By Josh Rizkalla
Citizen Chronicle Writer
OXFORD — The Laid Back Competitive Baseball League held its opening day jamboree on June 13 at Horgan Field. The event featured the cheapest concession stand prices this side of Fenway, music and perhaps most importantly, twelve consecutive hours of baseball.
Wanting to keep playing after he graduated college, current head of baseball operations Cody Mundell founded the LBCBL in 2012 with only five teams. Over the years, President Matthew Higgins and the rest of the board have aimed to create a competitive yet inclusive baseball league for those caught between high school baseball and slow pitch beer leagues. Games are played on the weekends at local fields in Central Massachusetts, and the only requirement is a love for the game.
“Most leagues are geared toward college players. There’s no adult leagues that you could compare to softball. You don’t find that,” Higgins said.
Now the league has ten teams and around 200 players ranging from ages 18 to 55, with an estimated 80/20 split of former players and those new to the game. Higgins proudly pointed to a player at the plate who couldn’t make contact when he started three years ago now confidently swinging away.
The league hopes to expand to 14 teams next year and integrate into their communities as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The goal is to affiliate with local little league teams and use the money they earn to help renovate and maintain shared fields. The sustainability of the league is personal for Higgins and vice-president Eric Proulx. The two multi-taskers head the concession table, sell raffle tickets, coordinate incoming teams, flag down foul balls and talk up the league to fans in the spirit of Bugs Bunny’s one-man baseball team.
“When Cody started the league, he didn’t expect any of this. It was a backyard league with umpires behind the backstop smoking cigarettes,” Higgins recalled.
As the teams arrived before their games, the camaraderie was similar to that of a family reunion. Those who have played together since little league laugh over old memories and the barbs feel straight out of a scene in The Sandlot. Family comes out to support the teams and enjoy a hot dog in 80-degree weather. The LBCBL feels like any other part of baseball, a tradition that never dies.
Five games were played throughout the day. In the first match, Lomuscio Trucking defeated Shrewsbury LBCBL 6-2. The Sturbridge Kangaroos rallied from a 10-3 deficit to beat the Sturbridge TinCaps 12-11. The Oxford Bomb Squad shutout Turner’s Club Bar Flies 6-0. The Turner’s Club Nuts downed the DC Whitecaps 9-1. In the final game, the Southbridge Spectacles beat The Alliance 9-2.