Geoffrey Moskowitz has loved softball for as long as he can remember. It was his passion for the sport that moved him to join the Moscow Softball League in Russia after arriving in Moscow in 1998. Now he is managing it.
I met Geoffrey in Park Druzhba, near Rechnoy Vokzal metro station where the Moscow softball league plays every Saturday from May to September. The league currently has 15 member teams.
Softball is a variant of baseball played with a larger ball on a smaller field. It was invented in 1887 in Chicago as an indoor game. Softball is played with two teams. There are typically ten players in the softball team: a pitcher, a catcher, a batter, infielders and outfielders.
Hardly had I caught up with Geoffrey, when I found myself one of his team players. This was going to be a âhands-onâ interview. Geoffreyâs team, the âTip Top Tigersâ, were playing against âChainikyâ. The âTip Top Tigersâ is a mixture of Russian and American players. âChainikyâ is a Russian team. âPeople all over the world join the Moscow Softball League. We have a whole team of Japanese players. There are Cuban and American teams. Of course the biggest nationality is Russians,â Geoffrey said during one of the short breaks during the match.
Each match consists of seven innings. An inning is complete when both teams have batted and fielded. I joined the âTip Top Tigersâ as the catcher. I was hopeless in throwing the ball. The members of both teams did their best to teach me how to put power into my throw. Next inning I was a batter. Luckily, I hit one pitch but I was slow in running to the base. No points for that!
Each position demands particular skills. Catchers have to be fast off the mark and willing to get down and take some bruises once in a while. The batter needs very fast reactions. The infielders have to be very mobile, and need to cover a lot of the ground. The outfielders need to get the ability to read where the ball is heading right after the batter hits it.
That evening the âTip Top Tigersâ lost to âChainikyâ, but this was not the only game, and the teams still have several shots at becoming this seasonâs winners. âThere are 15 teams which play 16 games each. We divide the teams into two leagues of 7-8 teams and two divisions of 3-4 team inside of each. They play against each other during the summer. The best ten take part in a one-day final tournament,â Geoffrey explained.
All ages and levels can play softball. âIf you have a team of ten people, bring them here and join the league. If you are alone and have a great desire to play, send me an email and Iâll help you to find a team to play on. Every team has to pay a fee of 20,000 roubles per year and has its own policy. We spend this money on development of the league. It helps us to fix problems, which occasionally arise with the field, as the land owners arenât interested in developing this facility. We hold different teambuilding parties. The league supports the teams with basic equipment like balls and bases,â Geoffrey explained.
Geoffrey clearly enjoys his job, and under his leadership the league has grown from 5 to 15 teams. âYou are a part of community. You help to bring people together. Sometimes it is challenging. Over the years I tried to develop the group of people who help me. Right now I have six key members who run events, keep track of the equipment and schedule games.â
To join the league please write Geoffrey Moskowitz on the following email address: [email protected]