One of my students asked me about a certain chapter of my earlier life after I’d made a reference to it. Here it is:
When I lived in Brooklyn in the 1980’s, a free-form (but regular) softball gathering evolved in scenic Prospect Park. I don’t recall exactly who initiated it, but the participants were primarily jazz musicians who had their days free. There were, as I recall, a few non-musicians who joined in, but not that many.
We had a great time reliving our childhoods, having discovered a mostly-unused diamond in the park. Since we never knew how many people would show up, we had to get creative with the game’s form, as true jazzers do. We called our gathering the Reeferdome Allstars; I don’t recall why.
These games weren’t completely incident-free, though: I recall someone breaking their leg on an ill-advised slide into home plate. I also remember a drummer breaking his wrist when he muffed a grounder to shortstop. He could’t play any gigs for a couple of months. When he returned, the exact same thing happened again. That was a disappointment for him.
Some of the regulars that I recall were Chris Pasin (my roommate), Tim Horner, Ed Howard, Tim Horner, Michael Weiss, Frank Griffith, Bill Overton, Spencer McLeish, Geoff Gordon, Tardo Hammer, Pete Malinverni, Matt Finders and Ralph Hamperian. Some notable appearances were made by the likes of Branford Marsalis (I think that’s how Matt Finders landed the “Tonight Show” gig), Jim McNeely, Kenny Werner and actor D. B. Sweeny (“Eight Men Out”). I also see my old college buddies Paul Meyers and Paul Ricci in that photo.
Probably the most memorable moment for me was a game where I was patrolling center field. A lazy fly ball came to me, and I misjudged it a bit (or, my theory: a freak gust of wind made it veer from its logical path). The ball landed right on my head, sending me to the turf in a dazed heap. When I got to my feet, I noticed that everyone was howling with laughter, understandably so. But I didn’t know the half of it: the ball had bounced straight up, and fellow outfielder Tim Horner had the wherewithal to run over and make the catch. Well, at least I got an outfield assist on the play!