World Series Champions

There are 108 double stitches on a baseball and the Cubs have as many years of losing before they finally won again. I’ve had the good fortune to be a Cubs fan since 1982 and I’ve seen many runs at the title end in sorrow. Now I’ve seen them win it all. This one’s for all the players over the years who have given me such delight at watching the game I love. This one’s for Harry!

If They Don’t Win it’s a Shame…

The East Boise 70’s All Stars took Third Place at the State Championships. Not bad for a scrappy bunch of ball players that took on much better teams for most of the post season. They won seven games this year and that’s six more than last year!


Here’s Jack’s last at bat, a hard drive to third that was unfortunately for him, caught. Jack’s most memorable moment at State came on Friday afternoon when he drove a fast ball out of the park for a two run homer. The kid can hit way better than his old man ever did. I never hit a homer, but I once robbed a homer from a kid in right field. ;-)

Our 12 U 70’s team took Third Place at State and our 12 U 60’s All Stars took First Place. A pretty good showing for the EB boys. Here’s wishing the 60’s team good luck at the Cal Ripken Regionals at the end of the month in Centralia, Washington!



Opening Day

Today was the start of my son’s youth baseball season. I’m no longer coaching, but I do still umpire. I was the third base umpire for the game, and just like last year, I watched my son drive one out of the park. Very fun.

As with every opening day, we take a picture of the kid in the front yard all dressed up in the new uniform. Here is Jack this morning.


Here’s a head-to-toe shot for the whole uniform. That’s my glove that he’s decided to make his own.


His team won a 4 inning exhibition game with the Cubs, 10-9. Four kids hit homers, two on each team. It was a great start to the season.

Baseball Weekend Recap

My oldest son, Jack’s Outlaw team won their first game of the East Boise Classic tournament. They call them an Outlaw team because they are not the official league All Stars, just a bunch of kids who want to keep on playing ball in the summer. Before the second game of the day, during pre-game warmups he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

His assistant coach was hitting fly balls to his team mates in the outfield. Jack was in a group of kids waiting to catch. He was looking at the other team warming up when he noticed a team mate reacting to something. He turned up in time to just see a ball falling right on him. As he started to react by moving away from it, it nailed him in the lower right side of his nose. There was a loud pop and he went down as if he were shot.

I was in the stands and heard the pop and saw a kid go down, but didn’t realize who it was. It’s never your kid, right? Then I saw the coach bolt out of the dugout to aide and I knew it was serious. So I started onto the field to see if I could help. As I approached the crowd of kids I recognized Jack’s new shoes and then saw his jersey number. It was my kid.

He was facing down in the grass, bleeding pretty good and crying. It was very scary at first, until the coach did a few tests to make sure he was seeing straight and knew his name. Turns out his coach is an EMT, so he was reacting as he was trained.

We got some paper towels to stop the bleeding and an ice pack for the swelling. His mom had went to the car to fetch some chairs when she got back she learned he was hurt. We took him to the car and drove to a primary care office to have him looked at. Two hours later he had been looked at and X-rayed. He didn’t have a fracture or a broken nose. He lucked out.

His team went on to lose that day and were out of the tournament. But the East Boise All Star teams did pretty good. The Nine-year-olds won the title and so did the 12-year-olds. Laurie and I went back Sunday and watched some great baseball being played by the 10-year-olds and the Twelve’s.

Jack will be back on the field later this week.

Baseball Photo Essay

The outfield can get lonely sometimes. But a good outfielder is always vigilant and ready to spring into action to relay a hit ball back to the infield. This is my youngest son Spencer, who’s AAA team I  help coach. Spencer is a fixture in the outfield, he can catch pretty good and sometimes he gets to play second base.

Spencer at bat, loaded and ready to swing. He’s having a rough year at the plate, no hit so far in the season. This is not uncommon in youth baseball. He can hit the ball fine in batting practice, but during a game, he gets psyched out. I can relate, I did the same thing when I was a kid. But he sure looks like a hitter.

Here I am at First Base Coach position, waiting for a batter to get on base. Ty and myself both rotate at first base coach during a game. This year we stepped up our uniform by getting polo shirts for the Oregon State Beavers team.

The Beavers have done pretty well this year, finishing the season in 4th place out of six teams. Playoffs begin next week and are an elimination round tournament, so anyone can win it all.

I’m more involved in my kid’s sports than most dads. I coach my youngest’s team and umpire for my oldest’s team. It’s been coaching and umpiring for about six years straight now and I have loved every minute of it. It’s so rewarding to see young boys come onto the team and improve their level of play as the season progresses. Sometimes it seems like we literally live on the diamonds for several months at a time. Going without home cooked meals in favor of hotdogs and hamburgers, coming to work with diamond dust on our shoes and missing regular writer meetings that I normally attend, are just some of the sacrifices I make to be there for the kids.

But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is my oldest son, Jack. He’s eleven and on a Majors team – the Fighting Irish. The kids, ages 11-12, start to make the 30 foot baselines look small at this age. They are bigger, faster and smarter over all at the game than the younger AAA players.

Jack plays outfield and third base. Here he is in the ready position at third base in one of his 12, yes, I said 12 uniform combinations for the team. The coaches went a little crazy on the uniform combinations this year.

This is Jack batting. He’s had his best season ever at the plate. One game he hit four out of five times he batted. He even got his first home run this year. But as the season winds down, he’s fallen into a hitting slump. That’s baseball.

