Tag Archives: baseball

“Legacy Ball”: Every Point Hwy 9 Run – Bethel Acres

There’s just something about a Little League ballpark filled with players in their earliest years. Innocence, mixed with invested family members, mixed with the sounds of 200 voices having at least 100 different conversations…carried by the wind on a warm day across the grass, sand and past the concession stands. Being there made my muscles relax. I began craving Sour Punch Straws.

Tee ball is the epitome of cool.  And so was the family we met at the Bethel Acres ball park on our “Highway 9” Every Point run.


We met Cody Laughlin, his wife and their two boys on the bleachers waiting for their turn to take the field and warm up. They were watching a cousin, “right there – number five…,” finish her softball game as they spoke with us.

The Laughlin family’s life revolves around baseball.

We play baseball…started last weekend, our whole summer is baseball. That’s all they want to do – they just want to play catch and hit balls…


Cody served as the spokesperson for the family and as the coach for the team on which his two sons played.  His wife also served as coach, and several times throughout our conversation he relegated his own role and validated her.

She helps…she makes sure who’s up, make sure they have their bats, gloves, it’s the biggest part.  If they get out of order, they’re out…and I can’t coach.

Is she an assistant coach? No, she’s more than that – She’s probably the most important coach – I can tell them to run all day, but if I didn’t have her in there, I – we couldn’t play baseball.


And if they “couldn’t play baseball,” there might be a fairly large space in their lives. Cody played for Dale High School, his team garnering several championships. His father also played for Dale High school, also bringing home State.

And his two sons? He coaches because he wants them to learn to play the right way. To learn the life lessons that come along with the game. He described his high school coach as tough, scary, a stickler for excellence. But he wants his children to enjoy the game, perhaps with a better balance.

I played too much – I’d play a baseball tournament, come home, get a horse, and go to a rodeo. I did too much as a kid – I don’t want them to have that. I just want them to be a kid.


When talking with Laughlin you can tell this “let a child be a child” philosophy is deeply ingrained. We asked him what he wished people understood about children and baseball.

Different kids have different abilities. You shouldn’t PUSH a kid to play a sport – if they’re not good at it, let them try something else. It’s like the parents try to live through the kid. Let them be a kid; live their own life.

[Parents] don’t understand athletic abilities are different in different kids…there are kids out there that are unhappy, they don’t want to be there.


Cody didn’t mince words. It might have been the first conversation I talked more than our participant.  I asked him if he could share a “funny tee ball” story. He said,

I have a kid that’s four on my team, and he will go out there in the outfield, sit down and pick flowers.

Who’s he give them to?

He throws them in the air…


Do you have a favorite ump?

I don’t like any of them.

While we were still laughing at his umpire stories and all the tee ball rules issues, their field cleared and they began to pack their things.


As we took a different position to watch his team play catch I noticed Cody’s wife quietly set up the dugout.  Under the bench she placed a plastic container with each player’s name.  Inside was their equipment, perhaps a snack, and other items.  By the time we headed to the car the dugout was more organized than my kitchen and ready for the game to begin.

I’m not sure if Cody’s two boys will continue the legacy of another State Championship run at their own school, but I am sure of one thing: their parents will support them, regardless if they like baseball or choose another path.



Field notes – We’re picking up Rachel’s first set of 4×5 large format processed negatives and scans from a shop in Norman next week. Can’t wait to see them. April is living and breathing wedding season videos right now. And Kelly is celebrating the formation of a non-profit corporation…she has hopes of eventually spreading the expenses of this project around to a few other places than just her own checking account.



Not So Newlyweds: Friendship, Love, and Baseball

Luke & Julianna in 2006, ready for the "Cards" game.

We just celebrated our 5-year dating anniversary. I know, I know, once you get married, you’re supposed to focus more on the wedding anniversary than the dating one, but my theory is that without the dating anniversary, there wouldn’t be a wedding anniversary.

Five years ago was the fall of 2006. Luke and I were in school at OSU, and we were in the middle of a heated Major League Baseball playoff season. A truly diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, Luke’s contagious enthusiasm for the sport had won me over to watching some of the TV coverage and even convinced me to go with him to a game in St. Louis that September. We had a blast, and it was the beginning of the end of our “just” friendship.

