Over-The-Line: The history of San Diego’s sport born on South Mission Beach

OTL San Diego

It’s all about the catch. | Photo via Duane Bazzel + @ombacsd

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OTL. If you’re a San Diegan, then you know those three little letters stand for Over-The-Line, a ball + bat sport invented on South Mission Beach in the 1950s. 🏖️

The Over-The-Line World Championships return to Fiesta Island at Mission Bay Park for the 69th time this weekend (Sat., July 9-Sun., July 10) + next (Sat., July 16-Sun., July 17). We’ve got tourney details, plus a mini dive into the sport’s local history, and — of course — how the heck you actually play OTL. 🥎

otl san diego

The first OTL tournament was held in 1954. | Photo via Duane Bazzel + OMBAC

⚾ Play ball

The tournament, as always, is hosted by the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC). Play starts each day at 7:30 a.m. + ends by sunset. Brush up on what you can and can’t bring with you.

OMBAC marketing chair Tom Doyle tells SDtoday that VIP paid parking (located right next to the tourney) is available for $30. You can also park for free around the area or use a rideshare service. There’s a designated drop-off + pickup area for rideshare near the playing area.

Doyle says ~700 teams are registered to play in front of thousands of spectators because, in his words, “It’s both a spectacle and a sport.”

OTL San Diego

Each July, the OTL Championships return to Fiesta Island. | Photo via Duane Bazzel + OMBAC

🏐 OTL’s roots

As the story goes, Over-The-Line was created more than seven decades ago by a group of OMBAC locals who had gotten together on South Mission Beach to play volleyball. As they waited for a coveted net, they came up with the idea for OTL, which evolved into its very own batty sport. According to OMBAC, the first OTL tournament was held in 1954.

Today, it’s a San Diego summertime tradition. Teams are known for their quirky names, and spectators enjoy attending the free event for the good vibes.

OTL San Diego

OTL’s roots are right in South Mission Beach. | Photo via Duane Bazzel + OMBAC

📜 The rules

OK, so OTL includes intricacies, but the basic rules are clear: Games last three or four innings, no one runs bases, and the main goal is to hit the ball “over the line” about 55-ft in front of the batter.

Doyle says it’s all about making the catch or hit at the right moment and anyone can play — you don’t need to be an athlete, baseball or softball player.

“It’s as much fun or as complicated as you want it to be,” Doyle explained. “It’s easy to play, but hard to be amazing at it.”

OTL San Diego

It’s OTL time, San Diego. | Photo via Duane Bazzel + @ombacsd

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