Once in a lifetime

I ran off the sidelines of the Little League field and back to my car as quick as I could. I wasn’t going to miss this one.

I’ve witnessed, heard or been a part of a complete no-hitter. I played third base for a four-inning no-hit affair in little league, but I don’t really think this counts. With Phil Humber dealing against the Seattle Mariners last Saturday I wasn’t about to miss this one.

I heard snippets of Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in the major league baseball playoffs a few years ago, but I was covering a soccer game for the final half of the game. I was home writing stories and listening on the radio when Armando Gallaraga got within one out of a perfect game two years ago, only to see umpire Jim Joyce blow a call at first base to keep him from perfection.

This time I wasn’t going to miss it. I was in my car on my way home as the virtually unknown White Sox pitcher wrapped up the first perfect game ever to end on a dropped third strike throw to first base.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to listen to, watch or otherwise be a part of another no-hitter but I at least got to experience one live. For Phil Humber he now has a once-in-a-lifetime moment that he can tell his kids and grandkids about.

That has to be the part I love the most about this job. Every day when I go to work, there is a good possibility I’m going to see something I have never before witnessed.

Whether they compete for a local team or not, I can still appreciate the performance. I’ve seen Ryan Crouser come within a few yards of nailing Bruce Burton’s house with a javelin, Malcolm Jones shake four or five tacklers on his way to the end zone for Barlow, cyclist Michael Olheiser pumping his fist after lapping almost the entire field at last year’s Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, the Rwandan national cycling team visiting the 2007 Cycling Classic, or the U.S. Men’s National snowboarding team playing a pick-up basketball game at the Hood River Sports Club because of all things there was too much snow up on Mount Hood.

I’ve witnessed two wrestling state championships on the same night when Sean Baker and Corey Miller gave HRV a two’fer in 2008. Miller won his championship after what seemed like an hour’s worth of blood times, leaving myself, the coaches and officials as the last folks left in the Portland Coliseum main bowl.

I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like that ever again.

Even when I cover hundreds of games and events a year, no two are ever the same. I still have flashbacks to the HRV girls lacrosse game against Grant several years with dumping rain and snow.

I remember the grins on the faces of HRV seniors Lauren Lloyd, Jacquie Mattson and Ian McNaughton after winning state track and field titles, and the determination on Olivia Campbell’s face as she made plans to try and win a second-straight title this year.

I’ve seen plenty of cheers and also plenty of tears while standing on the sideline and none of the reactions were ever quite the same.

I’ve also made it my goal to not be the sports photographer who gets run down on the sidelines, or who takes a javelin to the leg. I’ve largely been successful, at least when it comes to run-ins with athletes. Hiking trails, especially Mitchell Point, on which I tore a good pair of pants and got a nice scar on my buttocks, are another matter.

Of course, after all my preparations, one day a few years ago I walked into an HRV boys basketball game, intending to stay only for a few minutes to make and get a photo before heading out for another game. I literally just walked from one end of the gym to the other, taking a few photos as I went, and was about to head out the opposite door when I got flattened by Christian Coerper as he went for a loose ball.

Hopefully those events were one-time things which I won’t have to experience again.

Sometimes we can get caught up in hoping some of those once-in-a-lifetime events, at least the good ones, will happen again.

Every year for Little League opening day I drive all around the Valley getting oodles and oodles of pictures.

Last year I hit the mother lode, great photo after great photo; capping it all of with some simply adorable photos of T-ball players diving for a ball at the St. Mary’s sports complex. It was a perfect way to end the day and one of those once-in-a-lifetime pictures.

This year I wanted to try and top last year’s effort. So around I drove. But try as I might, I simply could not duplicate the prior year. I wound up with one softball photo in something like three hours. Half the time I arrived to find fields emptying out with the game just having ended. All the T-ball fields I could find were empty. I guess that once-in-a-lifetime photo truly was once in a lifetime and we only get them once.

I’ll be gone for the next few weeks for a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (in more ways than one). I’ll have more about that when I return. There will be some changes in this space over the next few weeks, and likely more in the months to come.

But whatever changes, I’m certain there are more once-in-a-lifetime opportunities yet to come.

n Have sports questions/needs while I’m gone? Contact Adam Lapierre or Kirby Neumann-Rea at 541-386-1234.

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