I went out today for some lunch and to get Big Red a much-needed washing and remembered that there was a baseball game advertised in the local alternative newspaper. Unfortunately, at my advanced age, I couldn’t remember who or where.
So, I called my brother, Dan, in Florida and asked him to look it up. Makes sense, call someone in Florida to do directory assistance in Anchorage. I knew it had something to do with the American Legion, but that’s about it.
Nothing. He’s looking through schedules for the different American Legion posts, trying to research any Anchorage team, I’m trying to use the GPS to locate any baseball stadiums. Nada. Zilch.
So, I hang up and head back to the hotel to fetch the newspaper when Dan calls back – he’s found the Anchorage Bucs and they are playing the Fairbanks Goldpanners at Mulcahey Stadium. Bingo.
Or not. No internet listing for Mulcahey Stadium. Real directory assistance has not listing, either. Dan finds the home page for the Anchorage Bucs which TELL YOU that they are playing at Mulcahey Stadium but don’t provide an address.
Dammit, I’m going to see baseball today. So I call the President of Operations for the Bucs at home and ask for directions, which he kindly provides.
Well, the game was pretty nice. The teams are made up of ex-collegiate players from baseball powers such as Fresno Pacific and Yavapai College. (The American Legion connection was that Mulcahey Stadium is a Legion field – they just let the Bucs play there). Bucs lost 5-3 and the crowd well in excess of 100 people went away sadly.
I was a little disappointed in that I expected the team to be the Anchorage BUCKS (you know, like elk or deer) and I wanted a cool T-shirt. Unfortunately, they were the BUCS like buccaneers and had this logo:
And it looks just too much like the Pittsburgh Pirates.Ugh.
There was some fun, though. In the bottom of the 8th inning, a lousy call by the base umpire on an attempted steal got a player and manager thrown out and got the crowd riled up. The umps were looking a might nervous and, with 85% of Alaskans owning guns, the threats coming from the stands could be a bit ominous. But the game ended quietly and we all headed out.
BLAST FROM THE PAST:
Speaking of umpires, I was a sports official for over 25 years – baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, you name it. I enjoyed it immensely and prided myself on (1) knowing the rules and (2) the ability to stand up to problem coaches and players.
I remember calling a softball game alone in an industrial league in downtown Cincinnati some years ago where the teams were each sponsored by liquor stores, they didn’t like each other and, as the game progressed, the fans became well lubricated.
There were a few altercations between players, but nothing particularly out of order. The stands were a different matter. People started getting personal and more than one player had to go restrain his spouse from tearing into the other side.
The game had already started late and darkness was setting in. There were no lights on this field and it was the last game of the night. With one inning to go and the score tied, I couldn’t see the outfielders – no way to tell if they were making catches or not. I called both coaches over and said, “This game is suspended because of darkness. I’m worried about player safety. It will have to be finished later.”
Dead silence. I thought I could hear switchblades opening, guns being cocked, broken bottles being readied. The two massive coaches closed in on me and, despite my warnings about dangerous conditions, etc, they both said they wanted to continue and would waive any responsibility if anyone got hurt.
Understanding the umpire’s responsibility of safety beyond all other concerns, I resolutely looked them in the eye and said, “Well then, gentlemen, let’s play ball.”
The visitors scored in the top of the last inning. The home team made two quick outs and then the last player lofted a high fly to the shortstop. I was at my car with keys in hand as I made the last “OUT” call, jumped in and tore out – not sure if he ever made the catch. I couldn’t see him.