MLB Softball Tournament makes a triumphant return!
Tue 21 Jul 2015
On a weekend of brilliant weather that just evaded the rain at Farnham Park on 18-19 July, 38 co-ed slowpitch teams across A, B and C grades of play competed in the first MLB Softball Tournament held since 2002, organised by BSUK.
The teams were met on Saturday morning by the presence of fully-fenced fields, a wide selection of caterers and a number of carnival-style games, adding to the excellent atmosphere normally shown at large softball tournaments. Thanks to backing from Major League Baseball, teams ditched their standard kits and for one weekend were able to play as one of a number of iconic MLB teams such as the New York Yankees, the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox, leading to some interesting chants only normally heard on the other side of the Atlantic.
There were 10 entries from the National Softball League, and some of the games played counted towards the NSL standings. There was also a guest entry from the Haarlem Toucans, a team organised by Stan Doney that had travelled over from the Netherlands. They were a welcome addition to the A-grade section of the competition and hopefully will attend more British softball events in the future.
After round-robin play on Saturday and crossover games on Sunday morning, the White Sox (Chromies) with a record of 5-2 and the Pirates (Bristol Bees A) at 4-3 qualified for the Tournament bracket from the West/Central Division. The Indians (Slammers) at 4-3 and the Mariners (Leeds Terriers) at 3-4 moved forward to the Plate competition and that left the Brewers (Windsor Knights) at 3-4 and the Astros (Haarlem Toucans) at 1-6 to fight it out in the Cup.
The Eastern Division was much more complicated. Behind group winners Yankees (H2O) at 4-2, the rest of the division finished in a four-way tie, all on three wins and three losses. What followed was a two-stage head-to-head to separate the teams, and the Blue Jays (Blue Steel) joined the Yankees, White Sox and Pirates in the Tournament bracket. The Braves (Manchester Thunder) and Tigers (London Legends) went forward to the Plate and the Red Sox (Pioneers) went to the Cup along with the Brewers and Astros.
B-grade was much more straightforward in terms of rankings, as the 12 teams competing could all be separated on points. A guest entry came from the Chromies Originals, with a number of players from past Chromies’ teams reforming for this tournament to celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary.
The Yankees (SPAM), at 6-1, conceded just 25 runs on their way to claiming the Eastern Division, with the Braves (Mescalitos Ninos) right behind them on 5-2. The Red Sox (London Odd Sox) at 4-3 and the Phillies (Richings Park Eagles) at 3-4 found themselves competing in the Plate on Sunday afternoon, with the Blue Jays (Firm-Riot) at 2-5 and the Mets (London Guerrillas) at 1-6 dropping down to the Cup -- although by all accounts enjoying themselves massively during the day!
In the West/Central Division, the Brewers (KKs) scored 95 runs to take the top seed with a record of 6-1, with the 5-2 Giants (Blitz B) also qualifying for the Tournament bracket. The Indians (Naturals) and Pirates (Bristol Bees B) went through to the Plate with records of 4-3 and 3-4 respectively, with the Astros (The Storm) and White Sox (Chromies Originals) playing it out in the Cup with records of 2-5 and 1-6.
In the Eastern Division, the Pirates (Misfits) had the honour of being the only undefeated team in the round-robin as they took the division crown with a 7-0 record. They were joined at the Tournament level by the Braves (Maidenhead Royals), and from the West/Central Division by the Mariners (Bristol Creamers) and the Brewers (Lucky Strikes).
The Orioles (Death Stars) and Phillies (LASL Rookies) went through to the Plate with 5-2 and 3-4 records, joined by the Tigers (Norfolk N Chance) at 4-2 and the Giants (Blitz C) at 3-3.
The Indians (The Mob), the Angels (Disco Inferno), the Mets (Brighton Beachcombers) and the Red Sox (Beers and Mitts) moved on to the Cup level, with the Astros (Bat to the Future), Yankees (BA Flyers) and Blue Jays (RG Blue Sox) left to fight it out for the Spoon.
An innovative schedule led to teams from all grades having playing time on the purpose-built fields at Farnham Park, and the entire Tournament bracket was also played on these fields across all grades.
The Spoon competition took the form of a round-robin, after which the Yankees and Blue Jays competed in the final, with the Yankees winning 28-9.
