Daughters Katelyn, 16, Ally, 14, and Kristi, 12, and son Cooper, 6, all tolerate their father’s obsession. Kristi (pronounced the same as baseball great Christy Mathewson) got her middle name (Grace) from former Cubs first-baseman Mark Grace. Cooper’s first name is a tribute to Cooperstown, home of the baseball Hall of Fame, and his middle name is Wrigley.
Everybody pays a $100 fee to play and the winner takes home $500, the runner-up pockets $300 and the third-place finisher gets $200.
“You can keep the money,” says Rich Bentel, clutching the trophy he hasn’t won since 1996. “This is the thing I want because it’s so darn cool.”
The league is one of maybe a handful nationwide that has hosted a season continuously since 1984. Having fun with the 30 years of standings, memories and friendships, Rich Bentel doesn’t even ponder retirement.
“The league’s unofficial motto is ‘We’re Not Even Halfway There,’” he says. “I envision us at 75 or 80, playing with the new generation.”