By Tim Sullivan

 

Would it be hyperbole to suggest that inside each and every one of us lurks a semi-competitive, co-ed softball player? The South East Atlanta League of Softball (SEALS) doesn’t think so.  Here’s one man’s story. His name is Evan Strange. He’s 28-years-old, in wine sales and he lives in Reynoldstown with his wife, Mary Hunter, and his five-month-old son, Robert.  And on Sundays, he is one heck of a softball player.

The acronym SEALS connotes either an extreme naval outfit or a playful, chubby, whiskered mammal that barks and claps when happy. Which one is closer to the softball league participants?

The latter is a shockingly accurate description of many SEALS members.

Please confirm or dispel a few of the commonly held notions many have of CO-ED softball leagues: For starters, is the average on-base percentage somewhere in the .967 range?

You aren’t too far off, though defense has improved over the last few seasons. If you pop up, you are going to be in trouble. Hit it hard on the ground though and you have a pretty good shot of getting on base.

Do the scores resemble Arena Football results?

Things were heading that way last year. Once Reynoldstown put up 30-plus runs in a playoff game we decided to limit which bats were allowed and capped home runs at three per game. Some games are low scoring, but teams score 10-12 on average.

Is chugging a beer before rounding second base required?

Not required, but optional and often seen. If it were mandatory, I think our team would have a serious advantage. We consider rule changes after every season so I might have to bring that up.

Is the game itself just a seven-inning charade masking a mild flirtation with members of the opposite sex?

Let’s not discriminate. I’m sure there is mild flirtation with members of the same sex going on, too.

True, true. Softball is a very evolved sport. How is the Reynoldstown team this year?

We’ve played four games and we have spent most of that time giving the other teams hope. We are going to be a force come playoff time as long as we improve our hitting, defense and base running.

Which other neighborhoods have fielded teams and which one looks like the team to beat?

East Atlanta, Ormewood, Kirkwood, Edgewood, Lake Claire, Grant Park, East Lake, and the Highlands all have teams.  East Lake took home the title last year so they have to be the team to beat.  Edgewood scores a ton of runs and Ormewood and the Highlands are always dangerous. If it were a drinking contest (and sometimes it is), East Atlanta would be a heavy favorite.

Did you play high school baseball? What position do you play now?

I’ve been playing since I could walk and I even played in a competitive men’s league until last year. I play left center where I’ve been known to cover some ground.

How have things been at the plate for you thus far this season?

Not so bad.  I don’t think that I’m in any danger of losing the leadoff spot.

The Braves are off to a slow start – are you ready if they call you up?

First, don’t knock the Braves. But to answer your question, hell yeah. I haven’t quite given up on the childhood dream to take over in centerfield for the Braves, though I’m not sure neighborhood softball is going to get the scouts to come out.

When and where do the games take place? If people wanted to assemble their own neighborhood team, can they do so and join the league next season?

We play on Sundays in the spring and Mondays in the fall. Games are at East Lake Park and we are always looking to expand. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors. Google “SEALS Softball” to read more about the league and for contact info if you want to start a team of your own. Just round up some neighbors and try to find a sponsor (shout out to Homegrown restaurants for sponsoring Reynoldstown!).

Who do you convince to do the slow pitching?  To me that may be the scariest position in all of sports.  If I’m slow pitching, the last thing I want to see is someone like John Venneman standing at the plate.

Infield is scary enough. Pitching? Forget it. I nearly broke the wrist of our commissioner Roby Greenwald last season and Catherine Woodling took one to the thigh that left her bruised for a month.  I generally look for a mixture of quick reflexes, eye hand coordination, and naiveté when selecting a pitcher.  And don’t let John scare you.  He’s just a playful, chubby, whiskered mammal that barks and claps when happy.

Read more from Tim at timmydaddy.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.