The 3rd Annual Blade Memorial Bags and Ball Tournament went down this past weekend at the Moose and by all early indications, it was another major success. Saturday was balls-ass hot…great playing weather…which Blade would have appreciated. Sunday the rain came down for a while in sheets, and the tournament moved on…which Blade would have insisted on. At the end of the day the two best teams kinda slugged it out and Lee outlasted Czar’s team. I was glad I went on Sunday, I was so busy yapping on Saturday with everyone that I saw next to no softball. Here are some of my personal highlights:
The chance to have multiple meaningful conversations with Coach Rocky Jurvis. The sense and simplicity of what he taught us at 14 years old just never goes out of style. And you could tell that meant a lot to him that I gave him back his pitching theories word for word. Exceptional 30 minutes or so of my life.
Seeing Myron’s kid and Schuler’s kid bashing balls. Ron and I go back to a crossover with Swa and Kalbfell on the Big Green Nickle and Ron Sr hired me to coach Babe Ruth. Myron was a senior when my brother was a sophomore at St Joe’s and I sat within speaking distance to Walt Sr. most every game. Now I get to watch those dude’s kids/grandkids.
My wife got a chance to catch up for hours with her good friend and Kenosha HOF bowling royalty Julie Kunath. And Julie is in management at Lee…and I’ve had a personal relationship with Lee Sr and Jr for decades. And that is the beauty of what this weekend has become. Everything ties into everything.and everyone.
We sat and watched the dude that won the bags tournament…while he and his partner warmed up. You see a big dude, that looks all business, standing flat and just rifling consistent bags, you take notice. When that dude also happens to be wearing a bags shirt WITH SPONSORS on it…you know he’s gonna put you to sleep, ha! Was great to catch up also with Scotty (Harry) Hartnell fresh off his St Therese victory. Don_Weeze and Wood_Don…2 and Que.
By pure happenstance, I was in the two greatest spots. The first picnic table in the pavilion that opened was the one you gotta walk by to get into the grounds. And then I split the difference between my wife at the table and Princess Layla at the park which left me in a high-back chair right where everyone came to buy drinks! It was fantastic. I couldn’t begin to count the enjoyable conversations I had.
Very glad I went today and watched the finals. Got to stand next to Mark Blue most of the game and just bullshit. He is another example of what is good with the game. He’s a legacy, and takes the game very seriously including a commitment from not only himself but from his family, he’s a physical specimen and completely humble. He knows the game, he understands and respects the tradition and is a guy that is in my opinion “a product of Kenosha Softball”.
Seeing the Keck Brothers and reliving the one season of Wiffle Ball we played at the Miracle Field at the YMCA. Tons of guys in that park this past weekend played in that great league. The Dons were all over Wiffle Ball. Fuckin Swa up there swingin one-handed. Big Daddy literally laying out on D. Weez_Don building his own set-up for pitching practice in his backyard. There was no way Blade would pass on a chance to play league Wiffle Ball.
Thankful for real conversations with: Guy Weinfurter, Rick Smith, Tussler (slightly buzzed), Scott Kessler, Swa, Dave Guarascio, Rocky T, Juga, Tommy Wat, Myron, Smooth, Jobber, and the entire Rocco LaMacchia Jr ensemble. Only a dude like Blade could get this group of people together in one place for the entire day. And as much as he’ll deflect the credit, Swa still was the action guy that has made this happen. I have no involvement in the business end of this, I am hopeful that was an equal success.
I made up an award that I thought was a right call. The Steve “Blade” Hess Softball Ambassador Award and it went to Swa. It’s about this. It’s about everything that is good about the game and ALL of the people that make a weekend like this possible. Blade didn’t care how good you were or what team you played on. And he sure as hell didn’t care who you drank with because he drank with everybody. It is an award anyone can win. Don’t give a shit if you batted 7th for Finney’s in 1976, did you sleep at the park in your car last night??
At the end of the day, there is no real summary needed. If you were there, I know damn well you were happy you were. And if you were not, I know you wish you could have been. Thanks again to the kind gentleman who gave Princess Layla 20 bucks and told her to make sure her grandparents got her McDonald’s on the way home. She bought supper and there was enough left over that grandpa was able to get ice cream on the way home after the finals on Sunday. It would be hard to imagine a better couple days in terms of seeing people that mean something to each other. Nobody but the Blade has that kinda star-power and he always will.