2017 Tournament // Columbus, OH
The 2017 Columbus International Jewish Men’s Slo-Pitch Tournament will be remembered for far more than just the softball! We were hit squarely in the gut by a haymaker, not by our surprise guest at the Friday night blind draw, former heavyweight champion and Columbus-native Buster Douglas, but by the costliest tropical hurricane of all-time, Harvey. Hurricane Harvey, which inflicted $125 billion of damage primarily from catastrophic rainfall, decided to make its last stand over Columbus Ohio Labor Day weekend!
It seemed that Harvey was intent on dampening our tournament plans that we had worked so hard to impress all our friends from near and far who traveled to Columbus to play softball because it started raining on Friday afternoon and continued unabated until early Sunday morning. For the first time in the history of this tournament, all games on Saturday were postponed due to the deluge.
Undeterred, players hunkered down at our host hotel, the Nationwide Inn, and enjoyed our hospitality room, played cards, watched college football and chowed down while our Columbus host committee and team elders mulled our options in earnest. When the weatherman predicted that the rain would finally end on Sunday morning, we were faced with another challenge; when would the diamonds be playable. A posse of host committee and team managers made various pilgrimages to inspect our host diamonds on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The news wasn’t good. Parts of Avery Park’s five diamond hub was under water.
When it was clear that the diamonds would not be ready for play until Sunday night at best, Tony Beugen had an epiphany. He suggested that we flip flop the Sunday dinner banquet and play games Sunday evening. We decided this was our best option. Give the hotel’s catering department credit as they scrambled with short notice to move the banquet up six hours to accommodate us.
The next challenge was how many qualifying round games could we play once the diamonds were payable Sunday evening. In the end we opted to play the entire six-game qualifying round games before the Monday championship playoffs started. We had a six-hour window from 6pm to 11pm Sunday night to play games on the five diamonds followed by 10 of the 11 teams playing their sixth qualifying round game at 8am Monday morning before the championship playoffs began. It is remarkable to consider that the first games played at our tournament, which occurred at roughly 6pm Sunday night, began after all the qualifying round games would been played as originally scheduled. The only hiccup was that the lights at Avery Park automatically shut off at 11pm without warning which cut short the last games of the night by an inning or so. That was a small concession to pay when we consider the disruption to the tournament scheduling caused by Hurricane Harvey.
After the mud had settled (because there was no dust in sight), the Denver Rocky Mountain Chai and the Chicago Waste Management teams had identical 5 and 1 records after the qualifying round. Denver achieved the top seed in the playoffs by virtue of its greater run differential. Both top seeds, Denver and Chicago, won their quarterfinal and semifinal games to meet in the finals. In a close game Denver prevailed by a score of 17 to 13 to win its second consecutive IJMSPT title.
We took the punch from Hurricane Harvey and still stitched together a revised tournament schedule that enabled us to play every game. The Columbus tournament committee thanks everyone for their patience while we waited out the remnants of one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Ohio valley and we hope you enjoyed our hospitality and the competition on the diamonds! See everyone next year in Denver!