By Jaci Schneider, Opinion Editor
The sun set on a 40-man softball game Thursday night, and when it rose, it shone down on the same men, half playing softball and half attempting sleep in scattered tents and old couches set up along the baseline. Two sunsets, two sunrises, 321 innings and 1,297 runs later, the 60-hour game finally came to an end, and with it, the world record for the longest softball game ever played.
The men of Gamma Sigma Phi raised more than $20,000 for Habitat for Humanity by playing softball for 60 hours last weekend. Some might call the undertaking insane, which is why planners dubbed the fundraiser “Insanity for Humanity.”
David Sessions, senior Christian ministry major from Issaquah, Wash., announced about 10 hours of the game and stayed at the field for about 58 of the 60 hours.
“It’s kind of ridiculous to ask guys to play softball for 60 hours,” Sessions said. “But it’s really worth it and a really, really small price to pay.”
Knowing that the men’s efforts were going toward a house for a needy family made the insanity worth it, Sessions said. He also said that living outside for just three nights made the cause more meaningful and personal for many players.
Patrick Vincent, junior finance major from Arlington, played for the winning team-Humanity-which scored 729 runs.
“Being able to raise that much money for Habitat for Humanity was a lot of fun,” Vincent said.
Vincent said he looks forward to building the home that their fundraiser paid for next fall.
“Half the insanity is done,” he said.
Throughout the event, players changed clothes several times, with costumes ranging from Scuba Steve outfits to bike-riding uniforms to sniper suits. The hours from midnight to 7 a.m. were the craziest, Vincent said, when player’s lack of sleep and exhaustion began to take over.
Shane Spencer, junior financial management major from White Oak, also said a lot of funny things happened after 1 a.m.
“Everything gets a lot funnier at that point,” he said. “The announcers at that time in the morning were on fire.”
Spencer said he averaged about six hours of sleep each night, broken up into three-hour shifts. Four hours was the longest length of time any player could sleep at a time because of the way the game progressed.
The 40 players split into two teams-Insanity and Humanity-and each team had an “A” group and “B” group. The teams played in shifts of four hours, while the other team had time to sleep, eat donated food, shower and bathe with a hose and kiddy pool, and converse with the crowd of fans.
On Saturday night, a band played, and Friday and Saturday fans enjoyed a small carnival consisting of a dunk tank, concession stand and silent auction.
When the game finally ended Sunday at 10 a.m., the 40 muscle-weary men rushed at each other and collapsed into a dogpile of dust, sunburned limbs and exhaustion.
“The end of the game-it was unimaginable how exciting it was,” Spencer said. After the game, he said he went home and slept for about 19 hours straight.
Although the club set its goal at $68,000, Sessions said he’s pleased with the amount of money the club raised.
“We wanted to set a really lofty goal for everyone to reach for,” he said. “I think setting the goal so high made it so we were able to reach an amount that could be reached in past years.”
Club members raised money by sending letters to different people and asking restaurants, stores, theatres and other businesses to sponsor them. They also raised money during with the silent auction.
Dr. David Dillman, professor of political science and a board member for Habitat for Humanity, said the men raised almost enough money for a new home, and he hopes GSP members and students can build a house next fall.
“It’s a great gift-a great blessing for some future home owner,” Dillman said.
While raising money for Habitat, GSP also broke the world record for the longest softball game ever played. The record will become official after the club sends the Guinness Book of World Records a log sheet signed by witnesses, medical staff and umpires and all media coverage of the game.
“It seemed like the guys had a lot of fun.” Dillman said. “It was a tremendous event, and I hope they do get the official world record.”