MERIDIAN, IDAHO — Hey, remember sports? More specifically, remember baseball? With all the events that 2020 has presented us with so far, it's easy to forget that we should be watching our favorite MLB teams playing right now. But for those of us wanting to get back on the field, a Treasure Valley baseball league is returning for it's 31st season, and they'd love to have you come out to the old ballgame.
If you've visited Storey Park in Meridian recently to see a mixed bag of uniformed ball players on their fields, you may have asked yourself who they are.
"Anywhere between firemen, policemen, guys that work at like Idaho Power, Military veterans, you name it. Everyone from all different areas are out here playing and having a good time together," said Boise NABA President Joe Richardson.
Boise NABA, or National Adult Baseball Association, has been around since 1989, and has catered to those who don't want to play in your typical parks and recreation league.
"The goal was basically to have guys that come out here and play that didn't necessarily want to give up their great past time of baseball and just stick with softball. As great as softball is, these guys come out here wanting to play hardball," said Richardson.
Older gentlemen? Don't feel left out...there's no age limit.
"We have anywhere between 18 and our oldest guy, without throwing him under the bus, I won't say his name, but I think he's somewhere in his mid to late 50's," said Richardson.
In the act of throwing himself under the bus, that kind sir is David Hammond who's been playing in Boise NABA since 1996.
"Yep, I've never missed a year. Pretty dedicated to the league and I love the league and am always trying to get people out here," said 24-year Boise NABA veteran David Hammond.
That's two-and-a-half decades of getting out on the diamond just to have some fun...well, mostly.
"Don't get us wrong, we are competitive. We say fun, but yeah, we get out here and we are competitive. We still want to win," joked Hammond.
Full uniforms, nine innings, wood bats, stat keeping, and yes, even umpires.
"The guys like me here, they're pretty good guys. Sometimes they get irritated with me, we've had our rough roads but it's...they're good guys. It's a fun league and it's good to see guys playing the game," said umpire Kelly Atkinson.
Baseball player or not, 2020 has been a rough year for so many, and Boise NABA is a wonderful escape for those who want to compete, build new friendships, and compete while having a little fun.
"It may seem like a small thing, I mean we're just coming out here throwing a small ball around but at the end of the day, I think it means a tremendous amount to these guys because this is something that most of these guys grew up with, there's memories tied to it of either throwing a baseball with their dad out in the backyard or coming out and playing in all those competitive leagues all throughout the year. The fact that they can still be an adult and not have to give that up means a lot to all these guys," said Richardson.
"And for anyone interested in playing in the league, Boise NABA will be holding tryouts this Sunday at two-p-m at Storey Park in Meridian. In case you're wondering what's involved with that, they gave me a chance to take this post-quarantine body that hasn't worked out in three months onto the field to show you some of the things to expect," said Matt Sizemore.
"What we do is we have a full day where we come out here and we have them go out and we hit them fly balls, ground balls, and have them do some batting drills, and then at the end of the day, we try and disperse those players in a draft amongst the managers of those teams so that those teams stay filled cause we don't, even though we grow in numbers, we don't want to compromise the strength of the league too, so we don't want to have a new team come out here when another team is struggling in getting players. So we try and get those teams full first and whatever we have leftover, we try and create another team. Once we do that draft, we take all that information and the managers get to watch those players and as you can tell, there's guys that come out here and have college experience and throw hard and hit the ball hard, and then you have guys that come out here, maybe like myself, and maybe not hit as good or whatever. Kind of older guys that just want to come out and have fun. Either way, we'll take them all. We're happy to have all of them and they all have a place on every team," explained Richardson.
"You did great. You did look like a football player playing baseball, but I think you did a great job and we all enjoyed watching you, had a few laughs," laughed Richardson.
For more information on Sunday's tryouts or about the league in general, head to www.nababoisebaseball.com.