Dec 30: Sun baked doubleheader day. Today’s games were played at a beautiful town named Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is university town which has about 20,000 undergrads and 13,000 grad students. It is a top engineering faculty in South Africa. It also produces some magnificent wine!! The town and ball fields were about 90 minutes away from the base camp. When it came time to depart, it was a scene to behold, something similar to the 70’s TV series MASH, BUGOUT!! Cars, mini buses and a trailer to move 2 teams, all of their equipment and the support staff. The ballfield had a very, very small backstop, makeshift dugouts using EZ-Ups to protect the players from the sun and a mechanical scoreboard. In the outfield, we had 2 very large light stands with green padding. The outfield fence was represented by wooden strips laid on the ground. This ballfield was a sight to behold, we loved it.
In the first game, played at 12:30 PM under clear blue skies, with a perfect view of Table Mountain in the outfield, we had team USA versus P2P. The temps were fast approaching the mid 90’s at game time. The P2P team jumped out to an early lead 6 – 0 after the 1st inning and 8 – 0 after the 2nd. Team USA still had a little fight left in them though, they put up 3 runs in the top half of the 3rd, but that would prove to be it for them. The game was shortened to 4 innings, final score Team USA – 3, P2P – 18.
As team USA is short a couple of players, they are using local players. One of the locals came into pitch in the 2nd inning. Bob quickly noticed that his cleats were separating at the soles. Every time he stepped, the heal would flop around. Having given the P2P team some new cleats 2 days before, we quickly arranged to give this player one of the pair between innings. At the end of the game, umpire Bob was given a personal note of thanks from this player. With moist eyes, we saw Bob sitting back in a chair GLOWING. This is one of the main reasons why Bob travels the world, to deliver equipment to those that can use it. This note will be proudly displayed in Bob’s man cave / baseball museum. A very special shoutout, thanks Sam Griffith for helping me GET IT!! Sammy showed me in 2005 that although we are umpiring, we are also helping the kids.
The umpire crew consisted of Geno on the plate and Bob on the bases. We were also joined by Ivan, a local gentlemen who volunteered to help by calling first base. He came out in shorts, ravaged Bob’s bag for an umpire shirt and did a stellar job!! Game time was 2:01 with about 134 fans in attendance.
In the nightcap, starting at 1630 (4:30 PM), we had P2P playing DBA. This would be the second game of the day for P2P, quite a chore in this heat. DBA started out fast posting 5 runs in the 1st. They were aided by 5 P2P errors after 2 outs (ouch). In the 2nd inning, P2P put up 3 runs. By the end of the 4th, the score was tied at 9. Looks like we’re in for a whale of a game. Sadly, over the next 3 innings, it was all DBA. Final score, DBA – 17, P2P – 9.
The umpire crew consisted of Bob on the plate and Geno on the bases. The crew wore the military green shirts. Game time was 2:50 minutes. The game ran long due to P2P committing 15 errors in the game.
Scary moment of the game: in the 6th inning, the P2P pitcher threw a hanging curve ball, the DBA player smashed the ball on a line back at the pitcher. It struck him squarely on the side of the head. The sound was earth-shattering. The play was immediately killed and Bob yelled at the coaches to get out to check on him. After being down for 5 or so minutes, he got up was loaded into a vehicle and taken to the hospital. Turns out he suffered a concussion and a black eye. He was very, very fortunate.
After the game, the umpires retired to the clubhouse for some well deserved adult refreshments. It had been a long, hot day. The teams and crew loaded back into the cars and mini buses for a long trip back to the campground. Everyone finally arrived back and enjoyed a delicious meal of potato salad, corn, peas, green salad and spaghetti. All of the meals have been delicious. As Bob retired to bed, he could hear the frogs croaking and the young adults laughing. The campground at night turns into a place of much mischief but mostly FUN.
We will have the next 2 days off as New Year is celebrated.