It was a beautiful night, and about 600 people had seen the game, an average crowd. Fireman's Park, which is owned by the town, has to be one of the nicest high school ballparks in America. The covered wooden grandstands form a horseshoe behind home plate and a freshly painted wooden 12-foot fence encloses the outfield. Beyond the left-field wall, oh, 360 feet from home plate, is an electric scoreboard, donated by Blue Bell ice cream.
Folks of all ages come to the games. Elderly fans sit behind the backstop in their folding lawn chairs, while babies gaze up from their mothers' laps. Teenage girls lean along the fence snapping their gum, and 10-year-old boys play a game of their own in foul territory. The men sit in one part of the stands, the women in another. "Go get 'em!" shouts Jon's mother as he takes the mound.
"Come on, Jon, breeze it!" yells Nancy Maass, a teammate's mother.
The park is hard by the Sante Fe train tracks, which are set on an earthen embankment, so that the trains go by at about the level of the grandstand roof. Three times a game, at 7:05, 7:30, and 8:30, a train rumbles past, loaded with coal. The game continues. It takes two minutes for the train to pass, and since there is a crossing just beyond the park, the engineer, leaning out of his cab, blows the whistle long and loud.
If you like trains and you like baseball and you like the sweet smell of honeysuckle growing wild along the embankment, you should take in a game at Fireman's Park this spring when Jon Peters is pitching. When he is 17. It is a very good time, and he will remember it the rest of his life.