STATE COLLEGE — We’ve all dreamed about suiting up and stepping onto a professional baseball field. Imagined digging our cleats into the dirt of the batter’s box as our loved ones look on. The players in the Centre Sluggers baseball league had the opportunity to live that dream this past weekend.
Since 2009, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park has hosted the 28-and-over league for its playoff games. More recently, the field has been hosting the league’s “Medlar Weekend,” a midseason series where each team has a chance to play like pros.
“My favorite part overall is the field condition,” said Jason Bickle, the league president and player-manager for the DiamondBacks. “It’s never going to be too soft, too wet, anything.”
The Spikes’ production staff coordinates with the league to bring all the bells and whistles to the experience. Each batter steps up to their walkup song, sees their picture on the scoreboard, hears their name called over the public address system and every other part of a pro baseball game atmosphere.”
“It’s a great partnership,” said Scott Walker, general manager of the State College Spikes. “They have a bunch of great guys that play in the league and have a lot of fun and we’re happy to be a part.
“It’s a joy to see these guys still playing baseball. Some of these guys are in their 40s and 50s, still playing baseball, and you know they’re out there because they love the game. I’d say that’d be one of the things I enjoy most, being able to host them on a professional field under the lights sometimes, too. I think it’s cool to experience that with them.”
Randy Lose joined the Centre Sluggers this season as a player for the DiamondBacks; he hadn’t played since 1971 at Bellefonte High School. Now at 65, the rookie, along with his league-mates of all ages, was playing where the future of the MLB played almost every summer night.
Lose grinned from ear to ear as he described his experience.
“I feel like a teenager again,” said Lose. “It’s a great experience for anyone that wants to play ball. There’s no pressure, just have fun.”
“(Playing on Medlar Field) is the closest feeling you’re going to get to being a professional ball player. It’s a great feeling and I know the management here with the Spikes, Scott Walker and everyone, are great people and I’m just glad they allow us to do this.”
Lose, Bickle and the rest of the league are always excited to take to the field.
“I always play my best ball, especially pitching (at Medlar Field),” said Bickle. “I did pretty good pitching today until we got in trouble a little bit, but overall it’s always a good experience playing here. We had fun and stayed competitive during the game.”
“I took a lot of time just getting the photo ready,” said Lose. “I think my wife took 21 photos until I got the one I wanted. It’s nice having your name announced and it’s all part of the experience.”