On Saturday I got to participate, in my own way, in the celebration of the 5th anniversary of Twitter with a group of follow Twitter folks in a kickball game at Onondaga Lake Park, our first outdoor version of a tweetup. It was arranged by Geoff Herbert and Frank D’Agostino, who pushed it on both Twitter and Facebook and may or may not have been a stroke of genius.

I was asked to be the umpire in the game, and I accepted without reservation. I knew I wanted to go, and I also knew I wasn’t going to play, especially after last week’s escapade trying to do a nature walk at Green Lakes State Park. The other umpire was Steve Borek, which turned out to be a stroke of genius, putting two of the older competitors on the sidelines. By the end of the game I’m thinking there were a few more people wishing they’d been on the sidelines as well.

For those who don’t remember, kickball is a slower and supposedly safer version of baseball. You play with a big rubber ball, which used to be kind of a brown when I was a kid but now they come in colors, and the one we used was green. You still play on a baseball field, but as a kid you played on a much smaller field. I knew people were going to be in trouble as soon as I saw how big the field looked. When I used to play baseball this was normal, but that was (cough) more than 30 years ago, and now it looked huge. You might gain some perspective on the field based on the size of the people and the field in the picture. Also, I kept looking at the field trying to figure out what was wrong and then it hit me; no infield grass. That would prove to be interesting much later.

The game started around 12:25 and each team started out with 8 on a side. One team lost a player after their first turn “at bat” because she forgot to wear sneakers (shame on you Alyssa lol). Right off the bat the pitchers realized it was harder to guide the ball to the plate than they realized it might be; they were still kind of far away. Also, with the infield being totally sand (not dirt), everything was dusty, and everyone was thankful that it wasn’t a windy day.

But it was hot (hit 91°), and that started to sap people’s strength. Also, even 20-somethings started to realize how hard it was for them to bend over to stop a moving ball, even one subsequently bigger than a baseball, and that was one challenge. Another challenge was trying to catch the ball. Guys I know played baseball and understood how to catch one were thrown because of what I knew was the backspin of the larger ball; that plus its being bouncier made it difficult for people to catch.

The final challenge for some of the players was in throwing the ball. I found that I could grip the ball but that was only if I had time to grip it. Without time the ball was going all over the place, and folks had the hardest time controlling it. This culminated on Frank pasting a young lady named Mel in the face when he couldn’t control the ball. Poor Mel also was one of two people that suffered a minor injury when she went sliding into first base when she didn’t have to. The other was Geoff, who hit a bad patch in the outfield and had a slight muscle pull.

The game was supposed to go 7 innings but it ended up getting reduced to 5 because of the heat and the pounding of the sand, as the field was pretty hard; that’s probably what kept the “cool” Twitter folks that were invited from coming. The Blue team ended up being the White team 18-15, with only one controversial call at first base where the ump (your truly) called the runner out on a bang-bang play in the final inning. Once the game was over the players lined up and shook hands just like they do in hockey or Little League baseball; it was cute.

Then it was time to relax, cool down, and dip into some goodies. Our catering friend Jen brought cupcakes and what she called cake pops (cake on a stick) that were wonderful. Kevin from Doubletree Hotel brought cookies (my favorite cookie in the world). Ross brought a cooler filled with tons of ice and bottles of water that really hit the spot (and came the furthest, from Camden, with Mel second coming from Ilion), and Tracy gave me a bag of Doritos to bring home, which led Mel to tell me about the MSG they contained (as well as 7 other salts; I might need to rethink how much I eat these things). And we had some cheerleaders as well, most especially Sunny, who tried to kill me on last week’s walk and Katie, who said she’d have worn the cheerleader outfit and used pom poms if Frank had brought them.

It was a great time for all of us, and another reason why going to tweetups, local or not, can be a lot of fun. Other people who were there, as I can remember them includes: Sarah, Teri, Nicole, Melissa, Jared, Pat, Lorne, Andrea and “Little Man, Frank and Nicole’s son who was the biggest cheerleader, although his loyalties were pretty much known. 😉 There were some non-Twitter folks there as well but I don’t remember any of their names; shame on me. If I missed anyone please let me know.

Next Syracuse area tweetup; don’t know, but you all need to be there.

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