Due to wind, rain and cold April 27, the start of play in the Edina Men’s 35 & Over Men’s Slowpitch Softball League was delayed by a week.
Phil Boerger, the star left fielder for the defending-champion Love Handles, understood the decision to postpone and even defended it.
“I welcomed the city’s decision to move it back a week,” he said. “We have the best fields in the state at Van Valkenburg Park and it’s important to keep them in great shape.”
Once the Love Handles got on the field May 4, they showed some of the moxie that made them the playoff champions last season.
The temperature was in the low 50s when the game began, and Boerger showed up wearing a Halloween-striped stocking cap for extra warmth.
Veterans Boerger, Chris Garvin, Shaun Flanagan and Jimmy Williams were at their best defensively in a 16-14 win over Federated Insurance. And shortstop Jason “Turbo” Sirek started the first double play of the 35 & Over season. Pitcher Patrick McGovern held Federated’s big bats in check until the home team heated up near the end of the night.
The Love Handles led 16-7 going into the last of the seventh inning, but Federated Insurance had a chance to steal a victory with two outs before Garvin made a great catch on a sinking line drive to center field to end the contest.
“Every year is interesting,” said McGovern, who pitched a shutout to beat Bunny’s Bar & Grill in last year’s playoff championship game. “You come out here Wednesday nights, and every team is playing to win. It’s more fun every year.”
“The league is all about the camaraderie,” said Flanagan, who played first base for the Love Handles opening night. “We’re going for two in a row this year.”
“When you get a little bit older, like most of the guys on our team, it’s different,” Williams said. “I did some running to get ready for the season.”
Boerger took a different approach to the offseason.
“I started bowling in a league three years ago to stay in shape for softball,” he said. “The first year, my average was 114. This year, it was 182.”
On the softball diamond, Boerger’s batting average more than quadruples his bowling score. His hitting streak puts Joe DiMaggio’s Major League record of 56 to shame.
“It’s just fun to be out here again,” he said. Bowling is his hobby, but Edina rec softball remains his passion.