For a moment only John Henry Erickson knew that the game was over. The rest of us saw a ball headed for the porch. The rest of us saw a ball that John Henry had caught a dozen times before. But the ball found a dark spot, hidden from the lights, just before it found the stands. And at that instant only John Henry Erickson knew that his leaping attempt would land without the ball, that there was a new champion.
What a splendid game. I could watch it over again and then again. It’s what I imagine when I think of our game at its best. So E3 is not the first team to win six championships and Chuck and Duck looks like they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Stay tuned folks. I see good things ahead. I suspect they will meet again.
Speaking of meeting again, how many little kids were on the grounds this year? Fifty, a hundred, a thousand?! What a wonderful sight they were. All that chatter, those giggles, the frog catchers and the new players. I heard a five year old say “Merry Stoopball” and I almost melted. If we gave our kids just one thing during our tenure as their grown-ups, I wouldn’t mind a bit if it were “Merry Stoopball”. We could do a whole lot worse.
I think, as I did last year, that the Family League was a big success. Having a refuge for the young, the old, the laid back and the rookies is such a good idea. I am enjoying the game all over again. It was great fun for the Chicago Stoops to welcome new players who travelled from our neck of the woods (rural SW Wisconsin) to be part of the grand show. Over the years we have been home to a number of players who may not have felt comfortable elsewhere. Now there is a place where that model is the norm.
Lest you think that I don’t pay attention to the Major Leagues any more, I want to say that the quality of those teams, the level at which they play is higher than it’s ever been. One can trace a progression from the Risers, Wolves, Mutiny and Babes through E3 to the current champions, Chuck and Duck. As the great Bobby Jones said of the young Jack Nicklaus, when asked for his assessment of Jack’s prowess, “He plays a game with which I am not familiar.” The stellar defense, relentless singles attack and power game that the best of today’s teams employ is a marvel. And they just get better and better.
Congratulations to the fierce and “Mighty Monkeys”, the Champions of the Kids League! Were you doing what I did when their game was going on? Did you point and say, “That one, her, and him. Watch them, they will play for champions.” The field was full of them. You can see it; you can see a great player from very early on. Even better you can see the joy that ALL those kids get from being on the field and throwing their little bodies around. When they march off looking at the medals they hold in their hands you can see the pride in their eyes. Sandy and Craig, I can not say this enough. You do more for the game in that half hour than anything else we do all year long. My hat is off to you. Thank you.
OK, enough is enough. This could go on for hours. Let’s just say it was a great year for Stoopball. Thanks to all of you for being the heart of it. Seeing you walk down the driveway and into the game is one of the favorite images of my life. Thank you Carol and Tom for your boundless generosity. We hold you gently in our hearts.