Hard to believe that after 20 years of Shangri La’ Wiffleball, we have concluded the final chapter. This is meant to be an epilogue after the last-ever SLW Classic on Bernard J. Alblinger Field.
With Wifflegeddon (a.k.a. SLW 20) in the books, it is very strange to think that our group will never descend on Lakefront Stadium again. Sadly, “The Mayor” wasn’t able to see the grand finale. No doubt his spirit was present throughout and as we wrapped up on June 23, 2013.
Some quick-hitters on Wifflegeddon:
- The tournament format has seen multiple iterations, but none better than the winner-take-all post-season event that we debuted this year (thanks Jed).
- Thursday night’s screening of Twenty Weekends at Lakefront was better live with the entire group than I think Tank or I could have ever imagined. A still evening, great sound system and a top-notch viewing experience next to the lake was a perfect crescendo leading into the curtain call for the Shangri La’ Classic.
- The farewell effort by Tenacious E Friday night was absolutely magical on several levels. While Wanted Dead or Alive was the pinnacle of the performance, Stu’s Song, Fall to Pieces, Tribute, The Gambler and even Call Me Maybe provided some entertainment variety not previously experienced by wifflers.
- The camaraderie in 2013 left me reflecting on all the previous years of late nights, amazing stories, long-lasting phrases and inside jokes we’ve created more than ever.
- The effort by the family and wifflers on-site (and leading up to the event) for one final time was incredible.
Many have experienced SLW over the lengthy history of the event. We’ve had one-timers along side twenty-year veterans, friends who have become family and a core group that have had experiences that will never be forgotten. Although the memories are countless, the lore created on the hallowed ground of Shangri La’ will no doubt live on forever.
I was fortunate to have take the reigns of a very unique tradition started by Geoff Hixson & Spence Hasler in 1998. The pieces were in place to build SLW into something that, I believe, has become bigger than anyone ever expected. With the guidance of my brother and along with the support of Dee Dee, Jim and Char, we worked to bring in as many people who wanted to be involved “under the tent” to share ideas, create new avenues of communication, contribute unique talents and get to where we ultimately ended up. No one will dispute that the advances allowed for renewed or expanded interest in the annual Shangri La’ Classic.
The entire event has been well documented and rehashed on multiple occasions. We have all come a long way since the inaugural tournament in 1994. Years have passed and we’ve grown from kids to young adults to family men. Things have changed, but the core group of SLW has not.
For all of the memories this event produced, here is a snapshot of the ones I will miss the most:
- Driving in the first night from the airport and seeing the family for the first time.
- The “record scratch” feeling when our large and loud crew rolls into the Little Nugget.
- Anticipation for the true start of the event after the annual Old/Young Game when Home Run Derby begins.
- The stillness of the evenings every night at SL in the moments where we break from the nonsense.
- Friends and family around for every waking moment all in one place for a couple of days.
- Overly serious conversations intermingled with fantastically absurd exchanges.
- The smell, the sounds and the ambiance of the land around Cabin 12 at Shangri La’.
- The willingness to help out by all involved when needed.
- The stories and dynamite drop-ins.
- The sadness when we reach the latter part of the final day and the end is near.
Seemingly so much hyperbole in the text I’ve written above. That being said, I sincerely mean ALL of it to the degree which I expressed it in print.
Although not as clean as the Green Day version of “Good Riddance” so appropriately performed by Tenacious E on Friday night, I most definitely hope you all did not have a bad time. In fact, I trust you had a superb time.
We could not have done this without you. Alexander Graham Bell was the one who said “When one door closes, another opens.” I hope that quote means something when I say stay tuned for the next generation of Shangri La’ Wiffleball in the coming years.
Until then and from the bottom of my heart, thanks to all SLW contributors for all you have done from 1994 until the end.