This is team Manager Sean and Assistant Coaches Steve and Darren getting the kids ready between innings. The coaches have done a fine job this season and our kids have learned more about baseball than they have in their lives to this point. Well done Irish!

I’d like to thank my brother Byron McConnell for all the fantastic pictures in this post. My kids are lucky to have a great uncle with awesome photography skills!

Going Yard

Last night my oldest son Jack hit his first long ball, otherwise known as a Home Run. It was the top of the second inning and his team was down 0-1 when he got ahold of a fast ball and gave it a ride. This knotted the score 1-1 and inspired his team with much celebration at home base.

I was standing in Position One in Right Field, as the Field Umpire. Best seat in the house for watching that ball climb like a rocket over the infield and over the center field fence. The ball hit real dirt about ten feet over the fence. It was a beautiful sight. I just knew it was going out after I heard the tink from the metal bat. It was a solid hit that got high fast.

Everyone who watches Jack take cuts has commented that his swing is elegant and I just knew that if he ever managed to but his hips into a ball it would sail out. The game before was his all-time best at-bat with four hits out of five tries. In typical slugger fashion, this day he only had one hit for the night. His team lost the game by two with Jack on deck and two runners on, when the kid before him struck out. But that’s baseball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains. Right before the game, we had the worst lightening storm of the Spring.

It’s moments like this that make me thankful for all the long hard hours I put in as a coach and an umpire. I played Little League Baseball when I was a kid and I never got a Home Run. Few kids do. So Jack is the first ball player to homer in the McConnell family. He’s also the first to get a touchdown in football. Moments in time to cherish forever.

Starveyors Update, 23 April 2012

Be seeing you
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Oliver Hammond via Compfight

After taking a few weeks off from the novel, I’m back to writing again as of this weekend. Saturday I read through the last few chapters I had written and then that evening I rewrote a scene that I had lost. I think I’ve broken the bla’s and will now dive back into writing on a regular basis to finish out the first draft.

Writing a novel during my son’s baseball season is always questionable for me. I usually can’t find the time due to losing lunch hours at work in order to get to the fields early enough for games and practices. Exercise also takes a nose dive during this period of time. Being a coach and an umpire just eats away at all my regular writing free time. By the time the kids are in bed, I’m too physically and emotionally spent to do any writing.

Last year though, my most productive writing days were right in the middle of the baseball season. Not this year. This year I have to search for more time anywhere I can find it. My priorities are always going to be with the kids though. I don’t make much money on my novels and they are not my primary income, so I can’t give priority to the writing. The kids on the other hand, will only be this age once. I can be a writer until I die. I can only be this involved in their childhood once.

Season Opener

Melrose Incarnation Baseball - 060708 - 125-5x7
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Paul-W via Compfight

Tonight is the season opener for my youngest son’s baseball team. I’m his team’s assistant coach for the third year in a row now. The head coach and I have been on the same team together for two years of non-competitive Rookie league baseball. This will be our first year where the score is kept.

Coach and I spent two hours at a local pizzeria last night sweating over the player positioning and lineup. It was much harder than it looks, when you have to play everyone at least two consecutive innings and then you have to worry about the order of your pitching staff.

At game time tonight we’ll be putting our best team forward and doing our best to ensure  the kids get to show off their skills and hopefully get our first win. The league is pretty well evened out in terms of tallant on each team, so the winners will most likely be determined by the best coached kids and of course lady luck.

It’s going to be a long two month season and just about all of my evenings will be spent at the ball park with either practices or games for both of my boys. My oldest son’s team will use me as an umpire when I’m not coaching a game for the youngest son. My family will be going in different directions for most of that time. It’s fun but after about the first month, you start to wish for the season to be over.

Today though, we can’t wait for all the madness to begin.

Field Day

legends stood here
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: sj carey via Compfight

Field Day. That annual event a week before Opening Day when all the parents and coaches huddle together on cold, wet ball fields and try to make them look good with rusty shovels in one hand and Starbucks cups in the other.

I’ve been attending this annual event every season now for six years at the local youth baseball fields. It seems like every year it’s cold and rainy and every year all the work comes down to about ten dads who really want the best for their kids. Oh it always starts out good, with lots of parents standing around waiting to be told what to do, but as the hours go by, only the truly loyal parents remain until noon.

Here’s to all the parents who actually put on their work gloves and get dirty on Field Day. The ball fields always look better after your efforts. Thank you!



Bulldogs Over the Ducks

East Boise Baseball AAA Oregon Ducks vs Fresno State Bulldogs – The Bulldogs came out swinging their bats and got 4 runs in the first inning. This was a much needed improvement by the team in red and gray. The Ducks answered with a few runs early and by the forth inning, the teams were tied at eight. The Ducks mounted a rally but were gunned down in two pickles from second to third by outstanding Bulldog defensive play. In the last two innings the Bulldog bats came alive again with a stand-up triple by Lewis and some solid base running by Jack and Parker.

Jack coming in after catching
Bulldogs Catcher - Jack McConnell

It was a good game of baseball on the first really decent day all season. The sun was shinning and the temps were in the high 50’s as both teams played some outstanding AAA baseball. The final score was 11-8 Fresno State. The Bulldog record is now 3-3-2 overall and 2-0-1 against the Ducks. (Todays pictures were from the Friday night game against the Bruins. The photographer was Spencer McConnell.)

Lewis and Sully
Coach Sully with Lewis on Deck