Press box to batter’s box

Dudes who write about sports tend to be better at working a buffet than laying down a bunt. I can proudly hold my own at both.

With the latter, the last two years have been something of a boon. In Montana I played in an adult sandlot “league” (sorta like this one, but with even weirder rules and no booze sponsorship) with the best group of people on the planet. When I moved to Arizona, I hoped to continue playing and figured it’d be easy enough to find a team. I ended up on a pretty serious adult squad that in successive seasons won our division’s regular season championship (with me mostly riding the bench) and made the championship game (with me starting most of the year at second base). We played that championship game, much to my kid-like awe, in Tempe Diablo Stadium, Spring Training home of the Angels.

My kids help me carry my gear into Tempe Diablo Stadium for the 45+ league championship.

I didn’t think my 2021 season could top playing on the same field as Ohtani, Trout, and Rendon, but a few weeks later my old friends from Montana announced a special end-of-season game. The same group that could hardly rustle up enough bodies to play in semi-regular graupel at a semi-abandoned municipal field had secured a date at the local minor league stadium. I figured I had to be there.

On an unseasonably gorgeous late-fall Sunday in Montana, I got to play my second baseball game of the month in a professional stadium. There were old friends, new recruits, highlight-level plays and shrugged-off errors. I even managed to drive a shot to left that a friend captured on his phone (and another friend misplayed just enough for me to notch a “double” in the scorebook.)

My team lost, just as it had in Arizona, but it hardly mattered. I’ve always found an afternoon at the ball field second to none, but I figure now I have to draw a distinction between afternoons spent watching and those spent playing.

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