Northwest Wanderings: Summertime and baseball...and pillow fights? In Walla Walla, a town comes out to take part in "America's passion."
I went to a pillow fight the other night, and a baseball game broke out.
It was between innings at a Walla Walla Sweets game.
With a big-league windup, Perry Roeder delivered a sweeping curve that missed his sister-in-law Trudy’s head but knocked her off balance, and off the wooden beam.
One more set-to and she was done in the best two out of three. Then it was back to the stands for both.
This is where West Coast League collegiate baseball fans come for inexpensive entertainment. The Sweets draw more than 1,450 each game.
It’s also for top players to hone skills and gain experience — though for no pay. Most have athletic scholarships at their universities.
Tickets are cheaper than parking for a Mariners game — $5 to $16. On “Two Dollar Tuesdays” they’re even less.
The mascot is a winking onion, Sweet Lou, who appears to have something in her left eye. She’s named after former M’s manager Lou Piniella, described by team announcer Zach Bigley as a “tough onion, but sweet.”
This Sweet Lou will not be throwing any bases or kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes. But she will run the bases every game, racing a fan. Wearing size 19 shoes, Sweet Lou always loses.
In left field, Tyler Ciarlo is behind the wooden scoreboard keeping track by watching through the 10th-inning hole, not by listening to radio play-by-play.
To get to his spot he climbs a 10-foot ladder roped in place.
The Walla Walla Community College student also has a restaurant job with an adjusted schedule to allow his scoreboard work.
“I love baseball,” he says. “It’s one of the best sports. It’s America’s passion.”
Before the first pitch, some players help out raking the dirt around home plate and on the path to it from the dugout.
Behind the home team’s dugout along third base, there a black-and-white, life-size photo of Sgt. G.W. Mills of the 14th Cavalry, Troop C. He’s wearing the flannels of the 14th Cavalry team from Fort Walla Walla.
It was taken in 1908, and he has the butt of a cigarette in his mouth.
The bill of his cap is tiny, barely enough to shade the eyes; his mitt might be even tinier.
He looks strong and capable. He would win a footrace with Sweet Lou without any help.