Dallas musicians channel the “Sandlot” in the pickup baseball league, with Taylor Swift and beer

The rain from the day before made the baseball diamond muddy, but the teams found a dry area and figured out what would count as a home run and then opened cans of beer.

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

The Honey Busters are a team of bearded and tattooed 30-somethings who formed in a dark, smoky corner of dive bar Double Wide.

The team consists mainly of local musicians, including members of bands such as 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.

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Josh Lowe, a singer-songwriter and one of the team’s founders, said being in a band and being 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 of baseball and having fun.

“[Sandlot] is a way to get out of the house and hang out with friends, says Alex Mireles, drummer for the 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.

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River City Honey Busters Alex Mireles runs to first after a short infield hit that Oak...
River City Honey Busters’ Alex Mireles runs to first after a short infield hit as Oak Cliff 86ers catcher Jonathan Braddick attempts to throw to first for the out, during an Oak Cliff Sandlot baseball league season opener, Saturday, March 11, 2023, at Lake Cliff Park in Dallas. The River City Honey Busters are mainly composed of Dallas musicians, Mireles plays drums for Sub-Sahara.(Ben Torres / special contributor)

Lowe and Honey Buster co-founders Dallas Dunaway and Adam Bertholdi have been playing 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 to play against. They played their first match the following month.

Much like the North Texas music scene, the sandlot has its own culture. Hunter Cannon, pitcher and guitarist for the indie rock band FIT, said the sandlot saw its renaissance in Austin with the Texas Playboys. The baseball club was formed in 2006 and has raised money for local non-profit organizations at home games. The 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 have to raise money to play out of state the same way bands raise money to go on tour: by selling merchandise. Last season, the night before a game, they held a party at Double Wide that included a dunk booth. It was the same night that the folk-rock band The Lumineers were in town, and one of The Lumineers showed up and supported the team by going into the booth and buying a T-shirt.

At the last Honey Busters game, players ran the bases with a white claw in hand, teasing the other team and figuring out the rules as they went. John Niederkorn’s walk-up song nicely described the intensity of the game and joked to the team. It was Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.”

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“It’s nice to compete a little, but have fun,” Cannon says. “Everybody 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 next play the North Texas Barnstormers on April 15th.

Kevin England, with a burning cigarette in his mouth, warms up by throwing a baseball…
Kevin England, with a lit cigarette in his mouth, warms up by throwing a baseball with 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, Saturday, March 11 2023 at Lake Cliff Park in Dallas. The River City Honey Busters are mainly gathered with Dallas musicians, England in the music group Cool Jacket and Moehring is a singer/guitarist with the band FIT. (Ben Torres / special contributor)
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