By WAYNE A. MORELAND

Wars and insurrections around the globe, countries wanting to destroy other countries, the U.S. economy down the tank, and leaders hollering at each other instead of leading. It’s enough to make a person want to find a hole somewhere and just crawl into it. So how can you insulate yourself from all of this? Well, for three months each summer, the answer is right around the corner. It’s Salem-Keizer Volcanoes baseball.

I confess I am an incurable fan, one who has been addicted to the sport since the beginnings of my memory. The only varsity sport I played in high school. The sport of the Dodgers (in Brooklyn) and the Giants (in New York). I can still name the teams of the old Pacific Coast League from the 1940s and ‘50s. I’m the guy who, with a friend, cut classes at Southern Oregon College one fall day to watch Don Larsen pitch a perfect game against my beloved Dodgers. TV’s were small and black and white then, but the memory lives on. As I said, I’m incurable.

So, it was with great joy when I found out that professional baseball was returning to the area. I was on hand for the first pitch of the first year, but from about 1,000 feet above the field as the pilot of the photo plane that took the picture of the first pitch.

Maybe 2010 wasn’t the greatest number of victories for the Volcanoes. But the surrounding fans were still friendly (we’ve become friends with several of them), and the kids tried their best (I can call them kids – heck, I can even call the manager a kid!). It can be difficult to remember, but at the Volcanoes level (I call it Jules Vern baseball – 20,000 leagues under the majors), it’s all about player development. Every one of ‘em has the major league dream, and it’s the local team’s job to help them realize that dream. And in truth, if you compare their record and performance against the “local” major league team to the north, they didn’t do that bad.

So from at least this one fan, thanks to all the staff of the Keizer-Salem Volcanoes. You took my mind away from the troubles of the day and brightened my evenings. You provided not only entertainment on the diamond, but also through your various promotions during the season. I was especially impressed with the 4th of July program that recognized several local veterans and in other ways showed that patriotism is still alive and well. Your support of cancer survivors provided recognition to many and hope for all. I can’t wait for 2011.

Wayne A. Moreland lives in Keizer.