01 June 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Baseball in Billings

In Billings, on Memorial Day Weekend, in addition to honoring our veterans, especially those who have died defending our country, our kids traditionally play baseball, against each other and nearby towns and scattered villages. Under the guidance of the local American Legion Baseball Board a three day smorgasbord of baseball is served up at some of our local parts of paradise, Dehler Park, Pirtz Field and Urbaska Field.

These are almost pre-season games as none of them count in conference play. It looks like the bench players on the Scarlets and Royals get a chance to show their stuff in game situations. And the smaller towns get to play against teams that might have some better hitters and pitchers, the only formula I know for getting better. And I almost forgot, Billings is blessed with a surprising number of really good umpires, not perfect mind you , but surprisingly consistent. They do not get in the way of a good game. To the left above is the cover of the nice brochure put together by the Legion Board.

First of all, we have, of course, the Royals and Scarlets and their younger colleagues, the Blue Jays and the Cardinals from here in Billings; but wait, we also are fortunate enough to have an All-Star Big League team, an older version of Little League; and finally, not one but two independent teams, the Halos I and II, sponsored by our friends at Emmanuel Baptist Church, ably directed by Hal Anderson. So that is seven teams from Billings. To that were added the excellent Laurel Dodgers, winner of MT state A championship last year and surely a contender to repeat; and the Powell Pioneers, the Riverton Raiders, the Lewistown Redbirds, and the Gallatin Valley Outlaws. All of these compete on the A level except for the the Scarlets and Royals. The crowds were a little thin for many of the games but they did show up for the Royals v. Scarlets game early evening Monday at Dehler Park. See above right.

Baseball is a difficult game, much easier watched than played, but unless you have actually been on the field it is difficult to appreciate the variable strike zone with different umpires and the exquisitely correct distances from base to base, and just how courageous it is to stand at the plate with some guy, maybe slightly wild, throwing baseballs fairly close to you.

Halos II and Riverton looked a little weak on offense and defense, but the latter was missing a few guys because of family trips and graduations. I didn't see the Redbirds or the Big League Stars. Powell and Laurel looked good and Halos I will certainly be competitive and probably improving. The Blue Jays and Cardinals are young and have a lot of learning to do this year. We are lucky here in Billings to have the coaching staffs we have now and have had in the past. Above is a Cardinal pitcher on the mound and a Halo batter at Pirtz Field.


Yellowstone Veteran's Cemetery, Laurel MT: Memorial Day 2010

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