Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hyrum Pony Baseball 1972

My Pony League Career in Hyrum lasted one year, for the most part.  Pony baseball was 13-15 year olds.  It also marked a change from 60-foot bases (Litle League) to 90-foot, regular baseball size.   When I was 13 I played, but did not see a lot of action.  I was overwhelmed with the older players, curve balls and the larger diamond.

l-r Mike Kerr, Doug Jensen, Ken Jensen, ?, ?, ?, ? Val Gunnel, Don Williams, Weldon

At this level of play, we were not an official "Pony" team.  It was a county league, and we would travel from town to town in Cache Valley and play the other cities.  Logan had their own league, and the county had their own league, which included the Cache Valley part of Idaho.  We practiced at the field by the Junior High School.  This was not the best field.  We would usually end up playing on softball fields, because most cities did not have official baseball fields in those days.  I can remember some of our games, playing in Wellsville, Providence and Franklin. 

When I was a 14-year old I became a regular player. We were coached by the Lundberg twins (I am thinking Clair and Blair, but I may be wrong.) I started in center field, and usually batted sixth.  We had a stacked team.  We had Doug Jensen, shortstop and Val Gunnel, catcher, both from Providence who played for us rather than their home city.  Later in the season we also recruited Jed Murray, pitcher and left field, and Mike Kerr, second base, from Wellsville. 

It was fun playing center field that year.  David Jensen, our primary pitcher had a cut fastball, almost a screwball with the distance it would curve.  Many batters would give up on the pitch, deciding it was outside, and then it would cut across the outside corner.  It was fun to watch.  Jed Murray was a traditional picture, with his curve breaking the other way.  We had other good players, Don Williams playing third and Monte Stevens playing first base.

I remember we were really excited to play Providence, and really wanted to beat them as two of our players were from Providence.  We did win.  At some point in the game there was a towering fly ball hit, which I caught up with and caught.  Coaches were happy for that, but I didn't think it was a big deal.
Monte Stevens, Ken Jensen, Mike Keer, Rick Stevens, Don Williams

The highlight of the season was the tournament in Soda Springs.  We were overwhelmed by a good team from Brigham City the first game, and fell into the consolation bracket.  I made an out that game trying to steal second.

The next game we were playing a team from Pocatello.  It was a close, low-scoring game.  I did a suicide squeeze, scoring someone from third base.  However as I approached first, instead of giving myself up easily, the first baseman was blocking the base path so I though I might be able to jar the ball loss.  However he side swiped me and I went rolling.  I broke my wrist as a result.  I was out of the game and in the hospital to get my arm set.  We did win the game. I remember a kid on the Pocatello side laughing at my tragedy.  This kid turned out to be my aunt's foster son as she lived in Pocatello.

l-r Weldon, Doug Jensen, me (cast) Val Gunnel, Dave Jensen, Jed Murray
Having beaten Pocatello we made it to the consolation championship game and won that final game.  I don't remember who we played.  Don Williams hit a couple of home runs for us.

David Jensen and Jed Murray lead our high school team a few ears later into the state championship tournament where we were second.  They also went on to both pitch minor league baseball.  Jed made it up to triple A ball.  David didn't go so far, as he accidentally shot himself in the foot deer hunting, and could never push off the way he had before and as a result lost some of the  zip on his  fast ball. 

The next year I chose not to play baseball in Hyrum.  Hyrum had a new coach, who was young, and I was worried that the conditions on the team would not be conducive to the lifestyle I was leading.  (I was worried there might be alcohol involved and did not want to risk it.)  Ken Jensen and I decided to play for a Logan team.  I went to one practice before they told me "no" as I wasn't a resident of Logan.  That practice was interesting.  The coach thought my ball from the outfield didn't have enough zip on it so he said to throw it at the shortstop's head.  I did, and somehow the shortstop missed the ball and in bonked him a  good one.  He had a big goose egg.

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth Cram Christensen: I remember the Lundberg twins, they were Brent and Bryan if I am not mistaken. When they came back from their missions, one of them came an talked in our home making class.