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Idaho Falls Bandits ready to take on Chukars

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - It's a tradition that baseball fans in Idaho Falls wait for every year.

The Idaho Falls Bandits and Chukars have been duking it out for years. The friendly game gives both teams a chance to have a little fun before their seasons start.

While they technically keep score, this game is basically the live-action version of the Sandlot. They're playing for the love of the sport. No real winners or losers. Just baseball.

Dax Whitney, a pitcher and shortstop for the Idaho Falls Bandits, has been a member of the team for three years. He helped lead the Bandits to an American Legion World Series title in 2021 and recently helped the Blackfoot Broncos to a third-place finish in the Idaho State tournament. While being on top of the baseball world is nice, Whitney loves the feeling of playing at Melaleuca Field.

"It's an awesome experience and the atmosphere is great," Whitney said.

For the past three years, this reporter has been going to the friendly game. In all three of those years, it's been packed with baseball fans.

"It's a huge honor," 2nd-year Bandit catcher Tommy Woodcock said. "Getting to carry the legacy of the guys who came before us and getting to play for Ryand and Mick is huge."

It's the coaching they say has helped them, achieve one of their baseball dreams of making it to the next level of play. Woodcock committed to play ball at South Mountain Community College in Arizona and Whitney committed to play at Oregon State University.

While the annual friendly is just the start of the Bandit's season, it's being on the road where the players say they make the most memories.

2nd-year Bandit middle infielder Greyson Martin reflecting on the team's trip to Omaha where they go to watch the American Legion World Series. But also remember some pranks along the way.

"We do a lot of pranks," Martin said. "One time we hid Tommy's wallet from him and it had a $100 bill in it," Martin said.

"Yeah, I didn't like that one," Woodcock replied.

While the sun is starting to set on some of the Bandit's careers, many will eventually have to make peace with the fact that they may never experience lifting a championship trophy at the end of the season.

But after speaking with these young athletes, this reporter believes that whatever happens at the end of this season, they will hold their heads up high. Because it's not the trophies or personal records they will remember 30 years from now.

It's the memories of pushing each other to be the best player they can be. Celebrating each other's success. Laughing at inside jokes in the dugout. But most importantly, getting to play the greatest game of all time, with their friends.


Monday night's game is at Melaleuca. First pitch is at 7 p.m.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls Chukars

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Conner Nuckols


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