For one local softball league, it’s not about the number of home runs, it’s about the quality of the friendships.
Astoria Plays Ball, which kicks off its second season Saturday, was created for more than just the sport.
The co-ed adult league acts like a social club for locals to meet each other, then branch out to do activities beyond the field.
“We try to keep it very community focused,” said Harris Beringer, one of the league’s organizers.
Astoria Plays Ball was launched last spring with about 80 players who initially signed up.
This season, with a higher demand, the league is debuting a new logo and T-shirts, vamping up its social media and other organizational aspects, and looking into expanding.
Currently there are six teams of 20, each with a creative name, including Street Meat, Sons of Pitches, Just the Foul Tip and Smokin’ Bunts.
Following games, played twice a week at Whitey Ford Field, teams head to a local bar for drink specials and hot dogs. The winners get free beers.
“The winning team is getting the beers, but mostly we want everyone to have fun,” Beringer said.
The league de-emphasizes competition.
“A lot of the people in the league haven’t played before and they are getting their first experience with softball and we don’t want them to be scared off,” he said.
In addition to socializing during practices, members, most of whom did not know each other beforehand, have hung out during and in between seasons at parties, bowling nights and trivia nights.
There are also potential plans to attend a Mets game.
Beringer hopes to not only grow the softball league’s number of teams and seasons, but also add other sports, such as basketball and kickball.
The league is additionally looking to give back to where it plays ball through the Astoria Park Alliance or Green Shores NYC in the future so members can bond through community work as well.
“Astoria Plays Ball is the best place to meet some great people and get some exercise,” said Laura Carbone, one of the players. “Everyone is so friendly and encouraging … I have met amazing people that have turned into wonderful friendships.”