Opinion Corner: Red Willow memoryAs I sat in our editorial board meeting, combing through last week’s papers, I read the Associated Press brief that was lifted from my story on the closing of Red Willow.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
As I sat in our editorial board meeting, combing through last week’s papers, I read the Associated Press brief that was lifted from my story on the closing of Red Willow.
Those who have played softball probably know of Red Willow. For about 60 years this two-diamond campground in rural Griggs County has hosted thousands of ball players of all types.
Seeing as how I really can’t call myself a North Dakotan softballer until I played at Red Willow and this was my last chance to do so, I took advantage of the situation.
Now I didn’t have my regular team. In fact the team that I ended up hanging out, and subbing in a game for, were rivals in my Tuesday night league here in Jamestown. The first team we beat in fact.
But Red Willow brings people together that way.
I wanted to play in at least one game to have the experience of playing at Red Willow. The game turned out to be at Bill’s Field of Dreams and I was given the moniker of The Undertaker, after the famous professional wrestler.
We all had wrestler names and the PA announcer was forced to call them out — within reason, it was a family atmosphere after all.
I was just glad to be included in the group and play softball for one more time this season.
Of course, as a sub, I was tossed behind the plate as catcher. Not my favorite position but I have been known to play it decently, once or twice.
The game was going fine for me until a tipped ball caught me in the um … it caught me in the term we use for pitches that aren’t called strikes.
As I spent a few seconds in the fetal position in the dirt desperately hoping the pain would die down, the crowd was shocked and the PA announcer said “we all feel your pain Undertaker.”
I got back up, eventually had a throw home graze my head and knocked two singles around in a losing effort. It was a blast like none other.
I got to play Red Willow, and while some have stories of success and victory in extra innings after years of tournaments, I can talk about how I took a shot below the belt.
After all I play the game to have fun, not to destroy the competition (I’m not physically capable of doing that). I wanted to play Red Willow for my last game of the year and the last ones ever — and to have fun. Not to bring home a trophy.
I believe my temporary teammates felt the same way, if not, I apologize.
Winning is fun — but it’s not everything. Sometimes sports is about putting yourself out there, playing with new faces in new places and taking a ball in the boys.
Ben Rodgers is a news writer at the Sun and frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner