In the midst of the coronavirus-predicated shutdown of life as we know it, there have been plenty of moments of reflection in the athletic world. We’re not seeing new sports; we’re watching old games, replays, documentaries and whatever possible to pass the time and remember things the way they once were.
I had mentioned before about the "Roadrunner Classic" radio show now airing on ESPN 1230/101.1 FM in Bakersfield where they’ve asked me to narrate a two-hour show covering some of the conference championship teams during my tenure. This past week we started on the 2015 baseball team, one of my favorite teams for many reasons.
In the process of all this, you tend to remember stories that were locked away. This particular tale is one of the most memorable I had involving an opposing head coach. Usually my interaction with other teams’ coaches was minimal, maybe a few pregame questions, a lineup exchange and that’s it. That wouldn’t turn out to be the case in 2015.
That season CSUB hosted the University of Northern Colorado Bears in a baseball series near the end of the Western Athletic Conference season. If my memory is correct, CSUB had already clinched its spot in the upcoming conference tournament, but UNC needed every win it could get. The teams split the first two games of the series and Sunday in a tight ballgame a Northern Colorado baserunner was thrown out at the plate in the seventh inning. Head coach Carl Iwasaki argued the call and was eventually thrown out of the game.
At Hardt Field, there isn’t a visitor’s clubhouse or locker room. Usually coaches who get tossed go sit in the team bus in the parking lot so they can watch the game. Problem was the Bears didn’t have a team bus either; they elected to rent vans to bring the team from the airport. So, coach Iwasaki decided to jump behind the wheel of one of those vans and search for a vantage point to watch the remainder of the game since he had to leave the field.
He decided to do a little off-roading, so to speak, in the area behind the right field fence, which was undeveloped at the time. There were a few berms of dirt here and there from the critters that roamed campus and night, and he aimed for a few of those. He was backing up, nearly getting stuck and providing plenty of comic relief for my broadcast, which was going out over the internet. I had a great vantage point from the broadcast booth and I had a little fun calling the play-by-play of an angry coach driving maniacally out past the right field fence.
He eventually gave up about an inning later and returned to the parking lot to wait for his team after they lost the game. Fast forward a month and I was at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz., the night before the conference tournament started at the annual awards ceremony. Out of the blue Coach Iwasaki stops me and says, “Aren’t you the radio guy from Bakersfield? I have a story for you.” I wasn’t concerned because Carl carries himself very pleasantly and he was holding back a smile.
He went on to mention that he knew I had some fun at his expense during the game he was ejected from but then he said his wife was listening on the internet and called him to say “shut it down, you’re embarrassing yourself, knock it off and go back to the parking lot.”
Apparently, my detailed explanation of the situation got him into more trouble with his wife than with the umpire at the plate. Unfortunately, Coach Iwasaki couldn’t catch a break at either home that afternoon, but I was sure glad he was able to tell me that story. It’s lighthearted moments like that you always remember, and we can all hope to eventually make more of those memories very soon.
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 email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.