In the Track on 1980's Derby Day
(photo by Ernie Brooks)
On the first Saturday of May, every year since 1980, a softball reunion is held. Anyone who ever played on one of the Biograph Theatre softball teams from any year has been welcome, plus their families, friends, etc. Guys affiliated with other Fan District Softball League teams routinely come, too. The same goes for people who used to work at the Biograph or hang out there.
This year the party will unfold at Bryan Park in Shelter No. 1, from 1 p.m until the Kentucky Derby is over, sometime after 6 p.m. A few years ago we stopped playing the actual softball game, because so many guys got hurt warming up that we couldn't field two teams.
Chiefly, the annual get-togethers were set in motion by the initiative of the original Biograph team’s third baseman, Ernie Brooks, who had left Richmond to resume graduate studies at Virginia Tech in 1979.
Brooks corralled enough former players to challenge what was then the current Biograph team. At this time the Biograph’s softball franchise was one of the cars, maybe the clown car, attached to the runaway train known as the Fan District Softball League.
Serendipitously, that first reunion/old timers game was staged on the afternoon in which the Kentucky Derby would be run. The game was played at Thomas Jefferson HS. Afterward most of us went to the Track Restaurant to join a Derby-watching party already underway.
The Biograph's Facebook page is here.