The older you get, the more precious your memories become as you reflect on your life.
Sometimes those memories are jarred with the unexpected death of a friend. Such was the case last week when I learned of the sudden passing of Mike Rounds, a 1980 graduate of Amador Valley High School.
Rounds died on June 17 while mountain bike riding near Reno, a city he had made his home as he became a highly regarded attorney in the field of intellectual property.
Back in 1978, Rounds and his close friend and neighbor, Paul Crosetti, started what would become a phenomenon in Pleasanton, as the Peng and Cro Wiffle Ball Tournament debuted.
The name of the tournament came from their nicknames. Cro is a play on his last name, but how Rounds gained the moniker Peng was a whole other story.
Rounds was a good athlete -- an accomplished junior golfer -- but Cro saw something else.
"Peng had a great golf swing and baseball swing," Crosetti recalled. "But when it came to running it was more of a waddle (sort of like a penguin). I think the name Peng started as early as seventh grade."
And the iconic duo of Peng and Cro was born.
Peng and Cro took a for fun Wiffle ball event that started in the Crosetti backyard for the first two years and turned it into an iconic Pleasanton event.
One of the main reasons the tournament was embraced was the total involvement of the two organizers, as they took turns announcing every single game over a PA system. Thanks to their distinctive sense of humor, where nothing was sacred, it became a must see.
"His sense of humor is one of the things that will be missed," Cro said of Peng. "His humor of telling stories was incredible."
In all the years I knew Rounds, it was always entertaining to be around him. He carried that wit over to the tournament and that helped make it into the event it became.
It got to the point where I think people showed up just as much to hear what Peng or Cro might say over the mic as much as to watch the games. It was not for the faint of heart and you needed thick skin to step out on the field.
The tournament moved to Woodthrush Park for a year before it moved to the Pleasanton Aquatic Park in 1981 and that is when the tournament went big time.
It was the summer of 1981, the time of one of the Major League Baseball strikes, and with nothing much going on in the sports world, media outlets were starved for something to report.
One thing led the another, and by the championship matchup on a Monday night, there were over 1,000 people at the title game, including San Francisco Giants player Darrell Evans. Evans threw out the first pitch and took some batting practice in front of the crowd.
I remember it well as myself and teammate Mike Bowling ended up winning the tournament that year. During the seventh-inning stretch, the honor of Miss Wiffle -- another tradition of the event -- was announced.
"I remember we told Darrell he had to escort Miss Wiffle around the base paths," Cro said to me with fondness. "He stayed through the whole game, and you remember, he presented you guys your trophies. He really got into it."
The event was covered by a pair of papers in the Bay Area, and I was interviewed twice by local radio stations. It was big, and big because of who Peng and Cro were and the job they did promoting and running the event.
The tournament went on for a few more years and I heard last week there is a group of recent graduates from Amador that had their own Wiffle ball event that was held last weekend.
Crosetti mentioned that he had been talking with of one his sisters about Peng and the two talked about how they had always talked about a reunion tournament. Cro's sister said, "that can never happen now."
One of the last things Cro told me before we got off the phone was what former classmate Mike Harris said upon learning of Peng's passing: "Our world will never be the same without his sense of humor."
This is true, but we will always have our memories -- and when it comes to Peng, you can be sure they are humorous ones. Rest in peace, Mike.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. His Pleasanton Preps column will be running every other week this summer due to the pandemic. To contact Miller, email him at [email protected]