FPO Take Their Fourth World Championship
(7.15.14) Before the tournament even started last weekend at Skokie’s Channelside Park, it looked like there would be no stopping Bloomington, Indiana’s Funky Plastic Offspring (FPO) from winning their fourth world championship. The team was intact and healthy, with the other two former world champion teams, Club Ripped and Balco Boys, unable to put their best players on the field.
As expected, FPO swept through Saturday’s pool play, going 4-0 and winning their games by a whopping combined score of 69-7, earning a bye into the final eight on Sunday. But it was after defeating perennial powerhouse Lowe Riders out of Chicago, and moving on to the final four that FPO hit a snag in the plan.
Clutch Players, a team that had advanced to the 2012 championship game and had won the recent Wifflehawks Tournament in South Bend, Indiana, gave FPO all they could want – and more – in a home run shootout that rated as one of the most exciting games in the 35 year history of the tournament.
Trading home run punches for five innings, FPO, batting in the top of the sixth had a man on second and third with two outs. Clutch Players then used their one intentional walk on FPO’s white hot Joey Schuster, boldly loading the bases. The subsequent ground out kept ‘Clutch’ in the game as the teams gathered themselves for the final half inning.
With two outs and a man on first in the bottom of the last inning, and FPO up 14-13, Clutch Players’ Zac Cook smoked a screamer to the fence, nearly 115 feet in left. FPO leftfielder Randy Schuster, in a full sprint, went up and reached nearly a foot over the fence to grab the ball. He came down – ball still in hand – saving the FPO win, and their shot at a fourth title.
Although a scrappy Maple City Magic made a game of it, FPO cruised through the championship game 9-6, making them only the fourth team in 35 years to win four world championships. The champs have posted an incredible 44-2 record over the past four years. Since 2005, no team has broken the stranglehold that the game’s three power teams (Ripped, Balco and FPO) have had on the world championship.
‘Maple City,’ of LaPorte, Indiana, defeated Milwaukee’s People’s Elbow in the other semi-final.
32 teams came from 16 states. Bob DeLeonardis, at 54, tied hall-of-famer Chris Montgomery’s record as the oldest player to hit a home run. Mike Schuster, 53, played on his fifth championship team – four with FPO, and one with Laidig in 1985.