15 years is a long time. Yet, for exactly that many, the Golden Stick Wiffle® League has been pumping out events like the two held this weekend. The league's become known for them...The moments. Whether a full count in the box, an inter-state car ride with your teammates, or sitting across a camp fire to a player from another region, Golden Stick is a true fraternity, a brotherhood, with a spirit rooted in competition.
Hundreds of players, mostly men, chasing the same little white ball, from so many angles, have stacked these moments in the construction of their GSWL careers. For some, a year or two in Golden Stick merely accents their recreational backgrounds. Golden Stick becomes "a cool league they played in once." For others, a decade of season's passed before they even found their favorite scuff.
For better, or worse, some make their mark here more than most. Eric Stevenson won the league's 1st ever championship (Swingmen '02), hasn't missed a season yet, has been the model Golden Stick-er and is still hardly known by many outside of MA.
Then, there are those, who in their first year, change the landscape of the game. For instance, Anthony Pucci, a 2016 MA Yum Yum, turned PA Region stud overnight a few years back, when before even his sophomore stint in GSWL, he inserted the knuckleball into competitive Wiffle®, now a staple pitch in upper echelon pitching arsenals.
The impressions we players leave on the league range from T-Shirt destined tag lines ("LFG", "Do Work", "No Labels"), to Freddy K's "Chicken Wing" pitch of the 2005's, or to history etching swings like those of Doom's Zack Thompson & Brian Dinapoli in the 2011 National Championships, and more.
A similar swing of the bat, although it yielded no trophy, was that of Carlo DeGiovine in last year's MA vs. World All-Star Game. The MA Region was just 1 out away from closing down a slim margined victory. Then, with two outs, NY's Carlo put one over the fence to walk off the 2015 All-Star Game, deflating the Massachusetts squad. His legacy was bonded. Carlo got his moment.
So, here on this Monday, following a Super Qualifier on Saturday, an amazing lakeside party Saturday night, and the All-Star Game on Sunday, this writer types. Still reminiscing a weekend filled with Golden moments, he scampers, trying to pluck a few from a swarm of so many good ones.
Among them, the teenage High Rollers won their 2nd in a row on Saturday, taking down MA SQ#4 and $1,000 over the last two weeks. Eric "Benedict" Rosenberg returned to play in the MA Region he turned his back on this year, even going deep on behalf of his newly found New York brothers. MA's Plastico Quemado learned that even against teams from other states, 1 run losses are always just a swing away. Even Joey Walters came up for the weekend, the one man moment, gracing the North Country out PA folk lure.
There are so many angles to cover.
In some Wiffle® leagues, the presidents, the commish's, the founders, fill the league headlines. Many proprietors start their Wiffle® leagues merely to house to their own individual talent. Here, that is not the case. Golden Stick Pres, Lou Levesque is a career .220 hitter. He rocks the same slider from the early 2000's when on the mound. He missed the backstop at Nationals last year, the costly error ejecting his team from Sunday's elimination rounds at the OPEN. He too has his moments, but they are largely victories of the moral sort.
Yesterday, that was not the case. With a skeleton crew of a roster, just over half the size of the traveling NY Team's, (a true testament to the dedication of the NY player body), Lou Levesque needed to play just to fill the MA team out. In a ceremonial at bat, a single led to two. A walk led to another, and another, and a run. A 60' throw he misses often, pinged the zone to save a lead. From the box with bases loaded, New York mounting a comeback, Levesque sent a 2 strike screwball over the wall to bring in four, his granny rounding out a 5/6 day at the plate. For the perennial brown bag award winner, now were whispers of 'MVP.' Two innings left, the only thing left to do was for him to pitch. 6 scoreless outs later, the close was in hand, Lou taking back MASS pride on the Mansion Field on which he started it all. The whispers of MVP were realized, now & forever abbreviating his "moment."
These situations are all intertwined. Each, woven through each other, related, interlocking, momentarily shaping the storylines of yesterday and tomorrow all at once. They come in cycles and are all connected. It would take detailed analysis, the likes of which will never be compiled to uncover the beautiful complexity to the stories we have written on these fields. For instance, 365 days after the '15 All-Star Carlo DeGiovine tore the heart out of Lou's home region, it was he that threw the screw now known as Lou's grand slam pitch. And, who might you ask was in the box for the final out, when Levesque sealed yesterday's game from the rug? They call him "Los." It was again, Carlo DeGiovine. In an issue of "right" or "wrong" synergy like this would be called "karma." But in a contest of two worthy sides such as this, it is simply the rhythm of our beautiful game showing its self.
The moments. They become our memories and we stack them high. We stack them high because we can. Because we are lucky enough to play here together, and to be able to. So today, like countless Mondays over the last 15 years filled with "moments"...we're on to the next one.