A few years ago, local CBS affiliate WPRI aired a story on the phenomenon of city residents getting moustaches tattooed on their index fingers. The tattoo artist responsible for most of the dapper digits insisted that the tattoo offered the wearer an excellent disguise. "Zut alors!" he exclaimed, raising his mustachioed finger to his upper lip and speaking in a French accent for the rest of the segment.
This zealous commitment to theatrical levels of eccentricity can be found throughout Providence's creative community, and in that spirit, as well as in the name of good old-fashioned athletic prowess, comes the Providence Kickball League.
A beloved local institution, the PKL has existed since 2001. Fourteen teams in two divisions play well-attended games in the Armory Park almost every Saturday, accompanied by hilarious, sometimes acerbic color commentators, local food and drink vendors, and a lot of extracurricular hijinx.
PKL Teams often represent local institutions, like neighborhood watering hole The Scurvy Dog's eponymous team or The Steel Yard's "Providence Steamroller". Other teams are united by a common passion or a really great gimmick, like the over-the-top workout buddies Muscle Justice or the East Side Blue Bloods whose boat shoes, tennis gear, and sideline martini toasts made a loving parody of the city's prominence in Ivy League culture.
Whether you're a spectator or interested in playing the game that you've probably been neglecting since grade school, a Saturday spent at the Armory Park guarantees both high theater and some good, heated competition. It’s just a matter of finding the right team with which to ally your loyalties.
Cunning, Baffling, Powerful has never spent energy on much costuming aside from ties, cleats, and comfortable athletic shorts, but they've consistently delivered some of the highest scoring games in the league.
Zomboree, on the other hand, are a zombie-movie-themed team with an inconsistent athletic record but a solid storyline and daunting investment in fake blood. This year, like any cheesy horror sequel, Zomboree is playing in 3D, which means that the fake guts they hurl at opponents are dyed blue and red to work with the 3D glasses that nobody, of course, is wearing.
While the PKL offers fantastic inspiration to break a sweat in one of our most beautiful parks, the league is characterized above all else by a sense of fun and inclusion.
"There is no shame in kickball," says PKL Kommission member Molly Booker, after explaining to me how the Stilettos, (a tough team of sexy, brawling babes) recently inspired the formation of the HE-Lettos (a team of large, intimidating men in very small dresses). "I've seen half the population of Providence in their underwear, playing in the dirt."
To see the same — and more — visit www.providencekickball.org for a season schedule.