Amid the chaos of a dugout filled with 30 baseball players from several different Rocky Mountain Baseball League teams on Wednesday night, former Boulder High School player Connor Stowe had no idea that his turn was up to jump out onto the field.
But when he did — in the fourth inning of the first ever RMBL All-Star Game — it brought back plenty of great memories of the Panthers and Scott Carpenter Park.
It wasn't the first time since his BHS days he's gotten to play at his old home park, but the emotions haven't diminished.
"I was so excited to be out here, and I will always love playing on this field. There's nothing a like a night game here under the lights," said Stowe, who has played summer ball for the Slammers for the past couple seasons between school years at Augustana (Rock Island, Ill.). "I'm doing some coaching this summer and get to hang around the field a bit, but it's a totally different experience getting to play out there."
Funny enough, Stowe ran out to the unfamiliar position of second base — "I honestly haven't played second since I was like 11," he said — and got two ground balls hit right to him for outs. He also walked and scored in the bottom of the frame.
Though the RMBL has been in existence for years, the idea of an All-Star Game really got put on the back burner until Boulder Collegians general manager Matt Jensen brought up the idea again when the team entered the league three years ago.
Jensen offered to host the game at the expense of a regular season home date, which to the Collegians are a precious few this year. But after watching the excitement surrounding the home run derby earlier in the afternoon, as well as over 60 members of the 12 RMBL teams getting a chance to hang out and have a care-free night at the park, Jensen is convinced the event could turn into an annual event.
And, of course, Jensen will put his name in the hat to host it every year.
"Just from talking to representatives from the league, the coaches and the players I think it will be something we continue to pursue," Jensen said. "It's a great opportunity to showcase the league and its players. For us as an organization this is the biggest event we've ever put on, and I can't think that it's been anything but a success."
"I like the idea, and there are solid players in this league and so it's great to get to see them all in one place," Stowe added. "I think it really legitimizes the league as far as getting kids to come play from out of state."
There were some fireworks right when the game began. Collegians center fielder Spencer Ibarra hit a towering home run to lead off the festivities, and there were plenty of slick plays in the infield, too.
Former Erie player Kyle Leahy pitched the first inning for the National League (of which the Superior Rough Riders and Collegians were representing), and Leahy threw a clean frame.
Former Fairview athlete Jake Thoning also was selected to participate and played his usual solid self at shortstop.
About the only hitch was a lightning delay that made for a finish past press time.
"The buzz in the dugout was crazy, and it gives guys in the league a chance to meet each other," said RMBL president Mark Cerullo, who coaches the Denver Cougars. "There's just nothing negative to be said about something like this."