National Night Out’s (NNO) baseball game between the Lakewood Baseball Club’s Pinto Division Champion Tillicum Crushers and their parents was so fun, so outstanding, and so incredibly important at so many levels.
If only somehow we could capture – and that is the intent here in writing this – the far-reaching difference a simple three-inning exhibition game can – and will – have for all of life for all concerned.
More on that in a moment.
Balloon making and face painting and pizza and just goofing off for an evening at Harry Todd Park in Tillicum drew a crowd for NNO.
There was a ring-the-bell contest for all comers which Lakewood Police Officer Jeremy Prater evidently has done before.
On home plate was a contraption – a board with a hole in the middle behind which hole hung a ship’s bell – with the idea – and goal – that a baseball might, hopefully, could be thrown from the pitcher’s mound through the hole thus ringing the bell.
Uniformed Officer Prater, complete with bulky vest and adorned with all that police wear, toed the mound, went into his wind, and nearly knocked the bell from its mounting.
That first throw not only hit the bell but the bell rang, and rang, and rang, swinging wildly back and forth in and out of the hole.
Same thing second pitch.
The Lakewood Police Department must have one of these at the station.
Eight-year-old Ricardo Aguirre had missed the championship game but didn’t miss the game against his parents. The league trophy was there so the coaches gathered ‘round Ricardo for a picture.
Whosever idea it was – and probably it was Assistant Crusher Coach Will Simon – to have the parent pitch to their son or daughter when that particular member of the Crusher family came to the plate and, vice versa, the child to pitch to the parent – was a stroke of genius.
Derek Doss Sr. struck out his son Derek Doss Jr. three times. And Jr. struck out Sr. three times.
Can’t you just imagine it? Young Shawn Talley is called in, as it were from the bullpen, to face his mom striding to the plate. From the mound Shawn peers just over the top of his glove – ala Randy Johnson of Mariner success and recent Hall of Fame inductee – and only his eyes, mischievous, glare down at his mother.
“Strike her out Talley! This is for all the spinach she’s ever made you eat!” can be heard from the sidelines.
Seven-year-old Shawn Talley rears back and fires a high-heat fastball down the heart of the plate.
Mom doesn’t even swing. Not sure if she even saw the ball.
Rather, hands on her hips the bat trailing along one side, she turns and faces her son with a look that apparently young Talley has seen before because the next pitch is underhand, a soft-looper that mom smashes into shallow left-center. There, Amber Keller with perhaps the strongest arm on the team gathers up the grounder and fires – all the way – to first where Gauge Simon awaits.
Mrs. Talley is out.
Young Talley grins.
It’s family time at its best.
And community time too.
In the ‘stands’ watching the game was the Chief of Police. And the City Manager. In fact it is said that the City Manager took a picture of the backstop – the one where every other ball escaped through the hole at the bottom of the chain link and was constantly being retrieved.
Perhaps there’s a repair planned by city folks in the future.
One of the members of the fire department heard that the Crushers had defeated their parents to which he grinned and replied: “Imagine that.”
In the bottom of the second inning with the parents leading 2-1, with dinner-time bragging rights on the line for the next 365 days until they meet again, the Crushers turned their hats backwards. It was rally time.
Two Crushers would get hits off their parents and then up to the plate came Gauge Simon.
Gauge only – and always – when facing his dad, throws the kind of fast ball that sizzles as it approaches, flames trailing meteor-like as the ball itself, barely visible, crosses the plate past dad’s flailing attempts to make contact.
Is there anything – anything – in this world – at all – that compares to striking out your dad?
On three straight high-heat pitches?
But now it was dad-slash-coach on the mound. His son was at the plate.
It was payback time.
Gauge promptly smacked dad’s own fastball into center field and with two of his fellow teammates on at first and second, Gauge almost caught them when he slid into the crevasse at home (another repair project) and all of a sudden, in the greatest comeback in the history (we’ve only done this once so far) of Crushers vs. Parents Tillicum baseball, the Crushers were up 4 to 2 and that’s the way it would stay as the boys – and girl – who played the game that night shut out their parents in the top of the third.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” said Amber Keller’s dad Frank.
For striking out their parents, no doubt Crusher players will mow lawns, wash dishes, clean their rooms, etc. but that’s tomorrow. Late the night of the big comeback win over moms and dads, it was the moms and dads who were posting on the Tillicum Crusher Facebook Page.
It was there that Coach Will Simon wrote what hits it out of the park for what the game meant:
“Watching these boys turn into young men – I couldn’t be more proud than I am with this group of players and all the support from the parents and community is such a bonus. GO CRUSHERS! One proud coach right here.”