Gene Ownby/FSI entered the 42nd annual Smoky Mountain Classic this past weekend with an estimated $10,000 budgeted to see the team through the summer.
Reserving 30 rooms at the Airport Hilton, six-time champion Resmondo/Specialty Tank/PhoneMasters spent almost that much - approximately $9,000 - in lodging alone for the three days.
Airline tickets, food and ground transportation are in addition to that total.
Shock and awe?
Slide by Shoney’s when Resmondo rolls in for the breakfast buffet.
From uniforms to equipment to travel, there’s little comparison between his team and the champs, FSI coach David Gann said.
“Most of our guys live within 30 miles of each other,” he said. “We wore the same pants we wore last year. When someone hits a home run (during league games), we’ve got somebody running out there to get the ball.”
The disparity between giants like Resmondo and local teams DeadBallOut/Blount Wrecker, Tennessee Property Management/Southeastern Electrical Contractors, BC Lockdown/FSI and JB Sporting Goods/Elite is vast. Why they play the game in the first place is not, JP Sporting Good coach Mike Henderson said. Considering the competition, the tournament was a success, he said.
“We played two tough teams,” Henderson said, “and both of them finished in the top seven.”
FSI went toe to toe with Midwest Swing in its opener on Friday before a fifth-inning lead slipped away in a 32-20- loss.
“We were up on them pretty good,” Gann said. “We had that unbelievable downpour, and they had a 13-run inning. We led the whole game until the fifth inning.”
Saturday morning, Gann’s club was eliminated by Blitz, 21-8.
“If you’d told me they’d only score 21 on us in seven innings, I would have taken it all day,” he said.
Southeastern Electrical was the only local team to collect a win in the Classic, besting DeadBallOut, 15-8, Saturday morning.
His club will never have the budget and resources teams like Resmondo and runner up Dan Smith/Menosse can bring to bear, Gann said, but it doesn’t make the Classic any less enjoyable. The Classic is one of only a handful of tournaments nationally with no home run limit. Leveling the playing field somewhat by instituting such limits is something Gann said he hopes he never sees.
“If you put a home run limit in, you’d lose the majority of your teams,” he said. “When you get guys like (Team Combat’s) Rusty Bumgardner, (Resmondo’s) Jeff Wallace and all those guys, I’d rather see them hit it out of the park than at somebody.”
Henderson follows the same line of thought.
“I’m in favor of keeping it just like it is,” he said.