Fun times at the Wheelchair OTL Tournament!

Lots of athletes were out in the sunshine today playing Over-the-Line!

OTL is a unique, baseball-like beach game, created in the 1950s by the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. This signature San Diego sport was being played by teams competing at OMBAC’s 41st Annual Wheelchair Over-the-Line Tournament.

Food was abundant, a rock band was playing live music, and scores were being kept as screaming line drives were batted into the outfield. The field of play was the parking lot of the old Toys “R” Us store on West Morena Boulevard.

To learn more about OMBAC’s Adaptive sports activities, and how anyone can become involved, visit their website here!

Very cool!

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Team of Santas urges kids to eat healthy food!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

People playing Over The Line on Fiesta Island today had to be blinking their eyes. They didn’t just see Santa Claus striding across the sand–they saw a whole team of jolly Santas!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity is competing this year in the OMBAC World Championship Over The Line Tournament in San Diego! And they’re spreading the important message that kids should eat healthy, nutritious food!

The unique team of Santas is organized by “Sustainable Santa” Richard Eckfield, and its members were observed this morning parading around the island handing out carrots and talking about the dangers of processed, sugary junk food and the rise of childhood obesity. Supported by several sponsors and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, their mission is simply to promote healthy eating habits for children. “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life!”

Members of Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity can also be seen from time to time at farmers markets across San Diego County. They encourage children to eat real, honest-to-goodness wholesome food.

Will they win the OTL Camummy Division this year? I don’t know. I do know these Santas have a winning message!

You might like to follow the Santa & Mrs Claus for Healthy Children Facebook page!

Unlike most presents unwrapped at Christmas, good health is a gift that will last a long, merry, magical lifetime!

Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy Bill Swank.
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Image courtesy Bill Swank.)
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

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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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