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Drama On The Recreational Kickball Pitcher’s Mound

An illustration of several people, each one passing some juicy gossip on to the next one.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

Because I played softball growing up and have a good throwing motion, I am extremely good at throwing tennis balls for dogs. Once, I was casually chucking my dog’s little bouncy ball across the park when a man about my age approached me and very brusquely asked me if I went to the University of Texas. This was strange. I was wearing a UT hat but usually fellow alumni would just throw a “Hook ’em” my way. This man, however, seemed nice enough, so I said yes.

That is how I got recruited onto the college alumni softball team that played right on the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. At the time I did not know the only reason I was being desperately recruited was because another team had somehow convinced not one, but two recent graduates of an actual Division I college softball team to move to D.C. and play in this league. If I had, I might not have agreed. I was already by that point in another Sunday softball league.

But adult recreational sports leagues are filled with drama. There is inter-league drama about who is breaking the rules and who is doing shady recruiting and whose second baseman looks too good for the Tuesday night league. For a summer right before the pandemic, I played in a queer women’s recreational softball league outside of D.C. Everyone was friends. I would have tried to integrate myself into the friend group rapidly if they hadn’t all lived in Maryland, but it was a great time. The level of play was infinitely higher than the other leagues, and so was the level of gossip.

Joining me in today’s episode, featuring a story about a queer kickball league, is a former queer kickball player: Matt Bellassai. He’s a comedian, writer and the host of the Unhappy Hour podcast. He formerly starred in BuzzFeed’s web series Whine About It.

Matt and I discussed the drama and chaos of working at BuzzFeed in the site’s early years, wondered who might have puked in the office kitchen, and why the gossip in queer recreational sports leagues is so dramatic!

Then we dove right into today’s story: a tale of love found, lost, and found again, a championship game with a missing pitcher, and an heiress who appears and immediately creates chaos. Plus, I try to explain the rules of kickball, so that’s exciting.

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(The transcript for this week’s episode can be found here.)

And if you do have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is normalgossip@defector.com, or phone it in to 2-6-7-9-GOSSIP.