Dale Watson is a Texas honky tonk legend; a favorite musician of mine who I have never seen live. Quinn Weber is one of my favorite kids; a fine young gentleman and athlete. Both were set to perform in Central Iowa on Tuesday. No problem. Quinn was starting in the JV baseball game in Earlham at 5:00 p.m. and the venue in Des Moines hosting Watson was advertising a show time of 9:00 p.m. In theory, Jennifer and I could go to both.
During Quinn’s game, Jennifer made repeated calls to the venue to find out if Watson was coming on at 9 or if there was a band playing before him. We were hoping for the former. An opening act would have meant the main attraction would not start until 10:30 or so. Back in the day, 10:30 was early. But for old timers like us who work day jobs and then go to baseball games almost every night, getting home past midnight didn’t sound like something we wanted to do on a week day; Dale Watson or not.
After Quinn’s team wrapped up a nice win, we weighed our options. We decided to stay and watch the varsity for a while – still trying to get a hold of the venue. (They weren’t answering their phone, which seems like bad business to me.) The first inning dragged a bit and when lightning flashed, the umpires put a halt to the game. It would be a least a half hour before they could resume, and the bad weather looked like it might settle in for a while, so Jennifer and I packed up our chairs and went home. Quinn had only one inning of varsity action so far this season, so we didn’t think we’d miss anything historic, even if the game did resume.
We were tired, but the Watson show was still an option. As I sat watching the Cardinals on TV, I was starting to get my second wind. I had cursed myself for missing him the last time he came to Des Moines and swore it would never happen again. If you don’t know what Watson is all about, his song titles like Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint, My Baby Makes Me Gravy, and Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up to Be Babies should give you a good idea. As he describes himself in another song, “I’m too country now for country.” His Texas drawl, twangy guitars and shuffling beats are way too genuine to get him any mainstream radio play, but he’s still garnered loads of loyal fans over his 25 years of performing.
“Yes. Yes.” I thought. “We need to go.”
Moments after I had this revelation, I heard Jennifer from upstairs. “No! Oh, no!” By her tone, I thought maybe part of the ceiling had fallen in; or maybe she had spilled a Coke on her I-Pad—nothing too terrible. She had gotten a text from a friend that gave her some news. She yelled, “We have to go back! Quinn is going into the game. He’s pitching!”
Which meant Dale Watson wasn’t going to happen. We’ve missed some of the kids’ sporting events for other entertainment-related reasons before—but not very often. And this was fairly momentous. Quinn pitched one varsity inning in a blowout win earlier in the year against a team that wasn’t very good, but Earlham was playing a pretty good team Tuesday, so we definitely needed to see this. We jumped back in the car and raced up to the field, just in time to see Quinn in the on deck circle. Bonus—a varsity at bat. That didn’t go too well, but a good experience anyway.
It turns out we missed Quinn get the last out of the previous inning, but we were firmly in our seats when he went back to the mound in the next frame. He did great. Three outs and no runs. He also pitched the next inning and gave up a couple of hits and a couple of runs, but looked pretty good and ended up retiring the side.
Earlham ended up on the wrong side of a lopsided score, but Quinn and I still had a spirited discussion when he got home. We broke down his specific pitches to various batters and discussed strategy and general pitching theory. And that was the highlight of my night. Not exactly a honky tonk, beer drinking swingfest, but a great time nonetheless. As for Dale Watson – next time!