Blood, sweat, tears and kickball champs
Jackson’s competitive league kickball isn’t for the meek.
By Miller N. Resor, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
September 5, 2012
It was finally here.
All summer they had sacrificed their bodies — and their Friday evenings — for a shot at the title. Every time they took the field, they traded their blood, sweat, tears and beers for this one chance at glory.
This was what it was all about: the 2012 Competitive League Kickball Championship.
Corey Tozier and Nick Gove, playing for Dave Hansen Whitewater’s fifth-consecutive kickball championship, filled their blue Rubbermaid cooler with ice-cold beers, loaded it onto a bike in front of their Creekside apartment and with visible determination wheeled their cargo to Powderhorn Park.
They got there just in time. Teammate Alice Knowlton stood on the sideline, knees shaking, a bundle of nerves.
Across the baseball diamond, their opponent, the undefeated Here for the Beer, was warming up in right field.
Dave Hansen Whitewater had played and lost to the challengers twice so far that season, and Knowlton’s nerves were understandable given the warm-up unfolding across the field.
Half of the team was launching pop flys high into the air while simultaneously playing dodgeball. If the pop fly landed, the closest person to it dropped and did five push-ups, making them easy targets for their vicious teammates.
The other half of Here for the Beer formed two lines 10 feet apart. On the whistle, the player with the ball would dropkick it at the player on the other side who had his or her back turned until the whistle blew. The defensive player would either catch the ball or pay the price.
Tozier handed Knowlton a beer (a real beer, a Coors) and reassured her with a war cry. Knowlton pounded the beer and responded with an ear- splitting, earth-shaking belch so distracting that several members of Here for the Beer lost focus and took some hot rubber to the face.
Moments later, the umpire called the captains together for the coin toss.
Here for the Beer won and so was up to kick first.
Kickball is played on a baseball diamond and, in baseball fashion, innings are comprised of three outs. Outs can be obtained by pegging an opponent with the ball while the player is off base, through forced outs and by catching pop flies before they touch the ground. Runs are scored by successfully navigating the bases and reaching home.
Here for the Beer got off to a hot start. After a conservative bunt up the third baseline and a drive up the middle, they positioned runners at first and second. The third kicker blasted a drive up the middle that a Hansen defender fielded, picking off the runner at second. Still, the Beers scored one, exemplifying for the first time the motto on the back of their shirts: “There is no I in beer.”
Several kicks and a couple of errors later, the Beers were up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the second.
Dave Hansen started a rally with a lead-off single. The next kick, along with some excellent base running, moved the runner to third.
The third kicker found a hole between first and second and brought in the rafters’ first run.
But despite moving through seven positions in their lineup, Dave Hansen was only able to add one more score before the end of the inning, cutting Here for the Beers’ lead to 4-2
In the top of the third, the Beers added two more runs, taking a 6-2 lead. The boaters loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning but left their runners stranded like a bad river prank.
In the fourth inning, things started to get real.
Dave Hansen took to the outfield with intensity, pulling off a double play to end the Beers’ half of the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, with runners on second and third, a sacrifice fly brought in one run, and the river guides added another to narrow the lead to 6-4.
The top of the fifth was defined by some stand-up defence by Dave Hansen captain Kyle Vosmus. A screaming shot to shortstop was handled by Gove who rugby-passed the ball to Vosmus as he came in from center field to get the forced out at second.
Vosmus followed up the last play with a diving catch to end the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the inning, Dave Hansen took advantage of a Here for the Beer error to score two runs and tie the game.
More dynamic defence from Vosmus shut down the Beers in the top of the sixth.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth and final inning, Dave Hansen had a chance to win it or send the game into extra innings.
Hansen wasted no time. In three quick kicks, they singled, moved a runner to third and then kicked a sacrifice fly for the walk-off win.
The raft guides, shuttle drivers and office people rushed the field in unrestrained exuberance as the Beer players hung their heads and made their way to the booze in their dugouts.
All said, there were really no tears. Here for the Beer popped a bottle of the bubbly and pointed to their overall record against the boaters.
Dave Hansen Whitewater uttered words of praise between swigs from the glass bowl they received for the fifth year straight.
As the sun set on the final game of the competitive kickball season, both teams were all smiles and laughter.
On a field across town, The Teets defeated Hop, Skip and Go Naked in the Recreational Kickball Championships.
The News&Guide chose not to cover the event given its x-rated potential. Lord only knows what sort of debauchery took place.