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  • Writer's pictureWritten by Joshua Smith

#WiffleCrushWednesday: Greg Sowards

I've been at a loss of what to write about for a column for a while now. So I've decided to highlight some guys that I have really come to respect and admire within our league in a series I'm calling Wiffle Crush Wednesday, a play on the hashtag #WCW. I don't know how many or how often I will write these, I just know who the obvious first person who deserves one of these should be...Greg Sowards.

Without, Greg there simply would be no Huntington Wiffleball League. Many of you reading this are probably recent players to the league and may not be aware of this fact, but Greg and I used to have another league. It was in Hurricane, WV and we started it in 2002 with a small group of friends from high school. The league never really took off despite rigorous recruitment attempts and we never had more than 4 teams playing at a time. We ultimately called it quits in 2011 and I decided I was done with organized wiffleball.

The following spring I got the itch to play wiffleball again but ignored it, until Greg started bending my ear in May of that year about a great field that would be perfect for a wiffleball league. I had just gotten back from a trip visiting the Potomac Wiffleball League in Washington D.C. and decided that I should entertain whatever ideas Greg might have. It turned out to be St. Cloud Commons Community Park on the west end of Huntington. It was more legit than where we had played in the past so I decided, against my better judgement, to throw in with Greg on creating a brand new league. His drive and determination is what sold me on the idea, afterall...I had thrown in the towel the year before.

From that moment forward, Greg became more than a player but a partner and creative force that brought us many of our more quirky and genius equipment designs that we've used over the years. Greg became the quartermaster for the league and stored nearly all of the equipment and took the lead in the construction and acquisition of any and all equipment the league would use over the past five years, a task that had to have many draw backs. How would you like to dedicate a large chunk of your home to fences, strike zones, nets, bases, etc.? Greg maintained this equipment for half a decade while working full time and helping watch his four children. I think a sainthood is in order.

I'm not convinced that Greg has gotten his due recognition and respect in the league. Many have not realized his vast years of expertise as player and organizer. People generally came to me with their questions, and then to Patrick, and now to other guys. But Greg has always been there, the backbone of the league, whether the player base ever knew it or not. And although he's not helping run the league anymore or operating as an equipment manager (much to his relief, I'm sure), he's still here - as a player. His love of the sport and the league carries on beyond his role in leading it.

He first started playing wiffleball in 2002 as a co-founder of the Garrett Drive Wiffleball League (GDWL) and was my teammate through 2011 when it folded. We've only played on the same team once since then, in 2014 and we had a blast. We always tried to stay on separate teams when we started this league so that the league could grow and so that if we were successful people wouldn't think it was because we were winning because we ran the league and suffer the accusations of collusion. But I always enjoyed playing against Greg. Where he may lack in some athletic ability he makes up for as a master strategist. He sees all and if he's got your number...he can really neutralize you on the field. He's truly a student of the game and if he's watching your game from the sideline and offering a little advice, take heed - you'd be amazed at how much he's seen.

Greg was voted into the NWLA Hall of Fame in 2008 as part of the first class (which he will not let anyone forget). He was also first class into the GDWL Hall of Fame in 2006. And if there's ever a HWL Hall of Fame, I can see him easily being a first class inductee as well. He's taken limited athletic ability and used his wit and unorthodox pitching style and won an HWL championship, a Cy Wiffle Award, several batting championships, and the respect of many teammates and opponents...and for that, I can think of no better subject to kick this column series off with than Greg Sowards.

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