On beautiful nights during the summer, Homestead Field transforms from a lazy old baseball field into a place of excitement. The entire park seemingly comes alive with the crack of the bat, laughter and dugout chatter. These sounds are typically caused by energetic members of local Little League baseball teams, who are thrilled to be on the field. However, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night in the summer, the buzz is caused by members of the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Softball Program.
The program, which was started over 20 years ago, is a huge success on the Island.
“There was a need for recreational softball,” said program director Kirk Wilms. “[The league] has come back each year because of public demand.”
The program features 24 teams that are usually made up of co-workers or friends. Teams are placed into three different divisions depending on their desired level of competition and whether or not they are co-ed. While scores are kept and standings are updated weekly on the league Web site, the program’s main focus is providing a place to play and have fun.
“It’s a neat league,” said Wilms. “It offers a good level of competition in a friendly atmosphere.”
It is evident, when watching a game, that the players really enjoy themselves. It is one reason that so many of them return to the program every summer. A lot of the teams and players have been involved for over 10 years. One such player is Island resident Dallas Otter. A member of the team Spank Me, Otter has been playing since 1992.
“We are getting slower and smarter and it’s fun to give the young guys a run,” he said. In fact, Otter’s team even won the Blue division championship last year. Even still, he maintains that winning the title is not the priority:
“The camaraderie is the most important thing,” Otter said.
The feeling of camaraderie is shared by players throughout the league.
“The best part is getting together with old friends. We play once a week during the summer and we enjoy being competitive and having fun,” said Matt Mawer.
Games will continue for another few weeks as the playoffs begin throughout all three divisions. Even though the games will be a bit more intense, the feelings of friendship and enjoyment will not be lost. After all, these adults are so excited to be playing, they almost sound like little leaguers.