This Beaver had to duck on big play
DAVID Wong saw destiny coming right at him. Then, it kept coming right at him.
Finally, he decided he had better duck, or destiny might leave a mark.
"I had to do a little dance," he said, "to get out of the way."
Wong, the 1977 Damien grad, was coaching first base for Oregon State on Monday when The Throw went wide, came at him, he danced, Oregon State scored and the celebration hasn't stopped since.
"Still going," Wong said.
On the other side, it was crushing, of course. Two outs. Easy play. Inning over. Still tied 2-2 going to the ninth.
Incidentally, as the only man in the stadium with the perfect view, Wong doesn't put it all on second baseman Bryan Steed, who now goes down in history after a throw that was slightly off.
"I thought he was going to catch it," Wong said of first baseman Tim Federowicz.
Federowicz had made the All-College World Series team -- as a catcher.
"He got his feet crossed," Wong said.
Good thing the first base coach had great reflexes as that last-second realization hit. If the ball had hit him, Bill Rowe might not have made it all the way home.
Wong said the Beavers' national championship was the biggest thrill in his baseball career.
He'd pitched at Willamette (he was an NAIA All-American in football, too). He played in the Royals' farm system for five years, was an All-Star in two leagues.
His Everett team won the National Baseball Congress World Series in 1988. He was named MVP.
He was head coach at Willamette for more than a decade. He left as the school's winningest coach.
But those Oregon State wins, this College World Series championship, beat them all. Everything pales next to that dog pile in Omaha on Monday night.
Yesterday, he answered his cell phone while attending Oregon State's annual baseball fundraiser. Want to bet the program gets the most money ever?
It's a fantastic story, the Beavers taking over the baseball world.
"Oregon State was always the bottom of the barrel in the Pac-10," Wong said.
The Beavers were "always behind the eight ball from the get-go."
That's for sure. They were up in the rain, being beaten by those warm-weather teams like Stanford and USC and Arizona State.
Now? National champs. Home-grown talent. It doesn't matter where you are in college baseball, you can win. The Beavers have shown that.
"They're staying with the local boys here," Wong said.
He's almost become one of them, by now. He's been on the mainland a long, long time. He'll make it home to Hawaii someday, he said.
But in the meantime, Oregon is pretty nice.
(He expressed interest in a job on the UH staff when the regime changed, but then so did a lot of people. College coaching jobs are fiercely contested, and few. No big deal. He's Oregon State's volunteer coach, and does individual lessons and private instruction on the side.)
Next year his son joins him on the team at Oregon State. His son, the two-time all-state shortstop. His son, who helped his Sprague team win the high school state championship in both football -- as the quarterback -- and baseball his junior year in Oregon's biggest class.
His son, Joey -- named for Wong's friend and former Damien teammate, Joey DeSa, who died in an auto accident, too young.
"Through the years, he's always kind of reminded me of Joey, too," Wong said.
Next year his dad will be there, after every hit, to shake his hand at first base.