LITTLE CANADA, Minn. — On the softball field every Friday night in the summer, this is their happy hour.
Between these lines there’s no judgement, only understanding in a league for people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
"Everyone is welcome. They just have to have desire to stop drinking," said league commissioner Blake Hjelmeland. "It’s a blessing and a gift, one of the things that I feel good about more than I’ve ever accomplished in my recovery."
In this sober softball league, hits and runs aren't the most important stat. Instead, it's the days, months and years of recovery that matters to these players.
"People come to play who maybe associate softball with a keg at every base or maybe that’s the experience they’ve had with softball," said Joe Brzycki. "This becomes a really big element of their recovery. It’s something they look forward to, it’s an opportunity to see friends."
It's also an opportunity to compete. This league at Pioneer Park in Little Canada has grown over the years to over 40-plus teams across three skill divisions.
"It shows people that it can be fun in recovery, it isn’t just work, work, work, recovery, recovery, recovery," said John Johnston. "This gives us an activity that gives us a chance to relax and have some fun and learn to be ourselves in a different way."