Joel Reichenberger: Baseball: My sport

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

— I didn’t know what I expected Saturday afternoon when I showed up for one of the Steamboat Storm’s games in the weekend’s Triple Crown Mountain Magic baseball tournament. Despite heading into my fourth summer in Steamboat Springs, somehow Saturday’s game was the first Triple Crown game I’ve covered.

To be honest, I was a little afraid the tournament, featuring 11-year-olds, would offer me nothing but a long, sweaty afternoon of bad baseball.

I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case, and even as the Storm’s game involved a few errors and extra innings, it was a joy to cover.

For that I’ll give plenty of credit to the Steamboat kids and to their opponents, the West JeffCo Cougars. Saturday’s was a game with big hits and aggressive base running, a few spectacular plays in the field and some thrilling moments.

As much as anything, I enjoyed the game because it reminded me how much I loved playing baseball as I was growing up. Baseball was an up-and-down affair for me, but it always defined my summers, and those when it was good still rank among the best of my life.

I was a first baseman. Two, sometimes three grades of players were grouped on the same teams in my small town. The class above mine was stacked with athletes, so when we were grouped with them, I either sat the bench or played right field.

We had great teams those years, but winning never proved as fun as playing did in the other years, when I took a much more active role and, with a giant first-baseman’s mitt on loan from an uncle, manned one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Watching Saturday’s game brought the good memories flooding back. I remembered the big hits and the close plays, like the Storm experienced. I remembered snow-cone catches, sliding to avoid being picked off and begging after the game to hit up the local restaurant for treats. The Storm had all that too, the players pleading for a trip to The Tap House Sports Grill (their sponsor for two years) as soon as the final out was called.

It hasn’t been a bad week in journalism for me. I covered a Town Challenge race at beautiful Marabou. I spent two days either on the Yampa River or prowling its shores putting together a rafting story, and I got to lie in the green grass of a summer day and watch a baseball game.

Extra innings? Yes, please.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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