It was Cameron Turner and his teammates battling a very talented Atlanta team years ago at the annual Gay Softball World Series.
"They had power and speed, were rowdy and intimidating," Turner said. "A lot of Chicago fans came out to support us, and it was a back and forth game from inning to inning with the fans very much into the game."
Atlanta's leadoff hitter came to the plate, known for his speed, and there was a runner on the bases in front of him. "The speedy guy hit a gap shot that got between me and, I believe, Rob Burton in the outfield. Rob chased down the ball and hit Danny Tag, his cutoff man, who then relayed it home to Pete Kavanagh who was catching. By that point, the speedster had caught up with the guy in front of him. They both tried to slide into home behind one another, and Pete tagged the first one and then the second. The ump signaled, 'Out! Out!'
"The crowd went crazy [and] we went on to win the game."
The memories are priceless, some of the minor details are, years later, a bit sketchy.
But gay softball has long been a home, and maybe even heaven, for Turner, 45, who lives in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood and is a partner in the law firm Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney He is originally from downstate Illinois, yet has lived in Chicago for the past 24 years, and he's partnered to Carmelo Duarte.
Turner has been in a gay softball lineup since 2005, his first gay sport.
"I only played softball my first year in CMSA; I was a bit of a late bloomer coming to the league and had more or less [previously] played in the local straight leagues up to that point," Turner said. "I reached out to Shawn Albritton, who I didn't know at the time, and he encouraged me to join a C-League team that needed a player. I met some of my first CMSA friends from that [first] team: Steve Kasperski, Anthony Miceli, Rob Paradise, Tim Worthington, Dan Tran [and] Mark Vild, to name a few."
Turner has played softball annually, at times anchoring the Chicago Menace, a top-tiered A-Division of the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association. He also has played flag football, basketball, indoor and beach volleyball, table tennis, indoor and outdoor soccer, dodgeball, darts and probably another gay sport or two that he admittedly has forgotten.
"Certain sports seem to be more popular with certain generations, and I think that's a reflection of the popularity of certain sports changing over time," Turner said. "For example, these days it seems that sports like softball and [flag] football are less popular with younger generations, and sports like volleyball, soccer and some of the more recreational sports like dodgeball and kickball are more popular.
"Having played in both gay and straight leagues and tournaments in several sports, I've found that the gay leagues and tournaments tend to be more organized with a commitment from both those running things and participating to making the experience positive for everyone."
Turner certainly has had some really positive on-the-field momentsstarting with a Gay Softball World Series title with the Spin Cougars in 2009. Some of the Chicago Menace teams over the years also had some very good tournaments against some outstanding competition, "so I'm very proud of those performances too," said Turner, who also won championships with various basketball teams.
Turner is playing this summer for an A-Division team in Minneapolis as Chicago no longer fields a top-tiered team. He has mostly played outfield over the years, "but as I've gotten older, I've done a lot of campaigning to play positions that require less running."
Gay sports, overall, Turner said, has given him perspective, especially in recent years "when I've focused on the fun and camaraderie, and less on playing lots of sports and trying to win at everything."
Turner has been practicing law for about 21 years, and 18 of those years have been with Segal McCambridge, which is a defense-focused litigation firm with a broad practice spectrum. "My personal practice over the years has focused on products liability defense, general personal injury defense with an emphasis on toxic exposure matters, and commercial litigation," he said.
Turner also has, for years, done pro bono legal work for the LGBT community.
"I've helped out where I could and it made sense, and I've helped countless people in the community find good representation," Turner said. For example, he handled work for the Gay Softball World Series committees in Chicago and Austin when those cities hosted the event. That work involved corporate matters, preparing their 501c3 not-for-profit applications and reviewing vendor contracts.
"I've also helped out friends in the community who needed help that I was able to provide, even though they couldn't afford to pay me for my services," he said.
Why do the pro bono work?
"It's part of being a professionalplain and simple," Turner said.
Extra innings with … Cameron Turner
Favorite pro sports team: Chicago Cubs
Favorite pro athlete: Javier Baez
Favorite stadium: Wrigley Field
One pro athlete you'd like to meet: "Javier Baez, of course, but I'd be pretty excited to meet Rafael Nadal, Chris Paul or Steph Curry, too."
One pro sports event/game you'd like to attend: "A Game 7 of the 2018 World Series in Wrigley Field."
Still to accomplish in sports: "I haven't won a [Gay Softball] World Series in the A-Division; I'd like to do that before my A-Division playing days are over."
On gay sports: "[They] are an important part of the community. If you aren't playing, but think you might want to, come try it out. If you've never thought about playing, please think about it; you won't regret it."
Legally speaking: "I'm here to help, and if I can't do that work, I'll always help you find someone who can."