Back in 2010 I was a big fan – one might say that I was the founder and President and entire membership of the Dusty Napoleon Fan Club. Dusty was a catcher for the Ports, and he had a pretty forgettable year overall. But in the fading weeks of the Season on one night in Bakersfield, I took my son to his first baseball game. Dusty played in that game for the Ports and had a magnificent night. All with a lone guy in a Ports Cap standing down the 3rd base line standing up and cheering for him in a very loud manner.
Minor League Baseball is full of guys who will never get even a cup of coffee in the Big Leagues. Boys becoming men as they play out a labor of love, knowing that they have to try before they are too old and lose the dream forever. Guys who know that the odds are longer than the California lottery and yet, still have a little boys heart for the love of the game.
Dusty Napoleon is that kind of guy – a good baseball player, but just not good enough for the Big Leagues. But he is the kind of man who makes this game so wonderful.
The men who grew up riding buses to dingy old ball parks in the low minors, worked as hard as they possibly could, suffered injuries and setbacks that could have discouraged them but didn’t. Day after day, week after week, month after month and season after season. All for the merest possibility of a dream coming true.
All for the love of the game.
After the season, Dusty returned to his education, working on finishing his degree at the University of Iowa and serving as the Assistant Coach for the Baseball program he once helped to lead. Today he has gone on to be the Assistant Coach at Western Illinois University.
I think that he’ll be a natural.