Just hit a “served-up” softball
55 feet, beyond the reach of opposing fielders for three or four innings, and your team advances into a double-elimination, two-weekend tournament known as the Over-the-Line (OTL) World Championships.
It’s the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club’s (OMBAC) entertaining, 59th annual offering that publicist Brad Pagano explains will attract more than 60,000 frolicking sunbathers to the sands of Fiesta Island on July 14-15 and again on July 21-22.
It’s the “happening thing” during the San Diego summer, with entertainment, food, fun — and often a few unexpected twists.
Reigning over the festivities again will be a young lady selected to be the traditional Miss Emerson.
Since it’s modest beginnings in the 1950s at South Mission Beach, today, 1,300 men and women swing away on 50 courts from 7:30 a.m. to sundown initially to determine 10 class winners.
The three-person teams, ranging from 18 to 70 in age, will come from as far away as Japan, Germany and Iceland.
No base-running is needed and nary an umpire is in sight. The primary objective is to hit the ball “over the line” without it being caught by the opposing team. A third hit in an inning scores one run and each subsequent hit scores another. A ball hit past all of the opposing fielders is a home run. Teams pitch to their own members, typically from a crouched position next to the batter.
By tradition, team names are creative and good-natured, but can sometimes be quite colorful — even obscene — and often play off current events. The names are usually not publishable.
Pagano agrees that during actual play, some finesse is important. But he said practice and participation in traveling tournaments have honed the game for many players and prepared them for the endurance run.
They have even formed a players association.
“They play all year, maybe at Crown Point, Mariners’ Point or Fiesta Island,” Pagano aid. “In the OTL Tournament, teams might play five to seven games the first weekend and eight more the second week to reach the championships.”
For the long haul, teammates will rotate as pitcher, batter and retriever. Substitutions are permitted.
“The better teams will have members who have played many years … of baseball, softball, maybe golf,” he said. “Everyone self-referees their own games. Pretty much like it’s always been.”
OMBAC will provide complimentary bus transportation to and from Fiesta Island during the first three days of OTL.
Shuttles will run between Fiesta Island and the west end of the Bonita Cove parking lot across from the Bahia Hotel, and between Fiesta Island and the Linda Vista trolley station’s Friars Road parking lot.
In addition, a shuttle will circle the island starting at 10 a.m., with parking nearby, across Sea World Drive. Roadside parking fills the island early, and vehicular traffic is usually closed off by 10 a.m.
OMBAC, a nonprofit organization, focuses on youth athletics and local charities. Last year, the club’s fundraising and donations included UCSD Cancer Research, Junior OTL Scholarships, Wounded Warrior Foundation, Huntington’s disease groups, Bikes for Tykes, Cancer Walk, Marine Family Christmas Fund, Pacific Beach Youth Group, San Diego St. Patrick’s Day Parade, San Diego Blood Bank, OMBAC rugby, OMBAC water polo, and other youth athletic activities.
For more information, visit www.ombac.org/homepage/index.html.