by Ryan Burns
It's certainly true that everyone loves a winner, and this year the Humboldt Crabs captured their second straight Far West League championship in an extra-innings thriller.
But the appeal of a game at the Arcata Ballpark hardly depends on something as transient as wins and losses. No, you can't help but absorb the joy of Crabs baseball when you're sitting hip-to-hip with friends in the bleachers, a cold beer in one hand and a sauced-up hotdog in the other. Or when the players, in their crisp white uniforms, take the field to the brassy, disheveled melodies of the Crab Grass Band. Or when an infielder corrals the ball and fires it -- pap! -- into the first baseman's glove, beating the base-runner by an eye-blink. Or when a foul ball rockets into the dusky sky and seems to hang there before crashing down into F Street. (Inevitably, someone will chuckle and quip, "Glad I didn't park there.") The joy of Crabs baseball suffuses the sweet coastal air like the glow of the stadium lights.
In July, Crabs legend Ned Barsuglia passed away at age 92. He'd been following Crabs games from the very beginning. Barsuglia got involved as a board member in 1954, later becoming the team's chief scout and recruiter and, over a 30-year stretch that began in 1965, he served as general manager. Fittingly, Barsuglia was part of this year's inaugural class of inductees in the Crabs Hall of Fame. As officials noted on the team website, "It is because of Ned's dedication and love for the game that we all get to experience the longest consecutive collegiate summer baseball team [in the nation]."
That's the Humboldt Crabs.
The Breakdown: Crabs 45.7%, Humboldt Roller Derby 20%, Kinetic Sculpture Race 8.5%, HSU Football 2.4%, HSU Basketball 2.2%. Category popularity: 19th.