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Posts Tagged ‘softball’

If you want people to innovate, get out of the way. That’s what I think must have happened when Bill Littlefield launched his sports program at WBUR. Clearly, someone gave him freedom to do it his own kooky way, and when radio stations around the country wanted to carry the program, that laissez-faire manager must have smiled.

Both sports fans and non-sports fans like Littlefield’s show. He covers all the usual sports topics but also showcases offbeat competitions like this one at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Karen Given was the reporter.

“Just 15 minutes before game time, the vast and serene campus green at Vermont College of Fine Arts showed no signs of the annual Writers vs. Poets softball game. There were no bats, no balls, no bases, and no players. Suddenly, Victorio Reyes stormed onto the scene.

“ ‘First of all I’m a poet,’ he said. … ‘There’s two things,” Reyes continued. “One: the United States invests way too much money in sports and too much emotion, okay? That’s the first thing. The second thing? This game is life or death. That’s all you need to know.’ …

“No one seems to know the overall record. Louise Crowley, director of the MFA in Writing program, said the game itself is similarly imprecise.

“ ‘We might have 50 people in the outfield. It’s just kinda an informal, crazy game.’

“ ‘Eventually, will there be bases?’ I asked.

“ ‘There will be bases, yes,’ Crowley said. ‘There will be bases, there will be a batter, there will be a catcher, you know. But other than that, it’s just sort of a free flowing, everything goes.’ …

“After dinner, there’s a reading, and then hours of painstaking writing and re-writing before workshops begin again early tomorrow morning. …

“Poetry instructor Matthew Dickman had a preexisting injury this time around, so his job was to provide inspiration — of the negative variety.

“ ‘Whenever a fiction writer gets to bat, a student, I’m going to sit behind them and talk about how difficult it is to get published,’ Dickman said. ‘How they’ll probably just go back to working wherever they work and their dreams will come to an end.’  …

“Every once in a while, the pitcher lobbed in a good one and the batter managed a hit — usually a pop fly that floated over the outfield. And, although the number of outfielders had ballooned to at least a dozen, every single one of those pop flies dropped to the grass.” More at Only a Game.

I laughed all the way through this report.

Photo: Going the Distance Blog
At the annual Vermont College of Fine Arts softball game, it’s war. Cats vs. dogs have nothing on poets vs. prose writers.

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I am not ordinarily into sports, but I love Bill Littlefield’s Saturday sports wrap-up on WBUR because he is a great storyteller, and he looks for offbeat sports stories.

Today he had one on the over-65 U.S. softball players who have games with an over-65 team from Cuba.

“The Eastern Massachusetts Senior Softball Association has been sending teams to Cuba for annual exhibitions called ‘The Friendship Games.’ The first four EMASS Softball teams visited Havana in 2009 and the meeting reminded [organizer Mike] Eizenberg of kids playing pickup.

“ ‘When we went onto the field, it felt exactly the same way to all of us,’ Eizenberg recalled. ‘Most of the players didn’t speak the others’ language, but we all just loved to play ball.’

“Before that game, Cuban authorities allowed local musicians to play the U.S. and Cuban national anthems. That hadn’t happened in Cuba in 50 years. After three years of exhibitions, Eizenberg decided bringing the Cubans to the States was worth a try. He’s still amazed his Cuban friends made it.

“ ‘No one ever believed that it would be possible for them to come here. All of a sudden, magically, we received permission both from the U.S. government and the Cuban government for the players to come here,’ Eizenberg said. ‘[The Cuban players] say that this proves that nothing is impossible. If this can happen, anything can happen.’ …

“EMASS Softball player Les Gore says the Cubans and the Americans share a love of baseball and softball, but their sports resumes are a bit mismatched.

“ ‘The people playing here representing the U.S. and we’re talking about doctors, lawyers, plumbers. We’re just average guys who love to play softball,’ Gore said. ‘But the Cubans, many of the people who play for the Cuban softball leagues were in their time probably some of the most prominent baseball players that the island has ever produced, so we’re playing against those people.’ ” More.

Photograph: WBUR at  Flickr

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