The Wide Angle: Reliving the life of a sports reporter
It’s been a long time since I’ve actually covered a baseball game. That changed this past Monday and Thursday night when I covered an Austin U18 game.
The reason for the minor league of sports coverage to handle this assignment was that Rocky and his new wife Amanda were enjoying a well-earned honeymoon. When you see them, congratulate both of them will you.
They were spectacular nights for baseball, complete with partly sunny skies, a light breeze and no bugs aside from the wasp that hung out with me for four innings of picture taking on Monday.
The rest of both nights were spent in the stands, taking notes and taking in the atmosphere.
I’ve talked on occasion of my “illustrious” high school baseball career, so I won’t bore you with any more of the details, including the final year of my small town playing career with our Lake Wilson Bison amateur team where I flirted dangerously close to a mullet.
That’s really the only standout detail of that time, except for giving up two grand slams in an inning, but we’re not going to talk about that.
Baseball was one of the sports that someone who was actively small such as myself could play with a relatively high degree of success. It doesn’t rely so much on size, which was fortunate because if I had to try and post up a catcher, it could have been trouble.
Plus, my family has always had a history of baseball stretching all the way back to my grandfather. Dad of course played amateur ball both up north and in Lake Wilson, which included in its earliest days a ridiculous canary yellow uniform with white pinstriping.
No doubt anybody reading this who might have played with the Bison in those days may disagree with me, but my assessment still stands. The uniform, gastly as it was, was topped with a cap that had a black back and yellow front. The whole ensemble proved that there is such a thing as too much yellow.
It certainly didn’t match the mainly brown uniforms that came later with white pants complete with yellow and orange pinstriping down the legs. Our uniform was topped with a brown hat and the yellow initials “LW” embroidered on the front.
Baseball was a natural progression of my small-town pastime in my younger days and in reality, it was kind of comparable to these past two weeks. Granted, they weren’t amateur games, but it was close, especially when the game fell under the lights.
I only really played a handful of games under the lights in my time: one of the most memorable was a tough loss to Luverne in the district championship in my final year of Legion baseball and the other was the first time I saw professional level fastball, delivered to me by Jackson standout Wade Wacker, who at one time had signed with the Minnesota Twins. I was never sure how high he had gotten in the grand scheme of major league baseball and it wasn’t for pitching, but he could have fooled me.
Up until that point I had seen high school fastballs that met the bare minimum definition of fast balls. It was faster than the other pitches and it was a ball.
However, what he threw actually moved and, as I have said many times, “scared the hell out of me.”
Everything together this past week kind of reminded me of that. I might have been a little rusty in how I reported things, but it was a lot like the days of traveling to Pipestone during my intern days at the Pipestone Star to cover a game under the lights.
And if I take anything from all of this playing under the lights is better than most any kind of game. There’s something about it that just screams baseball.
Well, that and those screams of “ball!” just before I get hit. But that’s another story.