Tired of baseball? Me? Never! As noted in this space recently, I’ve got a beef going with the professional game. But my love for the sport itself will never die — and I got a big reminder when I looked on the “memories” feature of my Facebook page and found a post about The Greatest Game I Ever Saw — April 12, 2013. I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did:
I left work early yesterday because I was feeling lousy; had not the Baseball Gods intervened, I would have missed the whole thing.
My stepson Trevor needed to be at the ballpark for his Juniors game at 5:30. I’d rested for a couple hours and decided I felt well enough to drive him to the field.
So I dropped him off, just in time to see Coach Cliff racing toward me, asking if I could help get the field ready. My first thought was “No … I feel like hell and I’m going home.” But my second was, “Thank God I put on pants instead of pajamas before I left the house.” I could see he really needed the help, and since he’s a great guy who donates hundreds of hours of time so the boys can play, I had to say yes.
(It was the Baseball Gods.)
We got the field ready and, come game time, I still felt lousy, but decided I might as well feel lousy at the ballpark as home, so I stayed.
(Thank you, Baseball Gods.)
For four innings, it was a typically frustrating game for Trevor’s team, which was coming off a 16-1 loss and hadn’t won a game yet that season.
So, when the fourth inning ended with – I kid you not – a member of Trevor’s team hitting into a triple play, and the score 7-2, we were looking to the skies in hopes the Baseball Gods might deliver a rain-out or some sort of reprieve.
(The Baseball Gods had bigger and better plans.)
That’s when lightning struck – literally. The umpire pulled the kids off the field until he determined the lightning was no longer a threat. But by now, it was starting to rain.
A rain delay would mean the Oroville kids would have to drive back to Orland another day to finish at least five innings to make it an official game. And by the bottom of the fifth, it was pouring. We’re talking a Noah’s Ark-level downpour.
One out. Two outs. And the batter for Orland was a kid who, to the best of my memory, hadn’t had a base hit in three seasons.
The umpire rightly reckoned with one out to go, he’d let the kids keep playing in the rain to make it an official game.
(This is where the Baseball Gods show up).
Two outs. The rain is coming down but good. Two strikes on the hitter. The Orland dugout, though, was alive with chatter, encouraging the young man to get a hit and prolong the fun.
He swung — and made contact! A cheer went up from the bench for this fact alone. It was a slow roller to the left side. He hustled as hard as he could, and the third baseman didn’t get much on the throw, and …. SAFE AT FIRST!
The Phillies’ dugout erupted and the runner stood proudly at first. The Baseball Gods smiled, but big.
(You want to make the Baseball Gods happy? Keep fighting ’till the very end and ALWAYS stand behind your teammate.)
Do you have any doubt where this story is going next?
Still two outs, and a 7-2 deficit. But next came a walk. And a hit. And another hit. And a walk. And another hit and another hit. Suddenly, the team that was incapable of scoring a run wasn’t capable of making an out.
They had pushed five across the plate with a two-out rally in the bottom of the last inning, and the game was tied! There were runners on second and third — and Trevor, mighty Trevor, was standing at the bat.
And … it was POURING.
(It was the Baseball Gods. Those were tears of joy from above.)
Trevor took a strike. And a ball. And a ball, and a strike. The Phillies were down to their final strike.
Then the pitcher grooved one — and Trevor crushed it. A frozen rope directly over the second baseman’s head. One run scored. Two runs scored. The Phillies, losing 7-2 with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, were suddenly winning 9-7. A seven-run rally – all with two outs – started by a kid who had maybe never had a hit.
(The Baseball Gods love this stuff.)
The umpire sloshed his way over to the official scorekeeper to check the score. He found out the home team was ahead, which meant it was official. So he called the game — “ballgame!” — setting off an on-the-field water-soaked celebration the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Marco Scutaro caught that popup to end the 2014 NLCS.
I sat in the stands with my wife, drenched and feeling lousy and wanting a slug of Theraflu, and neither of us would have traded the moment for anything. To see that group of boys, who had stuck together throughout one disappointing season after another, whoop it up in the rain after the most improbable baseball comeback I’d ever seen was a moment none of us would ever forget.
But it was really just one more night in the world of the Baseball Gods. Work hard, play the game right and eventually, you just might get rewarded.
It’s a lot like life, really.
Mike Wolcott is editor of the Enterprise-Record. He can be reached at email@example.com.