Connor Jones - Top Shelf Stories

Connor Jones - Top Shelf Stories

Top Shelf Stories: Hold on to the baseball

With the start of baseball season, Montrose native shares his memories of growing up in Trail

By Connor Jones

In honour of Major League Baseball starting up, I figured it’s time for another baseball story.

It’s 2001, and the Beaver Valley Allstars had a heckuva team.

Everybody worked their butts off to get the team and field ready for the end of July when we were hosting the provincial championships. All the families involved worked tirelessly to get the field ready for the tournament. It was incredible. The Underwood’s, Moncrief’s, Bouma’s, Rypien’s, and the Duley’s, to name a few. Wow, the hours we put in.

For the entire summer we had two-a-day practices. We would hit in the morning, then fielding at night.

Between me, Rylan Duley, Nick Rypien, and Joey Underwood, we must have turned 20,000 double plays and ran down 40,000 more ground balls. We were vacuums out there. By the end of each practice, we’d all be soaked with sweat and covered in dirt from diving after balls, and still, loving every second of it. That summer taught us to work and that practice and repetition really do create perfection.

As we moved into the tournament we knew we’d have to beat some excellent teams to get to the Cal Ripken World Series. If we could win the tourney it was straight to the big show.

Opening game, we lost to Surrey 1-0. Kellen pitched a gem though, and the guy they threw was the biggest twelve year old I’d ever seen. He threw complete smoke and we only had one dinky hit.

One of the highlights as catcher was yours truly giving their first base coach the finger after I caught him leaning over the foul line peering between my legs to steal the sign. Before the next pitch, I opened my legs wide, stared down at him, waited an extra second, and violently put down my middle finger. Kel then throws the hardest fastball he could over the batter’s head, which just happened to be that coach’s kid too. We had a rare laugh as I met him on the mound to talk it over.

By the end of the tournament, we had clinched a spot in the playoffs, but, we needed to win our last game to get the second place seed. Important because if we lost then we were the fourth seed and would have to play Surrey in the semis and Kel wouldn’t be able to pitch that game.

So here we were, a bunch of scrappy Beaver Valley boys going into the bottom of the sixth down 2-1 against a tough Nanaimo team. The bottom half of our order was coming up, batters, seven, eight, and nine. We needed them to clutch up. They did. Kyle Cara, ‘Killer,’ gets plunked, Ryp lines one up the middle, then ninth batter Eric ‘Boomer’ Bouma dunks one behind third base. Bases loaded, and then Kellen strikes out for the first time all tournament. Then Dules comes up, fakes a bunt, swings and lines it past third base. Killer scores, game is tied.

I’m up next, completely psyched. In my head I’m hitting a home run to win the game. I instead popped out to first base, two out.

Zak is at the plate, Dules on first, Boomer at second, and Ryp at third. Ryp, our fastest runner, nicest guy, but somehow our worst base runner.

Even though we already would make the playoffs, it was intense, the crowd is standing and the pressure is on.

First pitch, Zak swings and misses, second, foul ball. The count is 0-2.

The next pitch is wild and it gets by the catcher, it hits the wall perfectly and starts dribbling back towards home plate. Ryp, who sees the ball fly past the catcher, takes off towards home, head down, running as hard as he can.

Oh my, he’s going to be out by 20 feet.

The catcher is only a few steps from home plate, he grabs the ball and jogs back to tag Nick as he slides in. Clearly out, we all groan. Until, the ump swings his arms wildly. ‘Safe!’ He yells.

The ball is on the ground. We win. We fly out of the dugout and dog pile on him. An amazing victory even though we lost the final game 3-2.

So the lesson? Never give up? Take a chance? Work hard? Yes, for sure, more importantly though, hold on to the dang baseball.

With the start of baseball season, Connor Jones shares his memories of growing up in Trail.

City of Trail

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters fell 6-1 to the Penticton Vees on Sunday, their third loss to the perennial BCHL powerhouse six games into the 20-game season. Photo: Stephen Piccolo
Penticton Vees dominant in win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters enjoy two day break until their fourth meeting with Penticton Vees on Wednesday

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

This painting is a piece from Young Visions 2021, opening April 22 at the Kootenay Gallery. Photo: S. Painter
Showcase of artwork by Kootenay Columbia students opens April 22

Young Visions 2021 runs April 22 to May 29 in the Kootenay Gallery of Art, Castlegar

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read