With the swing of a bat and a swig of a beer, last week Carleton celebrated its 144th birthday with the annual Rotblatt softball game. But despite all of Rotblatt’s longevity, students often overlook the logistical challenges of continuing the country’s longest running softball tradition.
Juniors Ted Longabaugh, Ali Melton, and seniors Colin Jenks, Jake Kring, and Kate McDonald organized this year’s festivities. According to them, there’s more to putting on Carleton’s most beloved pastime than meets the eye. Aside from ordering kegs, printing t-shirts, and setting up the ball field, the group had to coordinate with Lee Clark in Campus Activities and Dean of Students Hudlin Wagner to ensure that this year’s Rotblatt would go off without a hitch.
“Once we got the go-ahead for the event, we worked hand-in-hand with Lee on specifics for the event,” Longabaugh said. “Campus Activities was gracious enough to pay for things that are important, but sometimes go unnoticed: tents, port-a-potties, facilities costs, campus van trips to the cities, water jugs [and] coolers.”
The bunch also had to arrange music equipment and a team of twenty-five referees.
“I think it was awesome seeing 25 referees, who otherwise may never interact with each other, come together and work towards making one of, if not the, best days at Carleton happen,” McDonald said. “I can’t tell you how awesome that is.”
The group of organizers had to deal with a few obstacles along the way before delivering another successful year of softball fun.
For the first time in recent memory, Rotblatt was denied Café Fast funding, an arrangement in which students can donate a dining hall meal to pay for the event. “That put us in the hole a decent amount in terms of funding,” Longabaugh said. “Fortunately, Campus Activities kicked in a great deal of money…to fill the void.”
Financial challenges aside, the crew also had to deal with rumors about the school’s alcohol policy and its implications for Rotblatt. “I heard a few people around campus saying how ‘Rotblatt wasn’t going to happen’ or ‘Bon Appetite will be running Rotblatt’ and it was a little frustrating having to keep reminding people that nothing has changed with the Policy.”
However, their hard work and creativity paid off.
This year’s game added some new flare to the time-honored tradition. Junior Will Tynan kicked off the day by performing the national anthem, which was followed by a firework show as the sun rose over the tree line. The patriotic theme continued when Longabaugh ran through the crowd waving an American flag. Shortly after, Longabaugh and the others proceeded to hand out maize and blue t-shirts commemorating the event.
Sophomore Michael Alexander pitched the first inning. One-hundred-forty-three innings later, he boasted a 1.44 ERA, 7 RBI, and a .750 batting average. The self-declared MVP was satisfied with his performance, hoping the outing bolstered his case for future Rotblatt organizer. “If you’re going to be a ref [or organizer] you need to show your A-game…you need to show your stuff.”
When all was said and done, the organizers were proud of another successful Rotblatt.
“I love seeing all the different people who come and play,” Jenks said. “I stopped and looked around at about the 85th inning and saw an RA, a baseball player, a CSA senator, a rugby player, and a SCIC worker, as well as numerous other faces I did not even recognize. It is awesome how so many people can come together and decide to not take things so seriously and have fun for a day.”
Fellow organizer Ali Melton was more laconic, to say the least, when describing her favorite Carleton tradition: “What happens at Rotblatt, stays at Rotblatt.”