Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs By the time I looked down at my cellphone on Saturday and saw Dave Roy’s number, it confirmed things.
Baseball in Steamboat still matters.
I heard from about 10 people via different methods — calls, texts, emails even old school notes — that the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team was hosting a pair of games Saturday against Eagle Valley.
Roy, the former coach, was dying for any information on the game. He never experienced a home game in his time as coach, but he felt just as much as part of the team when his buses were hitting deer and bald eagles (true stories).
It’s been a long time since Steamboat has hosted a game. That’s part of the charm of the baseball team in Steamboat. It’s always been about playing on the road, taking ground balls in the gym and then going out and trying to get up to speed in an actual game.
But the mild winter gave the team a chance. The fields were cleared and the team had actual home games at Emerald Blue on Saturday.
The baseball team always has had a special place to me. I grew up in Leadville where baseball was similar to here. We could have had the indoor Wiffle Ball state championship each year.
We actually had a makeshift field south of town where we practiced. From home plate to right field, it dropped off 50 feet.
I can remember playing outfield and having it snow so hard I could barely see my hand in front of my face.
I suffered two broken noses on that field.
And I never played a home game in four years of baseball.
So walking to Emerald on Saturday there was an audible energy in the ballpark. It felt like opening day all over again.
Of course, the two-hour delay the umpires instituted to make sure the left field foul line was playable after the rain turned the fans restless.
I can’t blame them. It’s been a long, long time since baseball has been back in Steamboat.
But when the players finally took the field, there was an edge in the air. They played with tempered emotion. They made one error in 14 innings of baseball. They had great pitching, timely hitting and were as well prepared as I’ve seen a Steamboat team in the past five years.
Maybe it was because the team was at home. Maybe they knew they needed the two wins to stay in playoff contention.
Regardless of the reason, it was darn good to have baseball in Steamboat on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com