A personal look at our two-year agreement

Ken Bradford

Most of us don’t care about specifics of the agreement made in 2021 to move our league to the Byers complex. We’re happy at Byers. We had our best season ever here, expanding from 11 to 12 teams. We had the usual old-age injuries — pulled muscles, in particular. But the outfields didn’t have puddles or ruts and the infields gave more predictable bounces than we normally had at Normain and Henry Frank parks. Outfielders weren’t looking into the lights of McKinley or the headlights of cars leaving the lots during night games. We weren’t fighting briars or poison ivy to retrieve balls after home runs or fouls. For most of us, Byers clearly is a safer place to play.

At Byers, we had plenty of parking and behind-the-screen seating for families and friends. The restrooms were clean. The concession stands provided better food than we would get in a sack at drive-thrus. We had room to set up chairs and coolers after our games. We were all in the same place at the same time, so we didn’t have to run over to a park a mile away to socialize with friends on other teams. Mosquitos? Few, if any. Byers is a more comfortable place to enjoy our time together.

If the league grows, Byers has room for us. We’re at 12 teams now. If we work together to bring more friends in, we could accommodate 20 teams on the five diamonds every Tuesday and Thursday night without playing past 8 o’clock. If, someday, the junior division expands beyond that, we could have 30 teams playing at 5, 6:30 and 8. Do we want to bring in travel teams from 100 miles away for three-day tournaments? How about a state or regional championship? Byers is big enough for any dreams we have.

Still, some of us want to know about the shorter term. Did our league commit to a two-year get-acquainted period with Byers? The answer is yes, positively. Would there be consequences if we renege on that agreement? Again, yes, positively. We have an outstanding relationship with the Byers staff. It’s a pain in the neck for them, but they put up our home run fences at 250 feet twice a week. We’re the only league that asks them to do that. Our fee of $800 per team covers the costs of umpires, softballs, insurance and other stuff. That’s a discount from what they charge other leagues. The complex takes care of a lot of the league’s headaches. We can just show up and play because we have a great deal.

I have good friends who are planning on leaving our group to join an upstart league in Mishawaka. I wish they wouldn’t. As we get older, a lot of us try to turn back the clock. If we played better while we were in Mishawaka in 2011 or 2021, it doesn’t mean we’ll find some sort of magic back there somehow in 2023. I’ll be 69 years old next summer, whether I play at Byers, Normain or some pickleball court. I’ll run as hard but not as fast. It won’t be Byers’ fault. Our league is big enough that it has a place for me, even if I’m not quite as good as I was last year.

I’ll choose Byers because it’s safer, it’s more comfortable for my wife if she attends games, and it’s where the majority of my softball friends are. I can count on our league being there for many years to come.

I hope to see you all in 2023.

For those who want to see it, I’m attaching a copy of the notes taken for our two-year agreement. I’m willing to answer any question you have about our league at kenbradford@comcast.net.

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