Monday, April 18, 2011

Softball in Burbank.

Years ago, when I was living in NY, my friends Jeff Wood and John Bader both worked for NBC and played on their league softball team. Eventually they brought me in to play on the team, too. Sort of like a wringer. The team was experiencing some offensive problems and I could swing a bat pretty good in those days. We played fairly consistently over the next few summers.

In Chicago I got involved in the 'theatre league.' I played with Steppenwolf's team and it was a fairly competitive group. One summer we went 9-1, in fact.

So I've decided I want to get a team together here in LA. A few days ago I sent out about sixty emails or so to a lot of actor-types here in LA to see if I could garner some interest. So far we've got about four or five that are interested in joining. Problem is, of course, actors are always wandering off to do gigs. So I figure if I can get about twenty or so that have committed, I might be able to field a team on a regular basis.

I'm not thinking of anything too dynamic, really. A co-ed team, very relaxed, slow-pitch, 12" softball throughout the summer. Naturally, I've had lots of emails back saying, essentially, "I'd love to, but I'm shooting a film from June into July and...yada yada yada." So it's difficult.

But I'm not giving up hope. Today I'll call the Burbank Recreation Department and see what we need to do. I won't commit fully until I'm sure we can field a team every week. But I confess, the idea of playing organized softball all summer fills me with joy.

Those long ago days in Central Park playing with the NBC team were some of my best memories of NYC. We played serious softball, it wasn't just an excuse to tap a keg of Pabst, although there's something to be said for that. No, this was intense stuff. Of course, after the game we always retired to the nearest Upper West Side beer joint and happily recounted our deeds on the field all night. This was back (I'm sure it still goes on) when all the major shows fielded a team. I was actually playing with the NBC ELECTION UNIT. I remember playing against The Letterman Show with Dave himself at first base. He was pretty good, as I recall, although he had a substitute runner if he got a hit.

In those days I was on the road a lot during the summer, doing theatre gigs here and there. I played with The Mill Mountain Theatre team in Roanoke one summer and also played a lot with a theatre in Kentucky for a couple of seasons. In fact, sometimes when I think of a certain professional theatre somewhere I have trouble remembering what play we were actually doing but rather how good our softball team was.

One summer I was doing a play in Rockford, IL, and I think that may have been the best theatre team I played with. We were doing a musical there that summer, the theatre was called New American Theatre, now defunct, and surprisingly, it was a remarkably good group of athletes. I don't think we lost a single game that summer, playing against The Rotary Club and The Chamber of Commerce and the like.

It got to be, after a few years, kind of silly. I'd actually take or reject a job, not so much for the job itself, but rather for the possibility of a good softball team. Generally speaking, New American being the exception, straight plays tended to field better softball teams than musicals. One summer in Virginia I was doing the play, A Few Good Men and 1776 back to back. Both plays are nearly all men. We had a crackerjack softball team that year.

But now I don't travel for theatre anymore (only film) and so I thought it might be a good idea to get a team going here in Burbank. It may not work out, but then again, it might.

And if all else fails I'll just see if I can join a team already in existence. The thing is, I've discovered it's a hell of a lot more fun to play with actors than anyone else. For one thing, actors have a sense of humor about softball and most others don't. That in itself is a great deal of fun and pretty much makes it all worthwhile.

I'll keep you posted.

See you tomorrow.