"I've traveled around a lot for my work [as a high-voltage electrician] and played for many teams," says Mike, "but I come back here because this is the best team. It has an aggressive, go-get-it attitude, and you can assume that if there's a play on the field, someone will go for it. The only time we get upset is when someone doesn't do his job."
The Family plays three types of soft-ball—two forms of slo-pitch and modified fast-pitch. Each year they spend between $4,000 and $5,000 on equipment, uniforms and tournament entry fees. The first few seasons the brothers raised the money with garage sales. Then John and Frank Jr., who are lawyers, created a foundation, and the team is now run as a nonprofit athletic fraternity. The foundation holds annual Reno nights as fund-raisers.
Fielding a team with all nine of the brothers in the lineup is becoming increasingly difficult. Several of the Ladenburgs have jobs in other Washington cities, and Dale attends college in Spokane, nearly 300 miles away. But the Family is in no danger of running short of players. In addition to those assorted cousins, brothers-in-law and friends, a new group of Ladenburgs is growing up, eager to don the Family's green-and-white uniforms. Last September, John's son, John Jr., 18, became the first of the second-generation Ladenburgs to play for the Family. There are thirty-one other Ladenburg children waiting to join their parents on the diamond.
"I'll bet that in 10 years we'll have two teams," says John, "a senior one for the older brothers and a second one for the younger brothers and the kids. We'll have an intrafamily rivalry."