Have you noticed it? The yellow line on top of the fence in front of the indoor batting cage in deep center field. It just, well, appeared.
This is how that same area looked last season, and it was controversial. The lack of a yellow line, that is.
It didn't seem like it should have been a big deal. But it was. It all began when then Travs' third baseman, Corey Smith, who is now with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, hit a huge home run to the deepest part of the park in early July. Or was it?
Corey, seen taking a cut against his old team last week at Dickey-Stephens, had to stop at second after the umpires ruled his blast hit off the front of the batting-cage gutter facing. Many disagreed including: Corey, of course; Travelers broadcaster, Phil Elson; many people in the stands; and this observer...all who felt the ball had hit on the roof, which would then have been a home run. But it was so hard to tell. Roof, home run. Gutter, no.
Am I saying the club decided to paint the line because of our suggestion? Well, no. I'm just saying Travelerocity was on record back last July as being the first to say publicly it was needed. Let me put it another way. It was ridiculous not to have it. A yellow line like that is used in countless parks as a natural way to help discern the home-run boundary.
Which now brings us to the obvious. Why? Why the controversy over something so simple and necessary. One name. Bill Valentine.
You see, Bill was on record as not wanting his pristine new ballpark painted up. It's fine the way it is and that's that is more-or-less the story I got on Mr. Valentine's stance regarding an important need (yellow line) that could save his team a win. What if Arkansas had lost the playoffs last year over a similar ruling? No championship.
So take another look.
Common sense has prevailed. Above the line, gone. Below or on the line, not.
Now, Pete, how about some more paint on top of those dugouts? "Arkansas Travelers" on the home; "Texas League" on the visitors. Just a thought. Couldn't hurt to ask.
Nice event coming to Dickey-Stephens on Thursday, May 14, as part of the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund.
It's called "Home Plate Heroes Night" and painted home plates such as those above will be auctioned off for various charities like PARK, Miracle League, and RBI at Lamar Porter Field.
Tickets are $25 and the event will last from 5-8 p.m. For more information go to www.jimelder.org or call 501-766-6444.
-- Lonesome Traveler