Hello Fellow Kickballers. Nick Lerner, here, making a guest appearance on Sundays in the Park. I was feeling nostalgic about the league and thought I’d bring to light some of the lesser known things about our great league. So, here’s my buzzfeed style 5 facts that you (probably) don’t know about the KVKL.
1) Old Timers
There is only one team that has represented the same business every single year of the league’s existence. They have never changed their name, nor their fiery spirit. For 13 consecutive years, The Free State Growlers have fielded a team, yet never managed to win it all.
2) Inaugural Champs
By going undefeated during regular season play, Tellers was deemed the inaugural season champs. This is the only year that an end of the season tournament was not played to determine the champions of the league.
“There was one team that seemed a bit more polished than the rest of us. They had been playing in softball leagues together for a while and seemed to actually have a strategy. With quick runners, big boots and infielders that could throw, Teller’s was the clear team to beat. They went a perfect 7-0 to claim the first unofficial downtown Lawrence kickball championship” Geoff Wright in Sundays in the Park
3)Do-Over’s were part of the rules
“Occasionally, a bystander would volunteer to ref a game, but for the most part we made the calls ourselves while we played. Those that knew baseball rules tried to educate the others when questionable situations came up, but often times we would just declare the play a “do-over.” I dearly miss the do-over calls from back then. What a simple and efficient way to settle a disagreement that is going nowhere.” Geoff Wright in Sundays in the Park
Yes, Do-overs were written into the rules and any contested play would result in it being played again. Wouldn’t it be nice to do-over one of Cougar’s shitty calls?
4)Rudy’s and the Case of the Missing Tournament Trophy
By the end of the second season, kickball was quite a summer phenomenon in Lawrence. The championship game, played at South Park, pitted Rudy’s Pizza vs. Wattleneck. The game was broadcast live on KJHK and ch. 6 news came out to cover the game. Played from the Northwest corner of South Park, the crowd filled foul territory on both sides with a few hundred people.
On the eve of the championship game, a Rudy’s player built a fantastic kickball diorama to be awarded as the trophy to the winning team. In a disputed and controversial win (Rudy’s players claimed that the refs lost count of how many foul kicks a Wattleneck kicker had accumulated and should have been called out instead of kicking the game winning kick), Wattleneck was crowned champs and the trophy was proudly placed at the Bottleneck
Not long after being placed in its new home, the kickball trophy was stolen from behind the bar at the bottleneck. Nobody knows who took it or what happened to it, but legend has it that the trophy resided at the Bull house for many years hidden by the scorned players of the losing team.
5)The Winn Cup
In a little known piece of legislation passed by the kickball council in sometime 2012 or 2013, the current championship trophy (which bears the name of all of the past winning teams) was officially named “The Winn Cup” in a nod to the founder of our most excellent league, Natalie Winn.
“In 2002, an energetic young lady named Natalie Winn popped her head into the Rudy’s kitchen and excitedly asked if anyone
would be interested in playing some adult kickball on Sundays. I think the first thing everyone thought about was playing kickball on a blacktop in elementary school with a giant red rubber ball…only now there’s beer! The answer was hell yes, and Rudy’s and seven other businesses filled out their sign-up sheets and submitted them.
What started as a dream is now a league. That was what Natalie said to those seven teams as we gathered in South Park before the first week of games. We were cooks, and bartenders, and servers, and managers, and cashiers and doormen. Some were drinkers, some smokers, some jocks, some rockers, some skaters, some stoners, but we were all there to try out this new kickball league.” Geoff Wright in Sundays in the park
Nobody knows exactly what happened to Natalie or if she even knows that her little league has exploded into the awesomeness that it is now. But one thing’s for certain, we’re all trying to win the Winn Cup (and a few of us our trying to rub our balls on it)
Bonus: KVKL Bloopers