“The Old Pastime” New to Montana

Big Sky’s New Club Baseball Team Helps Bring “America’s Pastime” Back


Courtesy of Lori Talbott

Big Sky baseball player swings the bat.

Andrew Gardanier

Springtime sports sweep the nation every year around the start of April. Among these is baseball: a sport that blends complete athleticism with self-sacrifice, where only a true team atmosphere can get wins and succeed. It’s the perfect fit with springtime in Montana and beyond, with weather of all types making athletes have to be that much tougher.

The MLB is fresh out of spring training and the games start to really matter every day. College Baseball drives crowds of baseball fans annually with the home stretch of the seasons taking place. Thousands of high schools around the nation also follow suit in starting their seasons and compete in “America’s  Pastime.”

However, of the 48 states that have statewide, school-sponsored baseball, Montana is not one of them.

Big Sky nor any class of school in Montana has had the privilege of hosting high school baseball. However, this 2019 spring baseball season is seeing strides made to allow high school boys to play. Thanks to multiple coaches in the local Mount Jumbo League and efforts from enthusiastic players, there will be a new form of AA high school baseball in Montana.

Junior ball player and baseball captain Conner Bryson has been playing baseball for 10 years and playing high school baseball is a lifelong dream of his. “High school baseball is so important to me because it gives me an opportunity to wear my school’s name on my chest and be able to say “this is my school and my team.”

Since Big Sky opened in 1980 many students who have played baseball in the past and have missed the opportunity to play in high school. One of these is Bryson’s father and the new team’s coach, Shane Bryson. “It’s important to me and these boys that a sport as special baseball gets an opportunity to be showcased at Big Sky now. It’s been long enough.”

Many students interesting in baseball at Big Sky are simply students looking to hit the field in some other way than simply high school track. Sophomore Carson Manti is one of these sports seeking students. “It really gives Montana students a good excuse to stay healthy and to practice healthy teamwork skills.”

The benefits of high school baseball can’t necessarily be measured in the HRs, RBIs and batting average, Manti explains. “The values learned can’t be measured.”

Also what many players explain is how the absence of baseball in high school also hinders the chances that multiple athletes would have in getting a scholarship. The most recent baseball player to come out of Big Sky in baseball was Nick Yovetich of the class of 2017. Before him, the last Eagle to be on scholarship for baseball dates back a ways — and even Yovetich had to find baseball in other formats besides high school.

But when you consider the team chemistry it requires to play a team sport like baseball, having it within a high school only makes sense.

Many of the players suiting up this season have played together in the past and are very optimistic of what the future of this team holds for Big Sky and the rest of Montana as well. “This year should be a great opportunity to show what these young men can do on the field and prove that baseball belongs in Montana,” says coach Shane Bryson.

Big Sky has already seen several baseball practices this year, and with the recently finished construction of the Fort Missoula activity center, baseball is poised to make a strong appearance in the future of Montana sports. Softball at Big Sky brings out droves of crowds and by the interest drawn there, high school baseball should be no different.

Baseball may be “America’s pastime.”

But starting this spring, it is also Montana’s future.