Thursday, July 29, 2010

Take Me Out To (And Put Me In) The Ballgame

There are certain dreams most every red-blooded American boy harbors of what they'd like to be when they grow up. Cowboy. Astronaut. Race car driver. Baseball player.

As we grow older, while the pursuit of dreams are often set aside in favor of more mundane professions, the dreams themselves remain. A few years back, Tom Selleck was invited to take batting practice with the Los Angeles Dodgers before a home game. Tommy Lasorda, and a camera crew, were there to commemorate the occasion. After he had taken his swings in the batters box, Lasorda asked Selleck if he had to choose between the two which he'd prefer: his lengthy and successful acting career, or one day as a major league baseball player. Without hesitation he replied, "Ballplayer."

Most of us will never so much as set foot on the field of a major league ballpark. Yet for some, not only have they done so, they've been fortunate enough to actually play ball there. Recently, our own Larry Friel from our Claims department had such an opportunity.

When he's not performing his duties on the job or home as husband and father, Larry enjoys keeping active by playing a little baseball. No slow-pitch softball either; this is the real deal. He pitches for Benecia in the Norcal Oldtimers Baseball League, which since 1941 has served as an outlet for players 35 and older to participate in the game they love at a level a notch above your average recreational league. A few days ago, Benecia played San Jose on a field more than a few notches above the norm.

As in AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Honoring America during the National Anthem

Larry tells the story:

My baseball team, Benicia Oldtimers Baseball (not softball -- real baseball), was given the opportunity to play a game at AT&T Park. We played the West Coast Giants out of San Jose.

Larry makes contact!

We were allowed three hours to play our game. We finished nine innings with a 7-2 win.

Not quite a splash hit, but a solid single.

It was great to be able to play on a field of this caliber. They tried as much as they could to make it seem like a real San Francisco Giants game. They had an announcer, scorekeeper, line-up on the big board, four umpires, and ushers.

Warming up in the bullpen.

As you could guess, the field was in spectacular conditions. The field did not seem a whole lot different from what we normally play on, but the outfield area seemed enormous.

Dealing the heat.

We had about 200 people attend from Benicia. Mostly family and friends, but a few people who read about it in the local paper.

How could you not enjoy yourself?

We are a team of baseball players over the age of 35. We have 9 players over 50 years old that have been playing with this team anywhere from 19-28 years. Our oldest guy is 62 and he has been playing with me for 19 years. In fact, he was my Little League coach when I was 10 years old back in 1968. Our team was formed in 1941 along with the league.

Congratulations on fulfilling a dream, Larry!

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  1. Great job Larry!

  2. Wow! That's Awesome...I wish my co-ed teams that I play on were that good! lol

  3. Larry works with numbers all day so I can where hitting something would be a great way to relax! Here's to you Larry doing something you love and bringing your passion to one of our oldest sports!