I am committing to posting more often. I’m going to do it. If for no other reason than I have too many interests and need to narrow my focus to a few dozen rather than a slew dozen. I’m doing well, so far. I’ve only been mildly obsessed with baseball and Star Trek. Which, if you’ve dealt with ADD (sadly for my metabolism, I don’t have the Hyperactivity variant of ADD…), you’ll understand how big a win that is.
Anyway, right around the time last month that Amanda the Librarian and I visited the Ryan Center, we also went over to Norton, MA to catch some D3 college baseball action when the Wheaton Lyons hosted Emerson. The Lyons had been (and continued to) beat the will to live out of baseball programs all over the northeast. They finished their season 37-6 (Conf: 13-1) and lost only one game the last month+ of the season. They’re just now getting deep in post season play, but breezed through NEWMACs going 4-1 in the double-elim tournament on their way to a Conference championship, and qualifying for the NCAA D3 College World Series regional round (being played in New London, CT right now).
That said, way the hell back on April 22nd, we took the trip on a cool Saturday afternoon out to James V. Slidell Stadium for a doubleheader. The Lyons were hosting Emerson, who are not at Wheaton’s level in anyway. The aggregate score on the day was 19-5. And neither game was all that close. But, baseball aside, Wheaton’s stadium is less a stadium than a really nice, very big high school field. A very tall and shallow cyclone backstop leads around to two concrete dugout areas which are bookended by steel bleachers. The outfield fence has a very nicely maintained blue windscreen with “Wheaton College” branding, and there’s a modest dotmatrix 9-inning scoreboard just off the right field power alley.
The game day presentation, such as it was, was limited to the occasional BIP or walk-up song, which played through only one of the two megahorn style speakers that were perched at the top of each corner of the backstop (and I believe it only worked on the thirdbase/visitors side because I could barely hear it). That didn’t matter all that much. Amanda and I were surrounded by the player families, who were idly chatting about their sons and past games between their cheers. They were the perfect family-fan group. Neither Amanda nor I give off the vibe of people who want to make friends, so we didn’t engage with anyone, we were content to watch the game (we arrived after the first game finished, but got there in time for game 2). There’s no effort in fan experience, and no ticket fee to get in. Come as you are. Which is fine.
From a “pure baseball” standpoint, as that really is all that’s presented here, it was about the kind of experience you would expect from a late-season D3 mismatch. We were front row off first base, and the narrow foul territories offered us the chance to hear some of the conversations between Emerson’s very friendly first baseman and the umpire, and the parade of Lyons who made their way on base. The highlight of the show, though, was Wheaton’s first base coach, Eric Dumas. Dumas seemed to have little rituals for every contingency. He’s the quintessential chirpy coach. Always talking, always encouraging, always moving. He’s the kind of guy you need late in a season where you’re steamrolling teams and still waiting for warm weather to settle in on the South Coast.
Slidell, as it is, is a fine one-and-done. But, with Wheaton playing the way it has been, and no sign of the program losing steam, and two guys transferring to D1 UConn, it’s a great early-season, free day at the park to watch some very talented ballplayers.