you have a blast!

Suldog said...

Jenn - Indeed. I didn't mention it in the commentary because I'm kind of ashamed of making such a big deal out of it then but still playing another FIVE YEARS :-)

Kat said...

Okay, a couple of things...

1st- You're a catcher? That's awesome. I always thought that had to be the toughest position to place because OMG the knees!!!! How do you do it? Seriously.

2nd- Holy crow you had a sho-lo! Short on the sides, long in the back. A business in the front, party in the back. A mullet. Heh heh heh.

3rd- Sports are so awesome. And yeah, it is fun to play, but like you said the camaraderie is what really keeps bringing you back. Sports can teach you so much. The teamwork, determination, never give up, endurance, friendship. All of it awesome.

LOVE this post! Great pics!!!

Suldog said...

Kat - Well, I've had knee surgery, but it was about 15 years ago now. I had most of the cartilage taken from my right knee. I've been relatively free from injury since then, excluding a sprain here and there. The doc told me I can expect some arthritis in that knee later, but so far [knocks wood]

messymimi said...

Great picks, and even though i usually don't read much about sports, i like your sports stories.

Anonymous said...

Fast Freddy Goodman always seems to have such a nice sun tan!

Jeni said...

Ah yes! Softball, the teams and a mullet too -what's not to love there? You've been saying for the past how many years now that this year is gonna be your last year as a player and yet, here you are again -out there, suiting up and ready to go! Maybe not turning the plays or the bases at the speed you once had but heck, if you're even still able to walk around the baselines, to me, that would be something to be proud about! (I know it would sure make me happy if I could do that!)
So go out there and play like your just in your 20s -in your heart and mind anyway! Don't get injured and above all, enjoy each and every game with your crew!

Carolina said...

At first I though: is this the way to great a lady who hasn't been over here for a while? With a softball post? But, this is actually a softball post that I really enjoyed. Yep, must be all those pictures ;-)

Julie said...

Love the pics and the story ... enjoy!

silly rabbit said...

Yay! Play ball!

Wow. 18 years on a team is remarkable to say the least. I think its fantastic. And I'm sure it keeps you young. Not to mention that I love reading your ball posts!

Daryl Edelstein said...

Wait up .. did I miss the post about the old guy getting into shape??? xo

lime said...

great pics.lots of happiness in them. thanks for sharing.

thanks also for the prayers for today. sitting here way mellow and soon to take a vicodin and go to bed. just wanted to say thanks first.

Barbara said...

Yikes, I know my knees wouldn't hold up to all that squatting, especially when you're supposed to jump up fast, and they're younger than your knees! Not by much, but still...! Good for you! I can easily imagine you beating Bobby Ripley's record. Loved the pics - thanks for sharing them!

Jeremy said...

More softball!! Count me as one that likes to read of you softball exploits. I'm jealous. I've often thought about doing something like that, but I'm not really that athletic. I'll live vicariously through you.

flutterby said...

Add me to the Impressed With Suldog's Range of Motion list! I imagine that it's most like anything else. Use it or Lose it. And clearly, as evidenced by the 78 yr old gent still sporting it up... Using it is much preferable.

I've not watched much baseball. My Grandpa was an avid fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, though... and the sound of a game on the TV always makes me think of him.

Anonymous said...

The gang is back! And I'm looking forward to the end of little league for my 8 yr old boy.


That's probably on the verge of blasphemy to you. heh heh

But hey, he took to wearing a cup well this year.


And we don't need to hear about your "cup" exploits!

Double ha!

I think it's great that baseball is one of your passions.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sully! Matt W. here, awesome pic from the past! Playing (and pitching) on two teams here in central virginia, combined record 27-6 this season, woo hoo! :)

Go Bombers!