A friendly game of softball doesn’t mean there’s no pride or competitive spirits milling about.
That was the case last week as Canada defeated the U.S. 9-3 in the annual Winter Texan Softball Can-Am game at Westside Park in McAllen. The annual event, which usually has two games, a B Division and an A Division, was cut short following the B Division game due to a non-stop light rain that officials said made the field too wet and dangerous to play on.
Canada went into the game having won just seven of the 18 games played between the two.
“That’s probably what got their juices flowing,” said Mike Brower, one of four committee members who organize the event. “I thought the U.S. didn’t quite live up to their potential with the roster we had picked. Canada played much better. I guess they came to play when they heard they were down 11-7 on the cup and they stepped up.”
The U.S. took a 2-0 lead after the first inning and Canada cut it in half after two innings. Then, in the fourth, Canada bats came alive and they scored the maximum allowed five runs for a 6-2 advantage. They never were threatened after that during the five-inning game.
A fairly large crowd gathered, braving the elements and cheering for one team (or both) while wearing their parkas, hats, and hiding safely under their large umbrellas. Many of the fans also carried Canadian or US flags – or both – and others wore their country’s colors.
Coffee, hot chocolate, a variety of sodas and hot dogs, doughnuts or other snacks also seemed to provide relief – and keep tradition alive. After all, a game at the ballpark isn’t officially a game without hotdogs (and Cracker Jacks, which were provided free from the City of McAllen… now that’s a successful day at the park).
“It was a really good crowd for the bad weather. We were surprised,” Brower said. “We’ve had bigger crowds on nicer days, but we were pleasantly surprised. And they stuck around for the entirety and then some.”
The games were canceled last year due to COVID-19 (and the fact there were no Canadians, even though Brower said one Canadian made it down – he probably would’ve been no match for a full U.S. team).
“This is a sport where we all keep playing,” Brower said. “It’s a kid’s game – we keep playing and we don’t see an end in sight. If we give it up, then we’ll get old, so we are gonna keep going. We’ve got guys 83 years old playing and had one 92 a few years ago.
“It’s something we all love and as long as we stay healthy, we’ll keep playing.”