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Midlothian Marauders Win and Advance in the 40th World Wiffleball Championship 2019

December 1, 2019

The goals where simple: 1) Score a run. 2) Win a game. 3) Advance to day two. 

These were elementary to success in the World Wiffleball Championship, but were also three things we failed to do last year in 2018, our first time in the tournament.

It was the failure to score a run in 2018 – 4 games! with 72 outs! – that hurt the most. 

We were the hometown team. We were the legends. We were defending the hometown honor. I had signed up our team last year when I learned that the World Wiffleball Championship was moving their championship to my very own hometown of Midlothian, Illinois, where I had played Wiffleball and baseball as a kid. Then 52 years old, I also persuaded David Leonhardt, St, David Leonhardt, Jr, Nolan Dreher and Mike Cline to join me. We named our team the Midlothian Marauders – Hometown Legends. We had uniform jerseys and caps printed up in the traditional orange color of the Marauders that I and Mike Cline had played on as kids.

Then, it was embarrassing. The fence was a mere 86 feet to center field, and 100 feet down the lines … yet not one my team mates or I were able to hit a wiffleball far enough to homer, let alone string a few base hits together to push a run across the plate. The worst of it was a 1-0 loss to a team of kids that averaged 13 years of age. The closest we came to scoring – the closest I came – was 3rd base … just 40 feet from home. I could see the promised land within reach, but couldn’t get there. I got “pegged” by the ball between 3rd base and home. We scored no runs in four games in 2018.

The first goal for our team in 2019 was simple: Score a run. 

The day started early on Saturday, July 20th. Our team, the Midlothian Marauders – Hometown Legends, got to the field and warmed up. Our team was comprised of me, Mike Cline, David Leonhardt, Jr., Nolan Dreher, and making his World Wiffleball Tournament debut, my own son, Canyon, another former Marauder. The day would be a hot one. The temperature would reach 97 degrees, and it was already in the 80s.

Midlothian Marauders – Hometown Legends 2019 team : Left to right: Canyon Novick, Ed Novick, David Leonhardt Jr, Mike Cline and Nolan Dreher

 
Unfortunately, we failed to score again in the opening game losing 5-0. Five games in a row over two years with no runs. Would the shame end?

In the second game we were matched up against a top 20 ranked team in the Funky Plastic Offspring. They were former champions that had been playing in the tournament for many years. I took the opportunity to chat with their manager, a former World Wiffleball Champion and Hall of Famer. He now managed the team and played as their 5th player for emergency situations only. He was content to manage his sons who now played on the team with their friend. I shared our own story of being in the tournament the first time the prior year, and failing to score a run. I asked him for some advice, and he kindly shared some.

Our opponents got off to an early lead smacking several home runs with the wind blowing out. We struggled to start again. But watching how they hit homeruns so effortlessly and routinely sparked my thought for how to do it: hit the ball off the outer half of the bat with a whip-like swing. 

In our at bat in the 3rdish inning, Nolan Dreher, our pitcher, started off the inning with a home run! We were on the board! The drought was over! Goal one met! We scored a run!

That same inning, I too hit a home run! It was a thrill! I looked over to my wife and mom watching from the outfield sidelines and we shared smiles and sensed each other’s excitement. I had never hit a home run over a fence in organized ball before. I circled the bases in glee and came home to my jubilant team mates who were happy for me. I also hit another homer later in the game, as did Nolan.

We lost game two, by slaughter, 20-4, but came away having met our first goal to score a run.

We also experienced another loss in that game. One of our team mates, Mike Cline, pulled a hamstring muscle in his leg making a running catch of a foul ball. He did make the catch for the out, but went down hard reaching for the back of his leg as he finished the catch. He would try to continue, but he and we all knew, he was done for the tournament. He couldn’t run or swing the bat without considerable pain. Maybe that should have been one of our goals – don’t get hurt playing wiffle ball – it’ll be hard to explain. (I can hear it now: Where’d you’ get that limp, old timer? Yeah, it’s an old wiffleball injury. lol)

Game 3… a must-win game if we were going to meet our next two goals: win a game, and a 2nd to advance to day 2.

