jeanine fritz

***Correction: This story originally listed the game at the wrong time; it's at 8 p.m.

I've probably watched "Bull Durham" a brazilian times, but it always leaves me wanting a local minor league team of my own to root for. I picture a half-empty stadium, my feet are up, I'm head-to-toe in team gear, and when I get up to leave, knocking a warm beer over because I refuse to take the foam finger off, the area around my seat looks like the blast site from a peanut factory explosion.

But while there's still no minor league team here, Boulder has a healthy rec league, so I've spent more than a decade cheering on the Prairie Dog Softball Club.

I don't want to play; I'm there to breathe it in, to take respite, to study. Like Annie Savoy in "Bull Durham," I too believe in the Church of Baseball. (Unlike Annie, I do not sleep with the players, even if he's hitting over 0.250, has a lot of RBIs, or is a great glove man up the middle.) But it's still a church of sorts to me and my tithe offerings of bad Mexican beer and good juju are never turned away. I've been attending church at Stazio twice a week, every week, since 2000. And until very recently, I suspected I liked rec league sports more than anyone in town.

But pride comes before the fall, eh? Turns out there are a couple of locals who attend the Church of Boulder Rec League Sports three times a week. Last Tuesday, their coed softball team, The Aristocrats (named for the dirtiest joke ever told) took the field in their powder-blue tuxedo T-shirts and walked off champions.


Two days later, with an entirely different team (Casual Sets), playing an entirely different sport (sand volleyball), Jeff Palmer and Seth Haber took part in the systematic, heartbreaking defeat of six-time champions, The Volley Llamas.

And Monday night, as Haber put it, is "the biggest under-the-radar sporting event in the Front Range." Why? Because they'll be stepping up to the plate clad in their black Ballers Anonymous shirts (everyone on the team is No. 1), with every intention of beating rivals Drinkers with a Kicking Problem. Should they succeed in winning their 12th kickball game in a row, the boys will have been crowned champions three times in the span of a week. That's right, friendos, they're going for a trifecta.

"Seth and I are a little like the Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders of the Boulder sports leagues," said Palmer. "The only difference is we have the gall to dominate three sports."

What's their secret? "It probably doesn't work for everyone," said Haber, "but PBR's essentially replaced the function of Gatorade in my life."

The two have been playing with Casual Sets for five years, Ballers Anonymous for six, and The Aristocrats for eight years.

"I never thought I'd reach a point in my 30s where I'd find myself intensely kicking a bouncy ball being pitched to me by a grown man wearing a cow suit," said Haber. "I'm just lucky I guess."

Not everyone can count themselves so lucky. Hopefully Monday at 8 p.m., at the Gerald Stazio Ballfields, as the skies part and the sun shines down on them, their dream of a three-peat is realized.

"The hardest part of all the winning is all the celebrating," said Palmer. "I mean how many nights a week can you go to The Outback?"

It's open every single day, pal. Every single day. Like church. Should you win, you're gonna need to have your "Bull Durham" interviewing clichés down:

"We gotta play them one day at a time." (Of course they're boring, write them down.)

"I'm just happy to be here; hope I can help the ballclub." (I know, write it down.)

"I just wanna give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out."

Now go out there and show that dude in a cow suit who's boss.