There is still time to register for Heavy Hitters

The fall edition of the charity softball tournament is Oct. 8 and 9

The 37th edition of the PPEF Heavy Hitters Charity Softball Tournament is approaching, and the deadline to register a team at the early bird rate is Sept. 16, and after that teams have to register at the higher rate for late risers. The tournament itself takes place Oct. 8–9 at the Eagles Prague Baseball and Softball Facility in Prague 4–Krč.

Money from the entry fees goes to support PPEF's education charities — seminars for teachers, Grab the Reader, the Best Teacher of English Award and the Thomayer University Hospital school for long-term hospitalized children. Grab the Reader is a project to help Czech schools get libraries of English-language books for students.

PPEF stands for Prague Post Endowment Fund, which has continued to exist even though the Prague Post newspaper and website has ceased publication. Prague.TV has stepped in as the new media partner.

The tournament is in its 37th edition, and now draws teams from outside of the Czech Republic as well to compete in two leagues, the Cubs League, which is more fun oriented, and the Bears League which is a bit more serious. In the previous tournament in May, the Slovak Sluggers won in the Cubs League and Fire and Ice from Kuwait won in the Bears League.

For both leagues, the teams are coed, meaning at least two women have to play. And conversely, at least two men have to be on a team but so far this has not been a problem in practice. Teams need at least 10 people

Money from the food and beverages sold also goes to support PPEF's educational charities, and for the first time the burger restaurant Sweet 60's will be selling their award winning burgers, alongside several other local restaurants that have long supported the tournament.

Teams come to play and have fun, but the charity aspect also matters to them. At the previous tournament the Kuwait Brewers said they were impressed with PPEF's work. “It goes to charity for kids, so that is a big bonus for us,” team captain Matthew Bonertz said at the time. About one-third of the team is made up of English teachers.

“They sent us a video last year of some of the stuff that they got for the schools that we helped donate, and that really hits you,” he said.

Franny Hermes, a teacher who also plays on the Brewers, agreed. “Everyone watches the video, and they see it goes to a good cause,” she said.

She also just simply enjoys the trip, and the team has been coming for four years now.“The city is so green and delightful. … We live in a desert,” she said. “We look forward to it all year. We all plan our vacations around it.” They get to meet up with friends from last year, and share baby pictures and news.

Local expat Geoffrey Case has been playing since the first tournament in 1997. He had been on numerous teams over the years and was with Century 21 in the previous tournament. “Everyone knows it is a good cause. It is sponsoring something where the money goes to a good thing,” he said during the May tournament.

He enjoys the games as well. “It is like being back in the States, back in Little League, except we are all 40 and 50 years old,” he said.

Teams praised the organization of the tournament. There are professional umpires, which helps settle minor disputes and keeps the tournament at a high level.

Teams can also look forward to a banquet after the tournament ends at the Globe, Bookstore and Cafe in Prague. And everyone gets a T-shirt.

To register a team, go to www.ppef.cz/softball

For more information on the charities PPEF supports, visit www.ppef.cz

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