SHAWNEE — The McAlester Buffaloes had been sitting on a bus for an hour and a half prior to their March 20 baseball game at the Shawnee Festival. And the game took place during Spring Break, so chances are at least a few of them hadn’t been doing much of anything prior to getting on the bus.
Clearly, they couldn’t just walk into their locker room, don their uniforms and start to play. First, they had to warm up.
That warm up has barely changed since Buffs coaches Justin Bond and Justin Mullins were playing for McAlester back in the 1990s. These 2014 Buffs warm up basically the same way before every single game.
“You can get a sense of whether they’re flat or whether they’re kind of dead, but you also have a little time to correct that before they take the field,” Bond said March 20.
“You can see it in their step, in their attitude. You have a sixth sense about where your team is.”
Bond said the warm-up process for home games begins with an open hitting time. There’ll be team stretching, both while moving and stationary, then a few jumping jacks to get the blood flowing.
After that comes a game of catch. Players start with little more than wrist-flips from their knees, and by the end some have drifted from a few feet away to the equivalent of a throw from right field to third base.
It doesn’t matter who’ll start and who’ll sit on the bench. It doesn’t matter who’ll start on the mound, in the infield or in the outfield.
Everyone plays catch.
“They’ll start playing catch and backing themselves up to a distance that they feel comfortable where they’re getting their arms stronger,” Bond said.