Diamond-infused fun and fellowship was recently enjoyed at 5,000 feet above sea level as longtime friends met in thin air of Albuquerque, N.M.
The 24th annual gathering of the Universal Baseball Association landed in "The Land of Enchantment" or — as one transplanted hotel clerk put it — "The Land of Entrapment" (once you come, you never want to leave).
"I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque." — Bugs Bunny
The group took in four games between the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and Sacramento River Cats, getting plenty of bang for their collective bucks with the Pacific Coast League contests averaging 3 hours, 30 minutes and the 'Topes outscoring the R-Cats 37-35 with three one-run games.
The benches emptied in one game when Sacramento batter Daric Barton admired his home run just a little too long to suit pitcher Red Patterson.
Larry Roth and Jon Daniels, who regularly attend 100 or more games a year, were there keeping track of the on-field goings-on. Roth had his stopwatch with him to time the runners and even the length of the National Anthem. He says the best ones tend to be between 1:00 and 1:10.
There also was a behind-the-scenes tour of Isotopes Park, trips to Santa Fe, the American International Rattlesnake Museum and 66 Diner along with plenty of green chile consumption, stories and laughs.
The ballpark tour included a talk by Albuquerque baseball expert and scorekeeper Gary Herron, author of two books on the topic.
The Santa Fe jaunt gave UBA attendee Luke Salisbury a chance to read passages from a couple of his books for an audience at Op.Cit Books.
There was plenty of baseball talk, including a discussion about Jack "Lucky" Lohrke, who repeatedly escaped death by sheer luck.
As always, the world of movies and television was also a part of the mix.
The death of James Garner prompted UBA veteran Cappy Gagnon to ask the group to name actors who have been lead characters in more than one long-running TV series. Some of the responses included Andy Griffith, Mark Harmon, Mary Tyler Moore and Robert Reed.
Besides a recap of some of the best players the group has seen in its travels, attendees at the annual banquet talked about next year's site for UBA 25. It looks like the gang might be headed back to Louisville, which is the site of the first UBA gathering.