Softball season opens next week

by Than Acuff

Here it was Tuesday morning and I was thinking what was on the agenda this week for sports and, lo’ and behold, one of my least favorite songs of all time, John Fogerty’s Centerfield, was on the radio.

One thought comes to mind when that song comes on: How could someone who was in the classic swamp-rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival (kick-ass name) and had a hand in such bad-ass songs as Run From the Jungle, Born on the Bayou, Proud Mary, Suzie Q, etc., etc. write such cheese as Centerfield?

It was 1985 and, thanks to my older brother’s music taste and his seemingly endless supply of the Devil’s herb, I was firmly entrenched in classic rock appreciation. Then Centerfield came out and I couldn’t wrap my head around how CCR front man John Fogerty could have fallen so far from grace. Not only that but it was less than a year after my beloved Colts left Baltimore, another life-shattering moment. How could Fogerty write Centerfield and how could a professional football team with a rabid fan base just leave town?

At any rate, when Centerfield came on the radio Tuesday morning, I vurped but was then reminded that softball season is upon us and, therefore, it was time to prime the pump of softball stoke.

This Crested Butte tradition has been going on for so long it even outdates the Town Council tenure of Jim “Deli” Schmidt by decades. To which Schmidt can attest because he’s been a part of the local softball scene since the 1970s, complete with separate men’s and women’s fast pitch leagues, short shorts, tube socks and, I can only assume, metal spikes.

Here we are in the summer of 2017 (40 years after Schmidt started playing) and while there are more rules, nicer fields and less leagues, it’s still going strong and still has its host of first-time players, powerful women, self-anointed power hitting men and a handful of former collegiate baseball and softball players who can still actually play the game the way it was meant to be played. Provided they don’t hit the latest nuclear strain of the Devil’s herb too hard before the game.

Note to local pot shops: Develop a series of softball-based strains with names such as the Long Ball (Dude, I was on a long haul with the Long Ball), Can of Corn, Triple Play, Double Play and the Inside the Park Home Run (ITPHR). The ITPHR is a Taurine/caffeine-spiked strain (think Red Bull/sativa) so strong you end up running in circles inside your house.

Where was I? Right—it’s softball season and that can mean only one thing: Open consumption in public places! Wait, no, that’s not it. It means a great way to spend three evenings a week, either watching or playing softball on any one of three of the most scenic fields in the world.

With the local free concert series putting the hurt on the softball season (what a decision, sip Chardonnay on the Center for the Arts field with families or chug Bud Light with your buddies while playing softball. Hmmmm, I’d pick the latter myself), the local league will continue with three nights of ball, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. New this year though is a return to a two-league format. It won’t be comp and rec but rather a Tuesday/Thursday league and a Wednesday league with two titles up for grabs.

“The softball advisory committee talked and we definitely wanted two different leagues,” says recreation supervisor Kyle Thomas. “We’ll have a champion crowned for each.”

Thomas hosted the captain’s meeting last week and there are 17 teams signed up this year, up from 14 last year. Twelve teams are signed up for Tuesdays and Thursdays and five teams are in for the Wednesday league.

Last year saw a historic run by the Avalanche, only to fall to Pita’s O.G. in the finals. Pita’s O.G. title was the culmination of perhaps the only perfect season by any team in the modern age of Crested Butte softball as they ran roughshod through the regular season and the playoffs to take the 2016 title.

While Pita’s is back looking to defend its title and several teams are returning from last year for another season of softball, there are a couple of new teams, including a town staff team as well as a new Crested Butte Mountain Resort team.

Opening night is Tuesday, June 6 with action all over town and will continue until the first week of August.

“All three fields will be rolling,” says Thomas. “Everything is pretty much the same.”

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