The best little Tournament in the world
Every anniversary long weekend (late january) we iron our
blues, ignore the Vic Guth, and trek north to Whangarei for the
Lion Red Reserve Tournament. This insignificant tournament in
this small northern city gets more blues than all but the
biggest national tournaments. Eleven working blues, plus Ed
Issac and John Wall, worked 24 games in two days. Teams that do
not see blues in their regular games look shocked to see three
standing at the plate for the pre-game. The ground rules are a
real treat. The make shift enclosed diamond fence is made of
farm gates, a double is awarded when the ball goes through the
fence. It is amazing how many times it doesn't go through, The
Kiwi 6 bar farm gate is an engineering marvel. The fence is
also only 65 metres out - they couldn't get enough gates. You
should see the shine in the eyes of batters who have never hit
an auto when the Diamond D100C sails over the farm gates.
Why do we like this tournament so much? Well we used to being
abused and dipping into our pockets for what the expenses don't
cover. In Whangarei that doesn't happen. On the Saturday
morning breakfast is at 7, before the managers meeting, and
would feed your average army for a week. Lunch is a help
yourself feast and the steaks for dinner would shame a Texan.
It's not just the food, the shout after the last game would
empty the average beer wholesaler. It's not just the free beer,
the company, the talk and sheer open hostpitallity of the
people and the players make this an unforgetable experience.
The quality of the softball is pretty good as well. Young
players on the way up and old warriors keeping their hands in.
Names like Brett & Ron Goodin, Mike Bristow (the Fridge)
Actually Brett Goodin was one of only two players to be ejected
during the tournament. Brett, whilst on third, extended his
left arm, called "illegal pitch" and walked home. Likki Edge,
on plate didn't quite see the joke. I suspect Brett was right
though, I had that pitcher in the next game and he lasted 1
inning before his manager took up my suggestion that it would
be wiser to take him off before I had to eject him. Harsh do
you say. Not with Ed 'the hammer' Issac MBE casting his beedy
eyes over every move.
On the Monday morning, we all meet for one final break feast -
the best scrambled eggs I've ever tasted - and a farewell
ceremony according to local maori custom. Everyone has their
say, and the price of the "say" is a song or a joke.
For the record, The Fridge pitched Papatoetoe Angels to a 18-0
win over Manawanui Molly Bloom Running Rebels in the final. He
may have lost a little movement but still has the speed of old
and took out the tournament MVP award - he liked that short
The Big O Onerahi were third with Kamo Hotel Pioneers fourth
and Sapolu Saints fifth.