2014 Over The Line (OTL) World Championship!

Arriving at the long-time OTL venue on Fiesta Island.
Arriving at the long-time OTL venue on Fiesta Island.

Shame on me. I’ve lived in San Diego a good chunk of my life, and I’ve never headed to Fiesta Island to experience the legendary fun of OTL. Well, I finally went early this morning!

Over The Line, commonly called OTL, is a San Diego original, a unique beach game that every year seems to gain in popularity. Played on the sand, it resembles a simple version of softball with no baserunners. You must hit the ball over “the line” and between two foul lines, and not have it be caught, which would result in an out. Three innings, three outs. While the rules are a bit more complicated, that’s the gist of it.

The OTL World Championship has become a local institution.  It’s played on Fiesta Island, which is located near the center of Mission Bay. It’s put on by OMBAC, the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. The highly anticipated annual summer event is now 61 years old! But you might never guess this spectacle was so venerable, given its outlandish party atmosphere and the sheer raunchiness of the crowd.

Team names are often juvenile and sexually explicit, to the extent you’d probably just roll your eyes. But it’s all very good-natured and amusing. The crowd is composed largely of males in their 20’s and 30’s, and beer is chugged freely everywhere, as it’s BYOB. I suppose as the day progresses, the crowd becomes more randy–I’ll admit that’s one reason I swung by so early in the morning. That and the avoidance of a hot afternoon!

The tournament goes on for two weekends. This first weekend is for the amateurs; on the second weekend the teams and the play become more serious.

I’m glad I checked it out. Now I know what I’ve missed all these years!

Follow me as I arrive from the shuttle bus around seven in the morning. The sun hasn’t broken through the clouds yet…

Old Mission Beach Athletic Club truck and banner.
Walking past an Old Mission Beach Athletic Club truck and banner.
People stand as day begins with the national anthem.
People stand as day begins with the national anthem.
Official OTL programs for sale near the entrance.
Official OTL programs for sale near the entrance.
Miss Emerson Headquarters is on sandy Emerson Street.
Miss Emerson Headquarters is on sandy Emerson Street.

As you might guess, there’s a bikini contest, and every year the winner is titled Miss Emerson.

Scoreboard for 61st World Championship of Over The Line.
Scoreboard for 61st World Championship of Over The Line.
Players and teams check the official schedule board.
Players and teams check the official schedule board.
Early in the morning many people are arriving.
Early in the morning and many people are arriving with chairs and coolers.
The OTL tournament doesn't begin until seven thirty.
The OTL tournament doesn’t begin until seven thirty.
San Diego Parrot Head Club lounge is still empty.
San Diego Parrot Head Club lounge is still empty at this early hour.
Guy checks out some silly, raunchy posters.
Guy checks out some silly, very raunchy posters.
A player practices fielding a batted ball.
A player practices fielding a batted ball.
The huge tournament finally begins in earnest!
The huge OTL tournament finally begins in earnest!
OTL ball is to be struck into a narrow outfield.
Ball is to be struck into a narrow outfield.
Lots more people will arrive throughout the day.
Lots more people will arrive throughout the day.
Some old guys just kicking back on the sand.
Some old guys just kicking back on the sand.
Marines from color guard pass on an OMBAC cart.
Marines from opening ceremony color guard pass on an OMBAC cart.
The t-shirt gardens shack is becoming more active.
The t-shirt gardens shack is becoming more active.
Hundreds of games of OTL will be played here over two weekends.
Hundreds of games of OTL will be played here over two weekends.
San Diego's sunny Fiesta Island is the home to Over The Line.
San Diego’s sunny Fiesta Island is the home to Over The Line.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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