Big week at the ballparks
Even if your team’s not playing, you should keep the middle of this week open on your calendar.
TUESDAY: A big day, in both leagues. At 5 p.m., the final regular-season games in the senior division will have Prep & Polish against O.C. Hardware on the yellow diamond while Unity Gardens plays at Wesolowski on green.
At 6:30, O.C. will meet South Bend Brew Werks on yellow in the play-in game for the senior tournament. As the fourth- and fifth-place teams, only one will advance to the playoffs, which begin Tuesday, Aug. 15.
At 7:30, in the junior division playoffs, also on yellow, PowerHouse will meet Bowlers Country Club in the losers bracket finals. The winner will advance to the title game or games against Putt-Putt on Thursday.
WEDNESDAY: The annual home run derby, which was rained out last month. Competition will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, just west of IUSB on Northside Boulevard. The entry fee is $10, with $2 going into a 50-50 fund. Spectators can enter the fund drawing as well.
THURSDAY: The big date to circle. We’ll have the finals in the junior division that night at 6:30 p.m.
Putt-Putt has earned the winners bracket spot and is waiting to see which team it will face for the league title. If the losers bracket team wins at 6:30, a second winner-takes-all game will follow at 7:30.
We want this to be a memorable event. We’ll honor all teams between innings and have Dollar Day at the concession stand. All items – from Oreo ice cream to grilled hamburgers – will be a dollar apiece. We’re hoping to have 100 or more people attending that game. If nothing else, stop by with a few bucks and have a cheap dinner.
What about fall ball?
Adam Kroemer is working with Kirby Whitacre of Mid-American Senior Softball on a combined fall league. Details should be available later this week.
What about the banquet?
We didn’t have volunteers step forward to work on our traditional end-of-season banquet. There is a possibility we’ll throw something together in the next couple of weeks.
If not, the money we typically spent on a banquet is helping pay for Dollar Night at the concession stand on Aug. 10 as well as for pizza and other concession specials at the senior division championship on Aug. 22.
It’s difficult to measure how important the banquet is. We lose money on it every year. When we ask around, some players say they would be happy if we skipped it. If you think the banquet is important, please let your manager or a commissioner know.
Adam is hoping to have some form of a banquet after the season ends. There also may be a golf outing in September and October. We’ll keep in touch.
What about next year’s commissioners?
By Ken Bradford
Usually by this time, we would be announcing next year’s commissioners. The problem is we haven’t found candidates yet.
Commissioners typically serve three years. For 2023, this was my third year, Steve Latzke was entering his second year and Adam Kroemer was beginning his first. Also, we added Steve Sporinsky and Mark Witkowski as interim commissioners to help with the senior division.
Bob Gorny served as commissioner from 2020 to 2022 and has agreed to return to replace Steve Latzke, who resigned to move out of the area. We still need to replace me because my term has expired.
If we choose to, we also could replace Steve Sporinsky and Mark Witkowski as advisers to the senior division. Steve likely will continue to help with league databases, and I can help if necessary with our communications.
This has been a busy year because we needed to do a lot of rebuilding. Ideally, with our new structure in place, commissioners will have fewer issues to handle. If it’s a normal season, a first-year commissioner will attend four or five meetings and be available by text or email to contribute ideas.
The league gets better with new ideas and energy. If you have time to devote, this is a chance to step forward. Please let Adam or Bob know if you’re interested.
It’s not just us there
If you have the opportunity and time, you may want to help at one of the many tournaments held at the Byers Complex.
Last weekend, the diamonds were filled with teen-agers in a national slow-pitch tournament. It’s not quite the game we play – they can steal a base if the ball gets away from the catcher, for example – but these top-tier players can teach us all a lesson about base-running, making throws from the outfield, and being prepared and alert on defense.
The complex pays people to keep a scorebook, operate the scoreboard and announce the batters. For Friday’s games, I saw Dick Helfman, Jim Nace and Bob Fonseca in the press box doing that. It can be a bit hectic, but it feels like you’re part of the game.
We aren’t the only game in town at the complex. Several times a summer, the lots are filled with Winnebagos, the diamonds are lined with tents and the air carries the scent of hamburgers on the grill. Everywhere you look, you see folks young and old enjoying softball.
You can be a part of that. If you’re interested, check in with Gary Duddleson and Rich Sparks.