When a bunch of Columbus punk rockers from bands such as New Bomb Turks, Gaunt and Greenhorn started playing softball on Sunday afternoons circa 1990, none of them realized the tradition would last nearly a quarter century.
“I jokingly refer to it as being the world’s longest running pickup softball game,” said former Gaunt and Patsys drummer Jeff Regensburger, one of the last remaining originals still playing ball at the old Indianola Middle School on North Fourth Street.
Rock and Roll Softball has hopped locations many times, gone on hiatus for a few years and seen almost complete turnover in players; Regensburger compared it to the old tale about the farmer who replaced the handle, then the blade of his ax: Is it still the same ax? To Regensburger, it feels like the same ax.
“Somebody who showed up now from 1991 or 1990 wouldn’t know anybody, but they’d recognize the intrinsic qualities of the game,” Regensburger said.
Specifically, it’s a chance to play ball for camaraderie and exercise, without the midlife-crisis intensity level of adult rec leagues.
“I think to this day it’s impossible to strike out,” Regensburger said.
They also don’t keep score, and thanks to a benefit concert last year, they have spare equipment for anybody who shows up. Sometimes that’s as many as 70 people; other times, they can barely field a team, but they always play.
“It’s cool ’cause some of us aren’t huge fitness buffs, so it’s our exercise once a week,” said Donovan Roth of umpteen Columbus bands.
Not that the fitness aspect keeps them from drinking and smoking during the games, Roth said: “We play until either we run out of beer or the sun goes down.”