In the Cup semi-finals, the Indians defeated the Angels 16-8 in the third place playoff, while the final between the Red Sox and Mets turned out to be a thriller, with the Red Sox prevailing by 22-21.
The Phillies and Orioles played the Plate third place game, with the Orioles coming up trumps to win 13-7. The Tigers beat the Giants in the Plate final by a score of 19-10.
In the Tournament bracket, the Mariners crushed the Braves by a score of 14-2 in the first semi-final, and the Brewers squeaked past the undefeated Pirates 8-7 in the other. The Pirates regained their composure to beat the Braves 7-3 in the third place playoff, and the Mariners again turned it on with mercy rule 21-3 victory over the Brewers in the final.
The C-grade MVPs were Kevin Johnson and Zoe from the Mariners (Bristol Creamers).
In the third place game in the Cup, the Mets got past the Blue Jays 13-12, and the White Sox turned on the bats in a 22-6 victory over the Astros in the final.
In the Plate playoffs, the Red Sox took third place in a 9-2 win over the Phillies, and a run-fest in the final resulted in the Indians winning 29-24 against the Pirates.
The Tournament playoffs were extremely tight, with the Brewers winning through 7-5 against the Braves to qualify for the final, while the Yankees won a thriller by 10-9 against the Giants. The Braves went on to take third place with a 13-3 win over the Giants.
The Final was a meeting of two teams who had only lost one game each all weekend, but the Yankees could not respond to an early lead by the Brewers, who won 11-7.
The B Grade MVPs were Sally and Tim from the Brewers (KKs).
The A-grade Cup was similar to the C-grade Spoon in that a mini-round-robin determined the participants in the final. The Red Sox took out their frustrations on the Astros after scoring 80 runs in the Saturday/Sunday morning round-robin, winning by a score of 13-8 over the Dutch team.
In the Plate, the Braves took third place with a 12-3 win over the Tigers, and the Indians beat the Mariners 12-10 in the final.
The A-grade Tournament playoffs were perhaps the closest out of all of the sections, with the White Sox making the final by beating the Blue Jays 13-12, and the Yankees getting there by beating the Pirates 11-6.
Both the third place playoff and final were fantastic games, with the Blue Jays defeating the Pirates 9-8 and the Yankees and White Sox putting on a batting exhibition, with the White Sox just edging ahead by a score of 22-18.
The A Grade MVPs were Misha Sulcova and Pat Hoey from the White Sox (Chromies).
Overall Tournament Rankings
|3||Blue Steel||Blue Jays|
|4||Bristol Bees A||Pirates|
|6||Bristol Bees B||Pirates|
|7||London OddSox||Red Sox|
|8||Richings Park Eagles||Phillies|
|9||Chromies Originals||White Sox|
|12||The Firm-Riot||Blue Jays|
|5||Norfolk N Chance||Tigers|
|9||Beers & Mitts||Red Sox|
|14||RG Blue Sox||Blue Jays|
|15||Bat To The Future||Astros|
This event was only possible with the support of a number of people. BaseballSoftballUK would like to thank each and every person who helped to make the event so successful:
Jason Holowaty, Wendy Yates and Peter Tierney from Major League Baseball for partnering with BaseballSoftballUK to make the event possible.
Event partners Ransome Sporting Goods (The Softball Shop) for supplying the balls and bringing an equipment stand to the tournament, and Majestic for providing the MLB replica uniforms for teams.
BASU for providing umpires, ably led by Crew Chief Pete Saunders, and the British Softball Federation.
Erik Janssen and Peter Latham for photography and filming.
Great Britain Baseball for helping to set up and take down the fencing. Great Britain Softball for helping out during the tournament itself and running the carnival games. South Bucks District Council and Frazer Duggan for preparing the fields. Kim Hannessen, Stan Doney and Mo Flett for help with set-up and break-down.
A Touch of Class, Regency Bars and the Mobile Coffee Co for keeping all of the players, umpires and organisers extremely well-fed and watered. SkyCo for their American confectionery stall. Masseuses Laura Clipea and Charlotte Jones. Peter Bishop from Pro Medicus for providing the First Aid support.
BaseballSoftballUK staff – Jenny Fromer, Trevor Greenaway-Clissold, Liz Knight, David Hurley, John Boyd, Luis Arrevillagas and Liam Morrison.
And finally, the teams themselves for contributing to a fantastic atmosphere!