Backing up a little, I don’t actually remember meeting Luke. We grew up in the same church, but because of a bit of age difference, we were never more than casual acquaintances until we were both at OSU. We “met” when his mom sent a few items with me to give Luke at the end of a weekend I had been home. One thing led to another, as they say, and suddenly he was a staple in my daily plans. Along with an amazing group of friends, we had study “parties,” took road trips, and participated in Dessert Club, in which our friends gathered at restaurants for the sole purpose of ordering dessert. Those were such good times, and almost imperceptibly, moments built upon each other until we realized we wanted our time together to outweigh our time apart. So after the trip to St. Louis that September, we had some good talks, experimented with hugs and hand-holding, and decided to start a relationship. Continue reading Not So Newlyweds: Friendship, Love, and Baseball

You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

by Rob Loeber

What would you do for a dream?  How far would you go to achieve a lifelong goal?

Those are the questions thousands of athletes ask themselves every single day.  From Alaska to Maine and all points in between, minor league and semi-pro players are making enormous sacrifices to stay on the field, rink, or court.

It must be love for $400 a week. (courtesy urbantulsa.com)

This recession has hit America hard over the last few years, but economic struggles are nothing new for the players who toil in obscurity and put their bodies on the line for very little reward.

The Tulsa Talons play in the Arena Football League and the average Talons’ player takes home $400 per week.  That adds up to $7200 for a complete 18-game season.  These are men with college degrees.  Most of them have families but most of them don’t have second jobs because of the time required for practice, travel, and games.

What would you do for a dream?  Would you walk away from the cushy desk job and the 401k package to throw yourself full-speed at another human being for 400 bucks?

I asked one Talons player why he does it.  “I love football,” he told me.  “I can’t imagine giving this up.”

The Talons players have almost no chance of ever making an NFL roster, but out there on the practice field they were smiling and laughing throughout every drill and after every play.  They looked joyful.  They looked like kids.  How many of us can say our jobs make us feel like kids again?

Continue reading You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

So What If America Isn’t The Best At Everything?

Its Fourth of July weekend and we as Americans have so much to be thankful for in this great country of ours.  Despite our struggles and our differences, we still have our freedom and a way of life that is the envy of the rest of the world.  I for one firmly believe in the concept of American exceptionalism.

But just because we are exceptional as a country, does that mean all of our sports have to be exceptional as well?

Two weeks ago the media was gushing over Rory McIlroy’s performance at the US Open.  The so-called “experts” were heaping praise on McIlroy while simultaneously lamenting the demise of American golf.  “Where is the next great American golfer?” they wondered.  “Is America losing ground to the rest of the world?” was a question of much debate among golf writers and analysts.  Of course those conversations led to “is there an American kid out there who’s going to take over for Tiger?”It was one big pity party.  It couldn’t possibly be that the rest of the world is catching up, could it?  No, no something must be wrong with golf in this country.

If you’ve watched any tennis at Wimbledon over the last couple weeks, the conversation has been exactly the same.  Hosts, reporters, and commentators all emphasizing the downfall of American tennis and wondering if it will ever get back to the level it once was when names like McEnroe, Connors, Evert, Sampras, Agassi, and Williams carried the dialogue.

I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but this doesn’t bother me at all.

Continue reading So What If America Isn’t The Best At Everything?

Homegrown Talent Heading To The Big Leagues

Most batters don’t even see the fastballs that leave the hands of Owasso’s Dylan Bundy and Broken Arrow’s Archie Bradley.  Most pro scouts were left drooling as they watched Bundy and Bradley mow down the opposition and looked in astonishment at radar guns with readings in the high 90’s.  Most baseball fans will never see talented arms like these come through Oklahoma ever again.

Bundy is the three-time Oklahoma State Baseball Player of the Year. (courtesy bleacherreport.com)

June 6th, 2011 was a historic night in this state as Bundy and Bradley were both selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft.  Bundy, who just days before was named Gatorade National Player of the Year, was taken fourth overall by the Baltimore Orioles.  Bradley, fresh off a win in the state championship game, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the seventh pick.

“Watching the NFL and NBA draft, you see all these guys and the excitement but you don’t fully understand it until you go through it,” said Bradley moments after hearing his name called and donning an Arizona hat. “Going through it right now it’s simply amazing and to be here in this moment with my family, friends and coaches that have helped me to this point, it’s unreal.”

Bundy’s older brother Bobby was drafted by the Orioles in 2008.  Dylan said he can’t wait to play alongside his brother and can’t think of a better place to start his professional career.  “I really can’t because I already know a lot of things the Orioles have to offer and with him right there by my side the whole time will be great.  Secretly, in the back of my head I was like I really want to go to Baltimore to be with my brother, that was my dream and it’s been a dream come true so far.”

Continue reading Homegrown Talent Heading To The Big Leagues