2nd Annual Indie Theatre MidSummer Classic
Despite a heat index of over 100 degrees, stifling humidity and warnings from the weather service to avoid over heating, nearly sixty intrepid Off-Off-Broadway artists arrived at the Elizabeth Barlow Rogers Ball-field on Central Park’s Great Lawn for the 2nd Annual Indie Theatre Mid-Summer Classic hosted by The Community Dish, The Innovative Theatre Foundation, United Stages and the League of Independent Theatre.
The enthusiastic group was divided into “The Indie Outlaws” led by Team Captain Michael Criscuolo and “Team Awesome” helmed by Team Captain Tim Errickson.
Perhaps a bit rusty or even a little trepidatious, the teams were none-the-less in good spirits and up for the challenge. After a few warm-ups and practice swings, they were ready to take the field.
So honed were the athletic abilities of the players and so evenly matched were the teams that at the end of the first inning, the score was tied… at zero to zero. Team Awesome got the first hit of the game when Eric Bland got a ball past the short stop to make it to base. And despite Team Awesome getting two more men on base, at the end of the second inning the score was still tied at zero to zero.
Throughout the game, there was good natured ribbing and high spirits. To the delight of onlookers, comedian Josh Sherman served as catcher for the Outlaws and heckled his own pitcher for his “wide balls.”
Team Awesome had a very nice double play in the third inning, but as the fourth inning began, there was still no score. Then, Lowell Byers from Retro Productions got the first run of the game for the Outlaws, which was met by wild cheers from the bench. Team Awesome answered right back however as Paul Hufker sacrificed himself so that Aaron Simmons could make the run for home plate.
Retribution was hard for Sherman who suffered jibes from his own team when he struck out at his first time at bat. “Well, if I can’t take it” he quipped, “I shouldn’t dish it out I guess.” As for Simmons, he repaid Hufker’s favor in the fifth inning by drawing the out so that Neal Freeman from the Gallery Players could get the score.
As the game continued, there was plenty of encouragement from the unofficial indie cheerleaders led by Heather Cunningham, who clapped and cheered for all of the great plays. When Cunningham overheard one rather handsome player say “It’s difficult to rise to the name Team Awesome, but I think we are doing an admirable job” she responded “Then why don’t we have a Team Naked.” As playwright Crystal Skillman had her turn at bat, Cunningham asked “which is mightier, the pen or the bat?” When Skillman struck out the answer was “apparently the pen.”
The excitement continued as Bland scored for Team Awesome by barely beating the ball to homebase and Byers scored the second run for the Outlaws by stealing home.
Going into the last inning the score was 2 to 3 with Team Awesome in the lead.
Undoubtedly the last inning was the most exciting as both teams rallied to bring their best game. Team Awesome was the first up to bat. Dan Rosin got a base run that brought Jason LeMaster home and then Rosin himself got to cross homeplate as another player got a base run. Team Awesome scored three runs and seemed to have the game in the bag, but the Outlaws still had some fight left in them. Lowell, who scored the first run of the game also scored the last and the only homerun, bringing home himself plus two others. But even this inspiring effort was not enough to give the Outlaws the win.
In the end, Team Awesome defeated the Indie Outlaws by one run; serving payback for the Criscuolo’s online taunts prior to the game and providing bragging rights for the upcoming season. The game started out slowly, but once the players got warmed up, it was quite an exhilarating match, that attracted a small crowd.
It was a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon filled with camaraderie and some surprisingly skillful displays of athleticism. And in the true tradition of softball, following the "good job" high fives, both teams headed to a nearby pub for cold beer, hot wings and to enjoy each other's company.