A familiar name in co-ed softball
has his squad in its normal position near the top of the standings. Al
Lovinggood serves as team captain for the Kirk Freeport Joolerz in the 2010
Fall Adult Co-ed Softball League.
Matches last week were postponed at
the Field of Dreams facility due to torrential rainfall from a passing tropical
storm. However Lovinggood and his Kirk Freeport team remain in good shape in
the A league. Coming into this week the side sits fourth at 4-3 and a game
behind a trio of squads tied for first place.
For Lovinggood, 39, the team’s
success thus far is an extra benefit for simply being on the field to compete.
“Our team focuses more on having fun than winning,” Lovinggood said. “If
there’s beer at the end of the game; win, lose or draw, it’s a pretty good
night. We have had an incredible team from inception in 1999 when we played for
Durty Reids in West Bay to this year playing for Kirk Freeport at the Field of
Dreams. Some players have come and gone, but the core ideal remains the same:
Lovinggood, who considers himself
an American-Caymanian, has been on island roughly a decade and a half and has
been a mainstay in softball just as long. His team has undergone a number of
names over the last dozen seasons and have grabbed the most headlines the last
Under the name team Butterfield
Bank, he captained the squad to the 2008 winter B league title. Last winter,
under the name Jose’s Escape, Lovinggood lost to A league dynasty Home Gas in
the championship match. In the Fall season Jose’s would finish second to Home
Gas in the regular season standings. Last season was a disappointment as Jose’s
Escape came last in the A1 division.
Lovinggood, who is quick to say
he’s a dedicated pitcher, has a sense of humour that is one-of-a-kind and was
quick to brandish his wits when talking about the stars of the team.
“Most, make that all, of the
stand-outs on our team are on the Injured Reserve list (some physically, some
mentally). To name one would be tough, to name a few is super easy: our team!
Everyone on our team contributes in some way. We win as a team and lose as a
team. Standouts are spoken of seasonally and only between team-mates.”
Kirk Freeport is next in action on
Wednesday 6 October against familiar foes Home Gas and team manager Dayne
Brady. From there the schedule is no cake-walk with upcoming games against A
league frontrunners the A.L. Thompson Hammers (featuring athletic talents Miguel
Pitta and Robert Boggess) and the Coors Light Chuggers (who have stars like
Donnie House and Damien Dilbert). Lovinggood states he has extra motivation to
face the Chuggers.
“We in general don’t care who we
play against, but in all fairness, we have to say that we enjoy playing against
the Chuggers. I think it has to do with a combination of things: a) I’m friends
with several people on that team and b) two of our players can’t stand Alan
Markoff. Never mind the streaks that each team has put together against one
“There used to be a team we didn’t
like playing against, but they moved to the B league this season. To be honest,
we at one point in time couldn’t stand playing against Home Gas but they have
since lightened up and are fun to play against along with coming to the
realization that they can’t win it every season, thereby in essence easing the
inevitable pain. It’s got to be tiring to win it every year. All in all, we
think we have made a huge impact on the way the A division has evolved by
having as much fun as we can. The lack of animosity between the teams has made
the A division an incredible act to be included in. We enjoy every game
regardless of the outcome or the team played against.”
Ultimately Lovinggood states a big
part of his team’s success is the sponsor who were willing, in his words, to
support a motley crew.
“Allow me to go out on a limb and
speak for my entire team here but I believe, if there’s any one reason to play
co-ed softball, it’s to play on our team and have great companionship along
with a great time. Not only do we get to see each other, we get to go out and
play ball. Believe me when I tell you this there are people on our team (myself
included) who would love the opportunity to “ride the pine” and let someone
else on our team hit the field. We just like heckling our team from the dugout
(Ask Mark Soto, a local fisherman, he’s got it patented).
“With all honesty, we
are blessed to have sponsors each year.
Our sponsors have been anywhere from personal for instance Americo
(sponsored by Karim Awe) to Jose’s Escape (sponsored by Jose Webster) to the
corporate, such as Butterfield Bank to our current sponsor Kirk Freeport. It’s
never easy to get sponsorship from anyone and we have been truly blessed to
have these sponsors in our past and thank them for taking on such a motley
crew. We have fun and we try to make them proud every season.”