‘Tis the Baseball Season

By: Kelly Byrnes

She’s better than I ever was.

Most year’s I spend the second half of March thinking about my predictions for the upcoming season, you know division winners, playoffs teams, award winners and so on. This year was a little different. The WBC was going on, which kept me glued to the TV. Almost every game was an instant classic and to top it off Team USA took home their first WBC championship. Once the WBC was over Spring Training games were just kinda, well blah. I started thinking about some of my baseball activities for the year and I started to get excited at all the things I could possibly be able to do.

First things first though. Right now all three of my daughters have started their softball seasons. My oldest is on a fantastic tournament team and they have 13 tourneys scheduled from now until July, two down so far and one of those was an undefeated championship. My middle daughter is 9 and in her second year of 10U, which I’m the assistant coach of. We are hoping to do a couple tournaments with this team to introduce them to tournament ball. My youngest is in her first year of T-Ball, which I’m the head coach of. There are nine girls on the team and seven of them are first year t-ballers including my niece. Believe it or not but I’m really excited to be coaching T-Ball again.

Hadlock Field home of the Eastern League Double A Portland Sea Dogs.

My family’s big trip this summer will be going to Maine for 16 days to visit my dad. My dad lives in Old Orchard Beach, Maine which is about 25 minutes away from Portland, Maine, home of the Portland Sea Dogs the Double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. I’m hoping to make it to two games. About an hour and half away from Old Orchard Beach is the New Hampshire Fisher Cats the Double A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The plan is to try to go to one game there and do a little site seeing on the way.

Also, while we’re there I’m going to be able to cross a huge item off of my baseball bucket list, visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to make it there but my dad is a little more than five hours from there. There is no way I’m going to be that close to Cooperstown and not go there. We will be there for one day and I hope it’s long enough. I will be in there from the moment they open to until whenever they kick me out. I got to see as much as I can and soak in all the history.

On our way to Cooperstown we’re stopping in a little town in Massachusetts called Pittsfield. After we booked a hotel I did a little research to see if there was anything worth doing or seeing. I got on Wikipedia and one of the first things I see is, “Baseball in Pittsfield”. It talks about a reference to a 1791 by-law prohibiting anyone from playing “baseball” within 80 yards of the new meeting house in Pittsfield, which is earlier than the finding that baseball was invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown. There is also a field in Pittsfield called, “Wahconah Park” which was used from 1919-2013 by different minor league teams. Future major leaguers such as Carlton Fisk, Reggie Smith, Mark Grace, Rafael Palmeiro and Joe Girardi played there. Today it is home of the Pittsfield Sun of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCLB).

Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro, OR has that Spring Training feel.

Living on the West Coast I don’t get to see very many All-Star games live but I’ll have the opportunity to see two of them this year. This year the Tacoma Rainers of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) are hosting the Triple A All-Star game on July 12th. This would also give me a chance to finallly see a game at Cheney Stadium. Every year I say I want to see a Rainer’s game but never make it. I think this is finally the year I go. The other All-Star game I hope to see is the Short Season Single A Pioneer League vs Northwest League and that game will be played at the home of the Hillsboro Hops (D-Backs) at Ron Tonkin Field on August 1st.

Besides everything I just mentioned I will try to do the stuff I do every year. Try to go to a couple Seattle Mariners games, we already have tickets for May 6th (Felix Bobblehead Night). I like taking my girls to minor league games and seeing some of the players that are at the start of their professional careers. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (San Francisco Giants) are about 90 minute drive away so hoping for at least one or two of their games. They don’t have the best stadium or baseball atmosphere but its baseball and very easy to get a few autographs. The Eugene Emeralds (Chicago Cubs) are about two and a half hours away so I usually only make it there every other year and I didn’t make it last year so it’s on my list for this season. They have a beautiful stadium and a wonderful atmosphere.

Lastly, a big hobby of mine is taking pictures of some of the local teams here in Longview, WA. It has gotten harder to find the time with all my girls playing softball and my umpiring adult slow pitch softball. Lower Columbia College is home of David Story Field and it fields LCC Baseball. LCC Softball plays there home games at Tam O’Shanter Park in Kelso, WA. During the summer they host the Cowlitz Black Bears of the West Coast League a collegiate summer baseball league founded in 2005.

I know I won’t be able to do all this but I will give it a go, wish me luck!!!