The game was a pitching duel. The wind was blowing in. Both teams struggled at the plate. Hitting a home run would be extremely challenging. A wiffleball doesn’t go very far, let alone when the wind is blowing in. Both teams mustered some hits, but failed to string them together in order to score a run. The game went 6 innings tied at 0-0.  

Extra inning rules require that the inning start with the player that made the last out the prior inning starting out on 3rd base, and the inning starting with 2 outs. Get a base hit, and score a run. Make an out, and your half of the inning is over.

We both went a couple innings making outs, so the game remained a tie. 

In the bottom of the 9th, I came up to bat. I knew hitting a home run would be almost impossible. I knew I would have to hit the ball hard, hope it would fall in, and beat out a hit at first base before the pitcher’s-hands would get the ball. I did just that. I slapped the ball hard to center field between the two outfielders, took off running, and got a game winning hit! 2nd goal met! We had a win! Our team and fans were thrilled. Marauders win 1-0. 

Our final game of the day we moved to a different field where the wind was blowing out. That can be good, but it can also be bad. It depends who would take advantage of the opportunity in it.

We were the ones who did. I hit 3 home runs in the game. Now knowing how to hit a home run, having the feel for it, the ball was jumping off the yellow bat, and my team mates and I were rounding the bases. 

If that wasn’t thrilling enough, to have several home runs and a lead in a game for the first time, there was one more novel experience to be had. In my final at bat, our opponents used their option for one intentional walk to give me a free pass to first base. They were afraid of me! Having already lifted several homers to put them in the hole, they were afraid that I would do more damage and intentionally walked me to first. Not ever having hit a home run over a fence in a game, never made me a feared threat before. I had never been intentionally walked before. Bonus! Fantasy goal experienced! Get intentionally walked by an opponent who feared you.

By winning our 2nd game of the day, 8-2, we met our 3rd goal and qualified for playing day two in the single-elimination Championship!  We were thrilled!

 

We came back the next day and played in one of the first two final-32 qualifying matches. There were 34 teams that won two games the prior day, so we had to win our match to make the final 32 bracket.

The wind was blowing in a bit so it would likely be a low-scoring game. In an early inning, I did connect for a two-run home run. We won 2-0. Our ace, Nolan, pitched a great game, and we were able to hold our opponent scoreless and won to advance to the final 32! We were thrilled!

Of course being a 32nd team into the 32 team Championship round, is not without its burdens. In the opening round we were matched to play the top-seeded team, the 3-time defending reigning World Wiffleball Champions : the Cult West Warriors. 

Sorry to say, that didn’t turn out so well. We got slaughtered 16-1 in 3 innings. The Warriors had home runs flying over the fence like sky-rockets going up on the 4th of July.

But the game wasn’t without its treasured moments.

I, myself, did muster a solo home run against the Champions. On the homer the opponent’s left fielder, an individual who had just been inducted into the World Wiffleball Hall of Fame earlier in the morning, ran into a pole in the outfield fence trying to catch my homer and hurt his knee, cutting a bloody gash in it, and removed himself from the game. So my hit did that damage to the Champs.

The beating at the hands of the Champions was humbling, but it was a moment of personal satisfaction that I hit a home run against the 3-time defending champions, and the team that would go on in the tournament to win their 4th Championship in a row.

Another highlight of that game: my son, Canyon, made a beautiful leaping one-handed grab at the fence to steal an otherwise home run away from the Champs. 

All in all, the tournament had been a success for us. We met our 3 goals. We scored runs, we won a game, we advanced to day two; and we also won a game on day two and had some personal thrills against the top team in the world for some treasured memories.  

What more of a thrill could a 53 year old kid-at-heart from Midlothian hope for in his very own hometown?

