The X-Bays, a softball team started as a fun activity for friends living in the Howard Beach area, celebrated their third championship in five years on Sunday and several moves up the Queens Metro ASA Softball League division ladder.
The team, made up of men in their early 20s to mid 40s, was formed in 2009 but did not play a full season until 2010. According to co-manager Anthony Galetto, the X-Bays were “really bad” the first year but steadily continued to improve. After starting out in division C3, the X-Bays moved up to division C1 for the 2013 championships, where they were nearly undefeated.
“It’s amazing,” Galetto said. “We’ve been here before so we knew what it would take to get here. It’s an odd year. It seems like in the past three years we’ve been winning in odd years so we kinda knew it was our time.”
Galetto attributed the win to the team’s selfless style of play and the older players’ willingness to step down and let the “younger, maybe more experienced players get in there and do their thing.”
Two of the key players were starting pitcher Joel Lopez, who has been playing for two years, and Jose Torrez, who Galetto described as a championship MVP.
“Nobody can touch him,” Galetto said of Lopez. “He’s been an absolute phenom.”
Most of the players have families and sacrifice their Sundays to practice and play. Galetto, who along with Baker lives closest to Frank M. Charles Park where most games are played, drives to the park after work at 3 p.m. on Saturdays to maintain it.
After several complaints from community members about the condition of the softball field, the Parks Department, Gateway National Recreation Area and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder worked together to level the infields, repair the outfields and provide players with equipment to make minor game day repairs.
Galetto said he is happy to see that the improved field is now also being used by little league softball teams. Though the extra use has made it somewhat difficult to maintain, the Parks Department is only a phone call away.
“The Gateway guys have been great,” Galetto said. “Whenever I need something, I just pick up the phone and call somebody.”
The X-Bays defeated the Nobodies in division B1 and are waiting to hear back from the league about their ranking. The team’s 20-5-1 record was the best in the entire league this season and Galetto is confident and excited to play against teams in division A. His celebration was short lived because after winning, Galetto had to drive to work.
“I celebrated by getting a bottle of champagne [dumped on me], soaked in alcohol, with a tear in my eye and getting in my car and driving to work,” Galetto said. “But I took a shower first worrying about being pulled over and being late for work.”