As summer came to a close last year, I daydreamed to Alex Leies Gonzalez over a beer at Ms. Fairfax. I lamented how back in Red Hook there was a bar league for softball I hadn’t had the chance to play in. We wanted to have something more to do, to look forward to through weekly routine malaise. Aleies declared we start our own league. He had Tuesday nights off work, we would play after five at People’s Park. He had gloves, bats, and balls. We could text everyone we knew and see who showed up.
Our first autumn we had about six people play semi regularly. We pulled off a rough approximation of pick up wiffle ball. We scoured Thruway Sporting Goods and Walmart for gloves. We had a speaker, cheap beer, and a sense that we were in on a shared secret, so we kept playing. A few rogue friends of acquaintances became baseball buddies and we wound up spending time together on days other than Tuesday. As the nights became colder and the sky darkened sooner we declared ourselves the Sunsets. The light governed our play time, so Aleies’ gear went dormant for the winter.
This year Covid struck right before spring training. Months passed and we became increasingly restless. We missed each other, missed being outside and moving. Moreover, the weather was improving – the sun was setting later. As the state of New York began reopening for outdoor activities we decided it was time. For a few weeks we played wiffle ball, forcing all our apprehensive friends to put themselves out there and try. I sewed muslin bases to graduate from cardboard in the mud. On a whim once we had batting practice on Liberty Street, curious strangers popping in for a few rounds as they passed. “What are you doing next Tuesday?” was shouted up and down the block throughout the night. The following week as Aleies and I walked into the park, the bleachers were full of new players. We played a full game. The week after that, we played softball, with real, 11” (soft) softballs.
Funded by Newburgh, NY (September 2020)