2017-03-30 / Around Town

Getting Their Kicks from Kickball

By James Merolla

A "Something Inappropriate" kickball team member at the plate. 
(Photo by James Merolla) A "Something Inappropriate" kickball team member at the plate. (Photo by James Merolla) Since 2011, adults from the Newport area have been engaging in something childlike that harkens back to elementary school recess.

They’ve been playing kickball.

Not since Mrs. Schoolmarm blew her whistle on the asphalt of (name your elementary school) have so many adults enjoyed kicking the rubber out of a red sphere in the park.

The brainchild of Carson and Lindsey Turowski, team kickball is being played on Monday nights in Morton Park and Toppa Field throughout the spring and fall. The idea came to the couple after seeing how popular the game has become in our nation’s capital. “Carson’s sister played kickball in Washington D.C., which is crazy, with about 4,000 people all over the city on different days of the week,” Lindsey said. “It sounded like fun, so I emailed 100 friends and asked them, ‘Is this a good idea? Is this a bad idea?’”

"Something Inappropriate" team member pitches a ball. 
(Photo by Meri Keller) "Something Inappropriate" team member pitches a ball. (Photo by Meri Keller) Obviously, the answer came back that it was a good idea. The new spring season began on March 20, with three games played simultaneously until dusk at Morton Park in the Fifth Ward. The autumn league gets underway at Toppa Field in September. Nearly 300 players on 12 teams will battle for the championship during a 13-week spring schedule that ends on May 22.

The first recorded instance of kickball, or “kick baseball,” as it was originally called, was in 1922 between students from Yale and Princeton. Games are five innings, with a field carefully marked by tape and including bases and a ball 10 inches in diameter. Balls, strikes and outs are similar to those in baseball.

In this Newport co-ed league, players must be 21, with at least three women per team who are fielding and batting at all times. A team may not play more than nine players at any one time. Pinch runners are only allowed due to ejection or injury.

Regular season games that are tied after five innings remain tied, depending on the season and sunset.

Trash-talking is permitted, as long as “It is not cruel, racially motivated, hateful, or a personal attack on another player. The trash-talking should only be good-natured,” the league maintains.

Team names smack of innuendo and salaciousness on some variation of “ball” or “kick” or puns thereof. Use your imagination. As one player said, “Half the fun of joining the league was picking the name of the team!”

But for the Turowskis, kickball is about much more than the competition. They are even prouder of the postgame gatherings at various pubs, bars, and restaurants that stimulate local revenue on what would otherwise be quiet Monday nights. The highlight of their midseason is a party at Caleb & Broad, held on a Saturday night.

“I’m prouder of the party aspect than the kickball league because of its effect on the economy,” Lindsey said. “The places we go to after games actually hire additional staff each week, bringing in $2,000 to $5,000 on a given night, when they might otherwise only bring in a few hundred to a thousand. I am most proud of the team sponsors who back the teams.”

The league also supports a cause each season, such as the Newport Summer Concert Series or to cover the cost of children’s registration fees for various local sports leagues.

For more information, visit rikickball.org

Ingenious Local Team Names

Ball Busters (Four time defending
NVRSFT (Never Soft)
Royal Tennenballs
5th Ward Force
Purple Reign
Blue Balls
99 Problems
Something Inappropriate
Swift Kick in the Grass
Loose Cannons
Hot as Balls
Dirty Bunts

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