Living for the Love of the Game: MeatstiK Players Take to the Field

The sun is out. The snow is almost gone. The temperature has ventured above 45 for the first time in four months. Spring has returned to Andover. The coming of spring brings many familiar sights, sounds, and smells to the PA campus. Among them the aroma of the barbeque, the echo of laughter, and the image of a small collection of the class of 2005 gathered in the left hand corner of the great lawn, across the street from the bell tower’s shadow. Yes my friends, meatstiK (spelled accordingly) season is upon us once more. For those of you new to the academy, and those of you unfortunate enough to neither have witnessed nor participated in a game of meatstiK, I pity you. A game invented by a few members of the class of 2005, based loosely on stickball, meatstiK is a sport enjoyed by all. Right now, however, meatstiK is only a whisper, a timid voice upon the breeze. Kids huddle in clumps whispering excitedly of the good times soon to come. But, in a little over a month, the spirit of meatstiK will have escalated to a resounding roar. The game is played with a tennis ball and a heartily duct taped black plastic bat. Pegging is allowed, all pitches must be lobbed, home runs come every eighth pitch, and the hidden ball trick is a common occurrence. You might say, “Wow this game seems pretty cool.” Just wait. It gets better. First base is a large tree (which doubles as the foul pole to right field), second and third bases are flip flops, raggedy hats, or any other article one can afford to take off without getting DCed. The foul pole in left is the telephone pole along Salem Street, and anything over the stone wall surrounding the great lawn is dubbed a home run. To some, these dimensions may seem dinky, perhaps even a little shabby, but to anyone who has ever played the game, these are not merely measuring devices, but, like the green monster of Fenway, the ivy at Wrigley, and the San Francisco Bay at Pac Bell, these are landmarks, the unique qualities that give the game its flavor. “Regular Season” meatstiK games occur every day in the spring. At the beginning of each game, captains, chosen at random, pick their teams. The pitcher is simply the first person to snatch up the tennis balls and start hurling them towards home, a large sewer top in the middle of the lawn. The remaining positions in the field are decided entirely by personal preference. Now while the game is a feel-good, stranger-friendly environment, it is by no means lackadaisical. MeatstiK games are chalked full of emotion, and while the score may not be kept, somehow there is always a winner. The top nine meatstiK ballers from each class wage All-Star warfare. The class of 2005 is undefeated thus far in all-star play, defeating the class of 2006 36-6 and the departed class of 2003 26-20. Challenges from ’04 and ’07 are more than welcome. Head of School Barbara Chase knows what meatstiK is. You think putting in that new lawn in the place of Evans was simply for the further beautification of this already gorgeous campus? Come on. ’05 already tore up one lawn, so the school is putting in a new, less visible one and hoping the game will relocate. Sorry Mrs. Chase, but we ain’t going’ anywhere. Admissions office stud Marty Wennik also knows meatstiK; it reminds him of the stickball he used to play back when he was a student here. In fact, Marty has been known to come out and take a few swings himself. Other faculty appearances are also encouraged. MeatstiK is a game in which anyone and everyone is invited to come out and play. While a solid corps of ten to fifteen of the same kids can be counted on to play every day, there is always a healthy supporting cast of kids who have played once or twice before or have never played at all. It doesn’t take much to be a meatstiK player. There are no cuts, no matter what. With the exception of tube socks, there are no flashy uniforms. So what does it take? Ask any regular player. Every one of them will tell you, without hesitating, “All it takes is heart.” Just like the song from the popular musical Damn Yankees: you gotta have heart. In meatstiK, no score is kept, no stats are recorded, and, in the end, everyone is a winner. Players aren’t out there playing for NCAA scholarship or to stack up credentials for college. Hell, they’re not even out there to get in shape. MeatstiK players are just kids…kids who play for love of the game.