The 2012 Homegrown Kickball Classic has already been referred to as the “most pathetic in Homegrown history,” and if you were there you would know this as fact. There were beer bongs. There was a full-body chicken suit. There were children who may or may not have been scarred for life. Through it all, Saturday’s team came through with a 6-4 victory, but it wasn’t pretty.
Musicians, groupies, chickens and Duluth Mayor Don Ness flooded the kickball field at Chester Bowl, effectively recreating a scene from a zombie movie before the game even started. A buzz was in the air, as well as in the brains of most players coming straight from a mimosa party. As the crowd gathered on the sidelines, players began to drink more and stretch less.
Chad Lyons took the mound for the Friday Rawkers, heckling each of the players as they stepped up to face him. Bryan “Lefty” Johnson led off the game for Saturday by reaching on an error by Ryan Van Slooten. Lefty’s clever work on the basepath soon produced the game’s first run.
In the bottom of the first, Friday’s Seth Gronli reached on an error and was the first to score for his team, tying the game at 1-1.
Saturday regained the lead in the second inning when Tim Curtis and Jacob Swanson each scored during a rally that quickly ended when Bill Meier flew out and Alberto Serrano Rivera was caught attempting to advance to second without tagging up.
By the end of the second inning the chicken had already left, probably to go get more mimosas or something. Tim Curtis of Words to a Film Score got a quick pep talk from trench-coated coach Paul Lundgren, and it seemed to work. Curtis made a series of diving catches throughout the game, including one that brought him into the crowd with no regard for human life. Ryan Nelson proved to be a defensive star for Friday, catching three fly balls to account for every putout in the top of the fifth inning.
Mark Glen got to choose which team to be on, since he played in bands on both Friday and Saturday night — and other nights of the week as well. “I went with Saturday, because I figured it would be the only way to defeat all of Homegrown,” the introspective, yet nonsensical Glen said after leading off the sixth inning with a single and scoring. Curtis added his second run of the game a few plays later, increasing Saturday’s lead to 5-1.
There was a seventh-inning stretch in the middle of both the sixth and seventh innings — mostly for Friday’s livers. By now Lyons was sitting down between pitches, mostly as a way of both stretching and creeping out the other team. The highlight of the seventh inning came when a foul ball ended up in the hands of Mayor Ness, who then received “MVP” chants.
By this time every pitch included a beer bong and the crowd had grown restless. No one knew who was up to kick or what the score was, and a controversial call in the top of the eighth inning had tempers flaring.
Derek Delgado led off the ninth inning for Saturday by reaching on a Cory Ahlm error, and later scored to bring the Saturday advantage to 6-1.
Saturday’s lead began to erode in the final inning, however. The bases were loaded for Friday’s Brad Fernholz as he slapped the ball off his foot to drive in three runs. Saturday began to sweat, and held an emergency meeting at the pitcher’s mound to calm down the troops. Coach Lundgren must have had an extremely inspirational speech, because the final out was made at home plate on the very next pitch and Saturday was victorious in what will surely go down as the most confusing game in kickball history.
Dan Branovan of the Crunchy Bunch was crowned MVP after not making a single play the year before, completing his rags-to-riches story that will surely be made into a Disney movie by 2014. LVP dishonors went to Chad Lyons, who dragged what should have been a two-hour game out into four hours of waiting for him to pitch.
Enthused spectator Steve Wick didn’t mind the length of the game, though, summing it all up by saying, “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Duluth’s community than a bunch of drunk adults playing kickball.”