|Will, ready for action-ready for danger, ready for Laytonville baseball!|
For Whom the Whistle Blows
Annie and I are going to take in tonight’s season opener down at Harwood Park, an event we have been looking forward to with much anticipation. In the entire history of the universe, I do not believe there has ever been a more win/win proposition to hit the local township, than this adult baseball league, designed and implemented in the truest of small-town, git-er-done, mentalities.
There are eight teams this year, up from last season’s inaugural lineup of six. Geographically, they are all Laytonville-based, thereby eliminating the dreaded commute down to Fill-in-the-Blank because, of course, they are never going to come up to the ‘Ville.
What we have here is an unqualified Great Success. Not only has adult baseball established itself beyond the once-a-year Oldtimers’ game, it has taken over the collective hearts of our community. It works on so many levels, it’s ridiculous.
Begin with the fact that all elements of our unique region are represented on the field, and combine that with the knowledge that all of the teams play each other twice, and you can’t help but recognize that there will be a lot of intermingling of different social circles.
|Fawn is now a Bomber.|
Town people mingle with mountain folk; hippies rub elbows with rednecks. Spectators include all ages, with the kids watching the adults now, instead of the reverse. There is a celebratory feeling in the air and it’s no wonder.
This is what summer is all about and it’s what living in a small community is all about. Players on the field have been playing the game together since they were in elementary school, moving on together to little league, high school and for some, college ball.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of the game. I do not care what level of skill is involved and I do not care-substantially-who wins. I like to see diverse teams compete against equally dissimilar teams, the ages and backgrounds varying and shifting, because it levels the playing field.
Whether you own the local mercantile, or sweep the floors of said establishment, on the ballfield you are equal. Because the game is slow pitch, it does not matter whether you are six-five, or five-six. If you come to the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs, you have a good chance of putting the ball in play, and knocking in a run.
I have not been able to play ball since December 13th, 1991, the day I blew out the ACL of my left knee. I had taken my elective Spanish class out to shoot some baskets on this lucky Friday the Thirteenth, the rule being that every time you took a shot, you had to say something in Spanish.
The next thing I knew, I was lying on the asphalt, with Miss Morrison leaning over me, while I wondered idly who the whistle had gone off for. Back in the day a whistle used to blow to summon emergency personnel, and you could hear it for quite a distance.
Wonder not, for whom the whistle blows, Mark; it blows for you.
I rode down to Willits in the back of the ambulance, fortunately the only time I have been inside one, wondering vaguely if this wasn’t a lot of hassle for a hurt knee. I remember Dr. Bowen examining me, prior to having X-rays taken, and me babbling something about hoping there was actually something wrong, so as not to have put so many people to so much trouble.
|The Bombers oppose the Layton Villians @ 5:30|
This inane line of reasoning stopped the good doctor right in his tracks.
“Don’t suggest that,” he said gently. “We don’t ever want to encounter ‘something wrong.’ Unfortunately, it happens.”
Eventually, he took a tendon out of my left ankle, and used it to build a new ACL, and I was good to walk again. “I can only do it once,” he told me, “so go easy. No more baseball for you.”
Thems what can, play the game. Them what can’t, sometimes write about it. We also enjoy going to the games. When the schedule was posted on face/book last week, I commented simply, “Go, Bombers!”
Two of my favorite people commented, the first being Jezara, who wrote, “Those Bombers are lucky to have you as a fan. Jealous!” The second was Fawn, who responded, “We have the best fan there is in Mark. Sorry, Jez!”
Well, gosh did my white beard contrast with my red face! Honestly, that may be the best compliment I have ever received because I do love the game, and would love to be remembered for that love.
My response to both Jezara and Fawn was, “Baseball been veddy good to me,” a line the originated on Saturday Night Live, though I only stayed up late enough to watch it once.
Baseball has been good to me. The pace, the personalities, the numbers, the timing, there is so much in which to revel. So I will be there this evening for at least the first game, which begins at 5:30, at Harwood Park.
I can’t play any longer but I have something else going for me: I am the “best fan” there is and that’s good enough for the girl I go with.