Bee Jays, Hargrove: Take 2

Last summer I was given the opportunity to catch bullpens and take batting practice for the Liberal Bee Jays. While catching bullpens might not seem like a great summer vacation it was a blessing for me. I had just made the decision to get back into baseball and didn’t have a lot of time to get back into the swing of things. While the job allowed me the chance to get some quality work in that I needed, as I was able to catch some talented pitchers and able to take much needed live batting practice on a regular basis, it also gave me the chance to be around what was most likely the closest to a professionally ran ballclub in summer in collegiate summer league baseball.
My whole life I have always tried to do things the way the pro’s would do it in whatever sport I played. This past summer I was given an up close and personal experience with this desire as former major league player and baseball manager Mike Hargrove was the manager of the Bee Jays.
While at times it was tough not to be intimidated in the cage as former big league eyes were breaking down my every swing daily, it was a great chance to see how a man who has been there and done that handled his team, giving big league advice, and how he also handled himself, being a big leaguer on a smaller-than-big-league stage.
I was impressed not only with Mr. Hargrove’s act of coming back to his roots (he was a Perryton, Texas, native and a former Bee Jay) and giving back to a place that had helped him move onto bigger and better things, but also with how he never “big leagued” anybody, whether it was the best player on the team, a fan in the stands or the bullpen catcher.
Liberal and the surrounding area should feel privileged with having a big league coach in their Bee Jay dugout. If you are a baseball fan in any way, don’t pass on the opportunity to see the closest thing to a big league ballgame in a four-hour radius. (Kansas City and Arlington aren’t within this radius, but the Wichita Wingnuts and Oklahoma City Redhawks are.) While the play on the field might not be big league quite yet, the brains behind the play will be.