It's something that happens every year around here, and has since 2003. A bunch of college guys, mostly from northern California but a few scattered from various parts of the country, come here to play baseball. They don't stay long, but in eleven short weeks, they are written about in the newspaper, spoken about on the radio, and entertain thousands of fans on hot summer nights. In mere hours from now, less than 72 at this point, the 2015 Marysville Gold Sox will play ball.
If you were a fan, but not a devout follower of the sport, and attended a Gold Sox game, you would think you were watching minor leaguers. Guys swing a wood bat just like in the pros, and the quaint stadium built around a legendary field that dates back to the 1940s averages over a thousand fans a night. There are fireworks nights, contests on the field between innings, sound effects when a foul ball is hit into the lake off to the right, walkup songs, hots dogs, beer, and kids sticking around after the game to try to get an autograph.
All of this fuss over about two dozen 19 to 22 year-olds that you likely haven't heard of until the season starts. The Gold Sox' 13th collegiate season begins on Thursday, and most of the players won't even meet each other until Wednesday night, or even later. You haven't heard of a lot of the schools they represent, either. Places like North Dakota State, Youngstown State, Cal State East Bay, Regis University, and New Mexico Highlands.
But for a dozen years now, which is a pretty good sample size, it doesn't seem to matter. These guys from Anywhere, USA are local megastars. They stay with host families, and are here to try to improve their game. Sometimes they go back to their schools and hit .150, other times they end up in the minor leagues, and in five cases, even the majors. To the fans, though, that doesn't seem to matter, either. A good game, a good time, at a good ball park is all they want, and that's what they get. The Gold Sox were 40-7 last year, which was their best record ever, and many fans probably don't even know that. However, they do like their baseball, and they love their baseball players. This year's group will be here any time now, and many have no idea what a memorable summer they are about to have. It may not be heaven, it's definitely not Iowa, but it is baseball, and it's in Marysville.
Too much on, too little time: I am just now entering my annual 'basket case' mode when I am trying to gather all the information I can about the Gold Sox to write game notes and get ready for the broadcast, when this happens. Wednesday night is the team's annual Fan Fest—a free admission workout/scrimmage game as an introduction to this year's players. Wednesday night is David Letterman's final night on the air (I'll likely be writing about that next week), Thursday afternoon is the Dodgers-Giants game in San Francisco with Clayton Kershaw against Madison Bumgarner, and Thursday night is the Gold Sox opener. That's too much in a little over 24 hours, but I want to see it all!
More Dave: The big goodbyes are this week, but so far the best one was Adam Sandler's. In his classic way, he wrote a song, which in part went, “There is no better man, than good old David Letterman.”. President Bill Clinton was the lead guest last Tuesday, but Sandler closed the show with that song. Hilarious and sad at the same time.
Viva Los Doyers?: I know it's been a few years now, but who decided that the Spanish name for Dodgers was Doyers? Even on the English language radio broadcast, they've got a guy with an accent saying “It's time for Doyer baseball.” I know I'm the gabacho here (look it up), but wouldn't the translation of Dodgers in Spanish be Dodgers? What did Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin call them for years? Sounds like a marketing thing to me.
Photo: The 2014 Gold Sox on the beach near Arcata. For some of them, it was the first time they had seen the Pacific Ocean.