Posts Tagged ‘KVKL’

A Rookie’s Perspective

I’m Mike Z and this is my KVKL story.

I moved to the Kansas City area in September of 2020 from Albuquerque, NM. Up until March 14th, I only knew one person that lived in Lawrence… Peter Loughead whom also moved from Albuquerque. But on March 14th everything changed when I posted on the KVKL Facebook page looking for a team to join. I received a couple responses and after Rob Z from the Love Garden Squids gave me a call I was welcomed into his kickball family.

That was the catalyst to forging so many meaningful relationships with some very amazing people. It started when I attended a couple practices that the Lawrence travel players put on in April. There I met some incredibly talented people that were fast, could throw ridiculously hard, and knew their kickball. The first thought I had at those practices was, how in the world does Lawrence have so many quality players? Albuquerque is quite a bit bigger than Lawrence and even has a comparable kickball league in terms of size, but the quality of play is just so much higher in Lawrence. That’s when I first realized I may not be the upper tier player in Lawrence that I thought I would be.

Soon enough it was May and Love Garden started hosting practices as well and I got my introduction to the “small ball”. I was amazed by having the ability to actually palm the kickball. Throwing it was different, catching it was different, and kicking seemed harder too despite the slow pitches. Not only was the ball strange but playing in dirt was new to me too. Anyone that has seen me play in grass knows that I like to throw my body when I make throws and suddenly the ground was not a comfortable thing to hit. I came away from those practices with quite a few cuts from the dirt. And then there were the rule differences. Catchers can’t move?? The 3rd base person could line up halfway between home and 3rd?? It seemed like such a weird league. Despite those things, I was getting very excited about playing in what Peter described as the best kickball league in the country.

The first few weeks of the season were tough on me. It was a much bigger adjustment to playing in KVKL than I imagined it would be. Kicking this tiny ball that came in super slow still seemed like such a challenge. For weeks my batting average was nothing to write home about and I got a little discouraged as my fielding wasn’t that impressive either. Something about catching and throwing this miniature kickball was monumentally different and I was not grasping it well, figuratively and literally. Even with my spiraling confidence, all of Love Garden continued to support me every week.

Then Jake came into town to join Love Garden to start attaining eligibility for the tournament. His coaching made an immediate impact. I started kicking better and my defense started to improve as well. Further, Jake wrote up an instructional article about kicking. I studied every word. From then on, I’ve been steadily improving and thankful to be a part of such a supportive group.

Suddenly, I found myself playing in a Game of the Week. This must be one of the coolest perks for the players in the league. The opportunity to play under the lights with a massive crowd is a surreal experience. It features a great balance of pressure, excitement, and comradery with the team as well as with the crowd. I absolutely loved the experience.

Next the league put on the Kickball Is For All clinic which was a wonderful experience. It is so amazing that one of the fundamental pillars of the league is for everyone to have fun and to continually improve. That’s what I find so special about KVKL, the focus on community inclusion. Not to naysay my past leagues, but they were more focused on tailoring to the top teams and ignoring the bottom. KVKL is something else. Not only is there the focus on kickball however, but the league does a ton of charitable work which is very impressive. I’m blown away by all that this league does that isn’t even kickball related.

Here we are with the tournament coming up this weekend. And suddenly I’m playing kickball loosely, confidently, and having a blast. I cannot be thankful enough to have been introduced into a community that supports everyone and encourages the most fun. And lastly, I am so grateful that I’m part of a kickball team that feels like a family and I can’t wait to experience the playoffs with them.

KVKL is something special. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

Week 4 Preview


Sacred Sword v Yello Sub -GOTW

Week 4, the KVKL equivalent to the turn card in Hold ‘em, and like the turn card, the fates of many teams will be determined this week.  Although this game has no impact on pool rankings, there is a very good chance that this game will have some bearing on tournament seeding.  This also happens to be my most anticipated game of the season thus far.

