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Pick-up baseball brings community together

One of Dal’s players slides into home. (Bryn Karcha photo)
One of Dal’s players slides into home. (Bryn Karcha photo)

If it hadn’t been for the blooming blush in the nearby trees or the exceedingly brisk wind, it would have been easy to imagine that this baseball diamond was just a sight from the middle of summer. Instead, it was another pick-up game between students from Dalhousie and the University of King’s College at Conrose Field.

The man in charge, Alvaro Ortiz, has been organizing these games since this past April to play some friendly, low-key baseball. Ortiz, a Dal student, began these sporadic games by tossing baseballs on the quad with friends until he had enough people to form teams.

Ortiz’s knowledge of the game is obvious as he easily yet authoritatively delegates positions and explains rules to those players a little shaky about the particulars.  After two outs in the first inning, Ortiz, a former junior high catcher, realizes there isn’t an umpire, so he decides to step up to the challenge himself. In all ways, this is the perfect metaphor for bringing together the two teams, and more likely, two communities.

Unlike other Dal or King’s teams clad in their respective colours, this gaggle of men and women is speckled with nearly every color in the spectrum, reflecting the spontaneity that this event was all about. The witty repartee, too, is just as much a part of this game as the gloves and bats, ranging from such one-liners as “my grandmother can outdrink you,” to “there are more Juggalos on the planet than polar bears.”

When asked why these games are only held once or twice a year, Ortiz cites scheduling conflicts and the fact that because baseball is not incredibly popular in Nova Scotia, word gets around slowly.

Ortiz’s enthusiasm for the game is all over his face as he jokes with his teammates and encourages the King’s players. He simply likes the atmosphere on the diamond. “Nobody takes it too seriously, everyone is getting together to have fun—it’s people getting together to play baseball.”

Even with King’s taking the first game 9-3, the competition isn’t over just yet. Another match is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12 for Conrose Field at 1 p.m.

Ortiz’s goal for the future, no matter which school comes out on top, is to keep the games going for as long as possible: “I want to keep spreading the word; I want to keep playing baseball.”

 

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