Connie at the ballpark

James Hall

My name is James Hall, and I am a connie. This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a baseball game between Lawrence University and Ripon College at Don Hawkins Field. For those readers across the Ave who are unfamiliar with the game, let me explain: The object of baseball is to beat the opposing team into submission one member at a time using a variety of tactics.
The primary method of attack is a small “baseball,” which is “pitched” at a player of the opposing team in an attempt to knock him unconscious or better yet, kill him. The player “at bat” defends himself from the baseball with a long metal cylinder, which he brandishes with great skill and strength in his attempts to deflect the oncoming spheroid. While this battle between pitcher and batter is waged, it is the job of the rest of the team to grunt, yell, and spit from a small cage on the side of the field — in the case of the batter’s team – or to stand on the field and look tough in the case of the pitcher’s team.
I am sad to report that both teams failed to knock a single player unconscious during the four innings of harsh Wisconsin weather I endured. Only the pitcher from Ripon managed to hit an opposing player at all, and the dazed Lawrentian’s response was only to run dejectedly to “first base,” where he proceeded to dance and roll in the dirt in a very silly fashion, apparently still trying to dodge the baseball but without the help of a bat. Other highlights of the game included Tim O’Toole’s deflection of the baseball into the nearby American Legion jet – a biting critique of American foreign policy if I’ve ever seen one – and the variety of musical excerpts blaring from the field-side speakers, including works by The Beach Boys and Naughty by Nature.
The Lawrence baseball team dominated in the yelling and grunting category, exhibiting superior ensemble tuning and near-unison articulations. Ripon’s vocalizations could only be described as a hodgepodge, unless they were in fact experimenting with free improvisation and avant-garde musical techniques, in which case their yelling was much too sophisticated for mortal minds to comprehend.
The excitement of my first LU baseball game easily competes with the normal standby for connie entertainment: locking oneself into a small, uncomfortably warm, dimly-lit smelly room and making obnoxious noises for hours. The exhilaration of being outside and seeing the light of day is something every connie should experience at least once a year, and what better place to do it than at a good ol’ fashioned baseball game?