(NSP Meditations features regular contributions from Correspondents. If you are interested in becoming one, contact Matt Love through the NSP web site for more details.)
The Warriors’ tall right hander kicks and deals. Fastball away, McAvoy swings, it’s hit sharply to the right side. Second baseman Foye is up with it and throws him out, one away. On the play Howard advances to third. His run would pull the Trojans to within one here in the top of the 7th.
Cleveland coach Telander heads to the mound to visit with his pitcher. Andy Gomes has kept the Trojans bats mostly quiet, though Howard’s stinging liner to the gap in right this inning has kept Wilson in this contest.
We’re playing this one on a pretty mid-spring Tuesday afternoon at Powell Park in Portland. A few small clouds float above the great American red oak trees that have leafed out creating an always impressive perimeter to this diamond. At 100 feet tall by 100 feet around these giants can give one the impression of being in a much larger arena.
Okay, the mound conference is over, back to the action. The Trojans’ no. 7 hitter, right fielder Mark Havens steps in. And the pitch—it’s a spinner out over the plate that Havens drives high towards the left field corner; it’s pretty deep, and it’s outta here! A two-run home run and my friends we have a brand new ball game, Cleveland 3, Wilson 3. (Cleveland silences the Trojans rally then scores in its half of the 7th to win 4-3.)
This is high school athletics in Oregon in 2017. In virtually every conceivable way these events are democratic in diametric opposition to the big time American sports landscape. The kids play because they enjoy the competition, camaraderie and the fun of it. Admission is either free or nominal; you sit wherever you want, and cheer for both sides. Plus, high school games offer the bonus of being a community activity, a way to participate in the life of your neighborhood.
So I ask, are you tired of cable TV bills pushed into the triple digits by a surfeit of sports network programming? Do you really want to refinance your house to renew those Blazers season tickets? Alrighty then, head out to your local secondary school athletic contest.
Today, girls softball; first pitch at 4: 00 p.m. sharp. Avoid delay, these kids don’t waste time. This is, after all, America.
Matthew Sproul was born in 1960 in Barnstable (founded 1639), Massachusetts. He went to high school in Newport OR. Sproul studied at OSU and the U of O, and worked as a waiter and tree planter, prior to moving to Portland in 1988. He loves 19th century American painting, hockey and the Washington State Cougars.