 

 

 

 

Featured in Chicago Sun Times newspaper article: https://chicago.suntimes.com/sports-saturday/2019/7/20/20700970/midlothian-team-excited-to-play-in-national-wiffle-ball-tournament-in-its-hometown

 

Chicago Tribune newspaper article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/ct-sta-midlothian-wiffle-ball-st-0723-20190722-ammelyorpfgxjd3baycztmbuhq-story.html

 World Wiffleball Championship web site : https://worldwiffleball.org/

 

 

 

2019 Free Summer Concerts Calendar

May 18, 2019

I’m excited to share my annual Southland Chicago Free Summer Concerts Calendar!

The summer is approaching and one of our favorite summer activities is enjoying outdoor summer concerts.
Last year we enjoyed many of them.

This year, we want to enjoy even more! 

And we want you to enjoy them too!
Toward that goal, I have compiled a calendar of free outdoor summer concerts around the Chicago Southland and nearby suburbs. The schedule includes band names, dates, times (where available), locations and links to more information.

Click Here for the Calendar

Then print it for your reference all summer long.

When you’re looking for something to do this summer, you can check the calendar and head out to enjoy a free outdoor summer concert.  Bring friends and make the entire summer one big party!

Maybe you’ll even see us there!

Please feel free to share a link to the calendar or this article with your own friends to maximize your own enjoyment of the concerts and make a party out of each outing.

Enjoy!  Have a wonderful summer filled with lots of wonderful music!

The Eddies – 2019

February 24, 2019

Once again it’s time for The Eddies!

That night when Ed gives out awards for excellence in every day living.

So, without further ado…

Let the show begin!

 

And this year, the Eddies go to…

  • And the Eddie for Best Weight Loss and Health Turnaround goes to Matt Petterson
  • And the Eddie for Best Barbecue goes to Mark at Steerhogs in Frankfort
  • And the Eddie for best 53+ baseball team goes to The Lobos – Ed’s baseball team won the 53+ Roy Hobbs Men’s Baseball League out of Oak Lawn, IL
  • And the Eddie for best baseball team manager goes to Michael Ordman
  • And the Eddie for best actor in a high school play or musical goes to Canyon Novick for his roles of Gomez Addams in Oak Forest High School’s production of The Addams Family and Mortimer Brewster in Oak Forest High School’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace

Congratulations to all The Eddies award winners!
Thank you to all of you who demonstrate excellence in everyday living. Keep it up and you might win an Eddie of your own next year.

 

Be Edcellent to one another!

2018 Free Summer Concerts Calendar

May 19, 2018

I’m excited to share my annual Southland Chicago Summer Concerts Calendar!

The summer is approaching and one of my favorite summer activities is enjoying outdoor summer concerts.

Last year I enjoyed many of them.
This year, I want to enjoy even more! 

And I want you to enjoy them too!

Toward that goal, I have compiled a calendar of free (and low cost) outdoor summer concerts around the Chicago Southland and nearby suburbs. The schedule includes band names, dates, times (where available), locations and links to more information.

Click Here for the Calendar

Then print it for your reference all summer long.

When you’re looking for something to do this summer, you can check the calendar and head out to enjoy a free (or low cost) outdoor summer concert.

Maybe you’ll even see me there!

Please feel free to share a link to the calendar or this article with your own friends to maximize your own enjoyment of the concerts and make a party out of each outing.

Have a wonderful summer filled with lots of wonderful music!

The Eddies – 2018

March 3, 2018

Once again, it’s time for The Eddies!

The Eddies, where Ed gives out awards for excellence in every day living.

So, without further ado…
Let the show begin!

