All right winter, enough already. We get it, but it’s time to play ball.
It’s been a challenge for local “spring” sports to get outside and play this year. From Little League to high school, baseball and softball programs have either had to brave some harsh elements, or simply lost games and practice times. It seems like an annual occurrence but with a very wet February and now March, it looks like more rainouts are looming.
Rainouts, a ball player’s worst enemy. I’ve never enjoyed the rainout. As a youngster I would get so excited for a baseball game, only to have the elements say otherwise. I remember my first ever rainout for that matter. At 7 years old I couldn’t understand why we just couldn’t play baseball in the rain My first coach summed it up perfectly: “Football players play in the rain; baseball players play in the shine!”
Sometimes we will brave the wintery elements to get a ballgame in. Anybody who has ever watched a baseball game in Tehachapi knows about those games. Most parents risk being hit by a foul ball and just park their car closer to the field. When your team does something right, you hear the “Tehachapi applause,” a cacophony of car horns being sounded at the same time. If you’re really spectacular the headlights will flash too, one would hope.
As someone who covered these sports for a long time, I’ve had my share of rainout and storm games to reflect on. Before the grandstands were built at Cal State Bakersfield’s Hardt Field, we used this rickety scaffolding creation as a press box. It sat above the temporary bleachers and was essentially wrapped in tarps and included a couple of narrow staircases. During batting practice one rainy evening I could see one of the Bakersfield dust/rainstorms rolling in and picking up steam. As my coworker braced for the impact of high winds, I yelled, “I’m not going down with this ship,” and quickly exited with my life.
To his credit he rode it out and lived to tell about it. Let’s just say he never did that again. There was also the rather famous 2012 CSUB-Nebraska rainout in Lincoln, Neb. I was with the team for our final game of the series and it was pouring. This Midwest storm showed no signs of letting up. While the home team retreated to their luxurious clubhouse, we were forced to wait it out in the dugout. I joined the team there because I could see the antics were starting.
First, there was a series of phone calls from the dugout phone to the press box for song requests. The home crew, just as bored as the visiting players, obliged. So, some dance scenes and even organized skits from the Roadrunners were created. The few fans who remained or stood on the concourse of the all of the sudden loved the visiting team.
After 40 minutes of that, the Cornhuskers appeared down the left field line, but they weren’t coming to play ball, they were coming to dance. I can’t necessarily describe to you what happened next, but let’s just say that baseball is a kid’s game, and even young men can easily revert to children when there’s rain involved, a giant tarp, some dance music and a green light to have fun. The videos from that event went viral, covered on every local and national network in America. You can still find them on YouTube where to this day they remain the most-watched content I ever produced at CSUB.
While times like that were memorable, I feel for the baseball and softball players who are trying to get a little sunlight so they can get on with their turn to play. Around here it’s just part of the growing up process, those miserable times playing a beautiful game.
Just remember, the sun will come out tomorrow. Or will it? According to my weather app, it’s not looking good. Better get those dance moves polished off.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.