Marathon Softball makes a comeback with Mets legend John Franco

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Erica Jiang, Staff Writer

Last Friday, the school saw the return of Marathon Softball, an event created in the 1970s to honor Anthony Friedes, a member of the community who died of Hodgkin’s Disease, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The softball games, consisting of only three innings each, took place on Alumni Field from 6:45pm to 10pm, according to a school-wide email co-organizer Logan Dracos (12) sent.

The night featured events such as a game pitting faculty against students and pitching by Brooklyn native and Mets legend John Franco P ’22, Dracos said. Pizza and Walter’s hot dogs were served, along with food from a taco truck. Additionally, t-shirts were distributed to those that attended, according to Dracos’ email.

When the event premiered in the 1970s, the structure was similar to a walkathon, as it was structured as a 24-hour event where students raised money for each inning they played, Dracos said. Earlier this year, Bud Sinclair, the school’s Chief Financial Officer, passed away due to cancer. As a result, Dracos and co-organizer Lucas Alexander (12) decided to bring the event back without the purpose of fundraising, as Sinclair would have wanted, Dracos said.

The pair first learned about the event at Service Learning Day in 2019. “There was an HM archives portion that featured the history of community service at HM, and we saw a panel of the event and thought it would be an awesome thing to bring back,” Dracos said. 

While organizing the event, Dracos and Alexander encountered various challenges, Dracos said. They initially wanted to host the event last school year, but could not execute the event because of COVID-19, Dracos said.

After planning for several months, hosting the event after a year of waiting required equal effort from Dracos and Alexander, but they could not have done it without the help of faculty and administration members, Dracos said. “We worked closely with Sr. Dalo and Dr. Kelly, they provided some key insights for pretty much every aspect of the planning, and generously offered to provide lights and food trucks,” Dracos said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Ashley Coburn (10) watched the event with her friends and enjoyed the laid-back nature. “It was mainly for fun and for the vibes,” Coburn said. 

Upper Division Ceramics teacher Kim Do played in both the faculty vs. student game and batted against Franco when he pitched. “For me, it was like going back to childhood,” Do said. “The idea of playing baseball is associated with childhood and little league in my mind.” 

Playing with Franco was a very special moment for Do. “I remember watching John Franco on TV years ago, and he had electric stuff, and his spirit and energy was so inspiring to watch,” he said. “To then meet him in real life was an incredible thrill.” Do helped him warm up and played catch with him, he said.

Catherine Mignone (12) played in the student vs. student agames. She decided to participate because it would be a fun way to hang out with her friends. “Even though I had never played softball before, the games were very fun and I learned how to hit the ball,” Mignone said. 

For Do, the event reignited the feeling of community that the school lacked for the past two years as a result of the pandemic. “Everybody was so happy. It felt like a real normal moment during one of the most abnormal times to live in,” he said. “I’m so grateful to be part of this community that can come together just to enjoy themselves and play in a really congenial atmosphere.” 

Coburn especially enjoyed seeing the seniors play against the faculty, she said. “It was really nice to see all the seniors hanging out before they graduated and just having a good time together,” she said. “When the coaches were playing against them, they all seemed really happy.” 

Mignone’s favorite moment was when her student team won against the Varsity Baseball team, she said. “Playing under the lights was awesome. It was an incredibly memorable event and I hope next year’s seniors continue the tradition,” Mignone said.

Ultimately, Do would characterize the Marathon Softball event as being utopian and idyllic, an extraordinary evening that he’ll never forget. “The next day, I was still riding high just thinking about it,” Do said. “There was a feeling of exuberance, the students just seemed so happy to be out there playing together.” 

Dracos hopes that the tradition of Marathon Softball will continue in the future. “It was a very high-profile event for many years, so we hope that it can make a return to the annual HM calendar.”