Sunday, July 01, 2007
Saturday June 30 - Cruisers vs. Domincans
What a fine day. A large group of cruising sailors met a large number of young Domincan men at the Luperon ball field. The ball field is right behind some shops on the main street here. In fact if you want to just watch you cut through the fish market to get to the stands. The field it self is pretty rough by US standards. There is a backstop though and and outfield wall (375 to straight-away center). The infield is dirt but pretty bumpy and the outfield has grass between 0 inches long and waist high with
bottles and rocks here and there.
Somebody brought some extra mitts and balls. Some raggedy bases were thrown out. We tossed some softballs around for a bit and then with no warning, fanfare or discussion of the ‘rules’ the game began. Being visitors we batted first. Not much skill on our side but the dominicans were here for fun and managed to drop a few pop-ups for us. As the game progressed I saw nothing but smiling faces all around. It is amazing what a great unifier baseball is.
Domincan Willie Stargel
A kid from Steve’s bar and grill brought down a wheel barrow filled with ice, beer, and water. He had to make another trip back up to Steve’s before the game was over. Nothing like a cool beer at the ball game. . . even if you are playing!
During the game the outfield had a variety of activities going on including the occasional motorcycle passing through, kids playing in the dirt and a wonderful kid with a home made kite. They all seemed to know how far out to play and nobody bothered them.
I played left field which is not my preference because balls tend to get hit there. In the bottom of the second one of the Domincans launched a high fly right to me. Well maybe back a little. A little more... Uh Oh. . . I turn my back to the plate and begin ‘racing’ out to left. I can still see the ball. I have a chance. I turn. My feet find each other and some various rocks on the ground and down I go. On my back. It was one of those ugly things I think where if you see the guy from the side you see his back hit and then his coconut snap down and bounce once on the ground. If it is in fact your coconut doing the bounce you also get to hear and feel your teeth bang together. I was stunned momentarily and then got up and rifled the ball to third getting the runner as he slid. Actually, no. I laid there for a bit and then got up and took myself out of the game. No damage. No blood but I ripped my favorite Cubs shirt from 03. After I got back to the bench Sue said, “Where’s your glasses”. TIME! Back out in left Sue and I and some of the dominican players helped us search for my glasses. Luckily they didn’t break but they sure did land far from my head!
Sue on the other hand made the first two outs for us playing short fielder catching a fly ball and making an assist at second. At the plate she got a single and scored on an extra base hit. Seeing Sue ‘FLY’ around the bases is nearly indescribable but if you’ve ever read the book, Snail Wins the Game, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In my one at bat I hit the ball right on the nose . . . back to the pitcher. Oh well, that eliminated any need to ‘hustle’ to first. I was still in the batter’s box when he caught it. (Probably a double if he doesn’t)
Between the top and bottom of the 6th I led the fans in a round of ‘Take me out to the Ball Game’ Ala’ Harry Carry. The Dominicans thought I was nuts (no, just concussed). We kept score and we may have even won but that wasn’t the point of this outing. When you are in another country you often feel a little ill at ease as you don’t know the language so good, you fear a customs faux pax, you want the locals to LIKE you. But we all speak baseball! It was so relaxing to just have that common experience and not worry about offending anyone. . . . as long as no one was offended by the level of our play.
After the game everyone walked across the street to a little beer joint, Pechichi’s and the Gringos made sure that, as visitors, we bought most of the beer for the Dominicans. There was music and a little dancing and just laughing and trying to talk a little baseball and a lot of Sammy Sosa. I hope we play again. . . .and that I can be in right field!
After a few beers - okay many many beers- we headed down the street to Captain Steve’s Place for a cheeseburger, fries, some pool, and another beer. Many baseball fans and players also made their way to Steve’s for lunch so the fun continued there. When it was about 3:00 p.m. and since our exhilirating game began at 10:00 a.m. we thought we should head back to the boat. On our way we passed the ball field again where an official softball league was at play. Well, maybe just one more while we watch real baseball.
This time as spectators we walked through the fish market and found a few empty seats behind home plate. Sweet. The Blue team was playing the Yellow team. We cheered for both teams. Go Azul go! Go ....(forgot what yellow is in Spanish but knew it then) go! Everyone was smiling and cheering as the boom box was blaring the latest salsa music. What a slice. After about an hour of too much fun again it really was time to get back to the boat while the gettin’ was possible.
You just can’t beat fun at the old ballgame. And, finally. . . .
This kid could be the next Sammy Sosa. Like Sammy and many Domincan kids they make their own gloves out of cardboard.