Baseball is a bridge that lets us walk back to childhood — but it’s a bridge with strict limitations. From the moment we pick up our first glove and bat we all get a certain number of trips over the bridge.
The last game we ever play is waiting for all of us. For many, it will come before we expect it to. The Baseball Gods are not always benevolent, but we all hope that they grant us the small mercy of being able to choose when our final game is.
One player may have crossed the bridge for the last time on Sunday.
Widely acknowledged as the most talented (Peter Blomberg was this year’s Male MVP) yet underperforming team in the league, the Loggers came into the tournament finishing last in the regular season. But the Loggers also finished last in the regular season in 2017 and ran the table to become tournament champs.
Alas, Coaches of the Year Duy Son and Courtney Morris’ group did not prevail — though Duy’s speech at the Awards Dinner was both unforgettable and unprintable. The Loggers tied for the most Fun Points (as awarded by opposing players) which, in this writers’ opinion, is the most prestigious award in the league.
Marked by speedy baserunning and stalwart hitting, the ‘Batters roster saw a few new faces join the squad this year. Pundits expected the Jay Cottrell coached team to do some damage in the playoffs, but they came up short in two tightly contested round robin battles.
But the Batters season was not without laurels. Jerica Dempsey and Scotty Cooke were the Rookies of the Year. Gillian Drake took home well-deserved accolades as this year’s Outstanding Senior Player and Outstanding Infielder Jamie Weismiller’s fashion choices were truly legendary.
Jared Brown’s defending champions played through injuries, a short bench, and tough draws to a very respectable semi-final showing. Clutch hitting by Presly Walker, Patrick Currah’s steady glove, gutsy play from an injured Matthew Harrison, and the dance moves of Mike Pover highlighted a roster who walked off the field with their heads held high. Look for them to bounce back in 2024.
If I had 24 hours to live and needed to have as much fun as possible playing softball and ripping up a dance floor, you’d better believe the Sluggers are the first team I call. The Sluggers solid play and baseball insight propelled them to the 10 am semi-final game on Sunday morning. Their only obstacle? The Saturday night party.
As Jamie Nesbitt DJ’d the night away and other teams said their “good nights” and went home for some much-needed rest, the dance floor stayed Slugger red. More than a few felt that the morning might come a bit too quickly for the fun-loving squad.
But the Sluggers stepped up and played on Sunday morning with all their characteristic guile and athleticism. Spencer Grundy made an incredible sprinting catch to save a sure double. The spirited game came down to the final play… but the Sluggers came up one run short. Despite the loss, the Sluggers stayed and cheered on the other teams until the bitter end. They were last seen partying in the bleachers. Some of them may still be there.
Fittingly, the Sluggers also tied for the most Fun Points.
Coached by most dedicated male player Mike McKoryk and Henry “Hank” Campbell, the Basecombers had a mediocre regular season, finishing fourth overall. Though “Mikey” could not be present at the tournament, he was there in spirit.
Every able-bodied Basecomber played on both Saturday and Sunday. Best catcher Caroline Goodson Parker was sidelined by injury but provided invaluable scorekeeping and roster management. Rookie Amanda Towne played through a smashed finger and Leah Gregg needed to borrow a shoelace from fellow “Park Daddy” - Kristian “Oda” Iverson - for an emergency glove repair.
Though they came up short in the final, the ‘Combers played their hearts out. They made their coaches very proud.
The Blu’s franchise, founded by Iain Mitchell and named for beloved Bowen character Piers “Blu” Hayes, has gradually improved every year that they’ve been in the league, starting from the bottom and ascending to their first regular season trophy this year. New coaches Linda Giusti and Peter Scott have molded the Blu’s into an excellent squad.
On the field, their hitting, baserunning, and stingy defense were unbeatable. They swept the tournament and became the first team to lift the newly-minted “George Zawadski Cup” named for one of the league’s founders who passed away in 2023.
Though you might expect league female MVP Bailey Hathaway’s contributions to be on the field, a serious injury had her on doctor’s orders to stay on the sidelines. While many of us would be angry and frustrated by such a development, Hathaway chose to be there for her team and to make excellent “dry erase” posters to track the tournament’s progress. Hathaway’s dedication is emblematic of the highest ideals of the BISPL.
Blu's Championship Roster
Rachel Klinger, Cory Lawrence, Iain Mitchell, Sara Warren, Peter Scott, Mike Spendlove, Valentyna Gabinyetova, Ryan Knill, Linda Giusti, Rich Ralph, Michelle Mazzotta, MJ Davey, Link Irelan, Bailey Hathaway, Keith Jones, Molly Horton, Connor McLeod, Justin Parker, Jessie Perry, Gemma Parker
It is difficult to overstate the amount of work that the executive put into the Bowen Island Slopitch League. President Lee Vincent must be acknowledged as tireless and deeply dedicated to making the league fun, inclusive, and prioritizing sportsmanship.
While the Blu’s won the day, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the real triumph was one of sportsmanship, community, and dedication to the things that really matter.
After the trophy was presented, Iain Mitchell walked off of the Snug Cove diamond. He took off his Blu’s jersey and carefully folded it. Mitchell has decided to step away from the game for next season. There is hope that he returns, but Mitchell retiring from the league as a champion would be both well-deserved and very appropriate.
As the sun sets on another great season, I leave you with this sentiment: may we all get many more trips across the bridge — and may we cherish all the ones we’ve had.