Springfield is covered in a church-and-school canceling glaze of ice.
No catch-playing double-header today.
Coach Guttin invited me to the Missouri State Bears First Pitch and Reunion event to meet the team, bid in the silent auction, and hear Al Hrabosky share some stories. I went to not only support the baseball team of my alma mater, but in search of a catch-playing partner.
It was pretty cool to see familiar faces of multiple catch-playing friends present: Art, Wyatt, Brad, and Coach Guttin. I briefly spoke with each of them.
The silent auction was incredible. I did my best to come home with the Buck O’Neil autographed ball, but was significantly outbid before it closed. So I picked up the April 15, 1974 issue of Sports Illustrated instead. Maybe I can get it autographed this year…
I was amazed watching the performance painting of Mike Debus, creating a Bear head logo and a painting of Hrabosky to soundtracks. The paintings raised $1,200 in a live auction.
Not having a glove for left handers on me, I didn’t have the courage to ask The Mad Hungarian to toss the ball.
I waited until after the event and asked Aaron if he could spare a few minutes. Aaron played second base for MSU the short season I worked on the Field Crew. Aaron now works as the first base coach and with the infielders. Maybe I can ask him for help with my backhand once it warms up.
“I’ve got so many good memories at this place and am grateful I’m still involved with this team, with this program, with this great game” Aaron said.
It was practically impossible to find steady footing. Aaron and I walked out onto the artificial grass-covered home run porch beyond right field behind the training facility. We stood on the protective net covering to try and gain traction on the mock skating rink. On a couple throws, not that I threw anything hard, I actually felt my body slide in an equal and opposite reaction manner.
After sharing a couple stories of our shared season, I reaffirmed my pre-season prediction to Aaron — the Bears are headed to the College World Series this year. Aaron promised to give me a portion of the credit should that prediction come true.
The Bears kick off their season in Texas in five days. Good luck and thanks Aaron!