Sunday, March 12, 2017

Baseball Fun in the Desert

Mercer Island Select from Seattle.

There's the crack of the bat, the sizzling of brats and awakening of youth, no matter how old the boy.  I saw them young and old yesterday, jubilant with promises of a sunny, hot March day at a desert stadium.  

Whether it was collecting autographs of up and coming players for the card collection or even more up and coming players taking in a Major League game before playing their own later in the day or even biting into a juicy brat hot of the grill, all seemed adequately copacetic at Peoria Stadium, home to the Seattle Mariners spring training season.

Bill and I took it all in, even the chastisement for unwittingly walking through the entrance where only Mariner staff and their guests were allowed.  When the volunteer asked who we were with, we did not know whether to respond with "each other" or make up a name.  

We realized soon that he was taking his job very seriously and to have fudged and blurted, "Nick Hagadone" may have gotten us in a heap of trouble.  After all, we figured we might see the Sandpoint native son around the facility somewhere but really did not expect to meet him.  

So, we just acted dumb when he told us we'd entered in the wrong place. Once that was established, he motioned us onward toward the practice fields where handsome young Mariners were coming and going with bats or mitts in hand. 

We asked one if he knew Nick Hagadone.  He responded that he thought Nick was still on the practice field.  Then, another came our way.  I approached this rather tall, lean Mariner and asked if he knew Nick Hagadone.  Within an instant of his removing his sunglasses, I looked into the eyes and knew we'd found paydirt and he simultaneously informed us that he was, indeed, Nick.

We visited briefly, explaining that we knew his family members and then asked a bystander to take a photo and then wished Nick well in the day ahead.  Nick told Bill that he would be pitching in the afternoon game. Nick has joined the Mariners staff as a relief pitcher after a few years with the Cleveland Indians and a year off from an injury.

Turns out he didn't pitch yesterday, but that didn't matter to us.  We were thrilled to meet this polite son of Mike and Alison, whom I'd known as students at Sandpoint High School.  Later, Mike and I taught together for a number of years. 

Meeting Nick and some other fun folks made the day for this ol' gal.  And, as looks pretty customary among the menfolk, Bill didn't mind one bit explaining the nuances of baseball to me throughout the practice sessions and the games.  I'm thinking that's what little boys who love baseball and later grow into men enjoy the most about attending Major League games. 

As far as the women are concerned, the baseball stuff is great, even for those of us who played their share of softball as young women.  There's much more, though, for folks like me who enjoy meeting people and learning their stories. 

Yesterday, I walked up to Steven who was collecting some autographs for his scrapbook filled with cards.  Steven says he's been collecting for about as long as he can remember. I'm pretty sure I heard him say something like 20,000 cards, including one signed by the Felix when the Mariners' King Pitcher was just 16 years old.

"Now, that's gotta be worth some money," I commented, then asking if he ever sells his cards. 

Yes.  No.  Steven was pretty matter of fact.  He says he works for a baseball team but keeps that all separate from his card collecting.

I also met up with the Mercer Island Select team of 11-year-old future MLB stars who had come to watch the game by the pros and then go play one of their own. 

The parents and kids were obviously thrilled about the upcoming plans for their day, and the young boys of summer escaping Seattle's less than awesome weather seemed pretty primed for the day.  It was fun meeting the group and organizing a quick picture with team and somewhat shy but aspiring sibling who came along for the ride. 

I told them my daughter from Seattle loves the thumbs up, so they obliged and gave me the thumbs.  

Fun bunch.

Later, we made it to our stadium seats where the sun eventually went west of the roof (free sunscreen is available in bathroom dispensors).  It didn't take long for me to meet some "new best friends," seated next to us.  Horses, Priest Lake and general fun observations united us as we watched the Mariners eke out a 7-6 victory.

I really enjoyed meeting Mike and Christine Bowman who moved to the desert a year or so ago.  We swapped lots of stories and planned for future times when our paths would cross again.  

It truly was a fun day at Peoria yesterday.  Today we'll do it all over again over in Tempe, and we're hoping that we can squeeze in a quick trip to Tortilla Flats before the game. 

Desert fun at its best makes it easy to deal mentally with the photo my neighbor Janice sent of our mail box which crashed to the ground, thanks to snow melt yesterday afternoon.  You see the mailbox is fairly temporary, and the snow was providing its support until we can properly fix the darn thing if spring ever comes to North Idaho.

Thanks to neighbors and our wonderful house sitter Elisabeth, all is well in still wintry North Idaho, and the mail did make it to the house. 

With that knowledge we can move on with our desert adventures. 

Happy Sunday.  GO, ZAGS with the Selection Sunday politics and GO, Mariners today vs. Los Angeles Angels.

Finally, thanks to all who made our day in Peoria so special. 

We even saw a marriage proposal via the big screen.

I jokingly asked this team photographer if I could have his lens.  He responded, "Do you think you can carry it?"

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