One day, way back in the mid 80’s, my friend Joe LaCava stopped in to see me at the deli (where I worked) and asked me if I was interested in playing on his softball team in the local men’s league.
To be honest, I didn’t know that men actually played softball, but I had a little experience from high school gym class and Joe was a friend so it sounded like fun. (Remember that sentence for later <wink>)
I remember showing up for the first practice, and I didn’t know anybody there. The coach, John O’Byrne, introduced himself and asked me what position I played. “What position do you need?” I asked. “Third base,” he said. “Third base,” I said back with a smile.
I had never played third base before but that became my new position and I quickly secured the fourth spot in the batting order. For some reason, men’s softball was just easy for me. One day, after a game, some of the guys started talking about somebody in the “A” Division.
“What division are WE in?” I asked. “We’re in the B,” was the answer. I hated the answer. I immediately felt like a second-class citizen, even though I didn’t know anybody in the A Division. Just the thought of being in a lower division bothered me every time I suited up for the rest of the season. As it went, we won the B Division championship that year which gave us the right to move up into the A Division next year. But the guys voted it down. “Teams that move up to the A Division always come in last,” was their rationale. “But guys,” I pleaded. “Wouldn’t it be more fun to come in last in the A Division than first in the B Division?” They didn’t see it that way.
So I quit.
I was determined to play in the A Division but, again, I didn’t know anybody there. So I decided to make up my own team.
First, I grabbed my little brother Jeff. Next, my buddy Schultzie.
Schultzie knew a few guys from the A Division, so he reached out to them.
We went after Bobby Hickson. “Bobby, you’ll be part of a nucleus. We’re getting all good guys, all young guys, and we’re going to have the most fun. We’ll be good, and we’ll build up a dynasty.” Hickson was in!
Next, this kid Kevin Seman was supposed to be a good pitcher. Same “pitch.” We got Kevin.
The first five were in stone: me, my brother, Shultzie, Hickson, and Seman.
So there we had the beginning stages of our new A Division team, which we called The Homeboys.
Our buddy Andy Snow worked at Newtown Exxon, and we were able to get them to sponsor us.
We were even able to convince Snowy to play; six. We grabbed my friend, Richie Colbert; seven.
Nick Tropeano said he’d play; eight. My man Pat Farrell; nine. Johnny Owens made ten.
Finally, just to get bodies, we recruited a few high school players in my brother Jason, Scott Terrill, and Chris Daly.
Of this roster, only two had ever played in the A Division before and only four had ever played AT ALL! Our oldest player was 24 and our average age was 21. So young and so inexperienced we could hardly call ourselves “a team” and we certainly couldn’t call ourselves an A Division team.
That season, we ended up losing . . . in the championship game. Within four runs of winning it all!
Though The Homeboys only stayed together for two years, I would play softball for another 20-plus (in fact, I just hung em’ up in August 2013). I would win a lot of championships, a lot of trophies, and a lot of other stuff too. But the memories are the most cherished.
I often look back at what fun we had that summer of 88, and recall the actual assembling of The Homeboys.
We became the true definition of a team that was bound for success.
Here comes the lesson . . .