“Big Lar” (a baseball dream)

Ted Puska Sr. shares a sweet story about Larry Irving, who passed away Nov. 22.


The young man quickly finished his lunch and couldn’t wait to get to the park. Finally, the big game, and, who knows, he might even get to play. Yes, it was a great day for baseball. Not a cloud in the sky, and the infield grass was perfectly trimmed.

As he entered the clubhouse, the old manager was already waiting for him.

“Where ya from?” Casey asked. “Chemainus,” he proudly replies. Stengel just shook his head and mumbled “never heard of it.”

Quickly, the new player put on his flannel uniform and headed to the diamond. Along with plenty of laughter, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs filled the air.

Casey yells, “Hurry up boy, they’re already on the field warming up.” After a few warm-up laps, “Joltin’ Joe” comes up and asks “What’s your name, big guy?” With a nervous smile, the younger says, “Larry.”

The game flew by quickly. The sun was disappearing behind the left field bleachers. Just then, the umpire yells out “Last inning, boys.”

Casey looks down the bench and calls to Larry, “Grab a bat; you’re pinch hitting for ‘The Babe.’” Larry nervously walks to the on-deck circle and scans the huge crowd. They seem a blur, but for a second, he’d thought he’d seen a middle-aged couple that looked like his parents.

After taking two 97-mph fastballs for strikes, Larry outguessed the pitcher and hit a slow curve to right for his first hit. As he gets to first, ‘Stan the Man’ says, “What’s your name, son?” With a huge grin, the young man says “Everyone calls me Big Lar.”

Larry felt a big pat on his back from the first base coach, and when he turned around, his old friend Sonny says, “You’re gonna love it here.”

Ted Puska Sr.