How do you get more than 100 Harley-Davidson enthusiasts to sit and watch a Spokane Indians game on a hot Sunday afternoon? Give them an avenue to donate money to charity, and above all else, a chance to show off their hogs.
“I also like baseball,” said 68-year-old Penny Lucas, who rides a Harley trike covered with decals of flowers and water. “And I like going on club rides.”
For the members of the Spokane-based Lone Wolf Harley Owners Group (or HOG), Sunday’s game at Avista Stadium – a 2-0 win for the Indians – marked a special occasion: It was the seventh Ride the Bases event, where a $35 entry fee – $10 of which goes to the Rypien Foundation – gets them access to the game, a barbecue lunch and hours of open road.
Altogether, organizers estimated they raised more than $1,000 from entrance fees alone, plus over $8,000 that was donated by just one member. Other members donated cash and threw money into a raffle, which netted an extra $500.
Michael Belarde and his 9-year-old granddaughter, Jordyn, were enjoying their second year participating in the event. A big draw, the older Belarde said, was the hourslong ride featuring dozens of bikes that snaked its way south through the Palouse and back up Dishman-Mica on state Highway 27 and then to the stadium.
Jordyn said her favorite part of riding with her granddad is watching all the scenery zip by.
“It was good,” she said, her grandfather adding that they rode stretches of concrete they’d never seen before.
“I love that,” he said.
About a half-hour before the game, the 113 bikes were allowed a grand entrance into the stadium, coming in at left field and making a half circle of metal and gasoline on the dirt track. After every bike was parked, their owners whipped out their phones, taking photos of friends or turning them on themselves for a selfie.
There to throw the game’s first pitch was longtime HOG member Frank Emahiser and his wife, Val. Before the pitch, he was “excited” and considered the opportunity “an honor.”
“I’d like to dedicate it to all the military members,” he said. “And our president.”
While he eventually would chuck the ball straight into the dirt and have it roll to home plate, he admitted his riding skills were much better. At 71, he said he’d keep going as long as he could.
“If I can’t, I’ll ride trikes,” he said with a smile. “It’s a way of life for us.”
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