Friends, Fun and First Base
John Christolphel and James Santos, both of the Cafe’s Hustlers, stretched their limbs in preparation for their game against Moby Dick’s Whalers. (The Hustlers won 11-10.)

Santos is returning to softball after playing in other leagues for the last several years. He plays in the C league, which is “supposed to be relaxed,” but is a touch competitive on the field.

Christolphel is a returning to the game after a three-year haitus. “There’s always that drive to win, but you’re not gonna go home and cry if you lose.”

For Tim Mariani of the Pilsner Penguins, “It’s not so much the game, as the friendships you make,” he said before being called to a team huddle. “All of my friends are from the pool league or the softball league. You do things together, you have dinner together. That’s what the team is about.”

Mariani began his nineteenth season this year, and remarked on the veterans of the sport. “We get older, we get slower, but just getting out here is fun, to watch your friends succeed, whether you win or lose the game.”

He noted the addition of more levels over the years have made for more diversely skilled players, allowing seasoned folks to excel while rookies still get to play.

That was in evidence on Moscone Field. While some players seemed serious about their game, leaping for mid-range balls and diving for grounders, other teams emulated a more... comic approach to ball-catching.

Some vets have cheerfully entered the fray with goals in mind, and skills to match. A 20-year seasoned vet originally from New York, Al “Sweet Pea” Grayson pitched his team, Mayhem, through a fast-paced exciting game against Chaos Warriors. Even so, the GGV silver medalists lost 19-12.

“It’s great to be out here seeing old friends and faces I haven’t seen for months,” he said before being hugged by one of those old friends. “It’s a constant in my life. Even with everyone dying. Of my team from 1979, the four of us that are still alive are still friends.”


For Terrie Westerland, of the brand new edition of the Bernal Babes, she’s “just here to play. We don’t know any better. We’re new. We just go out there and have fun.”

Their sponsor is Moki’s (blatant product endorsement), a sushi and Pacific grill restaurant in Bernal Heights. “About three or four of us are returning from the team last year,” she said. “I just decided that I wanted to get a new team together, so I went to Bernal businesses and went to a bar and found some girls and here we are.” Readers interested in knowing where she found her girls can stop by Wildside West.

“It’s a community team effort,” Westerland said as she and her teammates modeled their new yellow and black jerseys.