While most Harvard students have been finishing papers and cramming for exams since the beginning of reading period, the residents of Hollis South have been hitting line drives as often as they have been hitting the books. For the last two weeks, the Hollis freshmen have shelved Plato, Samuelson and Marx to participate in the "First Annual Hollis Wiffle Ball Tournament."
The tournament started out as a joke between tournament director Bill Mulvihill and a couple of his friends. "We were playing nerf baseball in my room at 2:30 in the morning," Mulvihill says, "and I thought there had to be something to do in this reading period besides read. We decided to have a wiffle ball tournament."
After 6 two-person teams signed up, including a handful of non-Hollis residents, one of them games played off the rearwall of the four-story red-brick dorm.
The tournament had a carnival atmosphere, complete with American flags, uniformed teams, umpires, free beer for the spectators (who cheered from the fire escape and windows) and a theme song--Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Nutrocker." "I figured the song was appropriate," Mulvihill says, "because we were all off our rockers anyway."
Hollis South proctor Vince McGugan, a former Harvard baseball star, claims he has never seen anything like the tournament in his four years as a proctor. "The tournament was completely unique, highly organized," says McGugan, "and we had some of the biggest games in eastern seaboard wiffle ball."
The tournament's first tense moment came in a quarterfinal game pitting Chris Sarro and Fred Cordova against Randy Millen and Mike Clasby. Trailing by a run in the final inning, Sarro and Cordova loaded the bases with three consecutive singles.
When Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, tried to quiet the cheering crowd so that a Glee Club concert could begin at nearby Holden Chapel, his pleas were drowned out by a noisy South Boston rooting section on the fourth floor fire escape, dressed in tuxedos, the Glee Club members lined up along the third base, line to join in the cheering, but they were quickly disappointed when Cordova grounded out to kill the rally.
When the smoke finally cleared after the tournament's preliminary, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, the two remaining teams were Millen-Clasby and Glenn Parsons-Rich McPherson.
Millen and Clasby roared to a seemingly insurmountable 7-2 lead in the early innings of the championship, hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs in the fourth as pitcher Parsons was showered with empty beer cans.
Parsons put his team back in the game, however, with a three-run triple in the seventh. A two-out rally, highlighted by McPherson's two doubles, tied the game in the top of the ninth. The crowd, numbering about a hundred, erupted with such a roar that one policeman rushed to the scene thinking a riot was breaking out.
Clasby killed the comeback and won the tournament for his team with a two-out home run blast in the bottom of the inning.
After a post-tournament awards ceremony, a couple of the losing players headed indoors to drown their sorrows in a beer drinking contest. "Jesus," Parsons said, "I really feel lousy that we lost."
"Yeah," commented someone from across the room, adding "We sure as hell had a good time while it lasted."