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24 Hour Game Diary Pt 8

Monday, October 20, 2003
12:48 pm
Arizona time (Pacific)

Well, my flight leaves in about an hour, and here I am sitting in the Tucson airport with sore legs, but happy.

The Red-Eyed Nites mounted a comeback in the morning hours, cutting the lead of the African Gray Birds, which had been around 40 runs at one point, to 20 runs. In the final inning, which was the 65th, I think, we put up four more, but the final score was 127-111 Grays.

Ultimately the difference between the two teams was pitching. Their pitching turned out to be slightly better (and slightly younger) over the course of the game. Both teams had to rely on some non-pitchers to take the mound to fill up innings, and theirs turned out to be sharper overall.

But really, no one was too concerned about the final score. Yes, our competitive spirit was stoked at times, but generally speaking no one was upset by the “loss.” For most of us, just playing in the game made us winners in the first place.

Rob Novotny, in his farewell speech after the game, pointed out that perhaps that is a lesson we should all take with us. “Look at how well you played,” he said. He and the coaches and observers were pleased with what a high level of play was exhibited during the game. Yes, there were a lot of errors when people were tired, but… “You were loose and focused and happy to be here,” Rob told us, so you allowed yourselves to excel. I didn’t feel like I was excelling when I was too tired to swing the bat, but I do know what he means. “You played for the love of the game and the result was a terrific game.”

The final tally on fundraising exceeded $64,000, as well.

I’m about to get in the plane now, so I’ll try to write more later.

Okay, I’m settled in the plane now. I slept about nine and half hours last night at the house of some friends. I woke up feeling relatively chipper. My legs are still quite sore–I soaked in a hot bathtub this morning and actually feel sorer, which I think means that there is a lot of lactic acid in my muscles and the hot water released it. If I walk slowly, though, it doesn’t feel too bad. I also did laundry this morning, which was nice, because my uniform pants and shirt really reeked. Even with showers during the game and changes of clean undershirts and underwear, after 24 hours, well, yuck. Everything is nice and clean and dry now. Nothing better than coming home and just being able to put everything away!

Let’s see–what else should I say about the event? The newspaper here did a story on it, but the story is full of inaccuracies. That is really annoying because if some baseball historian of the future tries to look it up it will say things like Nicole Helms (my friend Nicky) threw the first pitch of the game. Actually, she pitched the bottom of the inning. It was Stacey Brownwell, Dontrelle’s friend, who pitched first. (Stace, so sorry we couldn’t get you off the hook! The Gray Birds took the lead in the third inning and never relinquished it.) Ah well.

I feel like I have more to say but right now it is all jumbled up in my head. My brain is still tired, too, I guess. I feel like I have a lot of stories still to tell about this but it will take some time for them to percolate and emerge. Did I mention that Ann Petrovic, another of the All-Americans, got up to bat in the bottom of the final inning? See, there’s so much more. I’m sure many other players have great stories to tell, too. If any of them are on the web, I’ll be sure to make links to them from here.

When the game was finished, the two teams lined up and shook hands like always, though it took quite a bit longer to get through the line than it does in our usual league games. Then people began taking final photos, getting each other’s autographs on shirts, hats, and programs, stuff like that. After several minutes of that, the closing ceremonies began. Rob and Ted Alemahyu each gave short speeches, and each player was presented with a game ball stamped with a special stamp of Africa with the number “24” as their name and hometown was called out. That was pretty much it. I was surprised no one cried. I got choked up a couple of times, but I held it back. I guess there’s no crying in baseball after all.

Special thanks to all the great people who made donations to USDFA so that I could participate in the event. They include:

J.P. Alexander

Ted Beatie

Pam and Bob Beisenherz

Lorane and Leo Black

Kimberly Bradshaw

Joel Bradshaw

Tom and Jean Brady

Jerry and Debbie Coburn

Wayne Coleman

Kelly J. Cooper

Dan Desroches

Polly Burr Drinkwater

Vivienne Esrig

Paul Ferrari and Pat Lash

Mike Ford

Marc Gordon

Rick Heller

Chris Holaday

Mark Kanter and Lynne Glickman

Richard Kasak

Seamus Kearney

Shariann Lewitt and John Irvine

Dan McCourt

Patricia McKay (nee Kloss) and Mike and Drew

Tom Nahigian

Patricia Nicholson and Wil Van Dinter

Bill Nowlin

Eric Paul

Robin’s Remembrances

“JB” Segal

Ed Seksay

Bonnie Sinnock and Aaron Jaffe

Jill Smith

David Southwick

Richard Smith

Mike Stein

Steve Steinberg

Heather and Julian Tan

Peggy and Serge Tan (aka “Mom and Dad”)

Jim and Melissa Tessmer

Maida Tilchen

Thanks also go to corwin, who has supported me through this and many other crusades in my life.

Thanks also go to Dave Valdez of the Dave Valdez Baseball Academy, for helping me get in shape for the event, and to all the coaches at Live The Dream for top notch instruction in our pro camp.

Thanks must also be extended to one man, Rob Novotny, for having the vision and the drive to make this whole event happen. Without him, none of us would have gotten the opportunity to make a difference in the world. Rob, you’re my hero. (Now get some sleep!)

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