On a sunny afternoon in August, students and faculty gathered in King’s College Circle for a friendly game of softball. The student team, Nucleotide Base Runners, was the heavy favourite coming into the game. They were coming off of a strong finish in the quarterfinals of the U of T Intramural Softball league and had the benefit of playing together for the whole summer season. Ball Busters, the aptly named and newly assembled faculty team, was led by graduate coordinator and baseball enthusiast Peter Roy and included PIs from all nodes. As the clear underdogs, the faculty team made up for their lack of experience with plenty of enthusiasm and trash talking. “I definitely think the students are going to win,” said Alex Lin, GSA president, ahead of the big match. “The faculty team doesn’t really stand a chance since they’re all over the age of forty.”
The students took an early lead in the game, scoring six runs and shutting out the PIs in the first inning. By the end of the third inning, with a lead of 13-6, it seemed like the Nukes were on their way to an easy victory. But what followed next was a comeback worthy of a Hollywood feel-good movie. As the students became complacent with their lead, it was clear that the Ball Busters were hitting their stride as they repeatedly shut down the students in three scoreless innings. With teammate Quaid Morris sidelined with a knee injury, the Ball Busters made impressive plays with Peter Roy and Marc Meneghini in the outfield and Alan Davidson, Ian Scott and Derek van der Kooy in the infield. By the end of the sixth inning, a mere two runs separated the teams. With two innings left, the tension was palpable in the Nukes’ dugout as the impossibility of losing slowly became a possibility. In the end, despite a valiant effort by the Ball Busters and the tying run on base, the Nucleotide Base Runners eked out a narrow victory, with a final score of 20-19.
When asked about the Ball Busters’ performance, team captain Peter Roy said “I thought we were great. Our first few innings were weak. Many of us haven’t batted for years but once we got a few innings under our belt, we did really well. I think the students were shaking in their boots for a little while.” Teammate Marc Meneghini echoed his sentiments, “I’m very happy [with the outcome]. I thought we were going to get killed, especially after the first inning. But the old guys got stronger as they went along.”
If the attendance at this game is any indication, there will be more sporting competitions like this in the future. “These types of events are fun because it adds to student morale and highlights the great dynamic in our department between students and faculty,” said Alex Lin, indicating that a student faculty football game was already being planned for this year’s retreat. When asked at what sport the PIs would have the greatest chance of beating students, Peter Roy deliberated for a long time before coming up with his answer, “Golf.” Challenge accepted, sir.