Sacred Sword struggled through a brutal schedule last season, going 4-6 and being bumped to the number 7 overall tournament seed behind a soaring Rangelife team.  Most teams would melt under such conditions, but they never seemed to lose their cheer (or trash talking) and maintained a strong team chemistry rooted in strong friendships off the field.  They circled the wagons in the tournament to take First Blood to the wire.  They recruited CJ and Alexis from First Blood and moved up to the number 3 overall seed to start the season.  Known for perfecting the bunt, bunt, bunt, kick offense, this team has had to diversify their arsenal in response to the new encroachment line, elite 3B men, and longer bases.  They have a good balance of power, base knocks, and, of course, bunting.

Yello Sub looks as strong as any team in the league, as evidenced in their game against Pita Pit.  This is a team that starts with defense and is showing the ability to generate run against any team, any time. For more on YS, see Week 2 Preview blog.

This seems like it will be a very competitive game. Comparing offenses, I give SS the advantage because I think they have better power. Defensively, YS is the stronger unit.  That being said, offenses don’t play offenses. If YS can neutralize SS offense, I think they will have a favorable matchup with SS defense.  I predict YS takes this game for two reasons. The first is that they are battle tested after their PP game while SS’s strongest opponent was Liberty Hall. The second is that SS is missing their CF and one of their strongest offensive weapons in Adam Mitchell.  PREDICTION: YS 12 SS 9


Slowride v Red Lyon

The Langston Hughes Pool has featured an upset every week so far. Amidst all the chaos, the picture is surprisingly clear at this point.  That is, assuming no team forfeits to Ms. Fortune’s (sorry, Ms. Fortune’s).  Eldridge has locked up the #1 ranking, even if they lose to Jazzhaus as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Red Lyon and Slowride.  RL and S will be competing for the #2 and #3 ranking as they both own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Jazzhaus.  That mean Jazzhaus is the smoking ace amongst the 4 seeds (I predict they are now free to perfect their beer shotguns before at-bats) and Ms. Fortunes rounds out the deepest pool in the league.

I mentioned Slowride last week and said they could be a #3 seed in most other pools (see also MMKU week 2). They proved me right and wrong, proving my speculation and disproving my assumption that they wouldn’t beat Jazzhaus.  Well done.  They went up early in that game and I think they will need to do it again this week to have a chance at another upset.

RL, like Sacred Sword, is another team that struggled in rank play last year, losing all 5.  But they went on a recruiting binge (I think that’s an appropriate term) and has most of the pieces to be a dominating team. I gather they like to keep things fairly laid back, and seem to be keeping in step with their team’s long history as a “bar” team that maintains a balance of competitiveness and fun.  My guess is that the competitive juices get going and they deny a pool upset for the 4th week in a row. PREDICTION: RL 14 S 8


Murda-Tang v Mad Greek

There are still a lot of games between teams in this pool, but I’m speculating that the winner of this game takes #2 in the pool.  Murda-Tang is coming off a surprising loss to Channel 6 (for a recap read MMKU Week 3), while Mad Greek’s only loss is to Das Boot.  Murda-Tang has a collection of perennial all-stars that is still developing the rest of its teammates.  Conversely, Mad Greek is a collection of gym rats who have been playing together for years and rely heavily on the strength of its entire unit.    PREDICTION: If MG can contain the big kickers, the strongest team wins MG 11 MT 9


Eastsiders v Brew Ballers

Playing to decide #3 and #4 in the James Naismith Pool, these teams will be dangerous in rank play.  Eastsiders are rebuilding a storied team and look to be putting together very athletic pieces.  BB are coming off a heartbreaking, 12-inning epic battle loss to Replay and could regain their swagger from last season with a win this week.  PREDICTION: BB 9 E 7


Los Luchadores v Rangelife—Rangelife looked good in the GOTW, but they are playing a bunch of Mexican wrestlers who also happen to be the best collection of all stars since the formation of Suncreations/First Blood.  LL seems to be sleepwalking through their schedule with ease. Can Rangelife catch them off guard?

