Archive for March 19th, 2011

White Park Baseball

What do you do when your subject decides to go to Bristol, Tennessee for a NASCAR event?

Find a new subject. I was fortunate on Thursday to stumble upon a game of pick-up baseball (slow pitch softball essentially) at White Park, just across from the Morgantown Municipal Ice Arena.

White Park is home to at least six different baseball fields that span across the grounds. Some are bigger then others, with the fields usually home to little league ball or beer league softball. But when they fields have no occupants, you can often find people of Morgantown playing around on the fields.

On Thursday two groups converged to play an eight on eight. The only stipulation? You had to catch for your own team. All other positions were covered. Sophomore television journalism major Adam Crowley said when the weather gets nice that the first thing on his mind is playing softball with his friends.

“I had to stop playing baseball when I was a junior in high school because of acute tendinitis. I love playing on the weekends.”

The group was mostly made up of friends, but not necessarily everyone knew each other. Sometimes two groups need to come together to get a full game. If Adam’s crew hadn’t found other people to play at the field, it would have been a lot of practicing and not much playing.

“We could only get eight or nine people total and not everyone has gloves,” said Adam.

To play in these games, the most important thing is having one glove for every two people. More gloves are welcome, but that number ensures everyone will have one when the two sides switch between the dug out and the field.

Adam’s friend Chris Haines goes out for a different reason to play.

“I stopped playing baseball and focused on football when I was in high school. I forgot how much fun it is to be jack a ball out of the park.”

Home runs are pretty constant in these games. Most of the fields aren’t longer then 200 feet since Little League usually uses them.

When the beer league softball communities use the fields, they only allow one home run per game to limit scoring. They also start all counts off with one ball and one strike to speed the games up.

As a former member of beer league softball with Rapid Construction, I can remember quite well that every game essentially felt like an exhibition. It was just a bunch of people getting together to play the game for fun. Nobody took it too seriously.

Games at White Park are usually pretty relaxed. But some go for a different reason.

“Regardless of the sport or level of competition I am there to win,” says Jon Rudder. “I want to go out there and be better then the other guy.”

There are no set times for games at White Park unless you sign up for beer league softball, but if you get in the mood and have a glove or bat, take a drive by and see if anybody is there.

Alex Wiederspiel is a senior journalism student at West Virginia University and sports director at U92 Radio.

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