BOISE — Saturdays odd 10 a.m. start for the Boise Hawks came at a great time.
The team played the previous 18 nights, and it gave many of the Hawks their first real chance to see Boise. The only other night without a game when players were in town was a rained-out affair June 25.
Saturday also happened to provide plenty of opportunities around town for a fun evening.
They come in for 76 games from all over the world, really, and there might be only a few times where they can see what this great citys about, said Hawks manager Gary Van Tol, a Boise resident since 2008. There was a lot going on, and for them to get a taste of that was great.
Many Hawks were among the throngs in attendance at the Boise Music Festival. Some, like third baseman Kris Bryant, in his first Boise homestand, spent the day driving around and checking out the city. Van Tol had his neighbors bewildered simply by being home during a summer evening. Pitcher Eddie Orozco went to the Boise Open at Hillcrest Country Club.
I took up golf this last offseason, Orozco said. Id never been to a tournament, and Ive watched plenty on TV, so it was awesome to watch guys who actually know how to play.
For the typical 7 p.m. games, the Hawks players will typically arrive by 1 p.m., and stick around until 11 or so before heading home with their host families. That leaves a little time in the mornings to do something non-baseball related. Many will go for a run around their host families neighborhood or go for a workout. Orozco said he fished in the Boise River last summer, and outfielder Trevor Gretzky said he planned on checking out Bronco Stadium on Monday morning.
I played football, and you hear about the famous blue turf, so when youre here, youve got to go and see it, Gretzky said.
Boise had an off day July 9, but spent it traveling to Vancouver, B.C. The next time the Hawks dont have a game is during the NWL All-Star Game break from Aug. 5-7. During that time, Van Tol hopes to give his team another taste of their temporary homes.
Were hoping to maybe get the team together and do something like a rafting trip, Van Tol said. They normally are on a bus at night, so they dont get to see that scenery, either. Having them get out, see the area where theyre playing, thats all part of the experience of being a pro ballplayer.
When your job is coming to the ballpark and playing baseball, there arent many qualms with having very few days off or free evenings.
Weve got the whole offseason for that, Gretzky said. Were in a fortunate position. There are so many kids who grow up wanting to be here, so you cant complain.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn