So many great quotes to choose from “The Sandlot” for this blog entry. It was between the current title of the blog and “Oh yeah, the Great Bambino. Of course! I thought you said the Great Bambi.” Ha! Ham responds, “That wimpy deer?” What a great flick! That movie came out just as I was getting in to Junior High School. Oddly enough, it came out just after I stopped playing baseball. I reached a certain age where my hand-eye coordination just decided to stop and I couldn’t connect the bat with the ball to save my life. So I took up running and became the stud that I am.
Anyway, there was nothing better than playing baseball in an old park, on a dusty field in the middle of a hot, 90 degree summer evening. You always knew that you would go get ice cream after the game, even if you lost. Comedian Brian Regan did a funny bit on that. You should check it out.
Cleveland Indians Charities has access to a little sandlot of their own in the form of Progressive Field and, every year, they invite local high school baseball teams to come and participate in the High School Hardball Classic. The two-day event is in its 10th year and helps raise money, not only for Cleveland Indians Charities, but also for the high school team participating. Each team (10 teams this year) is required to sell 300 tickets to a 2013 Indians game at a discounted rate. They then re-sell those tickets at regular price and keep the difference as part of their fundraiser. The money raised from ticket sales into the Hardball Classic event, goes to Cleveland Indians Charities.
Teams have the opportunity to play their game on Progressive Field, as well as use the batting cages, the bullpen and the dugouts. Their lineups are posted on the scoreboard and names are announced as they come up to bat. It is a big-league experience for some of these future pro ball players! The game, then, counts towards their regular season schedule. Volunteers from the Indians front office help put on the event and I was lucky enough to be a team liaison for Rocky River High School. Basically, my job was to hang out with the team and escort them to where they needed to be. I was able to catch up with team captain and catcher/infielder, Jake Nicholson to ask him three important questions:
What does this mean to you to be able to stand in the same dugout as numerous Hall of Fame caliber players?
It means a lot. I looked up to those past Indians players a lot. This is just a great experience.
What are your thoughts on the Hardball Classic event as a whole?
It’s a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to play hockey here a couple years ago during Snow Days, but this experience is a lot more fun. To be able to play on the actual field (instead of ice) is pretty cool.
And finally, do you realize you are standing in the same spot that Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel and even myself have spit?
Ha! For sure (as he spits on the ground to show he spit here too).
With that, I’ll leave you with some pictures from the Classic. And, while “The Sandlot” celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary, I have to reiterate that Cleveland Indians Charities (CIC) is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary. For more information on other great events that CIC puts on, go to http://www.indians.com and click on the “Community” tab. You’ll also find out how your high school baseball team can participate in the 2014 Hardball Classic! Thanks to all of the teams that participated this year and good luck with the rest of your season!