Co-ed slow pitch softball league is open to all

A Free Play Softball post-game photo shows the diversity of participants. Photo by Steve Calhoun.

In the late 1980s, Dave Kolb and his wife, Alice—both professors in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University—played slow pitch softball in a league with various university departments. They eventually became uncomfortable with the level of competitiveness, so, in 1991, they took their department out of the league and started a Sunday morning pick-up softball game with an emphasis on having fun.

Today, 28 years after its formation, this group is called the Free Play Softball League. Dave and Alice recently retired and now live in Hawaii, but their dream of having fun playing softball is going strong.

Steve Calhoun has taken on the role of facilitator and captain of the league. He is dedicated to maintaining the mission created almost 30 years ago, of having fun while playing softball. Four field captains make sure everyone has a good time while following the rules.

Opening day each year is the Sunday after tax day, and play continues until about November, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at noon, weather permitting. Games are held on a beautiful expanse of grass on field #11 in Forest Hill Park in Cleveland Heights. Entrance to the field is just west of Monticello Boulevard and Lee Road, and ample free parking is provided.

The game is open to men and women 16 and older. There are no fees required to play, and there’s no need to commit to playing every week, either. Extra equipment is available for those who don’t have bats and gloves.

Friendly rules include: no strikes or balls called, substitute runners allowed after the batter reaches first base, and special rules for players over the age of 80.

Calhoun sums up the experience beautifully: “Every Sunday I show up because I really love experiencing the incredible, novel events and fun that animates each game.”

Free Play Softball is free in every sense of the word, and fun beyond imagination. The group is looking for new players—stop by some Sunday and check out a game.

Tom Woodworth

Tom Woodworth is a retired advertising and public relations professional. He is a charter member of Free Play Softball, and one of its four field captains. When not traveling he plays softball every Sunday. Diminishing skills at 81 don’t hinder his enjoyment of the game.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:21 AM, 06.28.2019