Jazzhaus v Screamers—once one of my most anticipated games of the week, Jazzhaus is in a nose dive while Screamers seem to have found their rhythm, knocking out opponents early.  Like the rest of us, Screamers sure wish they could have had some time to warm up before they had to play those wrestlers.  Despite the momentum of both teams, this could be a great game between preseason 1 and 2 seeds.

West Coast v Free State—This will decide the #3 and #4 in the John Brown Pool. WC is my favorite but they did just lose their best costume winning 1B.

2004-06: The Corcoran Era

It seems that more people are checking out this blog than I had originally thought, so I figured I’d add another KVKL history lesson for those that frequent Sunday(s) in the Park.  I think some really fun discussions are happening this season, and it’s great to hear about games and teams from all around the league.  But now I sit back in my rocking chair and reminisce about the days of old…

As we touched on in the last edition, Scott Edwards moved to KC in the summer of 2004, and passed the league over to Kelly Corcoran.  Kelly was already very active in the league and had been assisting Scott over the last couple seasons, so it was a fairly smooth transition.  Before the start of the 2005 season, Kelly made a decision that changed KVKL, and was really the beginning of the game as we know it now.

The league had always been co-ed, but there had never been any sort of rule about it.  As Deron mentioned after the last post, only one female had played in the ’04 Championship Game.  Kelly declared that every team must have at least 3 male players, and at least 3 female players on the field at all times.  For some teams this changed nothing, but other teams began scrambling around to find some ladies to play on their team.  This became known as the “girl rule,” and remains the single most important rule in the league.

Defensive strategy was a hot topic, and when scouting or gossiping about teams, people would always ask “where do they play their girls.”  Every team was lining up differently, but the most popular defense was the “fertile crescent.”  I credit Andy Hom with naming this defense, but I could be wrong.  This meant a female second baseman, shortstop and rover (shallow outfield behind 2nd base).  The importance of good female players was obvious, and all the top teams had girls that were athletic and experienced.

2005 was the year I began to notice better throwing across the board.  Before, it seemed like we were heaving a watermelon, but now the ball whipped around the infield.  3rd basemen and catchers were learning how to stop the bunt, and kicks to the deep outfield were no longer guaranteed home runs.  The game seemed more fluid than it had been the past few seasons.  This was a combination of teams finding better players, and returning players improving.

The playoffs that season were phenomenal.  Love Garden, Milton’s, Papa Keno’s, Bottleneck and Rudy’s were among the teams that seemed like contenders.  A crazy bunch of short-short wearing hipsters from Jensen’s had other plans, though.  They had a late season surge led by Kyle Batten, or Key-lo, or Priest Fontaine, or DJ Hasselhoff, or whichever of his nicknames you want to call him.  His performance that postseason is still some of the best kickball I’ve ever seen played, with diving catches, throws from centerfield to home, monster kicking and ballsy base-running.  He also got a lot of help from his spirited teammates, and they upset Milton’s, then Love Garden to take the 2005 Championship.

2006 saw many of the same teams back, and the most competitive teams looked about the same.  Love Garden was now called Billy Construction, but they had a very similar group.  Milton’s was now called Murda Inc, and they hadn’t changed much either.  Papa Keno’s was stacked as always.  Jensen’s was looking pretty sharp, and seemed confident that they could defend their crown.

The rain was not kind to the KVKL that summer, with at least a couple of weeks called because of it.  One week was during the playoffs, with the quarterfinals and semifinals scheduled for the same day, which is how it had been done in years past.  In order to wrap up the season, Kelly decided to finish the whole thing in one Sunday.  This led to another Corcoran decision that forever changed our league.

Since we were playing a triple-header, there wasn’t going to be enough daylight to get all the games in.  Kelly arranged for the Championship Game to be played at Hobbs Park.  This meant two things that KVKL had never seen before:  dirt and lights.  Some were skeptical about holding the most important game of the season on a new style of field, but we were getting into September, and the season had to end.

Murda Inc had defeated Rudy’s in the quarterfinals and headed to Water Tower Park to play Papa Keno’s.  When they arrived, they discovered that they were not playing Keno’s, but instead were going to play Wildman Vintage, who had pulled off a major upset.  That is still probably the biggest postseason upset we’ve ever had.  Wildman ran out of gas, though, and Murda advanced to the Championship game to face Billy Construction.

