Tri-State: The way baseball should be

Copyright © 2006 Register-Citizen – by Patrick Tiscia
Back in the summer of 2003, I covered, and attended, my first Tri-State League baseball game. I don’t recall where the game was played or the teams involved, but I do remember it was a Sunday morning and being not particularly thrilled with the assignment because I had to wake up before noon. But I woke up, sucked it up and went.
(Note: Sportswriters and the morning are a worse mix than Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and Isaah Thomas and team management combined. Just the thought of waking at 8 a.m. makes me cringe.)
Anyway, what I found was a league that I wish I knew existed while growing up. My mediocre playing career came to an end in the Mickey Mantle league in Naugatuck when I was 16. I didn’t necessarily plan on playing much longer, but I couldn’t even give it a thought. Once the Mantle season was done, I was done. Sadly, I wasn’t good enough to play AAU, Legion, or Connie Mack ball. What I saw in Tri-State was a league I would’ve loved to been a part of. The players in the league take the field each week for the love of the sport, and at a high level no less. Million dollar contract squabbles was a world away.  Joe Buck too.
The intensity and dedication of these players is admirable. You can schedule a game at 3:30 in the morning and I’m sure most of them would show up – even if it was raining. Quite frankly, they care. And that’s all you can ask for as a fan. The talent among the players is also impressive. Most players have succeeded on the high school level and a good portion at college as well. Some have even played professionally.
I also like the fact that anyone is allowed to participate. At any given time you can look around the field and see someone in their 20’s, 30s, 40s, or 50s. Many of these competitors have been around the league for five, 10 or even 20-plus years. The sport of baseball can be like a drug. It’s addicting and these guys can’t get enough. Two thumbs up for that.
Personally, I’m a baseball junkie. It was the first sport I ever played, watched and cared about. I’m certainly passionate about football and basketball and use to love hockey. (The Whalers leaving Hartford was the last straw for me. I’m sure most of you know that by now.) I’ll watch any game on any level from Little League to the pros.
And what I saw at that Tri-State game three summers ago was a quality of play that made me want to come back. I just wish I knew about it earlier.

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