Matt sent me this link to solicit my reaction.
It's not just one, two, three strikes you're out at the old softball game in Feld Park.
Belting one over the fence will do it, too.
Home runs are outs in this otherwise all-American Houston suburb about nine miles west of downtown, where encroaching development has upended one of the sport's most hallowed rules, even, for a time, getting home run hitters ejected from the batter's box.
(Inside-the-park home runs — what the Amateur Softball Association soothingly calls "four-base awards" — are still O.K.)
"I don't want to be in the backyard to be clunked on the head with a softball," said Lee Decker, a builder whose new and yet-unsold $721,000 two-story house overlooking left-center field lost two windows late last year to homegrown sultans of swat in the park's Optimist Club league. Mr. Decker has since been mollified by the long-ball sanctions and a 50-foot-high fence-and-net barrier that has proved impervious to all but one improbable blast of 300 feet or more several weeks ago that broke another window.
"I thought there was no way anyone could hit that house," said Jane Dembski, Bellaire's director of parks and recreation, whose agency had paid most of the costs of the latest net. "It kind of went straight up and straight down."
An old sign near the outfield spells out the stakes: "Ballplayers do not retrieve balls hit into yards without the residents' permission. Violators can be arrested for trespassing on private property."
"Why don't we enter the yards, Jackie?" a neighbor, Robert Duffield, asked his wife, eliciting her well-primed answer: "Because," she said, "this is Texas and you might get shot."
Anyway. Slow-pitch softball is a sport that is almost, but not quite, exaclty unlike baseball. Weird rules like that are the norm, not the exception. If you object to that, you'll probably not understand the keg behind second base, either. It's just how it is.Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 17, 2006 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack