By Steve Svetovich
Sometimes you just have to seize an opportunity.
And on sunny summer day at Saint Anthony’s Park in Dunmore last month, a father and son had a chance to live a dream.
The Dunmore Freedom League had a baseball game scheduled that day.
It started as an ordinary baseball game played between collegiate level players.
And this scribe’s son Dylan was pitching for the Dunmore entry in the league.
But the team was one player short. And that is where this scribe fits in.
My son Dylan, 23, has been playing in the Dunmore Freedom League for the past six years. The league is filled with mostly collegiate level players and beyond in their 20 and into early 30’s. There is one older player in the league, Charlie Terrery, Dunmore, who last played at 59.
My son Dylan always had a dream to play one competitive baseball game alongside his dad in the outfield.
Seeing the team was one player short, I asked Chaz Ehnot, the team’s manager, if he could use another player.
So quickly this scribe was inserted into right field with my son Dylan on the mound in the second inning. With Dylan pitching, a ball was hit to the outfield which I fielded and threw to the cutoff man.
In the next half of the inning, I put on a helmet and came to bat against a pretty fast throwing collegiate level pitcher. I was batting in my first competitive game since my final Green Ridge Teener League game playing for the late Tony Miele in the 1970’s.
And with my old Rod Carew/Cecil Cooper batting stance, I squared to bunt, immediately pulling a muscle in the back of my left leg. The bunt attempt went foul.
Batting now with a pulled muscle, I dropped a bunt between the pitcher and first base on the very next pitch but was easily thrown out at first. I could not run due to the pulled muscle.
As the bottom of the next inning started, I asked to come out of the game due to the pulled muscle. But Dylan asked me to stay in, so he could play centerfield with me in right field. “I’ll cover for you, dad.”
And so I limped into right field with Dylan playing next to me in center field. “This is like Griffey, Sr. and Griffey, Jr.,” he yelled to me with a broad smile.
Another ball was hit my way which I limped to, fielded and underhanded to the cutoff man. Dylan signaled to me how many out there were with each out.
And after the third out he sprinted in while the old man tried running, but kind of slowly jogged in with a pulled muscle and noticeable limp.
The Dunmore team batted around and my turn came to bat again with a runner on first. My mistake was not telling the base runner to run on the first pitch because the only thing I could do with a pulled muscle was bunt again.
“Look for the bunt,” the opposing team’s third baseman yelled.
And so on the first pitch I laid down a nice bunt between the pitcher and first base again hoping for a sacrifice. The runner was not going on the pitch and he barely got thrown out at second. With me unable to run to first, the opposition turned a potential sacrifice bunt for me into a double play.
After that I was forced to leave the game with a pulled muscle, but not before a high five to my son.
It ended up as a two-inning stint in the field with two at bats. But I did not miss a pitch batting, did not strike out and did not make an error in the field.
Not counting softball leagues, it had been more than four decades since I played a game of organized baseball. But this game meant more than any of them because I got to play next to my son.
It was always one of Dylan’s wishes for that to happen.
And for one moment of time on a sunny day in July, it was “our field of dreams.