And this year, the Eddies go to…

  • And the Eddie for Best Community Service Idea goes to … Margie Larmon for her idea and work to collect used winter scarfs and tie them around trees and poles in the community, so that people who were cold, and in need of warmth over the winter, could find and have a nice scarf to wrap around their neck to help keep them warm. Very kind indeed! Inspirational, Margie!
  • And the Eddie for Best Usher goes to … Jerry Marquette for his work at St. Christopher Parish.  Nobody does it better, though many others serve us well too.  Jerry also does service work in the community as a member of the Knights of Columbus. Thanks for your service, Jerry!
  • And the Eddie for Best Tech Support goes to … Vernon Jones.  Not only does Vernon provide valued service to his employer, but he shares his knowledge and efforts with his friends in need, at times going far being expectations.  Thanks so much, Vernon! You’re the best!
  • And the Eddie for Best Baseball Team Manager goes to … Matt Prim for his work as Manager of the Midlothian Marauders.  Thank you for all you do for youth baseball in the community, Matt!  Dad would be very proud.
  • And the Eddie for Excellence in Production of an Original Product goes to … Tim Kuncis for his work at Barnwood Sports (www.barnwoodsports.com) where he makes beautiful patriotic and nostalgic art from old wood.  Best wishes to Tim in his new venture!
  • And the Eddie for Best Church Decoration Design goes to … Bob Peters for his work at St. Christopher Parish. The church always appears beautifully festive in every season. Thanks for sharing your talent and leading the efforts of a great team of workers, Bob!
  • And the Eddie for Best Solo Musical Performer goes to … Paul Strolia for his excellent musical performances in the Chicagoland area and beyond.  Always an enjoyable experience to catch one of his performances. Paul plays multiple instruments skillfully, and is an excellent vocalist. 
  • And the Eddie for Best Podcast goes to … Marilyn Toner Naughton for her work on Where Are My Glasses? podcast (www.wherearemyglassespodcast.com).  Marilyn is a repeat winner having won last year for the Best New Podcast category.  Now she wins for the best podcast…period!
  • And the Eddie for Best Student Actor goes to…. Canyon Novick, for getting straight A’s all year while also magnificently performing in high school productions in the role of Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie, and passionately as troubled teen Joe in Up the Down Staircase. Canyon also makes key contributions to the school Mathletes team, ScholasticBowl team, Group Interpretation (GI) team, Speech team and Choral group where he performed in Disneyworld. Great job, Canyon!

Congratulations to all The Eddies award winners!

Thank you to all of you who demonstrate excellence in everyday living. Keep it up and you might win an Eddie of your own next year. 
 
Be Edcellent to one another!

2017 Free Summer Concerts Calendar

May 18, 2017

It’s baaack!

By popular demand I am once again publishing my annual Southland Chicago Summer Concerts Calendar!

The summer is approaching and one of my favorite summer activities is enjoying outdoor summer concerts.
Last year I enjoyed many of them.

This year, I want to enjoy even more!

 

And I want you to enjoy them too!

Toward that goal, I have compiled a calendar of free (and low cost) outdoor summer concerts around the Chicago Southland and nearby suburbs. The schedule includes band names, dates, times (where available), locations and links to more information.

Simply Click Here for the Calendar

Then print it for your reference all summer long.

When you’re looking for something to do some day this summer, you can check the calendar and head out to enjoy a free (or low cost) outdoor summer concert.

Maybe you’ll even see me there!

And please feel free to share a link to the calendar or this article with your own friends to maximize your own enjoyment of the concerts and make a party out of each outing.

May God bless you with a wonderful summer full of good music and good friends to share it with!

Ed Day In The Life

March 8, 2017
tags: , , , , , ,

I’m excited to share my latest creative project – an animated short film entitled Ed Day In The Life starring Ed (my comic counterpart) and Leslie.  
The animated story shares a sense of what a typical day is like for me. It ranges the emotional gambit from the boredom of routine, to the sadness of leaving the one you love, to frustration and anger at work, to the happiness of a warm homecoming and the ecstasy of love…all with some very funny moments along the way.
We think you will like it and suggest watching it again and again so you catch all the funny expressions and references at the fast and furious finish. And feel free to share it with others and let us know what you think of it.
The video is only 3 minutes long and worth every one of them. Make sure your speaker is on so you can hear the music that helps convey the emotion and the sound effects along the way.

Enjoy!

(Go to the website to see the video)

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