Tyler Kiddle and Randy Parker
Back in March, I pulled up to 14 Oak Street in Beverly Farms to a venue that was going to host a sold out 60+ team tournament. I had to double-check the address because what I saw was a residential home on a residential street. At first, I wondered if this is what it would feel like to play in a secret tournament...as it turns out, there was nothing clandestine about it. We had scheduled a 32 team event and once it sold out, people were literally offering twice the entry fee to enter the draw, so we bumped the field up to 64 teams. And it wasn't just the locals, this tournament attracted top talent from the North Shore and South Shore. Several Rice Baggers were in attendance joined by Sarge, Queen, Lance, Prew and Grew. Even Shawn Renard showed up just to watch! You might be thinking with that roll call that there had to be some little-known trip to Vegas on the line, but there wasn't! And that right there was the beauty of this tournament. The ink is barely dry on my rant documenting the challenges of getting the competitive crop to compete against each other. What John Moran and I have been trying to do for two years in Pawtucket, just organically happened on a magical March night in Beverly. In my opinion, the Hastings House tournament was by far the most competitive event of 2016, and thus, tournament of the year!
Oh, and let's not forget the locals. The cream of the crop certainly is not large enough to account for the 62 teams that participated. The local supporters came out in drones to support the Hastings House. They were in costume, having fun, and tossing bags. And at no point were there complaints of "ringers" which is sometimes the case when pedestrians and pros mix. The surprises continued as Michael Lounge turned into a crowd favorite. Yes, that Michael Lounge! Maybe it was his Hitler Youth haircut or the fact that people love to root for the underdog. Whatever it was, I have never seen 4th place garner so much attention. And your winners...Randy Parker and Tyler Kiddle. You may remember Randy as the senior member of 40 Plus who took his bags and headed back to the Wu once the winning disappeared. But, when you have have the opportunity to play with Tyler Kiddle, you come out of retirement and get it done. And these two did exactly what winners do, they won!
While the Hastings House gets the nod for 2016, there were some other tournaments worthy of honorable mention. The Amesbury Rotary tournament in January had a nice 2016 rebound to draw 47 teams with a player-friendly three match guarantee. The Fenway Cornhole Classic continued to be extremely popular and drew some more powerhouse teams this year. And in Lawrence, we saw the Winner's Circle Cornhole Club actually send two players to the winner's circle.*
*If there was a "Choke of the Year" award, it would go to Kevin Lowry and Dave Scott for inexplicably getting double-dipped in Lawrence.