What a game!  A chilly night under the lights at Hobbs felt like we were watching a High School football game.  These teams were obviously very evenly matched, with similar styles of “small ball” offense.  The players were all dead-tired, but man did they make some great plays.  There were several diving catches and clutch kicks, and both teams were running the bases like crazy.  I remember one play where Robert from Murda dove for a line drive, but rather than try to catch it, he bumped it up with his fist and their shortstop caught it.  Awesome!  Nine innings weren’t enough to settle this one, and a very fired up crowd got to see a spectacular 10-inning showdown.  Murda Inc pulled it out, and were the 2006 Champions.

The takeaway from this experience was that Hobbs is a great place to get the league together and watch a ballgame.  Everyone hoped that, at the very least, the Championship would be there each year.  Kelly stepped down as Commissioner after the season, appointing a seven member Board to share the duties of running the league.   This take us into the Modern Era:  2007-present…

Critics versus critiques.

Want to read more about the Lawrence hipster scene?  Check out this insider/outsider blog that snarks on all things hipster.  Richard and his band of blog-literati enjoy hitting the bars, beers, and scenester events.  Occasionally he’ll take pokes at our beloved kickball league.  I’ve enjoyed reading his takes on the KVKL culture as his adroit riffs fit right in with our own aptitude for smack talk. Please visit his site and let him know what you think.


Monday Morning Kickballers Unite–Week 3 Review

The fields dried out and rains held off—yes, the kickball gods were smiling on KVKL yesterday.  Again, this is an open invitation for anyone to post about Week 3 kickball action.  I hear Slowride pulled the upset over Jazzhaus. Das Boot had a strong showing to silence Eldridge.  And Replay beat Brew Ballers in an epic extra-inning thriller.  What an impressive display of signage at the GOTW?

Week 3 Preview

by Chris Ford


Das Boot v Eldridge—Rivalry of the Week

This week doesn’t feature near the number of intriguing matchups that we saw in week 2, but this could be a great one. I mentioned both these teams as possible upsets last week. Eldridge beat the darlings of week 1, Red Lyon, 4-3 in a defensive battle in which the Eldridge scored all its runs in the last two innings. Das Boot was of course the favorite and handled 3-seeded Mad Greek in a game that may or may not have been as close as the final score indicates, as MG went on a late 9 run rally.

Das Boot is still largely a mystery to me, having never seen them play. I’d like to hear from anyone that may know of signature games in their team history. They finished last season with a 5-5 record after going on a winning streak to end the season and carrying that momentum into the tournament where they had Pita Pit on the ropes. This finish earned them the 5th overall ranking in pool seeding. This game will be their toughest test until rank play.

Speaking of schedules, the Eldridge appears to have the toughest first half schedule (Yellow Sub a close second) that matches them against Slowride (a team that could finish 3rd in most pools), Red Lyon, Das Boot, and Jazzhaus. Yowzers. The Eldridge aren’t newcomers as giant killers, handily defeating defending champions (deep swallow) Love Garden in ’08, and going on to a #4 overall seed in the tournament. In last year’s tournament, they gave First Blood an early round scare in an unexpectedly tight game.

These teams played last year, with the Eldridge coming out with the win. Perhaps someone can share what happened in that game. I figured the Eldridge would win at least one of it games against the giants on their schedule. Now that they’ve taken the first one, I’ll double down on them this week: E 10 DB 8


Astroidhead v Rangelife—GOTW

What this week lacks in marquee matchup depth, this game will make up for in sheer fun. Rangelife will attempt to defend its title as league’s best hecklers and hipsters against a few of its former teammates who spawned to form Astroidhead.

Both of these teams enter the week with big question marks following high preseason expectations. Rangelife still has several pieces to the team that ran through the #2 rank play and then went deep into the tournament, but they are licking their wounds from a first inning Screamer KO. Ouch. Meanwhile, the board obviously thought Astroidhead claimed the stronger roster in the split, but they dropped their opener to 3-seeded Liberty Hall and barely beat out Weavers.

