Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The boys of summer show up late..but they show up.

This morning's op-ed in the O by Rick Attig was inspired. Attig rightly glorifies the OSU Beavers for teaching Oregonians to overcome their weather induced aversion to baseball:

Like every baseball player in Corvallis, I grew up with a stick in my hands.

A rake.

That was Oregon baseball: soggy grass, muddy infields, a smattering of fans, many in ski parkas, and games prefaced with hours of raking out puddles. While the boys of summer, those lucky kids in Arizona, Southern California and Florida, were playing their 30th games of the spring, we were setting fire to our infield to burn off the water.

As much as we loved baseball, it always seemed like it was somebody else's game.

Not ours. Not here.

But Oregon State University's supremely talented baseball team has changed all that. The Beavers wiped out Stanford 15-0 Sunday to earn a second consecutive trip to the College World Series. The Beavers and their terrific head coach, Pat Casey, have done more than turn OSU into one of the nation's top college baseball programs.

That may have been baseball in Western Oregon. But those of us who were raised on the east side of the Cascades had different experiences.

In the small town where I grew up, football was the sport to play. Our high school had a nice field. Baseball existed in the Spring--but the football field was converted into practice for the school's successful track and field program.

Our baseball team practiced and played in a converted pasture over near the fairgrounds. The baseball coach was responsible for grooming the field--which is what the team did as a part of their practices. But that was only in the afternoon, especially in early Spring. Its pretty tough to rake out perma-frost.

Games were dustbowls. There was very little grass in the pasture then, so every time someone made a hard run there'd be a kick up of dirt. The wind was inevitably blowing. Sliding was pretty tough on the players, too. The infield would often be rock hard.

But I was a faithful fan. My high school sweetheart played first base, after all.