Dave Shively: Sandlot daze
October 21, 2007
When you’re a kid, the dying daylight of ever-shortening fall afternoons conspires against you. After school, the kids across the street and I convened to play basketball until it was too dark to see, too cold to shoot or we were too hungry for dinner.
Some Steamboat Pilot & Today staffers try to replicate these days gone outside. Our dorky evening three-on-three games at the Howelsen hoops fulfill the exercise quota, especially with that trails-too-muddy-but-not-enough-snow limbo upon us, but the games don’t compare to the real thing.
What is the real thing? It happened earlier this week. Watching Game 3 and 4 of the NLCS live and seeing a bunch of (slightly older) kids playing sandlot ball in the fall evening took me back years.
In 1993, the big leagues came to Denver, and it was cool to see Mile High Stadium packed with fans, but to me, some seventh-grade punk, these “Rockies” were just a glorified version of the Zephyrs.
They hadn’t earned the right to my fandom. I was a Nuggets fan and bigger things were happening. The following spring, the No. 8 Nuggets upset the No. 1 Supersonics. Down three games to Utah, Denver staged an improbable comeback, winning the next three. I never thought I, or anyone else in Colorado, would ever experience anything like the Game 6 victory at McNichols. Grown men crying and screaming, high-fives and hugs with complete strangers, a shared hope in shared accomplishment – if only for a brief moment until Game 7.
During the Rockies run, I regressed back to my giddy seventh-grade self. On a rainy Sunday night, one week ago, the cycle was complete and I was converted.
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I unearthed my Mizuno MaxFlex MT4500, a glove not worn since that same seventh-grade year when I stopped playing baseball. With a drenched foot-long dog spilling mustard all over myself, I realized I was, in fact, 12 once again.
The rally towel did nothing to dry the soaked denim my prepubescent brain thought would keep me dry and warm, but it didn’t matter for the fans that stuck around our section long enough to see Torrealba’s game-winning homer in the sixth.
Screaming like an idiot keeps you warm enough.
Monday was different. Fans were more aware of themselves. Something big, something historic was unfolding. Coors Field was no longer watered down – zero seats empty, thousands of recently-purchased brooms, lines six-fan deep to buy fitted caps and crafty signs from “Purple Reign,” “ByRnes, Don’t it?” and “Git R Done” to “Winner, Winner Rattlesnake Dinner.” Throats sore from screaming at Eric Boo-yrnes and chanting “M-V-P” to Holliday was answered with his 452-foot three-run blast. Suddenly it was four big outs from Manny Corpas – with some flawless fielding – and I joined a jumping sea of spinning towels and brooms. Let the stranger high-fives and hugs begin again.
They came together to compete, extending that fall neighborhood game all the way to a pennant to remind people why we gather to do so in the first place.
These kids are for real.