Major League Baseball’s playoffs are in full swing. Since I cannot get playoffs press credentials, I decided to cover a baseball game that was equally as important to the players and fans and was a lot more fun. The Lincolnwood All-Stars invaded Evanston’s James Park to take on the Evanston All-Stars.
As I walked to the diamond, I saw the Lincolnwood team taking batting practice, while the Evanston team shagged fly balls in the far outfield. Fifteen minutes later, they swapped places. It was cool to see the coaches preaching fundamentals and the players listening.
As the Lincolnwood team headed in to the dugout, I approached one of their coaches, Louie Atsaves and asked if I could do a quick interview with one of his players. Coach Louie did me one better and I interviewed Peter and Christopher Atsaves, two of Louie’s sons. Then for good measure, I interviewed papa Lou.
I have interviewed many players, but these interviews rank as some of my favorites. This is pure baseball. These kids are excited to play and happy to talk about it. There is no money involved, although Christopher did mention some ice cream reward. Also, coach Lou talked about what he learned from coaching.
Peter was the starting pitcher and offensively, he slammed a couple of nice hits. Christopher did his best Michael Young impression, playing 3rd and 1st base (and also catching an inning), while getting a clutch hit.
Both teams were enthusiastic and encouraged their teammates throughout the game. All of the coaches were active, without being overbearing. Good plays were applauded and errors were turned into learning lessons.
I feel compelled to report that Lincolnwood lost in a tight game, but that is not really the lasting memory I took home. I saw two young teams who wanted to play a simple game. I saw a father and two sons, spending time together and learning from each other. I saw real baseball, the baseball I grew to love some 40 years ago.
The boys and Louie thanked me for coming out and covering them. Really, I am the one to thank them for showing me the real spirit of the sport that I love.