I’ve been on a lot of teams over the years, from my hometown of Sunnyvale, CA all the way back here to River Falls and lots of little stops in between. What it meant to be a town baseball player was a little different in each place.
In some places, it’s little more than a rec league activity. Cookie-cutter city ballparks, no concession sales, the stands empty or just full of a few doting wives and girlfriends (begrudgingly, at times). The players come in with their gym bags, someone throws a lineup together on a napkin, the game gets over and players are straight to their cars. Batting practice? What’s batting practice?
In some places, it’s more like a high school team. The players take the game seriously, they spend some time debriefing afterward and show up for batting practice, but largely it’s about the baseball. They aren’t together off the field, it’s the same wives and girlfriends in the bleachers. These teams can be 1-25, win hardly any games, or 25-1, win almost all of them, but that’s strictly based on ability. They will play as well, or as poorly, as they are able to. Intangibles? What’s intangibles?
A team like the Fish is a little different. It’s important to note, before I run this down, they aren’t the only team in the SCVBL like this. I won’t name names, both those teams know who they are. Here’s the life of the Fish:
-signing autographs at an upcoming charity event
-90% player participation at the golf fundraiser – not just because it’s necessary, because it’s fun
-Joel Schaffer’s Meat Fest in August (ask him, he’ll probably invite you)
-putting on a pre-game youth clinic
-being part of the RF Days Parade
-filming a pep-talk video for a local 11-year old team during a rain delay
-young guys taking group post-game trips to McDonalds – old guys bringing their kids to the park
Those are just off the top of my head and upcoming events…we regret that, in fact, these guys aren’t paid, they do have day jobs, and on top of it they are mostly socially awkward goobers, so we can’t fill all the requests that come in through the team email.
At the end of the day, for our players it’s about the baseball too – they love it, they’re passionate about it, and if they weren’t, they wouldn’t make the kind of commitment it takes to play in a place like River Falls. But I am constantly proud of them for seeing the bigger picture and what our team can mean to the greater community in RF. That's the intangible part - it can inspire us to play above our talent level, it can't be coached, and it comes from you, the community.
Until next time, Go Fish!