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It's a shame today's cops don't steal anymore Tom Basinski | Sat, Aug 20 2011 12:00 PM

From the mid '70s to the mid '90s the Chula Vista Police Department had outstanding softball teams. We traveled all over California from Imperial Beach to Eureka, and places in between. We competed in Las Vegas and several venues in Arizona. We played in the Chula Vista Rec League too.

The boys won many tournaments, including medaling twice in the competitive California Police Summer Games (formerly known as the California Police Olympics).

It was always more fun to win than lose, but we had fun even when we lost. After playing several games, at the end of the day there would be a cooler of beer and plenty of laughs. (We paid our own way. No taxpayer funds were involved.)

Even the travel was fun. If the trip was long we would rent a motor home and go as a team, driving in shifts. If we didn't hang out together, or worked different shifts in between tournaments, we caught up on our lives during our time together at the tournament. We brought our families to some of the tournaments if they weren't too far.

Our basketball teams played not only in the Police Olympics, but also in the Chula Vista city league, winning a load of trophies over the years.

That camaraderie came to an end when the department shifted from team sports to distance running. The department won many trophies in law enforcement's Baker to Vegas road race.

Because we were a "bunch of guys," we often had fun at one another's expense in softball.

As I wrote in another column, our team was not the place for the faint of heart or the thin of skin.

In the '80s we played a tournament in Santa Barbara winning easily in the morning. While we prepared for an afternoon game, I put eye black under my eyes. Why stop there? I put some on my eyebrows, and then made a moustache, a la Groucho Marx.

In the third inning I hit a line drive over the first baseman's head. The right fielder played me to pull and he had a long run to get the ball. As I rounded first I had visions of a triple so I turned on the afterburners.

Midway between first and second my hamstring blew. It wasn't a slight pull. It was a blast out. I went down like a sniper picked me off. Still about 30 feet from second base, I crawled. I looked like some guy dancing "the worm."

The ball beat me there easily and the second sacker took pity, walking forward to tag me out. I lay on the ground in great pain and embarrassed at being out. I thought my teammates would soon be there to help me off the field. Glancing at our bench, everyone was convulsed in laughter. Someone from the other team helped me.

When I got back to the dugout Dan Trevino, when he stopped laughing, said I looked like the Vlasic Pickle duck flopping around on the field. This is the cartoon character that looked and sounded like Groucho while hawking pickles.

I'm glad the guys saw the humor in my pain.

Another time we played in a local tournament at 32nd Street. Our catcher, Dick Coulson, battled his weight for as long as I knew him. He had been on a successful diet and dropped a few pounds, yet wore his old uniform pants.

I was on deck with Dick on second when the batter hit one into the alley. Dick wasn't particularly fast, but he was going at top speed. I signaled him to slide.

He came in head first. When he touched down he kept going and the loose-fitting pants stayed where he first hit the ground. He wore no sliding pants underneath, only his jock strap. The sight is difficult to describe, but it was a "full moon." He was safe.

Now, with at least double the number of officers, Chula Vista has no softball or basketball teams. That is sad.

There is more to being a cop than coming to work, doing the job, and then going home. Even though today's CV cops don't have teams I hope they have camaraderie in some form.

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Bob Krumweide Says:

Thu, Sep 08 2011 07:51 AM

Catching up on Tom's articles........another entertaining article. Thanks!

rusty hansen Says:

Tue, Aug 23 2011 04:25 PM

Played alot of softball with and against Tom. For several years we had a combined National City PD/Chula Vista PD team that also dominated in the 80's. Also in the 90's we had a combined CVPD/ SD DA's office team that took 2nd place in the competitive tournament in Cathedral City against very large agencies. Great friendships

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