"...if you want to have a very enjoyable summer evening watching a bunch of youngsters pursue their 'dreams' right here in Santa Fe, stop by Fort Marcy Park at 6 p.m."
Santa Fe Fuego, the new baseball club in town made its Fort Marcy Park debut earlier in May before hundreds of families, friends and general baseball enthusiasts. It was a different, cold, quirky, funky, relaxing and yes enjoyable evening. They will be playing in the Pecos League through July, at 6 p.m. Yes, beer is available. So far the games are high scoring, but exciting. It has resulted in some long nights at the ball park, but that will work itself out.
Men who love baseball, in essence “collect” and savor the experience. They can’t get baseball out of their system. Why else would a 48-year-old Fuego pitcher still be pitching against players half his age? He has a “love” for the game. He just can’t get enough of it. He has worked hard for years. His career stalled out a few rungs from the top. He still dreams. Baseball players of whatever age always dream, especially in this day and age.
I can remember when, in the late 1940s, my father would take me to see our towns’ baseball team play on Sunday afternoons. The star pitcher owned the local gas station. That was my first exposure to baseball. The Little League then came to our town and we had uniforms. Man was that neat. At the same time I started collecting baseball cards that came with packages of bubble gum. I ended up with thousands. Never could get a Mickey Mantle. I built a wood box with compartments for the cards of individual teams in my shop class. My first “A.”
I was a catcher. I liked that position because I was involved with each and every pitch. No waiting around for someone to hit the ball my way in the field. I loved giving the umpires a hard time and blocking home plate so the umpire could see the runner was clearly “out.”
My first writing experience was writing stories about the games I was playing in, for the local weekly newspaper. I loved doing that. A few years later, I continued on with the tradition by writing about the football games I played in while in high school. Hard to believe that over 50 years later, life comes around full circle and I’m writing about baseball again!
I had a younger brother who became a very good pitcher. We built a pitcher's mound in our back yard and would practice by the hour. He had the meanest 12-year-old curve ball that no one could hit. Of course, he probably shouldn’t have been throwing curve balls at that age with the stress on the elbow and shoulder, but we overlooked that as long as he got everyone “out. One year we missed by one game of going to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. That is probably why his “dream” ended at an early age and he became a fuel distribution company owner and executive, never to pitch again.
Years later, with my own two sons, I decided we had to have good pitchers to compete. I managed youth league baseball teams for about 20 years in total. We stole a home plate from a little -sed field and I had another pitcher's mound in another backyard. We won a lot of championships. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The best part was participating in the raising of the finest young men in our town, who later became the local cop, lawyer, banker, computer geek and so forth.
I played baseball until I was about 45, and spending a great deal of time overseas. I didn’t particularly have “dreams” about baseball because in the early 50s, baseball was not a path to riches. The top players were paid $75,000 to $100,000. Average and beginning players were paid $5,000-$7,500. They had to work at other jobs in the off season. Those were the days before free agency and television. Today good players are compensated like CEO’s and in the television era the money is enough to get anyone to “dream.”
So, if you want to have a very enjoyable summer evening watching a bunch of youngsters pursue their “dreams” right here in Santa Fe, stop by Fort Marcy Park at 6 p.m. and thoroughly savor the atmosphere.