It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s ... well, it’s Blue Springs Post 499 Fike manager Jim Moran wheeling around the Hidden Valley Park baseball complex on his new Segway.
Moran, who underwent surgery to remove the bursa sac from his ankle last season – which left a nasty scar and swollen ankle – won’t be spending as much time walking during this year’s 26th-annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational thanks to the kindness of a Legion fan.
“You know what type of impact this tournament has on people, when someone offers you their own, personal Segway so I don’t have to spend so much on my feet and walk all over the place,” an appreciative Moran said Thursday evening, as the checked the fields in preparation of this weekend’s 16-team Junior Wood Bat Invitational.
“I met Chuck Zuvers when I was taking the Blue Springs Citizens Police Academy class last year. He was taking pictures of the class and he was on a Segway. When we got closer to the tournament this year, he called and asked if I would like to use it for the tournament.”
Moran didn’t need to answer. All he needed to do was show Zuvers his ankle, which was swollen to twice its normal size.
“Now, I won’t have to fight Sue Meyer (a longtime Fike supporter whose husband John was the team’s pitching coach before retiring following last season) for the golf cart,” Moran said, chuckling. “This is going to take so much wear and tear off my ankle.
“Things like this – and having a local fast-food restaurant donate six coolers of ice for the Junior Wood Bat tournament – they’re the reason we keep doing this. We have a great staff, great volunteers and we’re back up to 30 teams this year.”
The field had dropped to 25 teams last year.
“It’s going to be a great tournament,” Moran said. “We’ll have the junior tournament right before the big tournament this weekend. Then, the Wood Bat Invitational will start next Wednesday.
Moran has ordered his 100 dozen baseballs - enough for the two tournaments for the next two seasons - and will have more than 500 Hoosier bats for the teams to use.
“I have so much help, I have to think for a minute about how many bats and baseballs we order,” he admitted. “I get way too much credit for this tournament. Everyone involved should get equal credit because everyone makes a contribution to its success.”