Backwards Baseball Not A Midwest Mystery

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Roundup readers watching the television broadcast of the Arizona Diamondbacks game against the New York Mets on Sunday, might have heard broadcaster Bob Brenly refer to a “backwards baseball” game.

While that seems somewhat preposterous, I do recall seeing such a game decades ago at a Tempe-area high school.

It seems, the coach wanted to loosen things up with his team, which was preparing for the postseason state tournament.

“(The players) are too uptight,” the coach told me.

So, he decided the best way to lighten the mood among team members was to play a baseball game backwards.

After watching the screwy game for a few minutes, I realized the coach was dead-on in accomplishing his goal of turning down the heat on his playoff-bound team.

The game brought a lot of laughter, but still focused on the fundamentals of the game.

The challenge of the game was that all batters had to run to third base first and first base third before crossing home plate.

All ground balls, had to be thrown to third for a put out or second to third for a “double play.”

Batters who instinctively started toward first base, had to return and touch home plate prior to running to third.

Also, right-handers had to hit from the left side of the plate, and lefties had to hit right-handed.

The coach and his assistant pitched the game throwing easy lobs to make sure there were plenty of hits to speed up the action.

During the Diamondbacks broadcast, Brenly said in his college career at Ohio University he and his teammates once played a backwards baseball game and hinted there was at least one player on the Arizona team who had played the game backwards.

From what I remember, the game certainly was not a natural for the players — as evidenced by the laughter — but it livened up what might have been a mundane regulation scrimmage.

Town hosts Punt, Pass and Kick

The Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department will host the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 28 at Rumsey Park north multipurpose field. The event is free.

The competition allows boys and girls, ages 6 to 15 years, to showcase their football skills in punting, passing and placekicking.

Scores are based on distance and accuracy.

Entrants may register onsite the day of the competition or online at www.paysonparks.com.

Finalists in both boys and girls divisions will advance to regional competitions, and regional winners may advance to the state championship to be held during an Arizona Cardinals’ football game.

The NFL Pepsi gridiron program is a national skills competition for boys and girls between the ages of 8-15, who compete separately against their peers.

Established in 1961, the PP&K program is the oldest NFL Youth Football program. Girls and boys in four separate age divisions compete.

The PP&K program is free — both to organizers, like the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, and to every youngster who wants to participate.

With more than 4 million boys and girls from around the country taking part in PP&K competitions, it is one of the world’s largest youth sports participation programs.

Call Mary Wolf at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7, for more information, or visit the parks office at Green Valley Park.

Sign up for soccer, now

Town Recreation Leader Mary Wolf’s goal is to attract more young soccer players to the local league.

She explains the recreation offering: “Our fall soccer program starts at age 4 and ends with sixth-graders. 

“This program gives those kids who love soccer a second opportunity to play during the fall. We will play on some Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.

“If the kids enjoyed spring soccer, they will enjoy the fall season even more.

“The games that are played on Friday evening will not interfere with Friday night home football games.”

The season begins Aug. 31 and will continue until Oct. 12.

Currently there are 46 slots remaining on the maximum of 80 players.

The registration fee is $25 and includes a game shirt.

Also, volunteer coaches are needed.

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