It’s got this quirky little parade it runs now and then, sometimes too early in the year for its own good, but the folks who march in it wear these big grins after they’ve carried their hopeful, sweet-natured signs, so it’s all in good fun.
I try to show up in time to give ’em all a big hand, since otherwise there doesn’t seem to be anybody else around to watch ’em wave their homemade placards and such. The organizers aren’t too reliable about saying when the darn thing’ll start, however, so some years — like this year — I catch only the tail end. Maybe the tail end was about the same size as the front end. Either way, I saw the grins.
The town doesn’t lack for eats, which is nice. My wife’s treating an ulcer — maybe or maybe not related to watching our unprofessional team — so we couldn’t really partake of the big picnic. There was a girl selling gluten-free goodies, though, and she couldn’t have been nicer steering my wife through what she might be able to sample in her condition. Same for the lady inside the market right next to it. The niceness of the folks doesn’t always extend to the people who have to work in our town, but Saturday, we found quite a few kind souls.
Funny thing about our town is though the baseball team can’t rightly be called professional, the people who put the team out there sure want to make you feel like they’re a big deal. Used to be there was just one enormous-headed mascot, but now he’s got company. Some fella dresses up as a coffee cup and all the folks try to help the one person who’s supposed to find him find him.
We’ve had the team so long, that it’s hard to remember how good it’s sometimes been. Now and then they tell us “facts” about what happened to the team on whatever date the day happens to be. It’s not uncommon for something to be wrong with the facts by the time they put ’em up where everybody can see ’em. For instance, they said our then-professional team split a doubleheader in Los Angeles 41 years ago Saturday. Actually, that doubleheader took place right next door to our current village green, and the kicker was it was the first day-night doubleheader our team had ever played at home. But they didn’t mention that.
Easy mistakes to make if you’re not careful looking things up. The folks who run our village green are sometimes kind of careless that way. But we keep coming back anyway. I’m a bit of a stickler about details, yet I’m not all that particular overall. If I were, I probably wouldn’t be so fond of our unprofessional team.
Yeah, you can call out this or that mistake or that or this silliness, but it’s our little town, with its peculiarities and oversized coffee cups, so you tend to let it go. You try to enjoy the grins instead. You see folks you know, and you chat, and you catch up on life away from the village green. You talk about the local team and its unprofessional performance, too, of course. You can’t help but notice it — or that ever since the village green was built, the team hasn’t had itself a winning season.
Saturday it played another team that built itself a pretty little park and has never had a winning season there, either, but my word! That team played like champions against our little band of amateurs. I wonder if they’ve suddenly gotten really good or if they just happen to benefit from the good fortune of having been visitors to our village green today.
Say, you know who played for our little team that has yet to requalify for professional status Saturday? Neither do I. The lineup our manger sent out there reminds me of the kinds of packs of baseball cards I got when I was a kid. I’d open the wax paper, let the smell of the freshly planted gum waft over me and then watch the players tumble out randomly before me. Always wished I could’ve gotten better players. Instead, it was either the same old discouraging faces or some no-names that left me wondering who stuffed them in the pack in the first place.
Our players didn’t play too good Saturday. Our manager didn’t do anything much to help. One of our boys — one of the few we’ve got who’s come through for us lately — got hit with a baseball, but nobody seemed to mind. Not the longest stream of banners. Not many grins after what banners there were got put away. The girl with the gluten-free food was nice, though. And everybody pitched in to help pick out the coffee cup fella. It rained, but not to excess. Then we all dispersed.
Photographs by Sharon Chapman.