Life is Just a Game, but Baseball . . . Baseball is Serious.
BY JAMES GUTSCH
For the burnt-out high school athlete who didn’t make the jump to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, college club sports is an opportunity to relive past glory, while still clinging to those precious drops of youth. Playing without the pressures of varsity athletics allows players to focus on something that is often forgotten in competitive sports: just having a good time.
While some colleges have sustained athletic programs with proper funding and coaching, Evergreen club sports tend to pop up, play some ball, and then for a variety of reasons, disband. Baseball proved no exception. Five years ago this spring, the Geoducks suited up for their last ball game. Their season lasted roughly 12 weeks, stretching from St. Patrick’s Day until the beginning of June. Evergreen would play one “series” a weekend, which consisted of two seven-inning games on Saturday, followed by a single nine-inning game on Sunday (or vice versa). The team would alternate between traveling and hosting ballgames. Because it was a club sport, the team had to provide most of its own funding, including equipment and league fees.
Evergreen played for the Northern Pacific Conference in the West Division of the National Collegiate Baseball Association (NCBA). The NCBA is different from other associations governing athletics in that it works only with club baseball teams that are not fully funded by a university. The Geoducks shared the division with some top institutions, such as Seattle University, Western Washington University, and the University of Oregon.
According to Evergreen senior Matthew Sweeney, who played as a utility player (a player who can play multiple positions) for the Geoducks from 2006 until 2009, fun was about all they had.
“It’s kind of funny; the whole time I was on the team we didn’t win a single game. We won one game in our entire history,” Sweeney said. “I think our all-time Evergreen baseball record is like 1-100 or something like that, but we had fun with it.”
Despite being completely student-run, the team remained organized and on-the-ball. Players consistently made it to practice, and Evergreen had a quality lineup that was not accurately conveyed through their record.
“Around 2007-2008 we had a lot of good talent, but also had an attitude of inclusion,” Sweeney said. “There were some players that maybe weren’t top notch in the skill department, but they were good teammates so they got to play; and we were all okay with that.”
When asked about practice, Sweeney recollected with a laugh. “We used to practice in the indoor soccer pavilion. It was really cool because you could hear us during batting practice all across campus. When the weather got nice we would set up in the soccer field. We rarely had an actual baseball
field to practice on. That might have had some influence on how we weren’t always prepared come game time.”
Evergreen played its home games at Olympia High School until they had to move. From then on, games were played at Black Hills High School in Tumwater, where the conditions were far from ideal.
“We had a few fans [come to watch]” Sweeney said. “I think the chemistry club would have bake sales during our games, so that was one of our fans.”
Although it has been years since batting practice reverberated throughout campus, Sweeney said he thinks it can happen again. “What I’m interested in doing is getting together a group of guys who either want to play pickup games and have batting practice just for fun, or maybe get involved with a semi-competitive adult league,” he said.
The old baseball uniforms are still stored in the attic of the CRC. Evergreen just needs fun-seeking, motivated, and marginally-talented students to fill them. Sweeney encouraged students with any interest in the game of baseball to contact email@example.com for more information.