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Cal Ripken celebrates the end of a successful season

  • A member of the Cal Ripken team celebrates after a successful season. David Rheinhart

By: David Rheinhart
June 15, 2018

Spray a field with a hose and it will be watered for the day. Give a kid a hose and it will be watered for the rest of its life. 

That’s the lesson the Rohnert Park Cal Ripken A Yankees taught at their end of the season celebratory party on Saturday, June 2, as they sprayed down their coach at Cater Field in Cotati. 

The water balloons flew next. The team’s first victim was, of course, their coach, Robert Hunsaker, who they smacked full in the chest with a big red balloon. But the kids of the A Yankees were nothing if not equal in their unique form of aquatic justice. Soon the entire team descended into a scrambling anarchy of cackling children and spraying water. 

“I was never a big baseball player. It was boring to me,” Hunsaker said. “But anytime I can come out here and get the kids to smile and laugh—joke around with each other or make friends with kids they didn’t know three weeks ago—that’s what makes it fun for me. The serious part of it? I don’t like it at all.”

Hunsaker first started coaching four years ago when his son, Drake Hunsaker, began playing baseball. Robert Hunsaker, however, didn’t get into coaching because of any intrinsic love of the game. 

“It was one hundred percent guilt at that age,” Hunsaker said. “The league emailed us saying, ‘We need coaches. We need coaches. We need coaches.’ And finally I emailed them saying, ‘I’m not a baseball player.’ They’re like, ‘Doesn’t matter. Come coach.’” 

Yet even a novice can make a difference in a child’s life. 

Ananda Doel Agarwal, nicknamed the Ace in the Hole by his coaches, ended the season with the highest batting average and most strikeouts as a percentage of throws on his team. That was a big leap from the place he was at when he began playing only two short years ago. 

“At first when I started my throwing was terrible. Then all these coaches, they helped me out,” Ananda said, a big smile on his face. “I used to watch baseball on the T.V. and I was like, ‘Woah, that’s so cool! They throw the ball so fast!’ I wanted to play baseball, so I started playing, and I was like, ‘I love this! This is awesome!’” 

Awesome is certainly the right word to describe the A Yankees performance this season. They placed first in their division with a record of twelve wins and two losses. This seemed like a perfectly natural occurrence for eight-year-old, Gavin Stewart, nicknamed ‘Coach Gavin’ by his team. 

“I’ve won two championships, and we won this championship by teamwork,” Gavin said. 

With the season concluded, the team disbanded, and the boys returned home to enjoy their well- deserved summer vacation. Most looked forward to the coming months with plans waiting just over the horizon. 

“We’re going to San Diego to go to Disneyland, then we’re going to Utah to see my grandparents,” Drake Hunsaker said. “I kinda want to follow my family history and all of them like baseball. I think my grandpa played baseball when he was a kid.” 

Though this is the end of the Cal Ripken season, fans can still find more with this years’ Junior Giants Youth Baseball League. The league will continue until August 3.