|I LOVE to see the teams evenly balanced, in terms of gender.|
Week the Second
“You gotta get lucky once in a while.”
That is the caption beneath a photograph that I snapped during the first of two games at Harwood Park, Thursday evening, this one between the Bell Springs Bombers and the Revolution. A see-saw affair for most of the game, the Revolution fought their way to victory in the closing innings, putting a 19-11 win into the books.
I take my camera along when I go to the park because it allows me to orchestrate several instruments in my repertoire of right-brained activities. I like to write, I like to take photos and I enjoy combining the two together when I post on my blog.
I got lucky Thursday night because I snapped a pic of Lito, making a stellar catch on a ball hit to left-center field. This was a snag which showed the left-fielder outstretched to his fullest, the ball clearly ensnared by the ample webbing on his glove. His back was mostly turned to the camera, the double-s from “Great Success” visible, mute testimony to what we are seeing.
Not only was the catch a great success, the entire venue is also. Even though competing with the Warriors/Cavs game on television, there was a fine turnout to see a game between two of the league’s more entertaining teams.
Don’t get me wrong: All of the teams and all of the games are entertaining. With eight strong clubs in the league, Laytonville is experiencing a Renaissance of sorts, when it comes to the dawn of a new era, one in which The Oldtimers’ Game is not the only game in town.
Currently, the league format calls for a double-header every Tuesday and Thursday this summer, until each team has played all of the others twice. Then the playoffs begin. With so many teams from all geographic regions in the immediate area, it is hard to imagine that any cultural factions are being left out.
They are all present and accounted for, from the mountain folk to the townspeople; from the hippies to the rednecks; from those who Berned for Bernie to those who hanker for Hilary. I am certain that there were even those who will vote the Republican ticket and in this venue, that’s just fine with me. I am not here to talk politics.
I’m here to talk baseball.
You see, on the playing field everyone is working together. That’s the part I personally like the most. I also like that all of the teams have a comparable ratio of men and women competing. It’s no secret that Laytonville has always fielded excellent baseball teams, both men’s baseball and women’s softball.
|There is unity of purpose on the diamond.|
This season was particularly gratifying for the women, because of new coach Jennifer Davis, who returned to her alma mater to lead it to the league championship, in her first year. And it must be quite satisfying for Michael Braught, also, who volunteers his time to umpire.
I say it must be satisfying for Michael because so many of the players in the current league, played under his expert tutelage for so many years, when he coached men’s baseball at the high school. I must have snapped twenty pics of hitters in the batter’s box, with Michael’s visage in the background.
I smiled too, when I caught sight of first, Rudy, and then Duck. These two guys had the misfortune of having me for language arts classes back in the day.
I know. Your worst nightmare. Your middle school language arts teacher.
Rudy had the charismatic personality of his pops, his sardonic humor always making me grin at his quick wit. And Duck? Simply the most athletic individual to have ever graced the middle school campus during my sixteen years’ tenure.
I exaggerate not. He did not have the physical presence of say, Beagle, but his prowess on the playing field, particularly on the gridiron, was unsurpassed. His speed, his “soft” hands, able to snare any ball within Laytonville’s zip code range, and his frenzy to succeed, all stamped him as eminently watchable.
I did not get a chance to say, “Hey!” but I did pause when I was walking past, while Mike was on the sidelines, and we made eye contact for a nano-second. I watched as recognition came over his face, and I saw the look that flitted across his face.
I saw the identical expression that I saw when he was in eighth grade, that same grin, the same mutual respect that we had always enjoyed, so very long ago. No words were necessary but volumes were spoken, nonetheless. I have all summer to catch up with him.
At least, as long as a few logistical details can be worked out, we will have all summer. These details involve those who volunteer their time to keep this show happening.
I was talking to Shannon, who has donated a fair chunk of her life, to help get the whole league off the ground. She still has to leave work early each Tuesday and Thursday, to help Miguel get the field ready.
|Much appreciation for the time and energy!|
Shannon is hoping to get some help in this area, and figures that as the league gains in popularity and attendance, these things will fall into place. There are many of us who can no longer play, for any number of reasons, but who still want to see the whole program move forward.
If you have the time/inclination, you might give her a call at the tire center, (984-8888), and let her know you would like to help keep adult baseball happening in Laytonville.
I must say, I like it when my community gathers together to celebrate life in its most eloquently simple form. To play ball together, to pull for one another, to laugh and groan together and to win or lose together, it’s all fun.
More importantly, it is essential for any community to blend and meld together, especially in politically emotional times. Whether your political interests are focused on national elections, or local cannabis policy, there is much room for discussion and dialogue.
Polished mahogany tables are often the setting for these discussions, and that’s fine in its own right, but the most productive exchanges take place when everyone is situated on a level playing field. If everyone is functioning as equals in one area, some of that is bound to splash over into other areas.
Baby steps, you know, but they lead to success.
And speaking of success, I am finally able to give a two-thumbs-up to the Chief, after being somewhat ambivalent on the subject for quite some time. Being served stone-cold food the first time left me “ambivalent.”
Even “being served” stretches the truth considerably, because I had to go in search of our order myself, after Annie and waited for an interminable period in the outdoor portion of the dining facility. I wondered vaguely at the time, just how long they would have left our order on that counter, had I not come to get it myself.
I can’t honestly say if the burger and fries were tasty or not; I didn’t eat them. The place was crowded, noisy, unorganized and the thought of trying to rectify the situation was too overwhelming for me. No biggee, right?
So when Benny, Annie and I hit up the Chief, Thursday, prior to the baseball game, we sat indoors, and I let Annie order for me. She thought I should try the chicken strips, with ranch dressing, and an order of fries.
They were prepared promptly, they were piping hot and there was much camaraderie exchanged between Ben and the restaurant staff. Ben was most vocal in his appreciation of the culinary experience.
Later, when Casey stopped in, the proprietor was overheard commenting to him, “Hey, your bro was in here earlier.” Long pause. “He’s a big ‘un, isn’t he?”
I think Annie made his day when we got up to make our departure, and she said, “Well, you can expect regular O’Neill family meals together this summer, because everyone likes a great success.
|There is a lot going on at Harwood Park, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Just ask Fawn...WATCH OUT FAWN!|