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CONFESSIONS OF A ‘ROOKIE’ FAN ATTENDING HIS FIRST I.S.C. WORLD TOURNAMENT
Ken Knight –
Author’s note: The following is taken from an interview with Mr. Knight, 64, following his attendance at the ISC World Tournament in
I liked it! I liked it a lot. I knew a fair amount about the game before coming to
So let me share my “rookie” observations of the sport at this level; of a tournament of this quality; and of the game as it is played by the I.S.C.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The layout, the playing fields, the facilities for the tournament were all great. Physical facilities were excellent; the park was clean; parking was easy.
When you hear the term “World Tournament” you immediately expect the quality of teams and players to be the “best in the world.” I got what I expected here. I have no doubt that the teams and players I watched were as good as it currently gets in the sport. The tournament seemed to have a really positive influence on the
I quickly realized that a good pitcher dominates this game at least as much as a mobile big man can dominate a college basketball game. And I noted a pretty wide range of abilities among pitchers - - the position players seemed to be a lot more equal in abilities than were the pitchers. While a Roger Clemons is tough to beat in a baseball game, it can happen at any time. But it seemed to me that in fastball a top-drawer pitcher is a lot tougher to beat than it is in baseball.
UMPIRING: I thought the “blue” did a great job. They were well in control of the games; they did well at communicating with each other. They seemed always in position to make calls, and their judgment seemed near perfect - - at least from my positions observing as a fan. I’m sure my background as an Intramural Sports Director made we watch for this almost instinctively.
HIGHLIGHTS: I found everyone so friendly. That included the locals, the concession people; the fans; ballplayers; the ISC commissioners and their families, just EVERYONE. The spirit of old friendships and good feelings was everywhere. I guess that shouldn’t have been a surprise. I had spent nearly 30 years working sports camps in northern
I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Hall of Famers Bill Boyer and Mark Smith - - really down-to-earth guys who love to talk about the game. I had a long conversation with Mark Smith, and it was a great experience. Here was a guy from New Athens, Ohio, (me) and a guy from Nova Scotia (Mark) getting to compare memories of a time when they had both been in the same area of Southern California - - Mark pitching for Camarillo and me teaching/coaching in Simi Valley. What a fun experience for me that evening at the old ballpark!
I greatly enjoyed my interesting ballpark conversations with Canadian Bruce Simpson and long-time ISC Commissioner Jim Allen. You sure get an earful of sage observations and strong opinions from Bruce and Jim.
I was amazed at the schedule - - - to find that games might actually be running as much as 20 hours of the day - - from 8 A.M. until the wee hours of the next morning, only to start up at 8 again!
The grounds crews really busting their butts to keep the fields in top condition and get things moving into the next game. What a joy to watch for an old Intramural Sports Director like me.
FORMAT: It was good to see the top teams hammering on each other during the pool play. I just wish there could have been more games like those. I know it is hard to make that happen all of the time, and I know that because of the format those games didn’t mean as much to the teams as they would at the end of the tournament. I would have hated to see a bunch of run-rule games.
Many of the games I watched took just too long to play. Most of that was caused by pitchers taking too long to throw. Sometimes I felt like I was watching a major league baseball game - - or a game that was simply never going to end - - but maybe that is just the nature of the game as it is played today.
I was disappointed at the number of local fans attending - - particularly in the earlier days of the tournament. It often seemed that the crowd was made up of little more than people associated with the teams involved in the game - - or in the tournament
I.S.C.- II TOURNAMENT:
I can certainly see a place for it and how well it fits into the overall organization of the ISC. I got to see parts of two days of that competition. It is a very nice event and it will only get better as it matures. I could see a big difference in the level of playing skills - - particularly in the pitching. It seemed to be well-organized and smoothly run - - the fields, the umpiring, and everything about it was impressive. A good show!
WOULD I COME BACK? SOME PARTING REFLECTIONS:
Sure I would come back- - although I probably wouldn’t come for the whole nine days. I think I would try to catch the last three days when the games would be more meaningful - - and it looked like there were some people doing just that in
It was exciting to watch the very best of the best in action. I just wish there was more parity throughout the field of teams in the tournament.
I’m sure that as I watched those games from the perspective of a guy who has been around sports for many years, I realized that in my more limited experience playing fastpitch, the players - - and particularly the pitchers I faced - - were a long way from being world class.
Overall, a good show - - and I enjoyed myself. Glad to have been a part of it.
Author’s note: Sadly, Ken Knight will not return to watch another I.S.C. World Tournament. On Thanksgiving Day, 2005, he died following a sudden illness. He is greatly missed by his family and many friends including the author who knew him from the time Ken was a teen in the hills of eastern
By: Gordon Wise - - - ISC Information Officer
July 12, 2006
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