Fortunately, both these teams have a lot of season ahead of them. Remember, it wasn’t until rank play last season that Rangelife found its groove, and I have it on good authority that they just landed 2 more elite weapons. Astroidhead has probably spent more time making props (teaser) than playing kickball together. Both these teams appear locked for #3’s in rank play, so this is likely just the first of two. I’m hoping the first is worth the sequel. Prediction: Don’t fail me two weeks straight! R 15 A 6


Brew Ballers v Replay

Unless the Eastsider’s pull together a team and upset BB, this game looks to determine the 2 seed for the James Naismith Pool and should be a competitive one. BB’s were seeded the 8th or 9th overall team in the tournament last year while the Replay Rowdies PBR’ed their way to the “less awesome” championship game (where they were beat by Murda Tang/Miltons in the last inning by a clutch Dan M double).

This season, BB frustrated Love Garden’s offense for 6 innings. They have some of the best female defensive players, fiery veteran guys, and added my former teammate and 2007 Catcher of the Year (my selection for a completely unofficial and fictitious award), Adrian M. Replay, on the other hand, could be a competitive team if they cared about winning half as much as they care about having a good time. Still, their loose and fearless playing style can be dangerous, and they should get a jolt from the return of their seersucker-suited star, Mr. Bickel. Prediction: Anyone want to start a pool on how many innings until R starts seeing double through PBR glasses? BB 12 R 8


I’m a bit long winded this week, so I’ll turn it over to anyone else that is looking forward to a game. West Coast v PP? Liberty Hall v Sacred Sword? Wildman v Weavers?

Monday Morning Kballers Unite

by Chris Ford

I just want to open this blog up to everyone to post about last night’s kickball action. I hear Yellow Sub and Pita Pit had an epic game in which PP went on a 5 run, 9th inning rally that started with 2 outs and the bases empty.  That’s legendary.  Anyone catch this game that could talk about how things unfolded?  I’d also love to hear more about the Eldridge upsetting Red Lyon in a tight one run game.  How about the Screamers jumping all over Rangelife?  And what an exciting GOTW between West Coast and Blue Collar!  Since we can’t see every game, it seems a collective effort is the best way to cover league action week to week. Feel free to summarize games you saw or played, outstanding players/plays, or just your favorite Cougar moment.

What a start to the season! Here’s a look at some of the match ups in week 2

by Chris Ford


Pita Pit v Yellow Sub

Last week’s Jazzhaus v Red Lyon featured the first time a 2 seed has knocked off a 1 seed in pool play.  This week features perhaps the most intriguing of the remaining 1-2 games that will likely decide what’s been called the “Hot Head Pool.”  I pity the bouncers that have to ref this game.  Both of these teams are intense and team psyche will play a big role from the opening pitch. PP is king and I wouldn’t bet against them in this game, but YS is one of the most underrated teams in preseason seeding, and I think Geoff is right to rank them amongst the leaders.

If PP goes on a roll early and gets a mental edge, it could be a long game for YS.  Mainly because I don’t think YS has the big offensive weapons to go on scoring runs against PP.  YS is known for blowing out lesser opponents, and they have a mechanical offensive strategy that is reminiscent of Sacred Sword (though SS now has a better balance of power).  But they’re not going to be able to exert their will against Pita Pit (what team really can?) and they will have to keep the game close and be patient while scoring 1-2 runs when they can get them. The prospects of a YS upset start with their defense, which probably needs to limit PP to 7 runs or less.  YS has a strong defense, with agile towers on the corners of their infield.  But it is their outfield that will be tested, which is were PP likes to apply pressure and does so better than any team. PREDICTION: PP 11 YS 7


