Thunderstorms bookended the men’s softball championship game on Monday, though it probably would not have prevented the Slugs and Pounders from duking it out on the diamond.
After the Batgirls lost to the Moms in the women’s softball championship in 2014, Rae Zarou, shortstop for the Batgirls, made a definitive statement that resembled the likes of sporting greats Joe Namath and Muhammad Ali.
If they weren’t playing for anything, they wouldn’t be keeping score.
Jack Voelker wipes the dirt off his hands onto his already dirt-stained jeans. He cleans his glasses with his black Buffalo Beer Week T-shirt and thrusts those same soiled hands into his frayed pockets. Leaning back, he looks up at his hundreds of healthy hop bines stretching toward the sky. He removes his white Chautauqua tennis hat and takes a hand out of his pocket to comb back his hair.
While all the attention seemed to be focused on the Amphitheater, the Hall of Philosophy and Bratton Theater during Week Seven, a dramatic performance was also playing out on Sharpe Field. Four teams in the men’s league contended for softball supremacy in a week long bout of comebacks and generational rivalries.
As the summer’s schedule winds to a close, many Chautauquans have noticed the seasonal programming begin to heat up with climactic events. Softball at the Institution is no different.
An early morning roar builds along the shores of Chautauqua Institution — a common wake-up call for residents on the south end of the grounds. As usual, the daily brouhaha at Boys’ and Girls’ Club is the source of the commotion.
Lauren McElree stepped up to the plate and took a long look down the third-base line. As she stared the pitcher down, concentrating on the ball, her teammates clapped and cheered. Silence took the field as the softball rose in a slow arc.
Chautauqua Institution is saturated with the tradition of re-creation through recreation. To anyone who grew up on Sharpe Field, softball is part of that tradition.
The aroma of smoldering charcoal looms through the air, and the setting sun burns low against the horizon. Laughs, cheers and shouts merge with the murmur of waves, advancing and retreating in sync with the clean-up runner leading off first base. Clay sticks to cleats. It’s no wonder the baseball diamond traditionally epitomizes an American summer.