The Altercockers Need Bats

Back in 2011, I used TCJewfolk to advertise my services as a solid third-baseman with doubles power. I don’t care if someone felt bad for me or if the need for someone to man the hot corner became a priority – but it worked. I spent many a Sunday morning doing just that in the now-defunct B’nai B’rith softball league.

This Spring/Summer, the itch came back – likely due to coaching T-ball again and meeting a whole bunch of younger Jewish dads who looked to be in better shape than me. And so it began: low-level men’s softball on Tuesday nights in Minnetonka. We played teams with juvenile names and for me, seemingly juvenile players. Our opponents seemed a lot younger than us, a lot taller than us, and clearly took recreational softball much more seriously than us.

The season has had its ups and downs, but definitely more downs. Way more downs. We’ve had injuries, bloody knees, arguments with the umpire, broken taillights, and a ton of fun. If you know what run differential is – well, we were outscored by over 200 runs over 12 games. We had leads of 1-0 and 2-0 throughout the season – wins for us! A real win would have been playing the whole game (we were mercy-ruled for the entire season). As for me, I held down 3rd base decently. I realized in the first game that no one really wants to play 3rd base in this league and that some who do choose to wear a face mask…to prevent serious facial injuries of course. Not me! After one very hard-hit ball came my way, took a bad hop, and missed my top row of teeth by inches, I decided to play every other grounder to my backhand. No getting in front of the ball. No charging the ball either. Let it come to me was the proper play.

This was some motley crew – we had young dads, older dads, one childless 20-something with a sweet left-handed swing, and even one Jewish grandpa (who knew there were any Jews in Burnsville?). We had Jews with tattoos, Jews with pickup trucks (electric, but still), and Jews who had the nerve to bring glass beer bottles to the games. Kenahora my mother would say!

And who could forget the entire doubleheader that only had one conversation – about deli of course. In the dugout and in the field, we argued about pastrami and debated what makes a deli, a deli. Names for a new, hypothetical deli were thrown out. We talked about the absolute shonda that was Mort’s. The St. Paul contingent and their “what about Cecil’s?” nonsense was drowned out by the East Coasters’ “you wouldn’t know a real deli if it hit you in the face.” I swear on Katz’s pastrami sandwich that it wasn’t just me. I debated mentioning how great it would be to have a solid egg cream, but I feel like that would have taken us on a darker path.

The end of the season coordinated nicely with the high holidays – and I bet at least a couple atoned for their on-field performances or lack thereof. If you strike out looking in slow-pitch softball, you better be in shul for the entirety of the holiday. I’m just sayin’.

A lot of good came out of this very very feeble attempt at fielding a competitive softball team. I, for one, met some new Jewfolk in town. I bonded further with some of the other dads from Adath’s Gan Shelanu (until they stopped showing up on Tuesday nights). And that one game (that we still lost by at least 15 runs) that we maxed out on home runs. In this league, once a team hits three home runs, each additional one is an out. For that one game, we kinda sorta felt like we belonged.

There was a lot of talk of doing this again in the Spring, so stay tuned for more…The Altacockers will be back in 2024! (Currently looking for power-hitting Jews. Also pitching, solid fielding, and players who don’t get doubled off of first when a lazy line drive is hit to shortstop).