Screamers v Rangelife

A 2-3 game in an intriguing pool that is ripe with wildcard teams, 3 of which could eventually find themselves in the top 10.  I don’t know a lot about these teams, having seen very little of S over the past few seasons and I’m uncertain about the returning personnel of a fiery Rangelife team that played a shoot out in the elite eight of last year’s tournament with Love Garden (full disclosure, my team).  The S continue to get respect in seeding and predictions, but have thus far failed to deliver.  They obviously have the talent to garner such respect, and this is their chance to legitimize their #2 seed, especially against a R team that I suspect is underrated as a 3 seed.  Got to go with what I know: R 9 S 6



Murda Tang v Love Garden

With the addition of a couple more Eastsiders, Murda Tang has a core of what was one of the KVKL greats.  Though both teams have changed a lot over the years, this is a reunion game of sorts for those of us who played on the Milton’s/Eastsiders/Murda, Inc and Love Garden/Billy Construction teams.  Our teams played for the championship back-to-back years in 06 and 07 in what started to feel like the Battle of Hobbs.  Murda Inc won the first in extra innings on a booming, base clearing, 2 RKI sacrifice fly by Matt Escobar.  This may have been the first game KVKL played at Hobbs, too?  We met again at Hobbs in the first GOTW the following season and a storm forced us to call off a great game after eight innings with the score tied.  We battled it out once again in the championship game under the lights and Kris Graves had an MVP performance at 3B to give LG the title. Our games were intensely competitive, but we had a comradery and mutual respect that hasn’t been matched by upper echelon teams since. It’s only fitting that this game is being played at Hobbs.



West Coast v Blue Collar

West Coast may have played last season in 5-seed Miller Lite stupor (yes, you Derrick), but they’ve got skills and I expect them to compete amongst the 3 seeds this year.  Sorry Geoff, WC 14 BC 6.


Two upsets already, here are 3 more games that could be closer than first glance:

Replay v Eastsiders

The new look Eastsiders are athletic but inexperienced at the game. Can those Rowdies knock off the 2nd seeded team with one hand tied behind their backs?  That hand either protecting a freshly opened PBR or representing playing without their best player and distinguished gentleman, Mr. Bickel.

Red Lyon v Eldridge

RL is now on top of a strong pool, but can’t overlook an Eldridge team that is dangerous when it can put together a complete game.

Das Boot v Mad Greek

Das Boot, a 5-5 team last year, had a spectacular run in the tournament, taking PP to the 9th inning and earning a number one seed in doing so.  Mad Greek is looking to return to their elite 8 run two seasons ago, and they are a team of gym rats that love playing kickball.  Can their recent dodgeball championship carry them into an early season upset?

2003-04: The Edwards Era

by Geoff Wright

Well, it’s been awhile since the last time.  I should be more consistent with weekly posts from here on out.  Since the season is still in its infancy, I’ll proceed with part 2 in my series of posts on the history of the KVKL.  By the time I’m through with these (only one or two more), the season will be in full swing, and I’ll start covering current events.

The 2003 season began with a lot of anticipation.  Word had spread about Sunday night kickball, and people wanted in on it.  Newly appointed commissioner Scott Edwards decided to go large, allowing 20 teams in.  Logistically, this was not an easy task.  We had mostly played at South Park the previous year, but this would never work with such a large league.  The answer was an obscure park tucked away in East Lawrence.  With two games in SP and two in Edgewood going at a time, Scott was able to get all the games in before it got too dark.

To make scheduling easier, Scott split the league into four divisions of five teams.  John Brown, William S. Burroughs, Langston Hughes and James Naismith divisions were born, and remained the only four until the current six “pool” format was introduced last year.  The fact that we needed divisions also meant the league needed a name.  Scott chose Kaw Valley Kickball.

Several of the teams that played the first year were much better in ’03.  The prior season’s champion, Teller’s, did not return.  The most dominant team by far was Wattleneck, a combination of Wa and Bottleneck employees.  They went undefeated and, due to popular demand, Scott designed a format for the first ever Kaw Valley Kickball postseason tournament.

The level of play jumped up a peg during the postseason, and by the time Wattleneck and Rudy’s met in the championship game the local media had grown interested.  The Lawrence Journal World ran an article previewing the game, and KJHK ran a live radio broadcast from South Park.  We were famous!  Wattleneck won a very competitive game in front of somewhere around 200 people, maybe more.  It was widely understood that there should ALWAYS be a postseason tournament.

