In retrospect, the Marysville Gold Sox picked the wrong week for their only overnight road trip of the season. While temperatures continue to top 110 degrees this week, it is 60 in Arcata, with no mention of rain in the forecast. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, there had been periods of rain on the coast, while temperatures in Marysville and Yuba City were quite mild. But of course, the only thing you can actually do about the weather is complain about it.
Not a lot to complain about on the trip, though. It is a six-hour bus ride, and I don't sleep well on bus rides, but considering this is the only trip of the year, and not the norm (like minor league baseball), it is an adventure. Team owner Tom Lininger doesn't have to spend club money on a trip, but not only does he feel going on the road is necessary, he does it right.
First, a Tuesday morning team breakfast at IHOP in Yuba City at 7:30am. We then board a charter bus at 9am, and although we don't stop on the way, Lininger buys deli sandwiches to pass out to the guys while we're on the bus. We get to Eureka around 2:30, check in to the hotel, have a couple of hours of free time, and then head to the ball park for batting practice, followed by the game. The weather was threatening, which kept the crowd away, but the Gold Sox score a run in the ninth inning, and pull out the series opener 6-5 against the Humboldt Crabs.
The guys are on their own after the game, and its the only time they'll have to fend for themselves food wise. There's a McDonald's, Burger King, and Domino's all within walking distance, and even after 10pm, the dining rooms are still open. I visited one of those establishments, and ran into a few of our pitchers. Let me just say, those guys can eat.
In the morning, more eating. The hotel provides a complimentary hot breakfast between 6 and 9am. That's early for anyone, but especially a ball player. I arrive in the dining room at 8:40, and some of the guys are in there. Others decided they had enough at McDonald's the night before, and slept. Even though I knew there was more food to come, I put away some eggs, bacon, and juice, then went back up to the room and worked on some notes.
The most memorable part of the trip begins Wednesday at noon. We board the bus, and head over a bridge to the nearby town of Samoa. There is a restaurant called the Samoa Cookhouse, which at one time was a gigantic dining hall for a logging camp. The walls are covered with old photos of the logging days, while the interior is used to serve up food family style. The food keeps coming, too, and no one seems to mind. Salad, soup, bread, pot roast, potatoes, and beans, with cake and pudding for dessert. Between that and the hotel breakfast, I ate more before 2pm than I usually eat in a week. Not complaining.
With all of that food in us, and still several hours before the game, we go to the beach. There's a convenient spot with bus access less than a mile from the Cookhouse. It's hard to believe, but some guys on the club have never seen the Pacific Ocean before. It's a leisurely time, guys walk on the sand, find seashells, take pictures, and just stroll. We weren't there very long, but if you ask the guys a few years from now what they remember most, the beach will probably be their answer.
Back on the bus and back to the hotel. We still didn't know if there was going to be a game or not, because it rained overnight, and they weren't sure if the field would be ready. We got the thumbs-up soon after getting back, but still had a couple of hours before batting practice. There is a lot of dead time in baseball. The players had a couple of hotel rooms to hang out in. I just milled around outside.
Finally to the yard around 4:30. The weather was great, the field was fine, and the crowd was much bigger. A Humboldt tradition—the Crabgrass Band was in attendance, and they had the crowd going. It was also 'Cowbell Night', which made the place extra loud. The Crabs won the game 8-3, but a split is better than being swept.
Around 10pm, its back on the bus for the middle-of-the-night trip home, but pizza for everyone to enjoy on the way. The manager pulls out his Bull Durham DVD, which makes the first couple of windy hours go by quickly. The Hangover follows, and I don't think I made it to the Mike Tyson scene before I fall asleep. I remember the bus driver saying he spotted a deer in the road a couple of times, but the next thing I knew we were in Colusa, just a few miles from home.
It's 4am, and about 28 bleary-eyed individuals grab their gear, and stumble off the bus. There would be a game that night at home (which they lost in extra innings). All is good, no major shenanigans, and no one (to my knowledge) got in trouble. It's warm out, but not nearly the 108 that would be experienced a few nights later. Players aren't thinking about that, and they're not even thinking about food. It's time for sleep, but it's also a time that none of these guys will forget anytime soon, thanks to the Liningers and the Gold Sox for making it happen.