Recently, I was asked to cover the Big League World Series, an assignment to which I readily agreed. I’d never covered baseball before, but I knew enough that it would keep me outdoors, would take up much of the week and would present me with a new opportunity to broaden my camera skills. I was in.
But, like many things in life, it didn’t quite go to plan.
Throughout the entire preamble to the series, a HUGE deal was made about press credentials: how to apply for them, how far in advance you needed to, agreeing to background checks, certain places and times you could (or couldn’t) be in certain places, etc.
There was a whole packet — I actually encountered less security when covering political rallies for major presidential candidates.
It was weird, but after jumping through a ridiculous amount of hoops and filling out all the needed paperwork I discovered that not only was it weird — it was unnecessary.
When I arrived at the stadium, there was no one there to issue me the “all important” press credentials, nor was there anyone at all at the entry gate.
Seriously, I just walked in.
No one checked anything, no one asked me anything, no one even bothered to question me when I parked in the “VIP only” section, despite the fact I have no media logos or anything on my 13-year-old Honda. With faded paint. And inappropriate bumper stickers. Blaring Rage Against the Machine from sub-par speakers.
I was starting to seriously question this event’s security plan — until I got inside and realized there was little or no reason for such a plan. No one was there.
There was like, 20 people to watch the first game.
What the … ?
This is THE BIG LEAGUE WORLD SERIES! This is a huge deal to these kids! I couldn’t understand it. That first game (that no one bothered to show up to watch) was West vs. East.
Yes, West killed them — ‘cause those boys from Maui don’t mess around — but the game itself was fun. There was chanting from the dug-outs, there were kids chasing foul balls, it was all about community and camaraderie and — no one was there!
This is arguably the biggest event Easley hosts all year, you would think the citizens of the city would bother to show up — but you’d be wrong. I left the game very disillusioned.
Even when the host team, South Carolina District 1, took the field that first night there was plenty of front row (and middle row and back row) seats to be had. Keep in mind, these are home town kids! One would assume the city would be ready, willing and able to rally behind them.
Nope. Because Easley has this idea that we’re a football town. So let me just set that record straight right now — we’re not.
Yes, we used to be good — feared even — on the gridiron but the days of Coach Bill Carr and Larry Bagwell are far behind us.
It’s time time to rally behind the kids and the sport we’re actually relevant in each year: Baseball.
The Green Wave varsity baseball team went 25-5 last season, 14-1 in region play and were ranked in the top 10 of the state — 4A Coaches Association had them in the top 5. Several of those players also took part in the Big League World Series.
Easley has a rich history in baseball dating back to the mill teams of the textile leagues. We should be celebrating it — not treating it like some red-headed stepchild next to our favorite son, Johnny Football.
There are baseball diamonds all over this city and some true gems who play on them. It’s time to value them.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress and The Pickens Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.