Aaron Ross of Texas Playboys poses with a bat while wearing an embroidered Criquet button down.

Burning Question: Pro-ball or Sandlot?

In our modern, electrolyte-swigging, corporate-sponsored era, there are few sports where the open chewing of tobacco products and the careful cultivation of outlandish facial hair are not only allowed, but actually encouraged. And having the game of your life while tripping on LSD? No, that would NEVER happen in any other sport—well, possibly curling, but that’s Canada, brother.

Here in America, we like baseball, and every spring, that magical date comes around again: Opening Day. But it’s not just the major leagues that kick things off—sandlot baseball also gets started, and in Austin, that means rooting for the Texas Playboys (we made their “travel shirts,” as a matter of fact). Part amateur baseball team, part social club, part traveling barbecue cook-off and block party, it’s more than just a ballgame—it’s a damn good time. Folks actually enjoying the American pastime for kicks, not for big bucks, and taking back some cold Lone Stars with friends along the way.

So which to choose between the two options? We’ll take sandlot over major league baseball every time. The games have the fun, scrappy feel of an old-time minor league match in a small Southern town, with the community coming together to cheer on players they actually know personally, and have probably committed borderline felony-level hijinks with on more than one occasion.

In fact, the sandlot team from Marfa, Los Yonke Gallos, once even showed up in prison uniforms they’d borrowed from their local sheriff—apparently that was easier than stitching together away jerseys at the last minute. Stetsons, cowboy boots, and moustaches robust enough to make Rollie Fingers jealous—you’ll see all that and then some at a sandlot game. And if you can pry yourself away from Dave’s girlfriend’s pulled pork and Velveeta habanero poppers long enough to watch the game, you might even see some pretty exciting baseball to boot.

To learn more about our own local team, the Texas Playboys, click here.

To watch an exceptional animated short about Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter while “high as a Georgia pine,” click here.