Kangaroo court keeps things loose for Boise Hawks

Hawks players bond over shared missteps, hiccups and blunders.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.com © 2013 Idaho StatesmanJune 30, 2013 

An hour before the first pitch Saturday night, more than two-dozen voices belted out in simultaneous laughter every few minutes in the Boise Hawks locker room.

The Hawks were gathered together in a corner, having even the most minor infractions read aloud off scraps of paper stored in a box that anonymously accumulated citations over the past month.

The season's first session of kangaroo court was a rousing success.

Held at the tail end of each month, players are fined a few dollars by teammates for almost anything, from an error in the field to wearing the wrong gear in batting practice or sporting bad facial hair.

"We spend more time in the locker room than anywhere else," Hawks manager Gary Van Tol said. "It's a vital, vital piece of the process. New guys come in all the time, and they can see the expectations, but also how it's about having fun."

Presiding over the kangaroo court were a trio of judges - pitchers Carlos Martinez, Tyler Bremer and Matt Iannazzo. When their charge is read aloud, players can admit guilt or plead their case, and the tribunal can alter punishment based on their response.

"There's always some good laughs - you gather them over a month, and they think you'll forget, but the box doesn't," Iannazzo said.

The kangaroo court is a common practice in many clubhouses, but had not been in place for a few years for the Hawks until it was revived last year.

"It's such a grind for these guys, they're in the same room, the same bus a lot of the time, so it's good to have them do their own thing," Van Tol said. "It's kind of like letting your kids go upstairs and play in their room, let their imaginations roam."

Iannazzo wouldn't cop to any embarrassing stories about his teammates, but he said that as a judge he isn't above being fined. In a recent game, he went through warmups before someone kept telling him "I thought you were a black belt?"

Iannazzo is no Bruce Lee. He forgot to wear his standard black belt when he put on his uniform that day.

"It always gives you something good to talk about during the game," Iannazzo said.

Joking that "the box fills up quickly," Van Tol said the accumulated cash at the end of the season often will be used to get a decent meal for the team.

Pitcher Trey Masek got his first taste of not only the Hawks' kangaroo court, but the squad in general, on Saturday, a day after he arrived in Boise for his pro debut. When he pitched at Texas Tech, he was a judge, fining one teammate for throwing a ball into the stands for a fan, but wound up hitting them in the head.

"Even something that simple, it keeps you loose," Masek said. "It was fun (Saturday), really got the feel for the team, that they're some good guys. You've just got to watch yourself. No one is safe in kangaroo court."

HAWKS WIN

Jacob Rogers' tie-breaking two-run single in the bottom of the sixth gave the Hawks the go-ahead runs in an 8-6 win Saturday over the Eugene Emeralds. Eight different batters scattered 12 hits for the Hawks (8-8). Yasiel Balaguert homered and added to his Northwest League-leading RBI total (19). Eugene (5-11) left 10 runners on base. Masek threw a shutout seventh inning, and Corbin Hoffner (1-0) got the victory.

• Pitcher Mike Hamann was promoted to Class-A Kane County. … Boise also announced the additions of Masek and Scott Frazier, pitchers drafted in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, by the Chicago Cubs earlier this month.

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