Here's my story from the Saturday paper. And below is my running blog post from Friday in Bellingham:
Final: Everett, 11-1.
Locker went 1-for-three with a double, a walk and two strikeouts. Defensively, he handled a handful of routine plays in the field.
Tonight's attendance, 2,019.. which is just below capacity. Part of it was opening night. Part of it was fireworks after. But you gotta figure most of it was Jake Locker.
And Locker himself estimated that about 10 of his UW football teammates were here, too.
"I really enjoyed it. I struck out too many times, though. … I wish I would have done a little better. I wish I hadn't struck out twice."
MANAGER BRANDON NEWELL'S TAKE
"He's just a special special athlete. I don't know any other person who could have taken two years off and run into an 88 miles per hour fastball and hit it like that. He's a kid that's amazingly gifted in everything he does."
Newell, by the way, estimated that Locker could end up playing 30 to 35 of the Bell's 52 games... figuring most Thursday-through-Sunday home games and maybe some on the road, too. That sounds like a little more than the number football coach Tyrone Willingham had hinted at. However, Locker assured once again that whenever there are conflicting responsibilities, UW football will always come first.
Inning by inning:
Eighth: Locker came up with two on and two out, worked the count full, and went down swinging again.
Seventh: A Locker-free inning. No plays in the field, no turn at the plate.
Sixth: Locker recorded his first two outs in the field on a pair of routine fly balls to center.
In the bottom of the inning, he came to the plate for the third time, and went down swinging.
Fifth inning: It appeared that the inning was going to pass quietly for Lockers -- no fielding plays, no at bats. However, at the end of the inning Jake and his cousin/teammate Brady Locker where handed a PA mike and sang "Happy Birthday" to their grandmother, Barbara Locker.
Fourth inning: Nice play in the field by Locker, but to no advantage. The Bellingham second baseman let a fairly routine grounder through, and the Everett runner on first advanced to second and continued on to third. Locker hustled in from center, and whipped the ball over to third. It got there ahead of the runner, but the tag was late.
Then Locker led off the bottom of the inning, with a hard line shot over the center fielders' head. The ball rolled to the 350 right in left center, and Locker -- in full gallop -- turned past second and headed to third, where he was tagged out on a head-first slide.
Third inning: Locker got another touch in the field. An Everett batter sent the ball off the right field wall, and missed. Locker hustled over from center and got the ball back into the infield. Everett, 5-0.
Locker is scheduled to lead off the fourth.
Second inning: Locker got his first touch in the field ... picking up a single up the middle and tossing it back into the infield. No at-bat in this inning. Everett leads, 4-0.
First inning: No balls to Locker in the top half.
In the bottom half, Locker came up to the plate for the first time. He received a nice hand (although maybe less than I would have expected. For that matter, the crowd is well below capacity, making it also smaller than I would have expected.)
His at bat: Swing and miss, ball, fouled off to the first-base side, ball two, then on a full count he fouled off a couple before finally drawing a walk.
7:05 -- It's turned out to be a beautiful day up here. Jake Locker is out in center field, with his cousin Brady Locker in left. Staring out at Jake in centerfield there is one overriding impression: He's huge.
7:00 -- Pregame festivities included some antics by the mascot -- Cluck the Super Chicken -- and by manager Brandon Newell's on-field proposal to his girlfriend ... and now fiancee.
6:25: A few pregame thoughts from Locker:
ON IF HE'S READY AFTER A TWO-YEAR LAYOFF
I don't know we'll see in about two hours. It's fun. I'm a little rusty. I have to get back in the swing of things. ... I'm just excited to play. I know these guys have been playing, they're all gifted baseball players. I'm not looking to compare myself to anybody. I just want to have a good time and help the team win.
ON HIS UW QUARTERBACK RESPONSIBILITIES
This isn't going to affect me going to workouts or me throwing the football or anything like that. Football is still my first priority and anytime I have anything to so with that I'll be out there.
ON WHY HE'S PLAYING
I missed playing the game a little bit, I got the opportunity to do that this summer and I wanted to take advantage of it.
6:10 -- Both teams are out on the field warming up in pure blazing sunshine. Looks like we're going to have a game.
We also just got a few minutes with Locker, wearing his navy Bells caps with a red and gold "B." He also got his familiar No. 10 jersey.
He says his finished three finals at UW today and made it up to Bellingham in time for a little practice. He said the hitting felt natural, but he felt rusty tracking fly balls.
We should get to see each skill fairly promptly. Locker apparently is penciled in No. 2 in the lineup and will start in center field.
He says he's excited to play.
4:10 -- I've made it up to Bellingham for Jake Locker's debut with the Bellingham Bells. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m., and I'll just adapt this entry all evening as a running blog.
I passed through a lot of rain and showers (and traffic) on the way up, but now -- less than three hours till game time -- there is some sunshine and more blue sky than gray clouds above.
I understand that Locker got up here before I did, and the plan is to let him speak to the media around 5:30. I'll pop in again after that.
Meanwhile, I will say that they've done a nice job of modernizing Joe Martin Field since my only other visit here many years ago. Especially nice is the entry area behind home plate. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the seats are benches with no backs ... which is pretty tough for baseball. However, Bells GM Dave Lewis (formerly GM of the Rainiers) says that green seats like the ones installed at Cheney are eventually going to be installed here too.
MORNING -- UW quarterback Jake Locker is scheduled to be in the lineup tonight when the Bellingham Bells begin their summer baseball season.
But here also is today's gloomy weather forecast for Bellingham.
I'm planning to go up, and if the game goes as scheduled, I'll try to blog back with at-bat-by-at-bat reporters on Locker's debut.
And if any of you are planning to go up, Bells general manager Dave Lewis -- former longtime GM for the Tacoma Rainiers -- says that a berm seating area makes the capacity of the park flexible and makes it unlikely that anyone -- especially anyone driving all the way up from the South Sound -- will be turned away even once the technical capacity of 2,100 is reached.