A little Rumbler's history...
On an unassuming, brisk Sunday in the winter of 2018, a group of dedicated dads, literally, the “Founding Fathers,” got together at a city park in Tulsa, Oklahoma with one simple motivation: to play more baseball. They took a few grounders and pop-ups. Regularly overthrew the L-screen backing first base. Swung a little BP and knocked a few back. Mostly trying to stay warm. But, as it happens with many unplanned endeavors, that undersized parliament was unwittingly forging something bigger than itself. As we continued to convene for their weekly ritual, others showed up and asked if they could join in, always met with the same spirit of invitation that is the hallmark of Sandlot baseball.
And thus, the Tulsa Rumblers (an homage to the works of S.E. Hinton, of “Outsiders” fame) were formed. We even got fancy fitted hats and stuff.
The Rumblers are a motley assemblage of baseball geeks, diehards, purists—a few who tasted success at the college ranks, and a few who’d never played an inning of baseball before their first scrimmage. Most of the team retired shortly after Little League, when they thought the game’s magic had lost some of its shine, or were “encouraged” to pursue other avenues of athleticism. Every Rumbler can agree that “Sandlot Sunday” is the place where we first felt that glint of magic again, where talents are jokingly optional. Every week, over the duration of four hours or so, a 9-inning free-for-all is set out like a cornucopia of Thanksgiving helpings. The only requirement is that you wanna play. Don’t have a glove? We’ve got one for you. Southpaw? Gotcha covered. No bat? No problem! We’ve literally had folks walk up off the street and join in the fray, almost as if they’d been coming to play all along but just didn’t know where their feet were taking them. It’s always the same story: “I haven’t had this much fun in... well, I don’t know when.” By Wednesday of each week, everyone is jonesing for some baseball, just holdin’ on till Sunday.
By happy accident in 2019, we ended up making historic Lacy Park our home. She’s as much a part of the club now as any team member (and often factors even more decisively during games, depending on when she got her last cut). A Tulsa municipal park on the north side of town, we were blown away at the rich baseball heritage that preceded us. In the late 1950s, a bonafide professional all-Black baseball team dubbed “The T-Town Clowns” often utilized Lacy (then Lincoln) as their home ball field or as a proving ground to stay sharp and honed for when they barnstormed the region. Teems of folks, dressed in their Sunday best, packed the bleachers to watch those shadow-balling pantomimers ply their craft on that same patch of grass. Weekly, we walk in the footsteps of legends. You could get yourself a nickel if you tracked down a foul ball and returned it. Maybe even a soda pop. Unpacking this “history hidden in plain sight” (as our Skipper likes to say) has been a true joy and honor. We feel privileged to play on that hardscrabble sanctuary and we hope to continue telling its story and advocating for its betterment. To us, Lacy is hallowed ground.
In our real lives, we’re as different as we can be. Lawyers, designers, woodworkers, at-home-dads, academics, writers, architects, business owners, nurses, photographers, revolutionaries, family men, bachelors, and all manner of ne’er-do-wells. In spirit, however, we hold in common a few, vigorously-held beliefs: Tulsa rocks. Lacy hops suck: “Lacy giveth! And Lacy taketh away!” And even though we love our “home,” make no mistake, we are down to play anywhere, anytime, in any condition. Losing a game of baseball is better than winning a game of anything else. Fierce camaraderie trumps fierce competition, any day. Baseball is for everyone. And, most of all, Sundays are for Sandlot, for many of us, our “other” church. Rumblers seek to spread that gospel, one Sunday at a time.
We are exceptionally grateful to Pillbox for their friendship and the work they are doing to promote recreational baseball at the local levels, everywhere.
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