First, Fall City was known for its floaters, the hundreds of people who drift down the Snoqualmie River on sunny days in inflatable vessels of some sort. Soon, though, the little community at the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Raging Rivers, and the junction of State Routes 202 and 203, could be known for its Honkers.
What’s a Honker? It’s either one of the mostly college-age athletes on the Northwest Honkers semi-pro baseball team (www.honkersbaseball.com) that now calls Fall City home, or a Canadian goose, the team mascot. Her husband, Martin, picked the name, says Jocelyn Lawrence, who co-manages the team; it’s a Northwest thing.
A Honker is also one of two semi-pro baseball teams to land in the Valley this year. While the Honkers, managed by Martin and Jocelyn Lawrence, have been a team for six years and finally found what they hope will be their home field in Fall City, another team, the Snoqualmie Valley Hurricanes, are entirely new this year, and are looking for their own home field. The two teams squared off against each other Saturday, June 13, at Fall City’s Community Park, in front of a small, but steadily growing crowd.
In the Honkers stands, Brian and Jody Kast made up two-thirds of the fan base before the game started. The couple, who drove up from Elsby to watch their son, Anthony, a Honkers pitcher, were soon sharing the bleachers with nostalgic parents and grandparents taking their youngsters out for a game of hometown baseball, plus a few people, like Mary Abbott-Retzlaff and friend Bob Fritz, who were big baseball fans and just heard about the new semi-pro teams.
“The Valley is changing,” said Abbott-Retzlaff, “and the city is coming to us.”
With two teams in the Valley, both loaded with college-level and more experienced players, Abbott-Retzlaff said it will be very convenient for her to get in some baseball.
“I’d love to go see the Mariners, but it’s expensive and it’s so far to drive,” she said.
At the semi-pro level, young men who have been playing college or minor league ball come together to play and, often, to get scouted for major league teams.
“They can get drafted at any time,” said Jocelyn Lawrence. “It’s exciting for us when they do, too. That’s what we want.”
The Lawrences run the Honkers as a nonprofit team, to give their players that opportunity to be scouted. Neither they, nor the Hurricanes charge admission to games, either.
Lawrence said they’ve already had a warm welcome from the Fall City organizations, including the King County Parks staff that maintains their home field, and hope to receive the same warmth from the community, with time.
“We’re optimistic for the first year,” she said. “People will wait to see how it goes… we know, eventually, people will fall in love with us.”
Over in the shade by the parking area, Linda Lasure was already feeling pretty good about her new home team.
“I went to the Honkers’ first game, and they were pretty good,” she said. Besides, “The Mariners aren’t doing so well, and I thought these guys might be a good alternative!”
Lasure was so, confident, in fact, she had her own goose call, which she sounded whenever the Honkers had a run or got an out.
Lawrence, in the announcer’s booth, was thrilled to see, and hear, a few of those goose calls in the audience.
“Our signature is our honking,” she said, with a grin. “That’s our hope, just getting the stands full of goose calls…. every once in a while, we get a honker fly-over, and people go crazy.”
For more information on the Honkers, visit www.honkersbaseball.com.
For more on the Hurricanes, visit www.snovalleyhurricanes.com.
Dirk Dembrowski hurls a pitch in the Honkers home game June 13.
Linda Lasure sounds her goose call for the Honkers.
Fans slowly fill the Honkers stand at a June 13 game.
Northwest Honkers team members at a meet-and-greet before Saturday’s game included, from left, front, Dirk Dembrowski, Brad Bennett, Mitch Eatmon and Jeff Wyner; back, Bobby Wassmann and Anthony Kast.
Everyone gets in on the search when a foul ball disappears into the tall grass beyond the field, including bystanders, bat boys and willing players.
Honkers pitcher Justin Ansdell plays a game of catch with Bryson Davidson, 5, at a meet and greet event in Fall City before the June 13 game.
Jocelyn Lawrence, wearing her signature Honkers gear, meets with King County Parks officials for field maintenance training.