A final thanks to a pair of very special folks- Tony Mowat and Dallas Alkire
It didn't really hit me until I heard the guys use their trade mark line- "We had them all the way"- that I had possibly spent my last night in the Crows Nest with the two people that get credit for my ties to the Valley Baseball League.
I had interviewed and covered one game with NVD Sports Editor at the time, Mike Petre and he had sent me down to a place called Rebel Park to cover a team called the New Market Rebels. I had just recently moved to the Valley and answered an ad in the Northern Virginia Daily sports section about being a stringer. It was the summer of 2006 and it happened during the stretch of the season where games were rained out something like 8 straight nights.
I was beginning to wonder if Petre had changed his mind about using my writing talents and was just making up all of the postponements. The sun finally returned and he sent me down to Rebel Park for a game. I knew very little about the league and even less about the Rebels. I knew they had a closer with a funny name like Q-Tip (That would be Cotton). I didn't want to sit inside the press box with the person Mike sent down to keep me out of trouble so I was looking for a safe place to hide.
I stumbled into the two really harmless looking fellows sitting very quietly out on a really high deck. My youngest son Christopher was at the game with me because I still was having trouble grasping the entire computer/Internet/file aspect of life. I asked these two kind gentleman, OK- Dallas was kind/Tony-sorta scary at first- Would you mind if I sat out here with you two?
As they say in the business- The rest is history. I slowly became the third person in the booth by talking into the background loud enough for Dallas to hear me. After just a couple of nights I was begging Mike to please let me work all of the New Market home games I could. New Market was on fire back in 2006 so Mike assumed I just wanted to stay with the winning team but I can honestly say that W's & L's never entered into the mix. These two guys were great story tellers and I was their X's & O's man.
By the end of the 2006 season I had UN-officially became part of the Rebels Web-Cast crew and I loved every minute of it. We talked about big plans for 2007 but things change so you never know what might happen from one summer to the next. Chuck McGill replaced Mike as the Sports Editor at the NVD and I told Chuck that I would make myself available to go anywhere he needed me to go on the nights that the Rebels were off or on the road if I could just call all 22 games at New Market.
The 2007 season kicked off and the equipment had been upgraded to include a third head set and we were actually a 3-Man team! We were joined at times by Charlie Dodge and Jay Hafner. Jay is the one that we always kid about the other 4 of us have faces meant for Radio but he was our Jay Bilas.
I missed just one game that season when I took my middle and younger sons up to Yankee Stadium for a Sunday afternoon game. We swap stories and try our best to entertain the folks listening back home and simply have as much fun as we can doing it. The rain out on Wednesday cost me two things with one being getting to see Charlie, Melissa and their son Noah toss out their first pitch in celebration and the second was I lost out on a chance to get to call one more Rebel game with my friends Tony and Dallas.
The remaining home games are on Sunday and Monday and on both nights the Wranglers are at home too. My 2008 duties of working the P.A over at Bulldog Field will keep me from working the final two Rebel games. How does this all tie back into our 2008 Around The Valley promotion?
The money we spent this summer on the ATV-60 came from the checks I earned from covering the VBL for the NVD. I loved the story that Chris Graham wrote in the New Dominion but Teresa Wease and I shared a laugh the other night in Harrisonburg. She said she didn't know that I was independently wealthy until she read that feature. I said sure I am- the same way you are because you own a baseball team and an Auto Dealership...
One of the early books I dabbled with I named "Perception is 9/10 of the Truth". It was an attempt to play on the old saying Possession is 9/10 of the Law. We (Lin & I) work incredibly hard and there were five kids, three sets of braces and a heavy dose of college expense that our girls have needed us to work our way through.
I wanted to be a Sportswriter my entire childhood but I ended up in the newspaper business by in the non-glamorous circulation end. Mike gave an over-the-hill writer wan ta-be a chance and then Tony & Dallas made it all work. If those two guys had chased me off their Crows Nest that night back in 2006, there would of been no 2007 and then no Around The Valley in 60 Days this year.
If I have indeed called my final Rebel baseball game, I couldn't of done it with two more special people. All of you that have thanked me and my family for our efforts this year- next time you are at Rebel Park look up into the Crows Nest and give a Tip of the Cap to my guys!