Apr. 15—Dwindling resources creates dilemmas in this business not known when I showed up here 20 years ago, for my second stint in the business we call sports journalism.
One of those almost hit home Tuesday.
There was a time that “doing the desk” which meant reading copy and page layout and design, was done by one person. That person never had to go cover a game and get back to it, not even during the afternoon baseball games of spring.
That’s not the case today.
And I count my lucky stars that Tuesday wasn’t Monday, when putting together a roundup of games didn’t add to those duties when I did cover a baseball game, a five-inning run-rule don’t get your seat warm type outing at Hilldale.
No, Tuesday was Muskogee’s Senior Night at the Rougher diamond, and it became a game that pushed into the 10th inning in a 5-5 deadlock with the Sapulpa Chieftains.
As ducks were proverbially left on the pond in the seventh, eighth, and then ninth inning, I began to stress. Eight o’clock was minutes away, making this a three-hour game. The “button push” deadline for the print edition of the paper is 11 a.m. and I had 20 percent of three pages full back at the office.
Paul Quimby, who does the roundup twice a week, would take care of that burden on this night.
I was just hoping Muskogee would end this quickly, and on a positive note — something the Roughers haven’t hit on much in 2012, winning just one game going into Tuesday.
Thanks to modern technology called Gamechanger, you can follow a game from anywhere much like you would follow the ESPN Gamecast graphic. I knew that was an option if the game reached 11 innings.
But it wouldn’t be the same.
Quotes on a win would be harder to get, especially with Senior Night activities on the post-game agenda, and me having access to no more than the phone. And as a guy who likes to tell stories, a win of this sort just wouldn’t have been the same story.
Thankfully, Aiden Barnoski would help me out.
He took his first delivery with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th and laced it into right field, scoring Pryce Jackson from third base for a 6-5 Muskogee win.
Jackson, 3-for-3 on his senior night with three walks, singled to start the rally in the 10th. Geo Zapata drew a walk. Charles Mason then punched a single into shallow left to load the bases.
I wouldn’t have seen the mob scene involving both Jackson in one spot and Barnoski at another. The parents, there to celebrate a career with a few, cheering with a sense of relief after watching some tough outings. An atmosphere that generally, is what you’d see at the end of a state tournament rather than a second win in 15 outings.
Hey, Muskogee has made the state tournament before with single-digit wins. Go ahead. Dare to dream about having a real state celebration.
But back to realty, for one night, these guys needed a feel-good moment, and a feel-good moment deserved a feel-good story. A coach, Johnny Hutchens, choked up by his own thoughts and words. A happy dad — and one-time Phoenix photographer, Percy Jackson, just days ago having had an opportunity to reconnect with all of his kids in one gathering, including Pryce Jackson, who served up quite the game on his own. That’s a story all it’s own.
The Jackson guys needed it. Hutchens needed it. Muskogee’s baseball community needed it.
Hopefully for them, it’s not a blip on the radar, but a start of a trend.
And thank God, or his baseball angels, Barnoski got it over in time for me to share it.