Tate enjoys day in the sun at tryouts

Keith Tate, 49, enjoying his time on the field at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. (Photo courtesy of Keith Tate.)
05/02/2016 10:35 AM -


Another day in the sun. That’s all anyone who’s ever played this game really wants: another day in the sun. Keith Tate is no exception.

So Tate decided to do something about it. After working out throughout the winter and making sure he was physically ready, Tate participated in the open tryout for the T-Bones on a perfect late-April Saturday afternoon.

If one doesn’t know Keith Tate, the fact that he tried out won’t seem like a big deal. After all, on average, 50-100 young hopefuls will come each spring to the open tryout at CommunityAmerica Ballpark with visions of wearing a T-Bones’ oxblood and white home jersey, and then, who knows, possibly ending up with an affiliated team.

That’s not Tate. He didn’t have any lofty expectations. And to call him a “young hopeful” might not be the best description. See, Keith Tate, an area manager for Coca-Cola, will turn 50 years old in July. 

“I’ve been thinking about this for a couple years, and I finally told my boys last year that I’d try out when I turn 50,” Tate said. “So I worked out during the winter and got ready for this. I didn’t want it to be a joke for the guys who were there for a very serious reason of making the club and living a dream, but I thought it’d be fun to get out there again.”

Tate isn’t exactly William Hung of American Idol fame. It’s more like a bucket list item for a guy who reached his baseball ceiling in college. Tate started his collegiate career in the mid-1980s at Coffeyville Community College. As a leadoff hitter, Tate led his Coffeyville club in batting average and home runs. Then, after major schools -- Kansas and Nebraska -- as well as smaller schools, such as Emporia State and Central Missouri, showed an interest in him, Tate followed a good friend to Kansas State, where he walked on for legendary Wildcat coach Mike Clark.  

“I wasn’t very good,” said Tate, who gets his baseball fix these days by coaching his two sons’ teams. “I was a good junior college player at Coffeyville, but I didn’t play much at K-State and I wasn’t going to be good enough to play professionally.”

That didn’t stop Tate, who takes his family to several T-Bones games each season, from enjoying the experience of trying out.

“I had an absolute blast, but I was sore for a couple of days,” Tate said, laughing. “The number of ground balls that I took and the whole two hours of running and sprinting, I was surprised with how I felt. My shoulders hurt, my back hurt and my knees hurt, but it was all worth it. I had so much fun.”

Tate wasn’t given any preferential treatment because of his age. He did everything the “kids” did on the field at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. One highlight for him, though, came toward the end of the tryout, when he was selected to take live batting practice on the field against a pitcher who was trying out. The young pitcher, Tate said, threw him a cutter, which is best described as a cross between a fastball and a slider.

After the catcher told Tate the pitch was a cutter, Tate quipped, “Back when I played, pitchers didn’t have cutters.” That got a great reaction from the youngsters standing around the cage. After a few more pitches, he took his last swing of the day: a base hit up the middle.

“I didn’t hit it very hard,” Tate said, “but it felt good to end on that.” 

Now, when the 2017 tryouts roll around, what will Tate say to anyone who asks him about the experience and whether they should try out?

“I would tell them to do it in a heartbeat,” he said. “I’ve already told all my buddies about the experience. Some of my friends said they wouldn’t do it because they wouldn’t want to be embarrassed, but I wasn’t afraid of that. I had a blast being around the younger kids and seeing their enthusiasm for the game. That passion is what I remember when I was their age.”

Search Archive »

Browse by Month »

June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007