Dressed up like pilots

Dressed up like pilots

Funtastic rolls out a grand slam

Canada's largest slo-pitch tournament draws enthusiastic players and music lovers

Newbies to the Vernon portion of the Funtastic  slo-pitch tournament, Salmon Arm’s No Glove No Love made a few rookie mistakes.

Like, for example, being unaware that the Army Camp location had 13 diamonds.

“I went to four diamonds before I finally found the right one,” laughed left-handed catcher Alanna Guenter, who showed up about, oh, five minutes before the team’s opening game on DND Diamond 3. “They should have signs and bigger numbers on both sides of the screens.”

After scoring a 12-8 win over the Fat Bats – a team dressed up as airplane pilots and flight attendants – No Glove No Love had a bit of a break (and its own tailgate party) before heading to Grahame Park for game two against Rally Time (no costumes), a match played in, well, a steady dose of “liquid sunshine.”

“I don’t like this rain thingy,” said No Glove No Love outfielder Dave Johnson, especially when the game was cut short by the downpour, with the team trailing by two runs.

“There needs to be covered dugouts at Fulton Secondary), put that in your report,” added second baseman Keitha Amdam, to a reporter.

Overall, No Glove No Love went 3-2 in its round-robin play, then lost its playoff game Monday morning to finish 3-3 in their inaugural Vernon appearance.

“I’ve played in Enderby before but this is our first time in Vernon and it’s been great, other than the rain,” said shortstop Shaun Balicki.

No Glove No Love got through play Saturday by picking up a Vernon player to have the required 10 players before fielding a full roster Sunday.

“He wore his glove, he got some love,” laughed first baseman Jodi Crocker.

No Glove No Love is, of course, just one of hundreds of examples of why teams flock to the North Okanagan for Canada’s largest slo-pitch and music festival. To play ball, have some fun and enjoy some music.

Many of the teams played in costumes ranging from neon tank tops and wigs, to pirate outfits to brides and grooms, complete with wedding gowns and tuxedos.

Lots of people also attend the Vernon portion for the musical acts, which, this year, included Vernon’s Darby Mills and the Headpins, Streetheart, former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, the tribute group Aerosmith Rocks and Canada’s legendary party band, Trooper, who performed before a sold-out audience on Canada Day.

And while everybody had to deal with the rain during the weekend, it did little to dampen teams’ spirit and enthusiasm.

“It was a great tournament, a little disappointed with the rain on Saturday, but all the games went on,” said Brett Kirkpatrick, Funtastic Sports Society president. “As far as the music goes, I had nothing but positive responses about the music lineups each night.”

Besides Vernon, which hosts more than 240 teams, another 36 play in Armstrong and 32 play in Enderby.

“Both of those locations are like here, things ran very smooth, teams had a great time,” said Funtastic executive director Jim McEwan. “They get a lot of returning teams every year and it’s like a big family get-together in those communities every year.”