SFFD Pink Team Takes a Respectable
Second Place; Still Manages to Drive
in Runs for City’s Kids
By Nicol Juratovac
Despite an attempt at an unprecedented 11th-peat, the San Francisco Fire Department’s Co-Ed Softball team (a la the “Pink Team”) fell shy of defending its title at the City Employees’ Softball Tournament.

Held on one of the hottest weekends in May, the men and women ball players sweated it out only to come up short in the championship game against the Department of Adult Probation.

There were 18 City departments that participated, with Fire landing an excellent draw for its first game, a 1200 hours match on Saturday against Recreation and Park Department.

Game One against Rec and Park got Fire off to an unusually slow start. Perhaps the players should have listened to Pink Team Coach and Manager Al “Gughi” Gughemetti’s mantra about taking batting practice before the

Photo Provided By Nicol Juratovac
game. As the visiting team, Fire did not score until late in the second inning, an unusually belated start for a slow-pitch softball team, much less the hard-hitting Pink Team.

But the bats were quickly ignited as second baseman, Jeanne Seyler (E20), blasted a line shot into left center field for Fire’s first hit. Seyler got some help on offense, as Fire sealed Rec and Park’s fate with a 10-3 victory. Robin Prosch (T48) was on the hill to get the win.

Unlike the game against Rec and Park, Game Two against the Department of Human Services (DHS) was a sheer cakewalk, as the mercy rule took effect. Of course, it helped that Fire looked like a well-oiled hitting machine, batting over .700 as a team. Hitting was indeed contagious in this game. A few errors committed by DHS only exacerbated their ability to remain in contention. In fact, the mercy rule was technically never called by the umpire. Instead, DHS simply asked for mercy and handed Fire the victory when they could not get the third out in a monstrously-slow fourth inning.

After the auspicious start on Saturday, Sunday brought a few challenges. Little did Fire realize that it would be challenged like never before.

Again, Fire was blessed with a start time of 1130 hours on Sunday morning. For those Pink Team members who may have celebrated a bit too much the evening before, they were extremely grateful to the tournament gods for the late game.

The same gods further blessed the Pink Team when it matched heavy-hitting Fire with a local community team (the tournament directors allow one non-City department team from the community to enter). Again, the mercy rule was in effect when Fire found itself ahead 25-4 by the fifth inning.

After a short break, Game Four was under way against an equally strong Department of Adult Probation. This was the match between two teams who made it in the winner’s bracket and their pivotal fight to remain in it. The Pink Team eked out a 6-2 win in a closely contested game. An argument ensued between Fire’s first baseman Mike Pera (retired), and the umpire regarding the rule on “catch and carry.” Pera successfully argued that the rule dictates that the ball is deemed a dead ball and the runner advances just one base.

This was a big win for the Pink Team, as it left the squad in the driver’s seat going into Game Five, the championships. Knowing that they would have to be beaten twice, the Pink Team had a bit of breathing room.

After battling in the losers’ bracket, Adult Probation proved to be the brave team to meet Fire once again. And in a well-deserved win against a hit-less Pink team, Adult Probation mustered a dramatic 9-7 win. Clearly, Adult Probation was motivated to take Fire into the “if” game.

That Game Six turned out to be one of the most ignominious moments in the Fire Department’s slow-pitch softball history, Adult Probation strategically handed the Pink Team its first second place finish in 11 years. Not only did the final game last just three innings, but a less-than-agreeable umpire determined a forfeit and handed Adult Probation the championship trophy.

With Fire up by two runs on the board at a score of 7-5, an appeal play was made by Adult Probation that caused quite a stir. Despite Shawn Zimmerman’s (T1) patience in tagging up to score from third base on a deep fly ball, Adult Probation won the umpire’s favor on what was deemed by many as a questionable appeal. It appeared that Adult Probation made the appeal that was denied by the field umpire only to have the plate umpire reverse the call. Moreover, Adult Probation’s pitcher made the appeal while she was off the mound, only to have the home plate umpire advise the catcher into having the pitcher reinstate the appeal while on the mound.

Despite the blatant arbitrariness of the plate umpire, Gughi continued to rally the Pink Team into moving ahead with the game instead of allowing the officials to dictate the nature of their play. Still, Gughi and company found this difficult to do when the plate umpire called all of Prosch’s pitches as anything but strikes. Upon Prosch’s asking where a particular pitch missed hitting the strike zone, a reasonable question to ask an umpire in slow-pitch softball, the hurler was threatened with ejection.

It was at this juncture that Gughi asked to approach the plate umpire only to face an obstinate official. Gughi then mentioned what he thought of the umpire and that is when the umpire declared Adult Probation as the winner. Much to the Pink Team’s dismay, no Umpire in Chief (UIC) was available to contest this action. The presence of a UIC at a tournament is integral to mediate in these types of situations. Needless to say, the official, it was later discovered, was not even an American Softball Association (ASA) umpire.

Despite losing to a resilient Adult Probation, the following members contributed greatly to the Pink Team’s second place finish:

Casey Mcelheney (E21), who was a reliable, silent leader for the crew; Kim Grinton (E40), a good sport, who was forced to wear the infamous “oh-fer” tank top for going hit-less in a couple of games (it was hoped that Grinton realized that many a great hitters have worn that tank top in years past); Lynette Thompson (E38), who came through for the team on Sunday, as she had to work on Saturday; Jeanne Seyler, the all around dependable athlete; Janeen “Gigi” Pirosko (E42), who was a solid #2 hitter; Shawn Zimmerman, the quick, power-hitting gamer; Robin Prosch, who was essentially a short stop on the mound; Bob Scheppler (E1), the source of some monster home runs; Mike Pera, the retired Mr. Everything; Fernando “Hondo” DeAlba (E31), the 1000% man, because he always gives a 1000% when playing; Bob Navarro (EMS), who was Mr. Utility all weekend; Geoff Quesada (T1), the newbie on the Pink Team, whose skills were welcomed right away; and Nicol Juratovac (HQ), who worked the hot corner and capitalized on opposite field hitting.

Special thanks go out to Pera’s niece, Robin, for being the Pink Team’s only ringer. Her bat and glove came through for the team when needed the most. Additional thanks, of course, were earned by Al Lambrechts (retired) who did a marvelous job coaching first base.

Spectators who showed their support were AC Art Kenney, T/CA Barry Wong, BC John Harrington, CA Rbt. Styles, FF Steve Gonzalez, FF Janice Hoaglin, FF John Manning. The Pink Team thanks them all.

Although the Pink Team may not be as good as the legendary Red Team, they are certainly worth coming out to watch…perhaps in more ways than one.


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