Welcome to the Chicago Mushball Tournament, slated for August 18 at Hiland High School’s softball field in Berlin, where many balls driven deep into the night will fall well short of the intended target of the home run fence.
“It will be interesting to see how the players adjust to this once they get going,” said Drew Miller, tournament director. “It’s kind of a throwback to when you didn’t have all of this high-tech equipment and balls weren’t traveling so far. And without gloves, it is going to take some getting used in the field too.”
Another adjustment teams will have to make is a rule which allows base runners to lead off. But they can also be picked off, so it brings a baseball quality to the game.
“I think guys could get a little frustrated because they will hit balls they think are out that won’t get out,” said Miller. “Teams are going to have to earn their runs in new ways. It’s going to take a real shot to get a ball out of the yard.”
Mushball is played by the same basic standards of regular slo-pitch softball, only the ball is larger and softer, therefore requiring no gloves.
And it is not that you can’t hit a mushball a long way, it is that it is very difficult to hit a long way, although it does occasionally happen.
Miller said he was introduced to the game when his slo-pitch team was playing at Nationals in Knoxville, Tenn. last year. He said he was intrigued by the differences, and thought it would be fun to bring it to an area that is traditionally very strong in slo-pitch softball.
In the August 18 Chicago Mushball tournament at Hiland High School, gloves may be used by only the pitcher, and there is a four to 12 foot arch limit on pitches. Juking (faking) may be done by the pitcher, but the pitch must be thrown on no later than the third attempt. Each batter will begin with a 1-1 count, with no extra foul balls.
Offensively, there will be unlimited home runs — good luck with that — and any softball bat may be used. The ball being used will be a 16-inch DeBeer Clincher, standard fare for mushball.
As for the tournament format, it will depend on the number of teams involved, but Miller said he will make sure that every team gets at least three games, with a probable double-elimination tournament to follow an opening round in which teams will play based on the luck of the draw.
Entry fee is $200 per team, with all of the proceeds going to the Hiland Hawks baseball program.
“I wanted to do something for our local team, and I felt like this would be unique and fun for everyone, while at the same time raising a little money for the baseball team,” said Miller.
He said that if all goes well he will create another tournament later this year.
While it will be a very different feel for the players, the tournament will also provide a superb opportunity for fans to come and watch as these athletes move into a new realm of slo-pitch. With the lunch stand open for business, it could be an all-day affair for fans who love to view a challenging game that is perhaps more akin to baseball than softball in many ways.
“We’ll have guys leading off and teams trying to manufacture runs, which is a lot like baseball,” said Miller. “It should be a really fun time for fans and for the players.”
The winning team will receive 20 tickets to the Cleveland Indians game on Friday, Sept. 14, a night game against the Detroit Tigers, with fireworks following the contest.
For further information or to enter a team, contact Miller at 330-231-1548.
Published: July 27, 2012