Softball’s summer nights in Kingston

 

Barry Gorsline is at bat as Jamie DeCicco umps. (photo by Nicole Terpening)

As summer winds down in Kingston, the competition is heating up on local softball fields, as the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation men’s and women’s softball teams are closing out the playoffs.

This isn’t really going to be a story about wins and losses, because with 41 men’s teams across six divisions, and 21 women’s teams across three divisions, there simply isn’t enough room in the paper. Plus, for many of the teams playing, it’s mostly about the occasional crack of the bat and spending time with friends.

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“That’s the goal of the league,” said Courtney Carroll, a recreation leader with the city who runs the softball league. “You’re having fun. It’s a rec league, and as long as you’re having fun and being safe, that’s what I care about. And everyone I’ve talked to is having a good time.”

There may be no one who best exemplifies that maxim than Barry Gorsline, who’s been playing in the league for more than half his life; he joined the league when he was 18, and he’s been playing for the past 21 years.

“There were maybe two or three seasons I missed because I was touring with my friend’s band,” Gorsline said. “”But I’ve played pretty much every season. Baseball in general for me has always been an escape from reality for a little while. Even as a kid, playing Little League and all that. As adults, we grow up and have the stresses of the world, and it’s really nice to go out and just have fun with your friends for a couple of hours. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. You just have a good time.”

Gorsline has a good time. Of the six divisions on the men’s side, the A is the most competitive, followed by the B, C, Upper D, Lower D, and E. Gorsline plays for Puro Clean, which as of Aug. 18 was in a tie for last place in the Lower D division with a record of 3-11. The division’s top team, Raul’s, is 12-2. There are similar disparities in each division, with the best teams winning the vast majority of their games, and the least successful losing most — if not all — of theirs.

Gorsline, who also manages Puro Clean and plays once a week on a team in the Town of Ulster’s similar softball league, is a dedicated player, win or lose. It’s all about playing the game.

“In my youth I used to tour around state tournaments with guys on weekends,” he said. “Nowadays it’s hanging out with friends, getting a little bit of exercise. It’s refreshing. I’m a little older now, and it’s funny to see the new wave of softball players coming in and being competitive like I was in my early 20s. They can run so fast and throw so well. It’s like, oh man, me and my guys are old. Nobody on my team is under the age of 30. We’re all between 33 and 40, and we’re not exactly great. We just go out there and have a good time.”

Gorsline will have to play a whole lot longer to break the family record, even if he’s not entirely sure how long the record is.

“My uncle, Steve Gorsline, he had a team in the league for so long, I think 35-40 years,” he said, pausing before adding. “I could be overstating it; it always seems to grow longer the more he tells it.”

 

Player and ump

Jamie DeCicco plays for Fromson Injury Law, a team tied with DYS Sports Performance for second place in the women’s A division. She’s on a successful team, but isn’t always aware of it in the moment.

“We’re doing well, but I don’t know what place we’re in because I don’t keep track of that,” she said. “I’m one of those people where if you ask me the score in the middle of the game I don’t know. There was a game a year or two ago where I thought we were getting run-ruled, and I was like, ‘OK, girls, let’s get our at-bats!’ And they’re like, ‘If we hold them, we win,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’”

She can also be seemingly low-key about her role as a utility player, enjoying the opportunity to play wherever she’s needed.

“Whoever’s not there that night, that’s the position I’ll play,” DeCicco said. “On both sides people generally have positions they play. But for me, this is more fun. I like knowing all the positions.”

DeCicco has been playing in the league for 18 years, and has simultaneously been an umpire for men’s games.

“I see things differently since becoming an umpire, not that I was ever one to argue calls or anything like that,” she said. “I mainly do the men’s E league on Mondays, which I absolutely love. It’s actually more fundamentally sound than you would expect it to be. You’d expect E league to be a bunch of guys who are getting together to play, but they hustle on and off the field. They’re there to play. There are always a few bad apples, but there are a few bad apples with everything you do. You just can’t let them sour the rest of the bunch, because they really are a great bunch of guys.”

Games in the city league are played Mondays-Thursdays at Block Park and Kingston Point Field, as well as on Orlando Street in the Town of Ulster one day a week, which Carroll said the city is grateful for the use of.

DeCicco said she’s formed lifelong bonds with some of her teammates. “I’ve built friends and family through these leagues,” she said, adding that she even plays volleyball with some of them during the long off-season. “I hang out more with my teammates than I do my family. We have get-togethers. We talk on a daily or weekly basis. We play tournaments together. I don’t have kids, but within our group a lot of the girls have kids that play together, and they’ve become best friends.”

Asked what prospective league softball players should expect should they put a team together for next summer, Gorsline stayed on brand: Fun.

“The most important thing is to remember to have fun,” he said. “Have fun, get a group of guys you’re comfortable with, and win or lose, have fun. We have the most fun in the league, I can guarantee that.”

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