My fraternity had a solid meathead reputation. We consistently won almost every intramural sport, and I can’t name the amount of times that I’ve been asked, “Is it true that your pledges have mandatory gym hours?” As boring as it got to hear every new rush say “I was the captain of my high school football team” as their introductory fun fact, asserting athletic dominance over all the squids in other fraternities never gets boring. And if this sounds like a humble brag so far, please let me fix that: this is going to be a good, old-fashioned, straight-up regular brag.
Every year, Tri Sig hosts a philanthropy kickball tournament, and goddamn right every year we won. The majority of us would show up to the park bright and early and spend the day getting drunk and talking shit from the stands as we cruised to victory. Senior year, things went a little differently. The previous two years, my fraternity had played itself in the finals (A team vs B team) because Jesus Christ it’s kickball and why can’t these uncoordinated fucks in other fraternities just figure out how to kick a ball and run to first? The tournament got bigger and bigger over the years, and when I showed up senior year my roommates told me that I’d have to play because they needed one more. We had four teams in the tournament — two on each side of the bracket — and my team specifically would be classified as the B team.
We cruised through our first few games against teams like “Saferides” and “The Spanish Honor Society” or whatever, and not once did I even think about taking my sunglasses off as I sprinted around the bases while our competitors tried to figure out how to throw from second to third without the ball ending up in the parking lot. Our team was a Frankenstein’s monster of my satellite house, a couple of the guys who didn’t sign up in time for the A team, and a few freshmen sprinkled in there to heighten the drama.
I’ll give it to the ladies of Tri Sig: they knew how to build a bracket for the spectators. Most fraternities wouldn’t run into one another until the second or third round. The games got a little more competitive and I reveled in the opportunity to be the catcher and spew a constant stream of disruptive shit talk at every poor soul that dare enter the batter’s box. We knocked off a few of the lower-tier fraternities as we moved through the bracket, and post-game handshakes weren’t on the table. In between our games, we took to the bleachers around the main field to drink sidewalk slammers and yell obscenities at every team that hit the grass. We got lectured by Tri Sig a few times, because apparently this isn’t America anymore and we can’t shout “CUNT” in a public park even if an outfielder drops an easy out. A lot of rumors about entire fraternities having “super chlamydia” were started that day, but what other conclusion could we come to when we see a guy playing sports in jeans?
We found our first real test in the quarter finals: it was going to be us against the C team from our fraternity. They were a bunch of excited sophomore guys still riding their own highs of the day. This squad would inevitably turn into the A team one day, but that was one day far from now and they needed to know who daddy was. They threatened us with long home runs and a brand of confidence that only comes from guys who haven’t been there before. We hung in through the late innings, picked our moments, and struck when it counted the most. Our win set the stages for the semifinals. On our side of the bracket: us vs Sig Nu. And on the other side, it was our A team vs our D team. Our A team crushed the D team and advanced to the finals. We were up next against Sig Nu — our first game on the main field. The stakes were in place, the stage? Set.
The stands were full, and as soon as we took the field it was clear that Sig Nu felt they belonged there with us. They employed a catcher doing the same thing that I had done all day. They had a little twat of a pitcher that was bouncing and skipping the ball all over the place because he clearly didn’t respect the game. And they had some pretty diehard Tri Sig groupies that wanted to see us lose.
This game was an actual slog. Hardly any runs were scored, and both teams were getting fidgety. They started calling me “sunglasses” because I guess this was their first try at public insults and they thought they could bring me down by drawing attention to my clear 1% status. It had been a long day up to that point and the girls were growing restless, so they called that this last half of the inning would be the end of the game. We were kicking.
The score was tied 1-1, and I was up first. I get a single off that ball-skipping vegetarian and the game is on. Our next guy tries to go deep: fly out on the first pitch. Third man up gets a single and I’m sitting on second. One more batter, one more fly out. The electricity in the crowd was palpable. This was for pride… and some sort of charity or something.
It’s important to mention that we were playing with a “3 fouls is a strikeout” rule to keep the pace moving. Our man went into the box to hit and the weight of 70 guys plus 140 sidewalk slammers was upon him. First pitch comes bouncing in: foul. Second pitch skipping and spinning into home plate: foul. The pitcher winds up for the next pitch, and when he releases its more of the same skipping dumb shit that got him to the dance. Our man takes a mighty swing, and it hits the ground then flies straight up in the air with an absurd amount of backspin.
This is when everything changed. Their catcher jumps up and snags the ball out of the air. I’m tagged up on second and my eyes widen. Everyone in the stands starts yelling for me to go, and I turn into a Nike Sparq commercial circa 2008. Sig Nu’s catcher realizes he fucked up, and decides to throw the ball to first in an act of sheer desperation. I round third base and see the most wonderful thing my eyes had ever found in their 21 years: the pitcher had run into the baseline, without the ball, in an attempt to block me and stop me from making it home. This little twink thought he was going to be the guy from Tiananmen square. Moving around him never crossed my mind, not even for a second.
I lowered my shoulder, and I swear to you he did not affect my stride at all. It was like I ran through nothingness, except he flew up over my head and landed ass first in the dirt. I make it home as the ball in home from wherever the hell they threw it. I turn around to see my best friend had run out of the dugout and was standing over the weak, wounded gazelle of a man, beer in hand, screaming for him to go fuck himself over and over again. I take off my sunglasses, look at the catcher, and hit him with a casual “Yep” before trotting up to the fence to absorb the cheers of the spectators. Game over. We win. Losers go home.
We would go on to get smashed in the finals by our A team, but no one really cared; like for the 1980 Miracle on Ice team or the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers basketball team, the real championship was won in the semis. We exerted our physical dominance over the other fraternities, and that’s what really mattered. At the end of the day, winners win. Yes, I would go on to get questioned about my heroic exploits by Sig Nus at every massive day drink and sorority date party for the rest of college. My running style was described as something like a Jamal Lewis, or a Ray Rice, or an OJ Simpson. And what did all of those guys have in common?
A shit ton of wins..
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