‘Basic Stuff’ brings smiles to the Ball Game
By Bryan Gallegos
I went to a ball game last week and had the best time I have ever had at a sporting event. And I don’t even know who won the game.
I’ve covered thousands of sporting events – the Super Bowl, the World Series, NBA playoffs, college bowl games, March Madness, state high school championships – but on this day, a youth baseball game in Las Vegas, N.M. painted a smile on my face that still lingers.
I was in New Mexico to celebrate my father’s 79th birthday. We made it a family affair with my brothers and sisters also coming in from Kansas, Texas and Colorado.
During the celebration, I saw a kid in a baseball uniform. He had come to the party with his mother, a distant relative. The boy had a game that evening and they were going to head to the ball park after the birthday celebration.
I love baseball games. So I asked if I could tag along. Mom said: “Sure, but it’s never much of a game. It’s real basic stuff.”
I know about “real basic stuff.” I coached my son’s teams when he was that age.
After the party ended, we headed to the ball park. It was a quaint little park built in somebody’s field – hardly the field of dreams Kevin Costner built in Iowa. But to these kids, it was Wrigley Field.
I stepped onto a rickety bleacher that trembled when I sat my big behind on the top bench. The team was warming up when one of the little guys went up to the coach and discussed a very important topic.
Player: “Can we have snack now?”
Coach: “No, we’ll have it after the game.”
Player: “We shouldn’t play on an empty stomach.”
Coach: “Go warm up.”
Player: “Well, can I go to the concession stand? I’ll even get something for you.”
Coach: “No. Go warm up.”
Player: “After I warm up, then can I go?”
The coach sighed and shook his head.
Coach: “OK. OK. Go, but hurry. The game is going to start pretty soon.”
The player bolted across the field, a gleeful grin wrapped around his pudgy face.
Player: “Momma, Momma, can you get me some chili fries. We have to hurry because the game is going to start pretty soon.”
The game started with my cousin’s team batting first. The lead-off batter was a lefty and he watched three pitches go by – all strikes. It didn’t matter to him and he walked back to the bench.
The second batter – a righty – stepped into the batter’s box. But then the lead-off batter came back and also stepped into the batter’s box.
Now I’ve seen some strange things in baseball, but never two batters on both sides of the box. I’m sure the umpire had never seen anything like this before, either.
Umpire: “Son, you’re out. You have to go to the bench.”
Player: “No I’m not. My mom told me to tell you that last pitch was a ball.”
Dumbfounded, the umpire looked at the coach, who realized that he had two batters at the plate.
Coach, with a smile: “Well, it was inside.”
Two innings later, my cousin’s team was on defense. Coach looked around and noticed he was missing his right fielder. It was the “chili fries” kid. He wasn’t gone, but he was laying on the ground looking at the clouds.
Coach: “Tommy, what are you doing?”
Player: Those clouds are so fluffy. They look like cotton candy.”
Coach: “Tommy, get up.”
Player, as he is getting up: “Can I get some cotton candy?”
Coach: “After the game.”
Player: “Momma, Coach said I could get some cotton candy after the game. Can you get me some?”
An inning later, one of my cousin’s teammates hit a grounder to third. The third baseman threw the ball to first base, but the first baseman missed it. The runner ran to second. After retrieving the ball, the first baseman started chasing the runner.
I don’t know why, but the runner took off for third with the first baseman – still holding the ball – in hot pursuit.
Coach: “Johnny, what are you doing?”
Player: “I’m running away. I don’t want him to hit me.”
Coach: “He’s not going to hit you. Stay on third.”
Just then, the first baseman tossed the ball to the third baseman. But he missed it and the ball went to the fence.
Coach: “Go. Go. Run.”
Player: “I thought you said to stay on third.”
Yes, this was basic stuff. And it doesn’t get any better than this.