Don’t know about you, but my Sunday got off to a pretty good start when I found a six-pack of Fat Tire on the passenger seat of my pickup truck.
City editor Karen Petersen had borrowed the truck for the weekend, and I retrieved it from her driveway after sleeping in until 10 a.m., an extraordinarily late wakeup time for yours truly; but I’d been out kind of late the night before, helping pressman Rick Matson celebrate his retirement.
Anyway, upon discovering the six-pack, I told Karen, “Hey, you left your beer in the truck.”
“No, that’s for you,” she said.
“Oh, thanks,” I said.
btw, on top of the beer and thanking me profusely, Karen also made sure the truck had a full tank of gas when I picked it up; that is the proper way to borrow someone’s vehicle.
Anyway, after fetching the truck, I drove a few blocks west to Cloverland Park, where I’d be again helping my daughter Pam practice softball; she takes this coed D league stuff pretty seriously, but she comes by that honestly; I take any competition I’m involved in pretty seriously too.
However, beating us to the better of the park’s two backstops was a quintet of college-aged guys pitching BP, with baseballs, to each other.
“What are these guys doing, playing on our field?” I asked Pam.
“Maybe we should offer to buy them some beer?” she suggested. “They look underage. Maybe that would get them to leave.”
“I was thinking we should suggest they go play video games,” I said.
Truthfully, despite any inconvenience they caused for Pam and me, which was in fact minor, it felt really good to see the guys out there simultaneously enjoying the summery weather and our national pastime. Kids of any age playing pickup basketball on a playground or sandlot baseball or football is just something you don’t see nearly as much as you did 30 or 40 years ago.
With the way the two backstops are set up at Cloverland, Pam ended up routinely hitting her softballs toward the baseball BP shaggers, and they cheerfully kept tossing them back to us.
Turned out one of the guys was British, and he’d just finished up a one-year study-abroad program at OSU.
“I’m trying to translate my cricket skills to baseball,” he said, and they seemed to be translating rather well.
The cricketer and his four buddies seemed to be having a jolly good time at the ballyard, and I got an unintentional laugh out of them when I yelled to Pam to hustle in — that is, run rather than walk — after she’d caught the last of the practice fly balls I’d hit her.
“Come on, don’t disrespect the game,” I said. Though I do like to see people run where they’re going on a ballfield, I was really only kidding; Pam didn’t necessarily need to be sprinting across the grass on an 85-degree afternoon.
The baseball guys thought what I said was pretty funny.
“They’re laughing at you,” Pam said.
“They’re laughing with me,” I corrected, and with that, Pam and I repaired to the Home of the Whopper for some post-softball sustenance.
I was sort of amazed that when we returned to the park to get her car, the guys were still at it, meaning they’d been out there for pushing two hours, which is a long time to be pitching, hitting and picking up baseballs in the fairly hot sun.
I was impressed.
To a huge baseball fan like me it’s just comforting, I guess, to know that there are still people out there enthusiastic enough to do that.