Kickballers defend their swashbuckler

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Among the kickball hipsters of Greenpoint’s McCarren Park, the word “freelance” has a new meaning.

The competitors in Brooklyn Kickball — the borough’s premier league — have rallied behind the cry, “Free Lance,” putting team rivalries aside to support Lance Jackson, a member of the Pirates who was arrested on May 25 for carrying a buccaneer’s sword in the Macy’s in Manhattan.

Cops nabbed Jackson while he and his girlfriend were shopping for new glasses, charging the 29-year-old Greenpoint resident with weapons possession for carrying the metal sword, which Jackson maintains was merely a prop for that evening’s games.

Players in the 33-team league were anything but shocked by the allegations.

“This is actually the first time I even heard about them even having a sword, but it fits their image,” said Dan Clark, coach of Never Scared, a squad named after a song by rapper Bone Crusher.

“They are one of the more trash-talking teams, they’re loudmouthed dudes, but they’re really good dudes and they’re really good for the league,” he said.

The Pirates (officially Los Piratas Mecánicos) are known around McCarren Park for everything except for their on-field performance. Universally considered one of the Brooklyn Kickball’s weaker teams, the squad is mostly famous for decorating its dugout with skulls and crossbones, throwing water balloons and shooting fireworks during games — antics that haven’t earned them many friends in the league.

But even Jackson’s harshest rivals believe that the blade was just a prop.

“Everything the Pirates do has to be taken with a grain of salt,” said Wendy Gallo of The Continentals. “They know how to push peoples’ buttons, but I don’t think it was anything malicious. It’s irresponsible, but I don’t think he should suffer over it.”

League Commissioner Kevin Dailey agreed, choosing not to suspend Jackson over the charges, which he considered overblown.

“I don’t think it’s a sword, I think it’s a toy,” Dailey said. “To my knowledge, it’s not a weapon. I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘That guy is bringing something that could kill me.’ If I do see somebody with an actual weapon, I’ll ask them to leave.”

But police weren’t as lenient. Jackson spent that Sunday night in jail, forcing to miss that evening’s games. Jackson will join The Pirates in his first game back on June 8, where he’ll be able to showcase what his team does best.

“We just actually have fun,” he said. “There is no reason to take stats and argue. It’s just kickball. We keep that lightness in mind.”

Spoken like a true Pirate.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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