Happy tails: Softball team sticks together for seven years
For the last seven years, members of the Old Town Bombers softball team have gathered at City Park field every Friday night for the love of one thing: their dogs.
"We’ll probably never be known for our skill and ability on the field," laughed team co-captain Brian Van Hecke. "But everyone knows when the OTBs are playing. We always have at least a dozen ‘fans’ leashed to our dugout."
On several occasions there have been more dogs than players at a game. (And, as a member of this team, I can safely say that most of the dogs are more adept at catching the ball then the human players.)
The team’s co-founder, Ryan Eittreim – who brings his dog, Maggie, to the games – pointed out that even though the dogs don’t play, they’re certainly a part of the team. And, on occasion, they actually do try to participate. Eittreim recalled a game when a yellow lab named Reggie got loose and ran the bases, hitting every one, including home plate. "I guess he decided if we weren’t going to score, he’d do it for us," he joked. At other times, dogs have taken to center field to do their business. "We just have to assume that is their way of telling the umpire they didn’t like the call."
Despite a consistent losing record, the Old Town Bombers have kept a good portion of the initial team. Eittreim attributes this to the original goal: fun with friends. "Seven years ago, a couple of us got together and decided to form a neighborhood softball team. We didn’t want a corporate sponsorship. We wanted it to be about friends and neighbors and, yes, our dogs getting together on Friday nights in the summer."
This Friday-night tradition has never been about winning – or even softball, for that matter. Which is why we’re generally pretty unsuccessful, but it’s also why we have such great player retention. No matter how awful you play, how many times you strike out, or how many dogs are better than you, your friends are always there to offer a quick laugh and buy you a beer after the game.
Van Hecke actually attributes some of the team’s goodwill and non-competitive vibe to the fact that it looks like someone robbed the pound at our games. "It’s really hard to get mad at someone for letting a ball roll between their legs when there’s a chorus of nonstop barking and howling a few feet away. How do you get upset when at least a dozen tails are wagging at you?"
Make no mistake, some Park City Recreation teams really do take their games seriously, and I’d be willing to bet there are some full-beer scholarship offers that go out. But the Old Town Bombers are more concerned with making sure their dogs have an enjoyable weekend.
So, while it’s safe to say we’ll probably never see a championship game, we all seem to agree that we’ll take happy tails over heaps of talent any day.
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Hideout’s original master developer is suing the town and planner for $100 million.