The games people play


Sumitaka Kurose, of Shizuoka, Japan, dances with Stockton Ports’ mascot Splash during the “dance for your dinner” promo between innings at the Ports’ game against the Modesto Nuts at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 800)

Like most minor league teams, Stockton Ports single A baseball team runs a number of different promotional games between innings to help keep the fans engaged and, hopefully, keep them coming back.

10-year-old Gabe Velasco of Antioch gets splashed as he catches a water balloon thrown by his 12-year-old sister Samantha Luis in a sieve attached to a helmet on his head during the water balloon catch game between innings at the Stockton Ballpark during a California League baseball game between the Stockton Ports and the Modesto Nuts in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 500mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 800)

One of the games this year is the water balloon toss. One person has to wear a colander mounted on a helmet to catch water balloons thrown by a teammate. The bigger the splash, the more the crowd likes it.

Ian Helmstadter, left, and Dave Crosby, both from Los Angeles, compete in the Bungee Battle between innings at the Stockton Ports game against the Modesto Nuts at the Stockton Ballpark in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Another fan favorite is the bungee battle. Two opponents are connected together by a long bungee cord. Between them is a large bucket and placed at opposing distances from each other are two piles of styrofoam tubes (normally used as pool toys, “noodles” are what my family calls them). The contestants have to run to their respective piles of tubes, grab one and then hustle back to deposit it into the bucket.  As they run, the bungee cord stretches taut and usually one or the other contestant is jerked to the ground.

My all-time favorite was the bat race. I say “was” because they don’t do it any more. In the old days of Billy Hebert Field, the bat race used to be a staple of the game. I haven’t seen it done at the new downtown ballpark.

Two contestants would each hold a bat vertically, with the larger, hitting end placed on the ground. Then they would lean over and place their foreheads on the top end. The race would start and the competitors would spin around ten times with the bats as the axis point. After that, they needed to run about 10 yards or so to the finish line. Dizzy from the spinning, the challengers would weave and wobble like drunken sailors.

I think it’s time to bring back it. Perhaps they can get a sponsor for it. How about Heineken or Coors Lite bat race?

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