The Turkeybowl franchise was started back in 2001 here in St Louis. For many years the venue was Francis Park while many of the participants lived in or near the city limits of St Louis proper. But as the years have flown by and the players and their families moved out of the city, the venue shifted. The Elks softball field (Arnold/Imperial) held the event for a couple of years and most recently Fenton Park softball fields have hosted the event.
This year’s event is less than 7 days away and the weather may be decent but in Missouri you just never know. After all it did just snow a few days ago and this weekend projects to be 60 degrees. Ah the craziness. In previous years, the weather has ranged from frosty to downright balmy for late November. Within the last few years we probably saw one of the more challenging weather scenarios with light drizzle, flurries and wind gusts that put the meddle of the players and the spectators to the test. But the Turkeybowl family always does whatever it takes to make the event a fun and heart warming tradition.
From the origins as a flackle (flag-tackle) football game on Thanksgiving with occasional local TV coverage, the Turkeybowl tradition has grown to a very impressive and satisfying event that combines our love of football and also embraces the theme of the season which is giving thanks and giving back to those in need during the cold and sometimes bleak holiday season for those struggling.
In last eleven years I have experienced Turkeybowl as a member of the Lager Slugger family, Joe Ritrovato the backbone and the Godfather of our Lager Slugger group has spearheaded looking for a needy family or families to help out during this season of giving. Each player who agrees to play donates $20 to pay for a jersey for their respective team (typically either gold or blue as those are the Lager Slugger softball team’s colors – as determined by a live draft). But from there the players and their families donate gift cards, new toys, clothes and a myriad of other items including getting items signed by players for the St Louis Rams to silent auction off and those funds also go to the family or families we choose to lend a helping hand to in their time of need with Christmas upcoming. In past years, the group has raised thousands of dollars and put countless smiles on children’s faces who otherwise might not have had much to smile about for Christmas. Our group has helped victims of fire, family tragedy and students of teachers within the group who’s family just plain has struggled.
The football show we put on for a couple hours generally from 9:30am until a little before noon is nothing for the highlight shows most times but the superstar effort our group shows in humanity and compassion is nothing short of spectacular. While we may not be the buzz of social media or the sports networks or the spotlight segment on our local news – this group is top notch in having heart – to reference the movie The Replacements with Coach McGinty played by Gene Hackman.
So very proud to be a Lager Slugger.
As soon as Turkeybowl is over and everyone packs up and starts heading to their family gatherings I know there is a smile on my face just from being able call this group my family and knowing these are good people. Love you guys. Happy Thanksgiving and see you for a turkey leg with White Castle trimmings and those Fruit Roll Ups.
Peace Lager Slugger Nation.