The 2004 season is the one blank spot in my memory of KVKL, as I was pressured into the dreaded Sunday night shift.  I only managed to make a couple games that year, but I worked with Scott so I still got to hear all about how things were progressing.  Feel free to contribute it you remember anything about that season.

The structure of the league stayed the same, and the two best teams were Papa Keno’s and Love Garden.  Most of the Keno’s players worked in the restaurants in the Kansas City area, and were the most athletic and polished team around.  The core of that team is still around, though you know them as Pita Pit.  Love Garden was nowhere near as athletic, but used a steadfast bunt offense to get runners on base to manufacture runs.  Predictably, these teams met in the championship game, with Love Garden taking their first championship.  This game laid the foundation for a rivalry that’s lasted for years and yielded some of the best games in KVKL history.

Talkin’ ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days

by Geoff Wright

I thought that before we dive into the kickball season, and start blogging about 2010, we could reminisce about past seasons.  I’d love for readers to post some of their fondest KVKL stories. Maybe a great game you watched, an awesome play, legendary players or the first time you heard about kickball.  To get the discussion going, I felt that it would be appropriate to give a brief history of the league in the coming weeks.  Please keep in mind that I’ve aged eight years since my first game, so I may need some corrections on a few facts.  I may combine some seasons on future posts, but the first year definitely deserves its own blog

In 2002, an energetic young lady named Natalie Winn popped her head into the Rudy’s kitchen and excitedly asked if anyone would be interested in playing some adult kickball on Sundays.  I think the first thing everyone thought about was playing kickball on a blacktop in elementary school with a giant red rubber ball…only now there’s beer!  The answer was hell yes, and Rudy’s and seven other businesses filled out their sign-up sheets and submitted them.

What started as a dream is now a league.   That was what Natalie said to those seven teams as we gathered in South Park before the first week of games.  We were cooks, and bartenders, and servers, and managers, and cashiers and doormen.  Some were drinkers, some smokers, some jocks, some rockers, some skaters, some stoners, but we were all there to try out this new kickball league.

For most of us, that day was the most fun we’d ever had on a hot June afternoon in Lawrence, KS.  The league was a smash hit.  It seemed that everyone was either talking about it, or curious about it.  “So, it’s like…the kids’ game?”  It sure was, and Sunday evenings became the best night to head downtown for the rest of the summer.  People came out and watched or played, and afterwards teams would find a downtown establishment to celebrate victory or wallow in defeat.

As for the actual games:  We were terrible!  The soccer boys that could actually kick didn’t know how to run the bases, and the softball crowd couldn’t kick worth a damn.  Pop-ups routinely bounced off the outfielder’s chest, there were virtually no 3rd-to-1st outs, and most people didn’t even know where to stand in the field.   Speedy teams like Let it Ride began to use the bunt as a weapon, and many catchers began standing in fair territory in an attempt to stop them.  This, of course, was perfectly legal at the time.  In fact, there were hardly any rules at all.

Occasionally, a bystander would volunteer to ref a game, but for the most part we made the calls ourselves while we played.  Those that knew baseball rules tried to educate the others when questionable situations came up, but often times we would just declare the play a “do-over.”   I dearly miss the do-over calls from back then.  What a simple and efficient way to settle a disagreement that is going nowhere.

There was one team that seemed a bit more polished than the rest of us.  They had been playing in softball leagues together for a while and seemed to actually have a strategy.  With quick runners, big boots and infielders that could throw, Teller’s was the clear team to beat.  They went a perfect 7-0 to claim the first unofficial downtown Lawrence kickball championship (we weren’t called Kaw Valley Kickball just yet, which will be addressed in the next blog).

It had been a fantastic summer, and after the last game there was already a buzz about the next season.  None of us had any idea that one day we’d have 30 teams, and that the level of play would get to where it is now.  We were just enjoying a beautiful Sunday evening in Lawrence and having a good time.

%d bloggers like this: