I wasn't necessarily looking for something else to do, but then – over post-work sips of Budweiser – Yutaka mentioned the American Association was trying to resurrect its club softball team. Would I be interested? The commitment was manageable: two games on Sunday afternoons and no weekly practice. There were two seasons a year, Spring and Fall, with a break over the summer and another around the holidays, leaving plenty of time for family obligations. Worse case, I'd get to spend sunny afternoons getting fresh air and exercise. Besides, as a middle-aged American expat, wasn't I obligated to take up with the local softball team?
The American Association's general manager was organizing the effort. I quickly let her know that I was interested. She just as quickly let me know that they were still looking for more players. We needed at least ten to field a team on any given Sunday, a roster of 15 would be ideal to account for when someone couldn't make it. Did I know anyone?
I was able to rope in Andy from my Metworks contacts. AAS tapped its network of members and found our coach, Joe, through the Singapore American School. Ren came through best of all, pulling from the ten-plus years she’s played in various leagues across Singapore, to add half a dozen other locals.
We might have been a bit of a random bunch when that first slow pitch floated across the plate, but we had our team of ten. Coach Joe doled out fielding assignments and set the batting order based on players’ self-attested levels of ability. Having not touched a bat, ball, or glove in nearly thirty years, I volunteered for the outfield and wound up eighth at the plate. Entirely fitting.
We played our first two games about as well as could be expected. Easy fly balls were missed in the outfield and throws to first on infield grounders went wide of their mark. At the plate, we were able to connect, but the required wood bats made it hard to get the ball anywhere past the second baseman. We didn't win, but we held our own, and along the way, there was the occasional moment of brilliance. A last-minute snag here or a strikeout there. A double to keep us alive somewhere in the fifth. Inning by inning, we got a little more comfortable and a little closer to playing as a team.
Relaxing around a cooler of cold beers after those first games, we got down to the business of trying to come up with a name. The Patriots was suggested and quickly shot down by someone not from New England. The Silver Bullets (on account of the more than one head of hair speckled with grey) made a strong showing but didn't excite our younger players. The Grizzlies seemed appropriately vicious but just didn't seem to fit. Someone threw out the Yankee Doodles. It was fun and patriotic. Someone else half-jokingly countered it should be the Yankee Noodles, given we were in Singapore. It was enthusiastically seconded with a bit of hooting and hollering. With that, the American Association's official softball team was successfully resurrected and christened– a successful day, after all!
Since that first weekend, the Yankee Noodles have continued to stay after it. A solid group of genuinely good people shows up religiously every Sunday afternoon, rain or shine, to the UWC East campus. They make their way from every corner of the island to the heartland in Tampines to give it another go. We're still chasing that first W, but getting closer every game. We're a mixed bag of Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and Singaporeans. Some have played for decades, and some are taking it up for the first time in just as long. We have a good time, though. I've found it's quickly become a highlight of my weekend. It's just plain fun.
American Association of Singapore founded the Singapore Baseball League in 1934 and had either a softball or baseball team for years, but the team dissolved long ago. Today’s Singapore Baseball and Softball Association has six teams that have been together for many years. The Yankee Noodles is the first new team in the league in recent history.
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