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Pass the Cup

Enhancing the game day experience at the ballpark

Baseball is the kind of game that can be appreciated from a variety of angles: There is the serious fan, who pays close attention to the balls and strikes, and understands the nuances that occur in the “game within the game.” Then there is the casual fan, who catches a game for the social experience and the entertainment, food, and people-watching. There are youngsters who take in the contests and the mascots and other distractions. Video clips, chasing foul balls, fun things to check out in the concourses—it’s all good. Oh yeah, then there is a game going on as well.

But for any type of fan, here is a unique type of game that you and your friends can take to the yard on your next visit, something that three or more participants can enjoy while taking in a baseball game. In fact, it will keep you focused on what is going on down on the field.

The game is called “Pass the Cup.”

“Pass the Cup is a pretty unique game, which is played alongside the game itself,” explains Kevin Dale of Elma. “Simply put, it is a betting game that involves placing money into a cup or taking money out of a cup, depending on the outcome of the play which involves each batter.”

Dale and his best friend Billy Zilliox of West Seneca are long-time baseball enthusiasts, and have organized a baseball road trip with a group of friends every year going back to 1989. This year they’ll trek to Houston, Texas to see the Astros at Minute Maid Park, with a side trip to San Antonio and that city’s minor league team.

“The game begins and each participant gets to hold the cup in rotation, and the cup is passed to the next guy at the conclusion of each at bat,” Dales says. “If you’re holding the cup and the batter pops a fly ball, it costs you a quarter. A strikeout swinging, $1. Looking, $2. Hit into a double play, $2. There is a cost assigned to every single possible outcome of the at bat.”

So how does a person collect?

“That’s where the fun part comes in,” he says. “A person will remove funds from the cup for a base hit, and that amount accelerates for extra bases. And if the player hits a home run, the lucky participant collects the proceeds from the entire cup. That’s the jackpot.”

Nothing matches the tension and drama that unfolds in a game of Pass the Cup as the game enters its final inning. Especially in games where there have been no home runs scored, and the cup is brimming with dollars and quarters. “When the game ends on the field, the money left in the cup goes to the person holding the cup for the final out,” Dale says. “Over the years that has developed into some amazing scenarios. Imagine you’re watching some dreary 9-0 game and just waiting for the final three outs to get the hell out of there. Not our group. The third guy in sequence for the cup is hoping for a 1-2-3 inning. Others are hoping for batters to reach base so the game will continue and the cup will be passed. There’s a lot of hooting and hollering going on. We’ve gotten our share of icy stares from surrounding fans wondering what all the hoopla is about.

Dale and his buddies have embellished the rules over the years. “We added the Morganna rule, which costs you if any non-player intrudes onto the field while you’re holding the cup. This was based on a visit to Tiger Stadium years ago, where the Kissing Bandit ran onto the field and rubbed her boobs into the face of the first base coach. Then there’s the Piniella, where you pay if a manager argues a call and then ends up throwing a base in his pique of anger. But ironically, if the manager just gets ejected, the person holding the cup collects some money. There are scenarios for rain delays, for mound conferences involving how many players are involved. We’ve gotten more creative.”

To show you how hardcore these guys are, they actually commission and design a cup each year, built of a hospital specimen bottle. All the credit is given to John Mendofik of Lancaster, a healthcare worker and one of the members of the group. “John is the creative genius here,” says Dale. “He pretty much turns a specimen jar with lid into piece of art, adorning it with logos, silly photos and decorations.”

Dale and the group will be at Coca Cola Field on Monday, July 2 to catch the Buffalo Bisons game and do a Pass the Cup tuneup for their road trip later in July. “It’s a friends bonding thing,” Dale says. “What goes better than getting the guys together, beer, baseball, and having fun in a low-stakes game like this.”

For a complete set of Pass the Cup rules, visit AV Daily.

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