St. Louis kickball team keeps atmosphere light at Show-Me State Games

Saturday, July 30, 2011 | 7:03 p.m. CDT; updated 7:54 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 1, 2011
Patrick Byrne of the Banana Hammocks jumps over the ball on his way to home plate during a game against Chuck Norris' Left Foot at the Show-Me State Games kickball tournament Saturday at the Rainbow Softball Complex at Cosmopolitan Park.

COLUMBIA — A wave of laughs from the kickball field seeped through the yelling emerging from the nearby softball and soccer fields Saturday at Cosmopolitan Park.

At the kickball field, players in yellow jerseys sipped beers in the dugout as it began to rain.

"It's a pretty laid-back game," said Patrick Byrne, a player on the Banana Hammocks who competed in the Show-Me State Games kickball competition this weekend. "Most of us are 25 and older, and we're pretty responsible with the drinking."

For the past two years, the Banana Hammocks have won the All-Stars division of the St. Louis BigBalls Kickball League. The league plays every Sunday, also known as "Sunday Fundays," at Tower Grove Park in downtown St. Louis.

"Within a block, there's about 20 bars," Byrne said. "If you go in wearing your jersey, you can get free buckets, and they also give out free beer tokens for home runs."

Byrne said the sport is great part of that community because of the easygoing environment and atmosphere it creates.

"Sometimes we'll have, almost 1,000 people sit down and watch us play," he said.

Erin Knaeble, who is friends with some of the women on the Banana Hammocks, watched the game from the bleachers.

"I don't play, but I like going out to kickball Sundays because it's a fun time," she said. "We barbecue, drink, hangout and just have a good time."

Byrnes said the league is notorious for having plenty of beer, and occasionally, kegs at its games.

Dre West, another player on the Banana Hammocks, was slightly concerned at the beginning of the match.

"We're used to playing with a much larger, tighter ball," she said. "But I think it will be all right because it will probably be easier to catch and kick, honestly."

It must have turned out to be easier than expected. Despite the rain, the Banana Hammocks went on to play a full seven innings, winning their first match of the weekend.

Afterward, the team went out for pizza before finishing up the event and carpooling back home.

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Karen Mitchell August 1, 2011 | 7:15 a.m.

The Banana Hammocks team won the silver medal. Gold medal went to Big Foot's Children.

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