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Labor Day’s last rites of summer: Barbecues, ballgames and pool games

In between pop fouls that would come close but never land in the gloves of Stacy Morris and his son, Stacy Jr., father and son chatted.

The last game of the Las Vegas 51s season gave Morris a chance to spoil his 10-year-old, his youngest, with the types of sugary and salty snacks that Morris’ wife frowns upon.

For Stacy Jr., a sheen of sweat on his brow from the triple-digit heat, the game offered new freedom. He decided to test the limits of his father’s game day generosity.

“Dad,” he said. “I wonder what a beer tastes like.”

“You’ll find out when you’re older,” Morris said. “Like 23.”

Stacy tried his luck a second time. Morris raised the age to 26.

Like almost everyone the Las Vegas Valley, the Morrises wanted the most out of Monday, the unofficial last day of summer, which technically ends the 22nd. Residents across the valley barbecued, swam and found other excuses to enjoy the Labor Day sunshine.


While baseball fans bade goodbye to the boys of summer, others in the valley indulged in a last day of pool play.

A din of children’s laughter and the smell of chlorine greeted visitors at the Willows Pool in Summerlin. Infants in life jackets paddled in the water toward parents’ outstretched hands. Older kids shrieked as their skin made contact with water at the bottom of the pool slide and the edges of a waterfall on the property.

Only two hours remained until the pool closed for the day. After dropping off his family’s towels and goods, Kent Chang dipped his feet into the water. His 18-month-old son, wearing a red-and-green life jacket, swam up to grab his father’s feet.

Chang moved to the Summerlin area about a year ago. But Willows Pool had enough amenities for the kids, and an active neighborhood watch made Chang feel safe.

“It’s nice to be out,” he said. “I’m ready for cooler weather.”

Time flies

Back at Cashman Field, Morris watched the batters for the 51s and the opposing team, the Tacoma Rainiers of Washington state. He tried to figure out the angles for where most foul balls landed and moving into the prime territory.

But compared to the dozen or so kids who would dive for every odd ball to reach the stands, the Morrises were slow.

It didn’t stop their good time. They stood and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the seventh inning stretch. Stacy chewed popcorn from a red-and-white box.

As the game waned, a Cashman Field employee handed Stacy a spare ball he’d promised if he never caught one in the stands. Stacy asked his dad about getting a signature. Morris signed the ball himself.

“Weak,” Stacy said.

Son left his father to join the line of kids who would circle the bases at game’s end. Morris’ eyes returned to the field. He’d played softball during his Air Force days and was glad Stacy had shown an interest in the game.

“I just want to see a good play,” Morris said.

Wish granted with a 51s run at the bottom of the eighth. Morris cheered, caught off guard. The game ended with a 51s victory, 4-1.

“The game is over already,” he said. “I’d lost track of time.”

A bubble

Outside the stadium, a roll down the grassy hill leading up to a parking lot gave kid spectators their last kick before the car ride home.

Watching her granddaughters tumble, Maria Rosario said she feared that a new professional team coming to Las Vegas would push the 51s out of Cashman Field.

Rosario said the neighborhood surrounding the stadium isn’t her ideal place to bring the family, but the stadium grounds act like a bubble for families. Sprays of mist keep the fans cool. The games are entertaining, she said.

“It gives us something to do,” she said. “I wouldn’t like it if they had to move.”

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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