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It wasn't quite a day off, but rewarding nonetheless

By Brendan Sagara

LAST UPDATED: 10:26 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

This past Wednesday would have given the members of the Winnipeg Goldeyes a rare opportunity to get some rest. During the course of our first 49 games, we had only been afforded five days off.

Unfortunately, each and every one of those days off was spent on our team bus. Our first day off was spent sitting and sleeping on the bus for 17 hours en route to Gary, Ind. Our second had us riding 15 hours down to Kansas City, Kan. The third day off involved a 9-hour ride back from Sioux City, Iowa. The fourth was spent driving 15 hours once more to Kansas City, and our fifth was spent driving back home to Canada from Kansas.

So when we saw our schedule early in the season and noticed that we had a day off following our home series against the St. Paul Saints, we were all relieved that we'd finally have one not spent on the highway.

But before we could get too excited, we were informed we wouldn't have the day off because we were all required to take part in our team's charity fundraiser golf tournament at a country club just outside of the city.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes Field of Dreams Foundation started in 1995 has raised more than $1 million for children's charities in the province of Manitoba.

With such a worthy cause at hand, we didn't complain too much about having to show up on our lone potential day off. But spending 8 hours in the sun before we departed for a road trip to Fargo, N.D. early the next morning didn't exactly have any of our guys jumping for joy either.

But then we all arrived at the golf course and saw all the excited sponsors and participants who wanted to have a good time, shoot a round of golf and get to know some of the Goldeyes players they watch on the field.

My group was a great collection of guys. Old friends who participated in the event each year who were also diehard Goldeyes fans and season-ticket holders. Luckily for me, the tournament was a best-ball format since I haven't spent much time on a golf course.

There was a brief period a few years back when my good pal Rick Kuwahara invested some time into trying to turn me into a golfer. Apparently, I can hit it pretty hard, but not very straight at all. As good a golfer as Rick is, he didn't have much luck transforming my "stay inside the ball" baseball swing into a golf stroke.

We all laughed that my best shot of the day was a chip from the fringe when I tried to get some loft on the ball, and instead drilled a laser at the flag. Luckily, I caught the pole square, and the ball dropped less than 2 feet from the hole.

After the event I spoke with my wife, Michelle, on the phone and she asked me how the golf tournament went, and I told her, "Imagine doing something you pretty much stink at for 6 hours. That was my day."

The highlight was a free steak dinner. There were prizes galore and an auction, with the hot ticket being four tickets to a Winnipeg Jets game this fall. That's big news around here. The city lost its NHL team a few years back, and the league recently announced that the Atlanta Thrashers franchise is moving to Winnipeg to become a new version of the Jets.

Sure the golf tournament meant giving up our first real day off, but it was a worthwhile cause. Our players had a grand time, and it gave us all a brief break heading into eight games against our chief division rivals. Best of all, we all got to feel like we were a part of something good.

Brendan Sagara, a former Leilehua and Hawaii-Hilo pitcher, is a veteran minor league pitching coach in his first year with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

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