Savage Words: Shivering through a baseball game

Tom A. Savage, Contributing writer

There’s nothing quite like spring baseball in South Dakota.

I went to the double-header on Friday when Brandon Valley played host to Lennox at First National Bank Field. There was a snow drift on the first base side of the grandstands where several Lennox fans sat and drank coffee and hot chocolate. 

A snow drift…at a baseball game. South Dakota, I love you.

I was so cold, and actually it wasn’t even that bad. Between games I went to my car to warm up, and my thermostat said 49 degrees on the dashboard. That’s not horrible, but I struggled to warm up.

Maybe I’m getting soft. I know I’ve been to colder sporting events in the past. Some semifinal football games have been played in recent years with feet of snow on the sidelines in November. Those were cold, but I don’t recall shivering as badly as I did Friday in Aspen Park.

I remember being at some sprint car races over the years when the season started really early in the spring, or ended way too late in October when the temps dipped to an uncomfortable level. But again, the shaking and discomfort I felt Friday when a swift South Dakota gust went up the back of my coat was unlike anything I remember.

“It’s to be expected,” Brandon Valley head coach Jeremy VanHeel said. “If it’s not 30 degrees in March and April and we’re playing baseball, we’re not playing South Dakota baseball.”

I guess, but still, I shivered through that baby.

I tried to take photos of the Lynx and Orioles as they battled over 14 innings in the double header. It was quite the experiment as I peered through the lens, physically struggling to stay still. If someone was looking at me down the first baseline, I’m sure it was quite a sight.

The Lynx, too, knew the cold temps were coming on Friday. VanHeel chose to use the third base dugout instead of the traditional home first base side. His thought process, he said, was to use the third base side because the wind was blowing out of the south and if they were to use the first base side, the wind was going to be blowing in their face.

Good plan, except in Game 2 when temps dipped into the low to mid-40s, the winds shifted and the cold air went straight into the third base dugout. 

But even that shift in wind didn’t seem to bother the Lynx. Some of them looked downright comfortable as I shivered. On one of the adjacent diamonds, a few kids played in the dirt, a couple of them in shorts and a t-shirt.

I remember one time a few years ago picking up my daughter from Junior High. A few of her classmates poured out of school in shorts and a t-shirt in January. I looked at my reliant thermometer and it read 4 degrees.

We’re a hearty bunch up here in the Northern Plains.

As the Brandon Valley versus Lennox double-header continued on, I cringed every time one of the batters hit the ball and the ‘ping’ rattled off their aluminum bat.

Damn, I thought, that’s gotta hurt in this cold weather. VanHeel confirmed that they had some players with shaky hands after the game.

“It does hurt,” he said. “But if you find the middle of the barrel it doesn’t hurt, and if you get a hit, you’re so jacked that it doesn’t hurt. But when you cap one to the shortstop and you get thrown out, yea, it hurts a lot.”

There’s that, and if you’re standing there with a camera on the first base side, it hurts. 

But, it’s baseball, and it’s here for a while. We can be thankful for that, and an inevitable rise in the mercury levels.



The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
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Brandon, SD 57005
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