Wednesday, July 14, 2010
THE "PING" IS GONE!" Chicago Metropolitan Sport Association's New Senior Softball League.
Back in the mid-1970's I was a 38 year old Rookie playing in America's first gay organized Softball League, The Gay San Francisco Community Softball League. A few years later I played on the S.F. Oil Can Harry's Championship Oilers, and won the right to represent S.F. in the 1978 Gay World Series at the Big Apple... However, once we arrived, we found OUT that our team was "kicked OUT" for having too many "straights" on our roster! The following year, I played on the first ever gay seniors team...The Fabulos Forty's. The team was managed by the "fabled" Jack "Irene" McGowan. I had a relationship similar to the N.Y. Yankee's Manager Billy Martin, and his players. One of my teammates was former Olympian Dr. Tom Waddell, who a few years later went on to create The Gay Games. Since then, I played for many teams, and had more "Last Hurrah's" than Liz Taylor had husbands. In recent times... I have played in the CMSA's Senior Cup Tornament in the fall... for several teams, and mostly with the team sponsored by Bubbies Kosher Pickles of San Francisco. I have several team trophies including one Championship club, a 2nd place finish and I won the Award for being the oldest active player,twice. The first at 69... the age, and when I was 71. This year, I heard the call of "PLAY BALL!", once again. Peter Meyer formed a new seniors league in Chiacgo... for players 50, and older(with a few 45, or more, taking advantage of a loophole, before the age limit was finalized.
I just want to let you know how I found our sponsor... it began in the summer of 1986. I was a publicist looking for a good client at the S.F. Food Show. After scouting the show, I found two possibilities. One was a couple of Jewish guys from Vermont,looking for Ice Cream distributors for their product called "Ben & Jerry's", and the other was the owner of a Kosher Pickle Co. out of S.F. called "Bubbies".(Yiddish for Grandmother) and guess which one I chose? At the time, I was very content.
One of my first promotions was sending a jar up to the booth of Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray, when they were visiting the Giants, at Candlestick Park. (It was my way of thanking him for having me on his 10th Inning Show, in 1985. He intoduced me as "John Q. Public the Fan!") I did not realize what went on when he opened the jar, in front of an open mic... until several of my friends sent me a tape a few days later. It seems, that Harry thanked me, and preceded to take his first bite, then his 2nd and for the next 5 minutes, kept making almost x-rated sounds of delight, with each and every bite. WGN-TV producer Arne Harris,ran a moving headline banner across the bottom of the screen with the following message "ATTENTION VIEWERS,THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE SOUND OF YOUR TV SET... THE SOUNDS YOU HEAR, IS THAT OF HARRY CARAY, FALLING IN LOVE WITH SOME KOSHER PICKLES! ( He loved them so much, that a few years later he called me the Cubs #1 Fan!) Sadly after several months of getting some great PR, they ran OUT of funds... and disappered off grocery store shelves after going belly-up. Never to be seen or heard anymore for many years. That was until the late 1990's when I happened to pick up a Jewish newspaper, while having a bagel & lox sandwhich... at Chicago's The Bagel, and there was an ad for "Bubbies". So per chance I called the new owner... and since, we been doing a few small projects together... as well as sponsored my softball teams. When Peter Meyer, who formed his newest Seniors League, he invited me for another "Last Hurrah"... I am playing on a team of 16 players... 9 of them listed their favorite position( On the playing Field, only!) and they listed pitcher. So I am playing catcher, with a chance that I will pitch a few innings down the road. We play our games at Hollywood Park, on the N.W. Side... across from one of the first Mc Donalds in Chicago. Our first game we lost to the "Turncoats"10-9, Our best player was our left fielder... She covered a lot a ground! I went 1 for 3, turning a triple into a double. I tried bribing the Ump Al Sloane with a jar of Bubbies... he said couldn't be bought, however,he informed me I was his friend for life! The name of our team.. BUBBIES KOSHER PICKLE'S ...BRINE-TIME LEGENDS... Just like our sponsor,that is a Legend in their own brine! Oh yes, after getting use to the sound of PING, made from using aluminum bats for the past 35 years, our new league decided to use wood bats only... THE PING IS GONE, but not the thrill... at least on the playing field!