After Callahan’s bar owner Rachael Murphy and her husband joined the Twin Lakes Church softball team more than a year ago, they began inviting friends from the bar to join. Pretty soon, they were starting their own team.
Together, they recruited more Callahan’s regulars, bringing in husbands, wives and friends to their own club last fall. As soon as they started, one of their team members got pregnant—then another one did, and another, and then three more. At one point, six of the eight women on the team were pregnant and playing ball at the same time.
“There must be something in the water,” Murphy jokes. “Or maybe the vodka.”
“Nobody knows what goes on when the softball lights go off,” David Coombs, Murphy’s husband, laughs.
For some of the teammates, their new baby is their first. They all help one another out, offering advice on strollers, feeding and exploding diapers. Murphy already has two kids at home, and says that it’s better to go through pregnancies with a support network.
“The biggest thing for me is showing that women can still do things when they are pregnant,” Murphy says, on a recent afternoon in the Callahan’s parking lot, while several locals pop out for a smoke and motorcycle engines hum around her. “The mentality that I’ve seen over the years is that you get lazy and fat and your body hates you, and that’s what I experienced in my first couple of pregnancies. This time, I didn’t allow myself to do that. I pushed myself through the season, and it made me feel better about myself and my pregnancy. It’s a time to show that we don’t need to be put up in an easy chair surrounded by bonbons.”
Murphy has welcomed the change in routine and says that she’s now more active than she’s ever been. She sits out back with the other players, swooning over the first newborn as the neighboring smokers keep a safe distance.
“Don’t rev!” the ladies demand of the bikers. “There’s a baby here!”
The Callahan’s softball team just finished its summer season last month, and although they wanted to play this upcoming fall season, each team needs to have at least five men and five women to play, and their usual group of 19 players is a bit short on female players at the moment. With the five other pregnancies and one woman in postpartum recovery, the team only has two non-pregnant women available to play.
“You have to play two days a week, and with people out and sick and breastfeeding there aren’t enough people to play,” Murphy explains.
They are currently recruiting new players, women in particular. The Callahan’s team played against eight teams this past season, including Bay Federal, New Leaf and UCSC. Although the Callahan’s team didn’t exactly go undefeated, they did win a game. “Despite our record, we are the best team,” third baseman Wes Rose insists. “Don’t let the numbers fool you. We have style points.”
Murphy says the team picked up a few tricks along the way. “We all show up and are a bunch of pregnant chicks and are like, ‘You can’t strike us out because we are pregnant,”’ Murphy says. “We definitely got special treatment.”
With the addition of five new babies by their next season, they say they’ll have to take turns or draw straws for who babysits. There are usually injuries, they say, so maybe the injured players will have to be the babysitters. Murphy is due in a matter of weeks and says that post-pump jello shots are in order next season.
Most of the players have some prior softball experience, even if it was 20 years ago. Though they admit that they aren’t the best team, the Callahan’s players feel confident that they have the most fun in the whole league. In matching Callahan’s T-shirts, they put up a good fight, then retire back to the bar for a family dinner, all made by Murphy herself. They even invite the other team, which almost always shows up, Murphy says.
“It turns into a thing. I don’t know what kind of thing, but it turns into something,” she laughs. “It turns into a gestational fest.”
Murphy says that since she bought the dive bar five years ago, the Callahan’s community has become like an extended family. Most of players on the team have known each other for 20 years, and see each other every day. From bikers and babes to mechanics and Apple engineers, there’s room for everyone and anyone, she says.
“Everyone does something completely off-the-wall different. We just wanted to do something that was fun,” Murphy says. “It’s a funny group of people, we have different lives, and then we just all meet here at the end of the day. We’re a dysfunctional, happy family.”