If Portlanders are willing to sit through an entire documentary about Hosford, they must be hankering for more war stories—so we offer one from the magical summer of 2010, when this newspaper’s bar softball league team brought home the championship trophy. Here, then, is a totally unbiased, completely non-masturbatory history of this watershed moment. The following is best read in the voice of Al Pacino.
The year was 2010. Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3 dominated multiplexes. Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” was a family-radio hit. Full-throttle Four Lokos were slowly disappearing from bodega refrigerators. And in local parks, men and women were engaging in the most grueling physical feats imaginable.
They called it Sunday Softball. Each week, teams engaged in the dangerous game of slow-pitch, no-strike-out, un-umpired softball. And against all odds, WW’s scrappy team was making a bid for the crown.
For years, the group had struggled with bitter disappointment and harrowing hangovers. Then, in 2010, something changed. Under the tutelage of Dan “Two Hands” Winters and Michael “Li’l Pizza” Mannheimer, the Blue Demons had gone from lovable idiots to an unlovable force to be reckoned with. There was Whitney “Hot Guy” Hawke, whose glove was a magnet. There was Ben “Gazelle” Mollica, the fastest man in the world. Kendra “Sparkles” Clune and her brother Alex brought the family thunder. Andy “The Hammered” Kryza yelled. A lot.
And then there was Adam “Fat Bat” Krueger. Here was the team’s heart and soul, a man who had risen from the design desk to a season-long streak of homers. His arm could launch a ball from deep left field to home plate. He slid without fear of torn flesh. His beard was made of iron. With Krueger leading the way, WW was poised for victory.
But the championship game was preceded by a hard-fought victory over the Vern that same day, and that duel had left some bruises. Krueger took a hard grounder to the hand, bending back a fingernail on his throwing hand and sending spouts of blood into the dirt. Fear of defeat hung in the air.
As the team took the field against defending champs the Slammer—who generated hatred with their good sportsmanship—Winters rallied his team to a tremendous game. Krueger returned, blood still spewing, and scored several runs. At the bottom of the final inning, WW had a seemingly insurmountable 9-0 lead. Triumph was assured.
But the Slammer wouldn’t go down so easily. Hubristically, WW gathered for a group PBR shotgun. It was in this moment of bloated grogginess that the Slammer fired out a spectacular five-run rally as WW players flailed around the field, slipping, overthrowing and generally reverting to their previous clownage. But in a moment of seeming error, JD McLandrich saved the day. Sprinting after a fly ball, he took a massive spill. Breath was bated as McLandrich hit the ground…only to raise a fist clutching the ball. The game was won.
Champagne popped and poured into the newly acquired trophy. Tears of joy dripped from Winters’ amazed eyes. Beers were shotgunned.
Wary of their reception, the team headed to the league’s unofficial postgame spot…the Slammer. Yet the players were greeted by a standing ovation. Owner Lizzie Robarts-Dille awarded the team a bottle of tequila, which was passed around, poured into the trophy and gone within five minutes. The next day, nobody remembered what had happened.
That was the last glory year for WW. The following year, the spark was gone. Many of the key players had left to pursue other dreams. The defending champs didn’t even make the next summer’s playoffs, and soon thereafter the team dissolved.
Still, every Sunday, when the noon bell rings, this author shotguns a beer, blows his vuvuzela and dreams of a time he doesn’t really remember: that fleeting moment when we were kings.
SEE IT: High and Outside: The Story of Hosford is at the Hollywood Theatre at 7:30 pm Sunday, June 30.