4:12pm

Thu April 28, 2011
Life in Berlin

The 'Diplomatic Softball League' Begins New Season This Weekend

Baseball is undeniably one of America's favorite pastimes. The sport is family friendly and the rules are fairly simple.

In Germany, baseball has grown in popularity thanks in part to US military bases and active expat communities. In Berlin, little leagues have been around for decades.

But in 2000, a group decided to form the Diplomatic Softball League for kids and adults in the city.

After playing pick-up games on Saturdays, Sheldon Eisenhower, one of the league's founders, says one day someone decided, "'Let's just form a league.' It just kind of fell into my lap and it never went away."

Eisenhower is now the league's commissioner.

The name "Diplomatic Softball League" comes from one of the league's first sponsors, "Diplomatic Sales" and from the original players, many of whom worked at the American and Canadian embassies.

The league plays every Saturday during the spring and summer with a tournament that finishes off the season in September. The teams are co-ed and three women must be on the field at all times. The ages range from 10 to 60 years old.

And as the league continues to grow, Eisenhower says the players have become more and more diverse.

"There's at least 16 different nations represented. I know people from...Canadians, Australians, Germans of course. Brits play. Africans. Japanese. Taiwanese. I think we have Koreans in there. It's really a very multi-kulti affair."

Eisenhower helped start the first all-female team "Chicks With Sticks" and then formed "Guys N Dolls." The other slow pitch teams include the "Buckaroos," "Brew Bears," "Taiwan All Stars," "Hit and Run," and "Mo's Tavern."

David Greeves will be playing for "The Generals" this season. Greeves has lived in Berlin for 20 years and teaches English. He's been playing softball with the Diplomatic Softball League for the last 4 years and says he enjoys the American culture and community created at the games.

"On game days there's a lot of people that come together from the German American community. There's a grill with hamburgers and hot dogs. There's music. So there's a very American traditional pastime that's still carried on, so that's something that I found very interesting and refreshing. It's definitely a major attraction," Greeves says.

The Diplomatic Softball League starts its 2011 season this Saturday, April 30th. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.