Thursday, April 16, 2015

San Diego, California 's Annual OMBAC Over-the-Line Tournament

The Over the Line (OTL) tournament began in 1954 when members of the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) organized their first event--their motto was Booze, Babes, and Beach Boys. These basic ingredients haven't changed much over the decades.

OTL began as a local San Diego County beach competition, but it has grown into what it is now, an international event with over 1,200 teams competing. The OTL tournament has become San Diego's most iconic and largest summer venue attracting over 60,000 spectators and participants to Fiesta Island in beautiful Mission Bay over the second and third weekends of July.

This year's 62nd Annual World Championship will be held July 11/12 and July 18/19, 2015. The tournament has both a men's and women's division. Each division is broken into age categories. The men's categories include: Open, Century, Canardly, Cannever, Cadaver, and Camummy. The women's categories include: Open, Century, Caneasy, and Canalways.

OTL is a bat and ball game played out on the sand--though a beach is not a necessity. It requires only three players per team: the batter and the hitter are on the same team. The fielders (other team) stand behind the line in fair territory. The pitcher tosses an official game ball up and the batter swings at it with a softball bat. If the ball is hit into fair territory without a fielder catching it, a run is scored. A hit can also be scored when a fielder drops the ball in fair or foul territory. Base running is not a feature of this game. Women use softball gloves, and men can use golf gloves.

An OTL court is laid out with rope staked into the sand. At one end of the court is a triangle whose longest edge is 55' (17meters) called The Line. The point of the triangle called Home is 55' from The Line. The pitcher and the batter both work from there. Parallel ropes mark the Fair Territory which extends as far as a ball can travel. Three fielders position themselves within Fair Territory.

An out is made if the ball is hit in the triangle, the batter swings and misses, the fielders catch the ball, the batter has two fouls, or a player bats out of order. As with baseball and softball, three outs ends a team's inning at the plate.

Runs are scored after the third hit in an inning and each hit after that. A home run is a hit that lands past the furthest fielder from the line--not over, just past--without being touched by the fielder. The batter scores a run and all of the unscored hits that preceded the homerun.

The tournament has a history of being a Bacchanalian orgy with distinct sexual overtones. The team names pride themselves on their consummate vulgarity.  Local news stations report on the event but can't announce the team names over the air. Major news stories from the previous year are also the subject of comic team names.

Miss Emerson contestants from yesteryear.
The Miss Emerson contest is a favorite sidebar attraction for the male horn-dawgs in the crowd. Young adult women shed their tops--behind a cordoned-off area--in exchange for an official OTL T-shirt. At the awards ceremony, the new Miss Emerson is crowned and given a bouquet of flowers. The derivation of the Miss Emerson title started as a bad knock-knock joke that can be found in the link below--along with a listing of men's and women's team names from 2011.

Over recent years--to gain more wide-spread municipal support for the event--the bawdy atmosphere has been toned down somewhat to emphasize the sport rather than the spectacle. OMBAC has instituted the Seven Bs: 
  1. No Bottles
  2. No Bicycles
  3. No Bowzers (dogs)
  4. No Babies
  5. No Boas (snakes)
  6. No Bad Attitudes
  7. No Battles (fights)
OTL is taken seriously by the players, many of whom have been competing for decades. Most people in attendance come to drink beer and enjoy the scenery. Organizers state up front that this is an adult event inappropriate for children.

OTL video:

Warning! Explicit 2011 OTL team names: