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Giving Season, With a Twist

How a random invitation to a softball game in Central Park gave me the gift of a community of lifelong friends and colleagues

Softball field in Central Park by Chen Yang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Giving Season, With a Twist

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

We here at The Turf recently began our latest recurring series – Giving Season – where we explore some of the best (or worst) gifts in the history of sports. In that spirit, I’d like to offer my own perspective on this – and the sports angle is secondary.

Today I want to talk about softball, and how it led me to a community of friends and colleagues that have helped me navigate the past 2 years (and then some).

“One, Two, Three… BOMBERS!”

I can’t remember exactly how many years ago it was now, but at some point, while I was living in Astoria I found my way to the softball fields of Central Park. At the time I was living the “gig life” and attempting (rather poorly) to become a working actor. During those early years after college, I’d found a core group of friends in my neighborhood, and one of them asked me if I’d like to join him to play softball on a random Tuesday afternoon. I jumped at the opportunity to try and convince myself that I was still a reasonably decent athlete and also in good enough shape to actually not embarrass myself. I guess I held my own because I got invited back and eventually became a mainstay on this particular team – The Bombers. That’s where I met THIS GUY:

Backstage at The Factory

That’s right – our starting third baseman (the one in the hat) was none other than The Turf’s “Founding Father”, Justin Colombo. For the remainder of the spring/summer of that year, Justin and I, as well as the rest of our fellow Bombers, would gather on the dirt at Heckscher Ballfields to take on various opponents of numerous skill levels. Regardless of the results each week, we made sure to have a good time – first and always. It was less about the results on the field and more about the friendships being forged.

You Should Work With Us

What I didn’t know about this seemingly random gathering of people wearing Bomber Blue was that they had been brought together by a catering company that had sponsored the team in this particular “restaurant league” each summer. It took a few years, but eventually, I joined the ranks and added “caterer” to my growing list of survival jobs. There was another “job” I also found out about and was even more excited to explore though. It was over the course of many games that I finally “nagged” my way into the “Turf” family when I finally got around to writing my debut piece for this very website.

The Gift of Community

Through this website, I’ve gained an entirely new circle of friends. During these last few years since joining the team, these friends have helped me navigate through the insanity and helped create memories that will stay with me forever. We bonded when the world shut down through our “Filling The Void” series, and have supported each other through uncertain times as things began to re-open and people started returning to their regular routines. I’d like to give a special shoutout to Kevin Michael Morin for rolling with the punches on my wedding day, which finally took place – during a hurricane – after being delayed twice by the pandemic.

The life of a “gig worker” is one of unpredictability. Trying to “make it” as an actor is challenging to say the least. However – it’s that flexibility, uncertainty, and element of surprise that can be just as rewarding as it is difficult. Had I joined the “rat race” of the 9 to 5 life, I may never have found my way to a patch of dirt in Central Park those many years ago. For that opportunity – and the countless people I’ve been lucky enough to meet and now call friends – I consider myself incredibly lucky.

I can’t wait to get back to the ballfields in the spring!

Joe is an actor who grew up eating, living and breathing sports. He spent many an afternoon on the soccer or baseball field in his youth (and even gave several other sports a shot) before a series of events put him on the path to pursuing a performing career. Subsequently, he's worked almost every other type of job you could imagine while trying to support that endeavor. Whenever he's not working any of those jobs, he can often be found watching, playing or discussing sports in some way. Most of that banter revolves around the Mets, Giants, Rangers or Manchester United. His short term goal is to fully convert his fiance into a rabid sports fan, not someone who leaves the room whenever he turns a game on.

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