Annual Sno*ball is fun in the sun & snow
By Softball West
TAHOE CITY, CA - Almost spring-like weather greeted 50 co-ed and 30 men's teams at the 22nd Annual Sno*Ball Tournament in Tahoe City, California. Fortunately there was plenty of snow on the fields at the North Tahoe High School close to Lake Tahoe. Due to the amount of teams that show up for this event there are several variations in the rules. The most obvious is that everyone gets just one pitch, a batter either hits the ball fair or they are out and no catchers are used. Each game has a 25-minute rule, meaning that after the time limit no more innings can be started, and all games have a home-run equalizer. An orange ball is used in the games. While this helps the fielders find the ball in the air they must dig for it when it lands in the snow. During any game there is usually a time when the out fielders are frantically digging for the ball while the runner is trying to keep their footing as they slip and slide around the bases. While the tournament might seem serious, it's played with a lighthearted spirit and most everyone is there for fun.
"This is my 18th year here and it's the best sport in the world," said Rick Rinaldi of Good Times. "This tournament is a perfect mix; Lake Tahoe, outdoors, softball and poker. There are only three of us who play softball all the time and the rest are Sno*Ballers." His fellow players hold his teammate, Jeff Gross, in high esteem. "I'm the ‘Executive Chef' and this is my second hobby," Gross said. "I cook for all the guys and some keep coming here just for the food."
Facing Good Times were the Mountain Dogs. "This is my 10th year," said Kraig Constantino. "It's a great tournament for charity and we are all good buddies." On the men's side Humboldt Drilling wound up fourth and Frosty Balls ended up third. Then the Mountain Dogs, who emerged from the loser's bracket, faced Good Times for the championship.
In their first contest, which became an "if" game, the Dogs put a hurt on Good Times so bad that the game was called before the time limit. Then, after a short rest both teams took to the field for the final and deciding game. Good Times held the advantage until the bottom of the final inning when Mountain Dogs faced a three-run deficit. The Dogs rose to the occasion and beat their rivals by one run in the 10 to 9 game. "Finally," said Constantino. "This took 10-years and I'm drained. I've been trying to do this and we have a couple of new comers on the team. It feels great to have this monkey off our backs." Then he named Anthony Montez as MVP. "It was busy," Montez said.
The co-ed championship game was delayed due to a slight mix-up in games when one team played the wrong opponent. Getting this all sorted out took a bit of time but finally the championship contenders took to the field. The Zulu Cannibal Giants, from Glendale, CA, faced the Grass Valley based Allphase Welders. In their wake were third placed Up to Snow Fun and All Mixed Up who ended up fourth. The Zulus, who had some players wearing very colorful wigs, fell behind early and were unable to make up the deficit. The game ended with a 12 to 5 score, which gave the title to Allphase. "We didn't lose a single game and scored 75 runs in our first games," said Ryan Carlson of Allphase. "This is our second year that we've been playing together but most of us have been here for four or five years."
Don Balden, the tournament director said, "The tournament ran really smooth and we had very few problems. Everybody had a lot of fun and that's the important part." The tournament benefits the March of Dimes, and they raised over $25,000 for the weekend. Next year the snows will come and so will the Sno*Ball Tournament and those that love to play this winter game.