Baseball season brings sweet memories

Sweets players confer before a game June 6, 2012.

Sweets players confer before a game June 6, 2012. Photo by Brenden Koch.

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Baseball season is near! Our hometown Walla Walla Sweets are about to embark on their fourth season, starting out Wednesday against the Bend Elks, and I am already counting down the days until I can take my children to the game.

Since earliest childhood I have absolutely loved attending baseball games. No, not really to watch — though on occasion I might glance up at the proceedings — but for all the other fun that goes on.

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A signature from Sweet Lou is a must for every young fan.

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A summer evening at Borleske Stadium is an experience not to be missed.

As a child I attended my older brother Christian’s baseball games at the field behind Kmart. Chris played for Mr. Ed’s, and my family and I spent a lot of time out there cheering him on. I, of course, did not spend much time in the stands, preferring instead to play in the fields nearby with the other younger siblings. We would find garter snakes and wild flowers, play tag and hide-n-seek and explore the creek nearby. At the end of the game my patience was always rewarded with an Icee pop from the concession stand.

Later, my younger brother Daniel played baseball at the same field, on the PowerAde team. By this point I understood and enjoyed the game. I loved chatting with the relatives of the all the players, watching the little kids come and go from the stands as they took breaks from playing and enjoying the triumph when Daniel’s team scored a run.

Now, my kids and I love going to Borleske Stadium for Sweets games. We love the cheering crowds, Sweet Lou, the food and the entertainment during the game. We enjoy sitting behind home plate where we can be part of the action. My kids like to run after stray balls, bringing those they can corral to Sweet Lou for a signature.

Two years ago we brought my son to watch the Sweets on his fourth birthday. Not only did he manage to snag a stray ball and get a signature, but my daughter was invited to race Sweet Lou around the field. She generously gave the honor to her little brother, so he got to go out in front of the whole crowd and run the bases. He was so excited; it was a great birthday.

On occasion I will go to a Sweets game with friends instead of my children. When I do, the beer garden is a fun place to watch the game, especially with the lively conversation and very close proximity to left field and the occasional foul ball. It took me a couple of years to realize there is also a beer garden on the other side of the field, right at the entrance. The Outfield Pub is not as exciting or crowded as the far location, but is a good place to get a drink before heading to the stands. Local products are prominent, with offerings from Laht Neppur, Blue Mountain Cider Company, Bergevin Lane, Va Piano and Basel Cellars.

And no baseball game is complete without food. Last year I enjoyed the local delicacies from Andrae’s Kitchen, though my kids were partial to the culinary delights from the concession stand. It became our routine to get a red rope, popcorn and a pop. I don’t care much for those foods, but they’ll likely stand out in my kids’ memories like the Icee pops from my brother’s games still do for me.

No matter how you enjoy the game, I hope you have an opportunity to watch some baseball this summer. Play ball!

Sara Van Donge is a Walla Walla native and middle school dual language teacher. She can be reached at saravandonge@gmail.com.

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