There is a baseball tournament this weekend in Laytonville, which will draw hundreds of community members to Harwood Park for the festivities. People come from all directions to play, watch and dialogue.
The ‘Ville does not necessarily resemble the typical small community, in that it is the center of a wide geographical area that is pretty rugged, and folks are spread out in all directions. Whether you are a mountain person, a townie, live on the rez, driving in from Branscomb or Dos Rios Roads or coming up from south of town, you are enjoying baseball together, thus promoting community.
Let’s face it, “unity” is seldom found as successfully imbedded in “community,” as it is in Laytonville. What has been created by the Co-ed Softball League, now in its second year, is incalculably rich by small town standards. What may seem at surface to be an understatement, hardly worth mentioning for being so obvious, warrants a little closer look.
A town farther up the highway, like Scotia, has a central focus and almost everyone is involved in that focus, in this case the mill. When we gather in the ‘Ville, we represent so many different cultural factions, it defies comprehension.
Because many participants went to school together, played little league and/or high school sports together, and work together out in the community, there is a sense of camaraderie that supersedes any competitive machismo that might otherwise get in the way.
I haven’t seen more than a half-dozen games, but I have yet to see an argument. The umpires are doing a job that I personally would/could never do, and frequently come from the ranks, so everyone goes along with the calls.
Besides, we don’t have instant replay yet.
Players converse on the field, fans dialogue in the stands, friends greet each other coming and going, and the living is easy. National politics, the San Francisco Giants’ post-All Star collapse, the new football season, cannabis regulation, school and a hundred other topics all occupy our attention.
Additionally, because the league is formed with specific requirements for gender balance, we get to see women playing alongside the dudes, and appreciate how well the players on the teams work together to achieve success.
I think that whereas the adults are the immediate winners, it is the kids who will ultimately reap the greatest of benefits. Not only do they get to see their moms, uncles, dads, aunts and cousins, all on the diamond together, they will eventually be able to play.
We used to play ball up here on Bell Springs Road, all through the eighties, and then Casey revived that tradition a few years back, again way up here in our own little neck of the woods. Now we have the Co-ed Softball League down in the ‘Ville.
It’s the greatest of successes, especially if you couple the trip into town with a visit to Mendo Sun, a salad from Gravier’s, a stop at Sho Nuf’s or dinner at the Big Chief.
And please, please remember, if you see me, probably pretending to take photos with-of all things-an actual camera as opposed to a phone, please say hi. I probably won’t recognize you, and you’ll know it because my glazed eyes will be as round as donuts, so take pity on me.
Tell me your name. Then prepare to be properly greeted. If you had the misfortune to sit in one of my classrooms, I will want to give you a hug. No hard feelings for that History Day Project, I required of you twenty years ago? Great success!