Aside from the temperature hovering around the freezing mark, there is absolutely zero wintery weather in Springfield. No ice. No snow. No signs of Frosty anywhere.
I’m almost disappointed.
The sun was out and so was the wind and the right field bullpen fence at Meador Park was on the ground. I don’t know if it’s a result of last week’s storms or just under repair, but the open access to the field made it tempting for a game of catch on the outfield grass. No one would know. Besides, it’s a city park, right?
I decided against it.
Baseball is in Brett’s blood, but he didn’t make the high school team his freshman year. He didn’t give up, but then didn’t make the cut his sophomore year either. As a junior, he made the junior varsity team, then made the jump to varsity and stayed there.
After four years of playing college ball in the south — “I really didn’t want to play in weather like this” — Brett was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round. He played 34 games in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League for the Williamsport Crosscutters. That first year, his team won the championship.
“It was the only championship I’ve ever won.”
An outfielder, like his grandpa, Brett played for the Crosscutters a second season, then played one season with the Hickory Crawdads in the South Atlantic League.
“Baseball teaches you to trust those around you. You don’t have to do everything on your own. You have teammates who are there to pick you up.”
We played catch in the open grass field behind the broken fence where once a small field existed and my little league team played. The conditions weren’t ideal, but they weren’t awful either.
Brett told me a story about spring training in Florida and how nice it was to spend time with his grandparents during meals instead of eating in the cafeteria or picking up fast food. While Brett was working on staying on top of throws to the plate on the minor league fields, his grandpa was giving the major leaguers a few pointers.
Brett’s grandpa is Bill Virdon (Day #61).
And like his grandpa, he’s still finding ways to do good through the game. This past summer, he helped coach his 6-year old daughter’s softball team.
“It was a good experience. Next year, I think I’ll be a head coach.”
The catch-playing countdown continues.
Only Sungwoo Lee days remain.