For years, when when I lived up the coast in Manhattan Beach, I had heard about San Diego’s Over The Line tournament, a version of softball with three-person teams played on the hard sand of San Fiesta Island in Mission Bay.
It sounded like San Diego’s version of the Manhattan Beach 6-man, which at the time was basically a beach party with a sport thrown in as the excuse for the gathering. Except at the OTL, you can legally drink on the beach.
I was so curious to get a first-hand report that one year when I was unable to make it – I was covering the Catalina Ski Race, an international water ski competition covering the 25+ miles across the Pacific Ocean from Long Beach to Catalina in just one hour– I dispatched a pair of PubClubettes to check it out for PubClub.com. And PubClubette Chelsea came back with this excellent and hilarious story.
Now that I am in living in San Diego, I finally got to go the event in person. Well, okay, I had been a couple of times during the second week but never on the first Saturday, which is when the tournament is at its party peak. And let me say it’s quite fun.
The OTL is not a fancy, modern-day event with grandstands filled with banners for corporate logos. I’m guessing it looks pretty much the same it did when it was created some 70 years ago. The wood structures certainly look as if they are in original condition. Some of those structures are mini party areas around the courts, most of which are private run by local groups tho some are open to all. A few have bands and all have cocktails. Of course!
In between that and the courts, people roam around in shorts, tee or tank tops and flip flops. Many are pulling those beach carts full of their party provisions. Some do beer shotguns. They freely walk around with beers in their hand and the SDPD patrols on a golf cart, the officers with big smiles on their faces.
The sport is unusual, to say the least. Three people (there are all-girl and all-men teams), are on offense while the opposing team is in the field. Lines are put down to define the playing field with another one in what is basically between the infield and the outfield. The batting team has one of its players on her/his knees tossing the ball up and the hitter tries to hit the ball “over the line” without being caught by the other team.
It’s interesting but hardly captivating but then again, you go for the atmosphere and not the sport itself.
After walking around the 50-something courts, I sat down in front of the long scoring platform, next to a group that was playing some rockin’ tunes on a large boom box, and listened to the team names. Those names are what the OTL is really known for and they are all of a sexual theme. Some are just a little dirty, some are flat-out hilarious and some are vulgar.
I have been told that ESPN in its early days wanted to televise the OTL but requested team names be toned down to fit the audience. No way, the OTL responded. The tradition of the names means that much to the OTL. It is run by the Old Mission Bay Athletic Club (OMBAC), which does several charity events throughout the year. It also hosts the “Miss Emerson” content (from the knock-knock joke) the second Saturday of the tournament. Co-founded Billl Current, now in his 90s, is known as the “Godfather of the OTL.”
Here are some the notable – and printable – team names in the OTL: We Play Dirty But Come Clean; Wine Her, Dine Her and 69 Her; Our Best Player Is Easy (woman’s team; Anyone Is Good For Me; Don’t Call It Comeback; I’m No Pilot But You Can Play With My Top Gun; We Don’t Drizzle and my personal favorite, We Suck But Not Yours.
In fact, it is that last name that had me nearly falling over in laughter and it made two pretty girls standing next to me crack up laughing, as well.
As I was sitting with my beer, laughing to the announcements of the names and jamming to the music, I saw my buddy Art Mann walk by interviewing people for his TV show and live Twitch feed. I jumped up and joined him on camera. I offered him a beer but he declined. Unlike me, Art doesn’t drink on the job, apparently!
I spent four very pleasant hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The party scene was good but I have to say it did not match the madness of the peak days of the 6-man. I got the the feeling its wildest years are in the past. COVID certainly played a part in that tho it is back to its original two-week format.
For one thing, in its heyday it was so packed no cars were allowed onto Fiesta Island. Those arriving by car – for the record, I biked there and would not drive if I’m having beers – had to park elsewhere and take a shuttle to the tournament.
Yeah, I wish I had been to the OTL in those days but I sure am happy to be able to go to it now.