Field conditions in high school run the gambit from perfect to perfectly horrible. One game where I was able to make the umpire laugh so hard that he forgot to yell at me. We were playing a game against Bruce Randolph in Denver. The school is at 40th and Steele Street. I went to 4th grade at Harrington Elementary which was at 38th and Steele, so I was familiar with the area. When I was in 4th grade the Nabisco plant was at 40th and Steele. My classroom window could see the plant and the Air Force Pay Center that was at 39th and Steele. Unfortunately, the neighborhood isn’t the best. The kids asked me how long the area was this rough. It was when I was in 4th grade so I can only guess. I just know that in 1969 it was rough. When we got to the field we all parked together and didn’t worry because it was only a few yards from the field.
As luck would have it, I was robbed on and off the field. The one on the field was far funnier than the parking lot. I will start with the parking lot. My car was broken into and a mess made of everything inside. They took the change from the console and that was about it. They left the $600 camera in a bag that was sitting on the passenger seat. Not very smart criminals but I suspect it was a group of kids that was hanging around the game. On the field was far funnier. The field conditions were horrible and the Denver public schools didn’t really even try to make the field playable. The infield was mostly sand and hard to run it. The outfield was like concrete so I told the kids to not dive for anything and avoid sliding on the infield. We were leading by so much that there wasn’t much of a problem with the game being in doubt. I did have one player who tried to stretch a single into a double. He slid into the base but nobody could see the tag because his foot slid into so much sand and was under the base. The umpire called him out as he should have but I couldn’t help having a little fun with it. I went out to argue that he hadn’t been tagged. The umpire said he had been tagged on the foot, to which I replied that he tagged the sand because my player’s foot was below the sand and so he couldn’t have tagged him out. The umpire was a good guy and so I hoped he found it as funny as we did. He had a great time with it and kicked some sand on my shoes to make his point but he was laughing so hard it was hard to understand his words. I just put my arm around the player and told him that I had tried to fight for him but that maybe next time he might just stay at first.