The sun smiled on the No Gloves Tournament for four straight days, encouraging large crowds that stayed late into the evening. The park district’s Rachell Entler did not have exact figures on sales but noted they went through 40 barrels of beer on Friday alone. They also ran out of taco meat that night. 

“It was one of our better tournaments,” Entler said. “The weather was great.” Games ran late on Friday but fans were still standing 3-4 deep at 11 p.m.

On Sunday, the field was ringed by fans for the championship game, featuring OBI (One Bad Inning) against Signature. Before the first pitch, village officials were recognized and the grounds crew received long overdue appreciation for keeping the fields in superb condition. Ryan Russ delivered moving renditions of “God Bless America” and the “Star Spangled Banner.”

OBI, undefeated in the tournament, jumped out to a 6-0 lead. It appeared they would cruise easily to the crown but defensive lapses in the 7th, their one bad inning, allowed Signature to tie the score 8-8. The game went into extra innings. OBI scored a run in the top of the 8th and held on for the win, 9-8.

Forest Park Public Works Director John Doss is manager of OBI. “I was so emotionally drained by the end of that game,” he said, “but I’m very proud of my team. I’m happy to go to war with them.” Doss also expressed gratitude to his family. “My wife and three kids have been outstanding, letting me disappear three days a week to coach the team.”

OBI has finished in the top four, for four years straight. They lost in the championship game last year. They were among a number of young, up-and-coming teams that are breathing fresh life into the tournament. “The older guys are passing the torch to the younger players,” said Doss, who retired from playing five years ago. “The teams are getting younger. It’s their time.”

There’s no better example than Rack City, a team of young stars based in Washington Park. They played in one thriller after another on their way to finishing 3rd. 

“They are an outstanding team,” Doss said. OBI almost ended up facing them in the final but Signature finally ended their run. 

After OBI secured the championship, they repaired to their sponsoring bar, McGaffer’s, to celebrate. 

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.