NEW YORK -- A chilly wind swirled through the trees and whipped up orange dust around nine leathernecks on the Brooklyn softball field. It dragged the cooler evening temperature lower, to a point that seemed well beneath July averages.
Then the rain hit, in spite of the Marines playing softball. And almost seeming to realize how far into the game they were, it rained harder. Amphibious by nature, the Marines ignored Mother Nature and continued to play through rain, thunder, and then lightening...until the umpire called them in from the outfield.
The Marines who endured the storm, from 6th Communication Battalion in Brooklyn, were well into their second game of double-elimination playoffs Wednesday at Fort Hamilton, an Army base in Brooklyn. They have competed against teams made up of other service members from New York City since the season started in May.
During a game Tuesday, the Marines trashed the Army Military Police team by earning an 11-point-lead and an early end to the game, according to player Staff Sgt. Donald Herring.
"They had to end the game early because we were so far ahead of them in points," said Herring. "It was pretty motivating."
Some of the Marine Corps recruiters in the area compete individually on a couple of the softball teams. But, according to the Marines at 6th Comm, they have the only team made up entirely of Marines. They feel that has given them an advantage over the other teams so far.
"We have more all-around athletes than any of the other teams," said team coach Sgt. Michael Taft. Because of this, he said, it's easy to trade Marines from the stands as supporters onto the field as players if need be.
"We have (6th Comm) Marines all over right now," said Herring. "They're on leave, preparing for deployment, or taking part in annual training." For that reason, the same nine or ten players haven't played every softball game, but other Marines are always eager to step up to bat.
"I was just filling in," said player Sgt. Gene Williams. He pitched during the games Tuesday and Wednesday. The "usual" pitcher was out of town on annual leave.
The espirit de corps that motivated the Marines to step up and fill in for other teammates also motivated them to play through a thunderstorm against Ft. Hamilton's Postal team. Their enthusiasm also has them envisioning the playoff trophy within their grasp.
Of their competitors during the rest of the playoffs, a confidant Williams said, "I think we're going to crush them."