It’s a game many of us played in grade school during recess.
Now you can play it as an adult, thanks to the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District.
The sport is kickball, and the H-F league is in its second year. The league is growing, and the participants are having a blast.
“The kickball league came about when we were looking for a new program to get adults active in,” said Keith Jones, recreation supervisor for the H-F Park District.
During the first year of the league last summer, there were five teams. This year there are eight.
“We hope that people continue to spread the word so that we can expand the league even more,” Jones said.
“Everyone is having a blast that I have talked to, and the umpires are saying everyone is just enjoying it."
The unique aspect about the league is the age differences of the participants. With the exception of having to be at least 18, the league is open to anybody. That results in some teams consisting of players in their early 20s and others with players in their mid-50s.
“It really doesn’t matter how old you are,” Chestnut pitcher Stephen Tobin said. “We have people in their 50s and 30s on our team, and some teams we go up against are in their 20s. It’s like fourth grade all over again.”
Some teams feature a wide variety of ages.
“Moms and dads play. Some play with their sons and daughters,” Jones said. “Anybody can play that game we played as kids.”
The great part about the league is that age or skill doesn't necessarily put you at an advantage, thanks to some clever rules.
Play consists of 10 players per side—five men and five women in the field at one time. Games are played on a regulation softball diamond. Pitches must be rolled—not bounced—toward home plate.
All batters start with a count of one ball and one strike. If a male team member is walked and a female follows him in the batting order, the female has the choice to take a walk or bat.
All players in the field must be listed in the batting order. There are no designated hitters allowed. There are no leadoffs or base stealing. Runners can leave the base only when the ball is hit by the batter
Players are considered out by one of the following means: (1) Striking out, (2) a fly ball caught by the defense, (3) a throw-out at one of the lead bases, (4) the runner being tagged by the ball that’s in possession of the defensive players (a runner may be hit anywhere below the shoulders with a thrown ball and will be considered out).
"It is a little bit different than softball," one of the umps in the league said. "The ball is different, as are the players. It’s more of a fun game."
Some of the team names include Ball Hogs, New Kicks On the Block, Kick Tease, and Still Kicking.
The games are played on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. All games are seven innings or one hour
Three games are played on the three softball diamonds behind the H-F Racquet and Fitness Center, while the fourth game is played at the diamond at the Irwin Center.
After playing nine regular-season games, the playoffs began this week and will culminate with the championship on September 1.
Rest assured the game may look like nothing but fun, but once players take the field, the competitive fire burns.
“It brings back a lot of childhood memories,” said Dave Shereyk, of the Ball Hogs. “The perception is that it is silly, but when you get out there it is competitive.”
Catch a recap of this week's quarterfinal action in Saturday's Local Sports Notebook, and recaps of further action in the Aug. 30 and Sept. 6 notebooks.