If the sight of Lindquist Field doesn’t stir something in your soul, perhaps your soul needs to be shaken, not stirred.
Perhaps the words you’re about read won’t mean anything to you; perhaps ballparks are just concrete and steel, dirt and grass. And perhaps baseball is just a game.
If that’s you, that’s OK. But understand, there are people for whom ballparks are sanctuaries and baseball is both a sport and an experience.
Raptors president Dave Baggott is one of those people.
Baggott has been a friend of mine for more than a quarter of a century and he’s been associated with the Raptors in one way or another for about two decades.
On Friday, I sat with Dave and his business partner, John E. Lindquist, in the pressbox at Lindquist Field. Together, we watched the Raptors miss out on their third consecutive Pioneer League title.
The Missoula Osprey won, 10-0 at Lindquist Field.
The Raptors have now been to the PL championship series four times and have lost out each time.
This year, they finally won a game, beating Missoula on Thursday to force Friday’s Game 3.
Baby steps, someone said. Baby steps.
He wouldn’t come out and say it, but Baggott doesn’t want to take baby steps, he wants a title. He’s been working for one since bringing baseball back to Ogden in 1993 and putting the Raptors on the field a year later.
After the game, Bags nodded toward the clubhouse, where manager Damon Berryhill keeps his office and where Ogden’s players were quietly packing up after a challenging season. He said it was about those guys in there, not about him. And in one sense, he was right. In another, he was as wrong as AstroTurf.
See, it’s always about the players because they’re the ones on the field, playing. They do most of the heavy lifting and they’re who the fans come to see. But without guys like Dave and John E., there’d be no Raptors or no Lindquist Field.
“The kids had a great season,” Baggott said of the Raptors, who tied a franchise record for wins in a season. “Yeah, we didn’t finish it, but as John E. would also convey, we feel more sorry to our fans that we didn’t finish it. But, hey, that’s the game. That’s why you’ve got to play the game.”
That was the right thing to say, but even as he said it, it was clear he was hurting inside.
“I’m 52 years old and my mind still thinks it can play. I’m a competitor and I want to win,” he said. “And I don’t like it when you don’t.”
Lest anyone think he was dogging his own players, Baggott was quick to point out: “We got beat 10-0 tonight but I didn’t see the kids not giving an effort. I want to see every single player, if it’s a Raptors player or another team, I want them all to make it the big leagues.”
On Friday, the Raptors simply didn’t have it. They fell behind early, giving up five runs in the top of the first inning and never recovered. It was difficult to watch, not because the Raptors didn’t hustle — they did — but because their fans, including Baggott and Lindquist, wanted so badly to celebrate a title.
If you’re looking for someone to rip into a team and its management for going 0-for-4 in the championship series, keep looking. It’s still a rookie league, where player development is slightly more important than winning; and many of those kids out there on the field are fresh out of high school or college.
Early in Friday’s game, a towering foul ball landed in the stands, on the left-field side. An unfortunate woman sitting just a few rows behind the Raptors’ dugout got conked on the head and spent the rest of the night with a large ice pack resting on her noggin.
It was a beautiful night and long after the game was over, Lindquist Field was still lit up like the gem it is. But I’m positive the woman with the ice pack wasn’t the only one who went home with a headache.