While many pack their cars and jam the roadways, making one last trip to the beaches on this final weekend of summer, the MiddletownInk Stains drag their coolers, chairs, tents and sleeping bags to Silver Lake Park. There they set up camp in the first base dugout and along the right field fence, settling in for their overnight stay. For the second year in a row, this group of neighbors and friends is giving up the first night of Labor Day weekend to this labor of love.
Thirty members strong, this team represents a cross-section of the M.O.T. area, all giving of their time to give back to their community. The goal of the Big Ball Marathon is to raise money to assist individuals, families in need, charities and organizations in the Middletown / Odessa / Townsend (M.O.T.) area. As a marathon team, the Stains take the field for 12 hours of big ball, facing a different incoming team every hour from 6pm Friday night to 6am Saturday morning. The incoming teams have all raised a minimum of $350 to reserve their hour. Each marathoner is also expected to fundraise at least $100 per player.
It’s a task they take seriously and personally. In 2011, they broke the longstanding fundraising team total by raising $5,175. Months before game day, the Stains asked family, friends and businesses for donations, sold t-shirts at the Peach Festival and held fundraisers at local restaurants. This year they broke their own record, with $6,200 raised and donations still coming in.
They do this all with a sense of humor. Each member of the Ink Stains picks a stain name for the back of their shirt, amusing the crowd with the sight of Sweat on the mound, Mustard behind the plate, Coffee in right field, Pet at second, Grease in center. For the more inexperienced incoming teams, they are quick to bring out a kickball, dropping their bats and gloves for a few innings of old school playground fun. For the more hard hitting veteran big ballers, the Stains had other plans. They surprised opposing hitters by pitching a homemade big ball that exploded in a cloud of dust on contact. The Stains smoke ball gag gave players and spectators a hearty chuckle, in keeping with the true spirit of the Big Ball Marathon; having a great time while helping others.
With two years as an hourly incoming team and another two as a record setting marathon team under their belt, the Ink Stains have no intention of letting the fun or fundraising stop here. Plans are already in the works for the antics and games that will be Big Ball 2013.