It is not uncommon to see softball played at Cobb’s Hill late into the night. But at this time of the year, one game goes past midnight. This year 12:29 a.m. to be exact.
This year marks the 8th Annual Festival of Softball. Every year hundreds of volunteer softball players (and umpires) have gathered at Cobb’s Hill, divided into Red and White teams, to battle it out for all of 100 innings (10 ten games in all). The game is a “Tribute to Noah Passero,” an 8 year old youngster from Webster, who passes away in April 2008 while waiting for a heart transplant at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, after a long battle with heart disease.
Funded by the players and individual and corporate sponsor, all proceed benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Fund of the University of Rochester Medical Center at Strong Memorial Hospital. As of now, the 8 year total is $97,500. As donations come in, the Tribute expects to hit the goal of $100,000.
I arrived a bit late–in the 94th inning–as Team White led 143 – 128.
There I met the true Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken of the event, Announcer Terri Bradshaw and Official Scorer Becky Martin. I discovered that Terri and Becky had been at their post from 8:30 in the morning until what was then nearing midnight. Terri, who also has announced high school wrestling tournaments, did leave briefly to play 8 innings in one game. Meals were eaten while on duty and all bathroom breaks took place between games. Talk about Iron Women!
In announcing, for the most part, Terri played it straight, simply giving name and position. Occasionally an embarrassing gaffe or unlikely sprint by a less than chiseled athlete would draw timeless wry commentary: “Don’t give up your day job, “Get that man some oxygen.”
The highlight of the day came when White Team coach Dave Divose allowed me to pinch hit in the 98th inning. Dave, who has played the game for now 7 years, even two years ago in sleet, said he was saving his best for last.
The situation was taut. The crowd thrilled as Teri announced my name. I lacked a uniform, proper shoes, and had not swung a bat since before Labor Day. No matter. I scorched a one hopper down the third base line. The fielder’s lunge, the sprint, the throw, the call. Bang-bang. OUT!
I also am an umpire so I knew the call was correct. Back at the bench, my teammates were convinced I had been robbed. Quietly I told the umpire he got it right. But next year at the 9th Annual Festival of Softball, he better call me safe.
THE COBB’S HILL SERIES
<h3><strong>The Cobb’s Hill Series</strong></h3>