Boys and men of summer

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I had to miss out on an alumni baseball game at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy a couple weekends ago. My main reaction when I got the invitation to the game and reunion in the mail was “2010, 2000, 10 years? Yep, 10 years.”

Sadly, I missed the afternoon as I was at the state track and field meet in Richmond that Saturday. It would’ve been good to see friends I haven’t seen in years and it would’ve been something, I don’t know good or bad, to pitch an inning or two.

The most likely result would’ve been “humbling” and a reminder of what 10 years mean. I haven’t thrown a baseball in a meaningful way in four years.

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Last Thursday night, Nansemond River opened its Tidewater Summer League baseball season. It’s the first summer Nansemond River’s been in the league.

For its first outing, Nansemond River had a hodge-podge team together. The first game, with Kellam as the opponent, was more of a scrimmage, which was good because Nansemond River played as a hodge-podge team might play in its first game together.

Nansemond River’s roster is made up mostly of high school players, mostly undergrads who will be returning next season for the Warriors.

Nansemond River also has college and post-college players. For the college guys, it’s a way to stay sharp and keep playing through most of the summer. For the guys finished with college ball, coach Dave Ewell said they’re out there just to keep playing, stay in shape and have a good time.

All that’s certainly true, but competition, and continuing to have the opportunity to pitch or hit against an opponent has to be part of the lure. That’s even if there are no thoughts, at least in the forefront, of getting noticed by someone or finding a way onto a minor-league team of some sort.

Playing with and versus players of varying ages is something I never experienced. Standing around at Thursday’s game though, it seemed as though it would’ve been a valuable experience.

At the very least, it would’ve been highly entertaining.

Fish stories are not limited to anglers. The tales told during baseball practices and in dugouts during games are nothing if not memorable, even for those who never get near college or pro ball.

Playing versus older, faster, stronger players, with wooden bats, in 9-inning games will of course help Nansemond River’s high school players.

Even without the unique chance to play with and learn from more experienced players, joining the Tidewater Summer League was a great idea.

With the older guys on the team, and hopefully the older guys will be sound, mature teammates who pass along the good habits and youth-friendly stories they’ve been around for, hopefully that’s one more benefit throughout the summer.