Local sluggers boast hot bat | AspenTimes.com

Local sluggers boast hot bat

Allyn Harvey

A team of local 9- and 10-year-olds are feeling pretty lucky that President Bill Clinton visited Aspen last month, though the luck didn’t rub off in time to help them on the ball diamond.

No, they didn’t have a chance to press the flesh with the most powerful man in the world, but he had them all in mind nonetheless.

The proof arrived in the mail on Friday, when team coach Mick Ireland received a baseball bat signed and dated by Bill Clinton himself. All 18 team members on the Aspen Rockies will jot their names next to the president’s as a memento of the 1999 baseball season.

The saga of “The Presidential Bat” began in the wee hours of the morning, around 12:30 a.m., on July 24, when Clinton arrived at Sardy Field. He was in town to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, but before getting into the presidential limousine, Clinton spent about 20 minutes chatting with local politicians.

Ireland, who serves on the Board of County Commissioners when he’s not coaching baseball, arrived at the airport with the bat, hoping to get it signed on the spot. But the president’s protectors in the Secret Service weren’t comfortable with the idea of Ireland greeting Clinton with a baseball bat in hand.

So they made him leave it behind. But when he had the opportunity, Ireland implored Clinton to sign the bat, for the children, of course. Clinton, who was being asked to fund everything from roundabouts to youth centers and ski clubs, reportedly said, “Sure. Where is it?”

Ireland explained about the Secret Service’s paranoia. No problem, Clinton promised, just leave it with them, and I’ll sign it.

And he did, the next morning at the home of U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein. Somehow, however, the bat ended up on Air Force One bound for Washington, D.C. After hanging on to it for a couple of weeks in the capital – perhaps while some of the agents considered keeping it for themselves – the Secret Service sent the bat back to the Aspen Rockies.

Whether the missing presidential bat had anything to do with the team’s loss in the first round of the playoffs is hard to say, but Ireland is pretty sure it may have been a factor.

“It was a heartbreaker,” he said at a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting. “We were narrowly defeated, 7-3. It might have been different if we’d had the bat.”

Once the presidential bat is signed by all of the team members, Ireland plans to donate it to the Parks and Recreation department or some other organization that can put it on display.

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