We had no league team in 2014 and we missed it dearly. It came back to haunt us as the season wore on. Our tournament performance mirrored our lack of playing time. The opening tournament of the 2014 season we took 1st place. The second tourney of the season, we earned 2nd place. The 3rd tourney of the year we got 3rd place. By the time the State Tournament rolled around, we were circling the drain. As they say in Francais' and Espanol. "El stinko la flusho'.
Flash back to the famous lines from the movie "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "Bats..Bats..We ain't got no stinking bats. We don't need no stinking bats" And then to the famous line from Clint Eastwood, in "Dirty Harry." "Go ahead, make my day." and by golly we did. We stood by and let a couple of teams pull the trigger on us. We made their day, and we did not got no stinking bats. Under the recommendation of our team counselor, we are back in league this year. True to our team name we will be playing in the newly formed +40 division of the Missoula Senior Softball League.
The Missoula Senior league has a total of 16 teams. Ten teams will play in the +50 division and six in the +40. We will play a 20 game season, with a guaranteed league tournament at the end of the season. We will play on Tuesdays and Thursdays at McCormick and The Northside.
McCormick is great venue to play and hang out afterwards on the "Williamsport PA-like" hillside and watch your buddies. McCormick does have the problem of field one, which rhymes with sun. We will do our best to share the misery of playing on this field during the 7:15 game time. At the most no team should have more than a couple of games on that field at that time. I wonder about an honor system, for the "sun game," wherein hitters, agree to leave the 3rd baseman alone, go for the 5/6 hole, either side of the pitcher, or to the right side; we would hate for anyone to get hurt by a ball he could not see.
The North side is unapologetically vintage Missoula softball. You are hitting home runs that bounce into peoples front yards or foul balls at cars driving by on North side streets that line two of the four sides of the field. How does it get any better than that? It is the Missoula version of Waveland Avenue at Wrigley field. We have become grownup kids. All caught up in the opportunity to have to hit or retrieve a ball that bounced high off the street, over the fence, into the yard, of an unknown neighbor. We did that when we were kids...retrieve the ball we'd just hit onto the grumpy neighbors property. No denying a heart beats faster as the body climbs over the fence or goes through the gate to grb a softball tht is lying there like the last, lost Easter Egg. Crap!!Does he have a dog. (The Pink Panther) " Does his dog bite?"
North side also provides parking lot thrills as all foul balls have a chance to dent the hood of a car parked in Rookie Row; or better yet, hit a moving object. These are all intimate moments of softball. All eyes are on the trajectory of the softball as it travels though the air like one of the cow-pie bombs we used to lob at the kids skating into our territory on the Irish Ditch We have carried these memories with us since childhood. They return, unaffected by age and time at North side.
Then, just to remind us that we are not still kids, North side is bordered by a well-cared for cemetery, sitting on a hillside, which quietly overlooks up and coming ball players. Perhaps a bit unnerving scenario for an age group of guys who have transitioned from sprained ankles and pulled muscles, to colonoscopies and prostate exams. We almost had enough guys to form a "No Prostate League." But we came up a little bit short. We were also concerned about how stiff the competition would be. Well, what else need be said? Great times await.
If you are a softball player of a certain age, you are fortunate to live in Missoula. We are blessed to have the Senior League. I am not aware of another town in all of Montana that has a Senior League. Ours is growing and has remained strong for the past 20 years. It has grown from 10 teams to 16, in the past 3 years.
In addition to our fine Senior League, I think we also have the best concessions to be found. Meals on Wheels does a bang up job for us. They bring the oatmeal and prune juice right down into our dugouts. They also accept Medicare. Boy....we are swinging in the ol' hammock