Baranek: Telling tales — and tails — out of school040309/studio
Tony Baranek sports columnist (carol dorsett southtownstar newspapers)
And now for another installment of our annual strange, often funny — and this year chilling — diamond tales ...
More than any other professional sport, baseball brings the prankster out of its participants. It’s the same on the amateur baseball and softball levels.
T.F. South softball coach Jamie Arundel remembered a game at Oak Park in 2003, in which Sandburg teammate Lauren Brennan displayed some wicked power with her bat, driving a ball through a school cafeteria window. Afterward, her teammates and coach Randy Couwenhoven decided to have some fun with her.
“We were able to obtain an Oak Park letterhead from the school and created a letter claiming that she owed damages to the school,” Arundel said. “Coach gave her the letter, and she came (to practice) the next day to give coach a check for 200 bucks.”
Chicago Christian athletic director and baseball coach Eric Brauer tells a good one from his days in the Alaska Baseball League — known as one of the best summer leagues for college players.
“We used to make tails with long pieces of athletic tape and a wad of tape on the end as a ball,” he said. “When one of the guys came off the field after he made a great play we would get behind him and slap him on the butt and ‘pin the tail.’
“Often, he would wear it back on to the field for the next inning. One time we had a kid go up to bat with it, and the crowd reaction was priceless. When the kid realized it, he was so embarrassed.”
Here’s one from the creepy department:
Bloom softball coach Carrie Twietmeyer and her team arrived at their field one day to find a dead bird chalked into the third-base line.
“Maintenance must have done it,” she said. “The poor little guy had a chalk line right over him. We just let him there, because it’s unlucky to mess up the lines before a game.”
Tinley Park coach Wendy Podbielniak tells of a harrowing road trip when she coached a JV team at St. Xavier and actually was the team bus driver.
“We stopped in this town just outside of Chattanooga, Tenn.,” she said. “When we pulled up to the hotel it didn’t look real safe, so I told the girls to stay in their rooms and lock the doors. Then I turned the TV on in my room and on the news there was a standoff between the police and these guys robbing a gas station.
“The volume was real high on the TV so I muted it, but I could still hear police yelling. Then I saw that the gas station across the street was the one being robbed. Needless to say I jumped in the bus, pulled it to the back of the hotel and had the girls out of there in minutes. We drove straight through 21 hours to Florida.”
Finally, here’s one Dale Sveum can relate to, courtesy of Andrew athletic director and former Hillcrest baseball coach Rich Piatchek.
“After a bad 10 days I offered my varsity team a chance to select where they wanted to bat in the lineup for the next game,” Piatchek said. “I called out one player’s name and he asked to bat third. I penciled him in. The next kid said he wanted to bat first, so I put him there.
“The next player said he wanted to bat ninth. Before I could put my pencil to paper two other regulars blurted out, ‘Ah, I wanted to bat ninth.’ That’s when you know it’s going to be a long season.”