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Thunder Baseball | In Play

Each summer, crowds gather at the baseball diamond in Rosebud. And like clouds on the horizon – listen for thunder when they get big. The applause comes from parents, siblings, aunties, uncles, and the players themselves - in the Boys and Girls Club’s Thunder Baseball League.

As a producer for the Dakota Life team, we have a goal to stay engaged with communities that have been featured on the show by re-visiting towns to produce more stories. So, while working on a project in Mission (featured in November 2022 episode of Dakota Life) I asked a group of locals. “Is there anything interesting going on in town?”

“There’s a little league game tonight in Rosebud.” Someone suggested.

My first reaction was to pass and ask if they knew about anything else, but then it hit me harder than a Babe Ruth home-run ball - it was the perfect place to film a video.

According to their website:

There are very few opportunities on our reservation for kids to learn and play organized baseball. Thunder baseball was created to teach children how to play and give them opportunities to play lots of baseball throughout the summer.

While the league does have tee-ball for the younger kids, I showed up to see the 12 and under teams from Antelope and Two-Strike go head-to-head. As I set up my camera at the field, I met a few of the coaches, the umpire, and the league organizer from the Boys and Girls club – all were excited to have “the news” out to cover a small-town little league game.

Their excitement was only surpassed by the kids wanting to be interviewed on camera. When I started asking questions, two themes kept coming up again and again in their answers.

“IT’S FUN!” And they truly meant it. There was friendly competition, but these kids were out there for fun. From the outside looking in, they seemed like they had a blast.

Second, the kids emphasized good sportsmanship. Personally, I have been around few ball games in my day, and usually the competition leads to at least a little animosity. But these kids really respected one another. At one point, I even heard kids from one team cheering on the pitcher for the other team.

While kids may dream of playing in the big leagues, with their imaginations running wild about what it feels like to have an arm like a cannon or to crush a ball over the green monster – this full-blown adult dreams of going back to the days of being a kid with some Big-League Chew and a beat-up glove; when it didn’t matter what the scoreboard said because it was all about high-fives, grass stains, and saying, “good game” at the end of it all.

When I sat down to put this video together, I wanted to show some of that imagination I remember having at that age. Influenced by video games and superhero movies, fueled by sugar and sunflower seeds – every time we stepped on the field it felt like the big-show.

I think there’s an important lesson that the kids of the Thunder League have learned well, a lesson that all of us have good reason to remember, no matter what our ball game is in life – Get out there, have fun, and have good sportsmanship.

Now, let’s play ball!

Tim Davison joined the SDPB team in 2022 as an Emerging Content Producer. Originally from Nebraska, Tim has held many different positions over his career, including work on film and media projects focused on natural history and wildlife conservation. Most recently, he worked on Planet California, which aired in the summer of 2022 on PBS. An outdoorsman and oil painter, Tim describes himself as a lover of strong coffee, witty puns, and well-crafted storytelling. He and his wife, Stephanie Arne of Pierre, currently live with their dogs, cats, and innumerable plants in Sioux Falls.