My regular readers (all three of them) are aware of this, but I live in an itty-bitty little town called New Market in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. It’s a quiet, rural area and, for the greater part of the calendar year, not much happens. The months of June and July (plus a sliver of August) are the exception. These are the months of the Valley Baseball League season. The VBL is a wooden-bat collegiate league consisting of 11 (soon to be 12) teams, from the southernmost Covington, to Winchester and Haymarket at the north. New Market is in the middle. Players come to our towns from all over the country to play ball and gain exposure.
There isn’t a greater town-team connection anywhere than we have in New Market. Unlike other teams, the Rebels aren’t owned by an individual, but by the community itself. The organization relies on fans/volunteers to make it run. The little system we have is really a thing of beauty, and I am thankful to have even a very small part in it.
The whole community aspect is awesome, but the baseball itself is nothing to sneeze at, either. The game-night atmosphere in Rebel Park is second to none. It somehow manages to be relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. Our little park is simple, but gorgeous, and one of the best locales this side of the moon to take in a ballgame.
For years, I’ve watched every game from the exact same spot- standing by the fence to the left of the home dugout along the third-base line. Best “seats” in the house, if you don’t mind not actually being seated. It’s the best spot in the best ballpark in the world… my home-away-from-home in the summertime (if you’d like to stop by sometime, just let me know. I’ll save you a space.)
But why, you ask, am I telling you all of this? Well, the thing is that I love my little hometown team to such a great degree (does it show much?) that I can’t help it. It isn’t likely that I’ll be able to contain myself from continuing to write about the Rebels as the summer goes on (the season kicks off this week.) You’ve been warned.
I’ll try not to be exclusive. I will try to make everyone who doesn’t get to experience this ilk of baseball jealous. Because, quite frankly, you should be.
To be continued…
Article written by Marc Fisher of the Washington Post in 2004. Read this. It makes us sound really good.
Or just read the book, Safe At Home: A Season in the Valley, by Austin Gisriel, about the 2009 Rebels team. Highly recommended.