Within the first 10 minutes of my arrival at the Over-The-Line tournament, a fat, hairy, middle-aged man wearing swim trunks and a holster crammed with six Budweiser’s, carrying a camera fitted with a zoom lens brazenly walked up to me and began snapping photos of my breasts.
“Nice rack,” he slurred as he moved the lens down to my crotch and the shutter clicked at least 20 times. Before I could protest he wandered off, distracted by another bikini-clad girl.
I was 18.
That was back in 1978 and times have changed. Some players are now in their 80s, spectators are a little more civilized, and drinking-and-driving rules make people think twice before chugging down a pint of PBR through a beer bong funnel at OMBAC’s (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club) premier sporting event.
But make no mistake, it’s still an alcohol-fueled party held over two weekends on Mission Bay's Fiesta Island with thousands of half- naked people stumbling around, cameras snapping, and disgusting (but often funny) team names blaring over the loud speaker from morning until late afternoon. (The only topics off-limits are references to the 1978 PSA airliner crash over the city and anything derogatory about John Wayne.)
- Saturday, July 19, 2014, 7:30 a.m.
1500 Fiesta Island Road,
- Sunday, July 20, 2014, 7:30 a.m.
1500 Fiesta Island Road,
This year, in case you haven’t heard, things got a little dicey as far as adult beverages go, and that didn’t set well with OMBAC, the public, or the city of San Diego.
Since 1954, when OMBAC was born, the rules governing attendance at their games have been simple: no bottles, no babies, no bowsers (dogs.) Later, when OTL was conceived, a few more B's were added: no birds, no battles (fights,) no boas (snakes,) no bikes, no bad attitudes.
In May, a new ‘B’ rule was appended, and not by choice: No BYOB . Another new rule was that no one under 21 would be admitted — including players. (They didn’t have a ‘B’ for that one.)
“The City (of San Diego) didn’t want to do it,” said Jeff Johnson, an OMBAC board member. “In the history of the event the arrests have been minimal. But, another organization dragged the city into court, because they held a party and it got out of hand. When [that organization] wanted to hold another event and were told ‘no.’ So they sued and said basically, if they couldn’t have a party with BYOB, then no one could.”
The OMBAC website announced the changes only two months from the first day of the tournament, surprising the players and pretty much everyone, including the “other organization.”
No cans of Natty Light? No gin and tonics mixed in giant Starbucks sippy cups? No Jell-O shots lovingly created the night before? No Sneaky Pete punch concocted with four types of rum?
To say this put a damper on the event for many is an understatement.
The explanation on the OMBAC site continues. "The City of San Diego, afraid of being sued again, concluded a new written policy governing the issuance of permits was required. Unfortunately, OTL ended up on the wrong side of the new plan. Events such as the last 60 OTL’s are now banned.... Our choices were essentially two: Setup a bar with fences or cancel the tournament."
OMBAC members were mad. Judging by the comments on OMBAC’s Facebook page, fans of OTL were angry as well.
Hundreds of comments, mostly of the “Not cool!” and “That blows,” variety filled OMBAC’s page.
Remarks on Facebook also put the blame squarely on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s shoulders, and Prop D which he spearheaded. But for the most part, people held FreePB.org — the "other organization"— responsible for the no BYOB rule.
Despite being portrayed as the Grinch who stole the booze, FreePB.org's website makes them sound like OMBAC's allies. “We believe there is no rational justification for the City to deny OMBAC a permit exactly as they have received in the past."
But FreePB.org decries what they see as the City "playing politics regarding permits. The outcome of Prop D was that the City went to a permit system if one wanted to enjoy a beer on the beach. Nowhere in that proposition did it say that BYOB events were impermissible, and we believe the City has distorted the will of the voters in this regard.
"Since 2008, when the City adopted a permit system to allow alcohol consumption at our parks and beaches, the City has been systematically preventing responsible individuals from obtaining permits. It's time for this practice to end! FreePB.org calls upon the City to implement a fair and equitable permit system that allows responsible individuals, private groups and public events to responsibly enjoy alcoholic beverages. This would ensure that events like OTL can continue, without significant changes to the format."
I emailed FreePb's attorney, Cory Biggs, for comment about the alcohol restrictions at OTL. He called OMBAC "...a bunch of privileged whiners who think the laws that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them. It’s nice to see the city requiring everyone to play by the same rules... for a change. If they had done that from the start, there would have been no need for lawsuits seeking equal treatment for everyone.”
To get OMBAC's version first hand, I attened a tamer, smaller version in May of the main event that will kick off Saturday July 12. I found the OMBAC officials immediately. They looked like the OMBAC guys that wandered the beach back in the 1970s and 80s. Older guys in hats and either T-shirts or Hawaiian shirts and flip flops.
Jeff Johnson, John Teft, Sonny Petersen, and Mike Scheuch looked shell-shocked as they told me about the new rules and how they were scrambling to meet the requirements before the first pitch.
“It’s going to be very different this year that’s for sure,” said Jeff Johnson. “The entire player’s area will be fenced in, and no one under 21 will be allowed in.”
“We’re not sure about a lot of things, I mean we’ve never had to fence in 51 acres or hire the amount of security we now have to have," John Teft said. "Coming inside the fence will be like a Charger game, with security going through your coolers and bags, plus you have to have ID. The costs are going to go up for us, and those costs will be taking away money from our charities.”