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Dallas musicians channel ‘Sandlot’ in pickup baseball league, with Taylor Swift and beers

The rain from the previous day left the baseball diamond muddy, but the teams found a dry area, figured out what should count as a home run and then cracked open cans of beer.

It was the opening day of the sandlot season and the River City Honey Busters were facing their favorite rivals, the Oak Cliff 86ers. The two Dallas baseball clubs were scattered across the green open field at Lake Cliff Park, where they had set up pitching nets, on this sunny Saturday afternoon.

The Honey Busters are a team of bearded and tattooed 30-somethings that formed in a dark, smoke-filled corner of the dive bar Double Wide.

The team is mainly made up of local musicians, including members of bands like FIT, Partaker, The Angelus, Sub-Sahara, Cool Jacket and more. From country singer-songwriters to post-hardcore artists, the Honey Busters take baseball as seriously as their music.

Josh Lowe, a singer-songwriter and one of the team’s founders, said being in a band and on a baseball team have a lot in common.

“The baseball field, when there are people here, it’s a stage,” he says. “Our motto is ‘have fun and maybe win some games.’”

They don’t really care about the score or who wins or loses. What matters is their shared love for baseball and having fun.

“[Sandlot] is a way of me getting out of the house and hanging out with friends,” said Alex Mireles, drummer of flower punk band Sub-Sahara.

Mireles, a former high school baseball player, also plays timbales in the cumbia group Cayuga All-Stars and has a DJ residency at Thunderbird Station and Single Wide.

River City Honey Busters Alex Mireles runs toward first after a short infield hit as Oak Cliff 86ers catcher Jonathan Braddick attempts the throw to first for the out, during a season opener game part of the Oak Cliff Sandlot baseball league, on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at Lake Cliff Park in Dallas. The River City Honey Busters are predominately rostered with Dallas musicians, Mireles plays drums for Sub-Sahara.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Lowe and Honey Buster co-founders Dallas Dunaway and Adam Bertholdi have played in bands together since they were teenagers. They started talking about putting together a baseball team before the pandemic hit. They formed the team last April, after finding other sandlot teams they could play against. They played their first game the following month.

Much like the North Texas music scene, sandlot has its own culture. Hunter Cannon, pitcher and guitarist of indie rock band FIT, said sandlot had its renaissance in Austin with the Texas Playboys. The baseball club was formed in 2006 and has raised money for local nonprofits at home games. Honey Busters followed their lead, helping raise money for nonprofits like Dallas Harm Reduction Aid last season.

Sponsors help the Honey Busters pay for jerseys, but they must raise money to play out of state the same way bands raise money to go on tour: selling merch. Last season, on the night before a game, they threw a party at Double Wide that included a dunk booth. It was the same night the folk-rock band The Lumineers were in town, and one of The Lumineers showed up and supported the team by getting in the booth and buying a T-shirt.

At the recent Honey Busters game, players ran the bases with a White Claw in hand, teased the other team and figured out the rules as they went. John Niederkorn’s walk-up song neatly described the intensity of the game and the goofiness of the team. It was Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.”

“It’s nice to kind of compete a little bit, but have fun,” Cannon says. “Everyone gets to play what they want to play and it’s just nice to get out on the weekends and get some sun.”

The Honey Busters will next play against the North Texas Barnstormers April 15.

Kevin England, with a burning cigarette in his mouth, warms up by tossing a baseball...
Kevin England, with a burning cigarette in his mouth, warms up by tossing a baseball alongside teammate Hunter Moehring, both of the River City Honey Busters before their game against the Oak Cliff 86ers, during the season opener of the Oak Cliff Sandlot baseball league, on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at Lake Cliff Park in Dallas. The River City Honey Busters are mainly rostered with Dallas musicians, England of the music group Cool Jacket and Moehring is a singer/guitar player with the band FIT. (Ben Torres / Special Contributor)



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