21 and Over Night at the Park
"You blew it!" screamed Adam Sandler over the loudspeaker as a member of the Gateway Grizzlies struck out. Out past the left-field fence a heated game of beer pong played out as local band The Belvederes cranked out tunes and waitresses strolled the concourse with trays of orange Jello shots.
It was baseball the way Kenny Powers intended.
Thursday night the Schaumburg Boomers of the independent Frontier League declared their stadium a "kid-free zone" and threw their first-ever 21 and Over Night.
It all began with a beer toast, fans raising their $2 plastic cups of Miller Light high above their heads to signal the start of perhaps the least-watched baseball game of all time. Never mind that, though, as long as the beer was flowing -- along with discounted cocktails and over 500 of those Jello shots.
"My favorite part about tonight is just the freedom of everyone being able to do what they want," said Kelsey Smith, who paused between beer pong shots to enthusiastically cheer on her boyfriend, The Belvederes front man. "Beer pong set up, drinks everywhere, food everywhere, the band."
And the baseball? Had she caught any of the game going on a few hundred feet away? "Not tonight."
Tony Briar wasn't in it for the baseball, either. I asked him why he'd decided to come out to the ballpark and he nodded at the two beers he was double-fisting.
"I'll probably have about 12 beers tonight," he said, clad in an American flag tank top.
I have no doubt that Briar later went on to polish off a "Brat-a-Boom," a $19, 2 ½-foot long bratwurst wrapped in beer cheese and covered in onion straws. Drunk food doesn't get much better than that.
No, baseball wasn't the main event on this night -- not when pregame festivities involved wrestlers battling for the Midget World Order Championship Belt in a ring right on home plate. And not when beer pong tables and bags boards beckoned fans to the concourse, where they could play alongside flirtatious, kilt-clad waiters and waitresses from local "breastaurant" The Tilted Kilt.
Inning breaks provided plenty of entertainment, as well, as fans competed in games like life-size beer pong and "plunger darts." ("Because the way these guys are drinking they're gonna need to be friends with a plunger later tonight," said on-field emcee Murphy Row.)
The dizzy bat competition was extra special.
"They told me to find drunk people," said Boomers community relations manager Sara Romano of selecting the contestants. "But hopefully not someone who would throw up on me."
She got her wish. One tipsy twirler stumbled and landed face-first in front of the opposing team's dugout. He got back up and tried to run, only to fall again. He eventually regained his balance and even high-fived the batter on deck as he made his way off the field, covered chest-to-feet in infield dirt but vomit-free.
Perhaps the most popular of all events was the "swear-off," in which two 20-something women channel Andrew Dice Clay in an insult battle on top of the home team's dugout. By the end of the exchange, so filthy it would have made famed Cubs manager Lee Elia blush, all of the Boomers players had turned around in their dugout to watch the expletives fly.
At one point "Saturday Night Live's" "D*** in a Box" played in all its uncensored glory, followed closely behind by Dale's crotch party song from "Step Brothers." The sound bites continued, as well, alternately timed to mock mistakes made by the other team or support the efforts of the Boomers.
The home team ended up taking the loss, 6-3, but on 21 And Over Night, most fans were too busy heading to the after-party down the first base line to notice.