So we went up to Hesston College last week, bearing a basket of homemade Toll House cookies, which was my idea of a nice segue to bridge the gap between a very young man and a couple of grandparentish-looking folks (if we were grandparents, which we are not). And the cookies gave us something to do with our hands.

I had been waiting for weeks to meet Brad McBride after hearing glowing reports about him from Chad Frey, board member for the very fabulous Newton Rebels baseball team, the summer collegiate team based here in Newton for the last 17 years. Brad is one of their newest recruits and is going to pitch for the Rebels.

The Newton Rebels are a member of the National Baseball Congress and the Sunflower Collegiate League. Each year, current and former college players from around the country come to the Newton area to play with this team. This year, the Rebels are coached by Brett Clark, with his assistants, Jake Gibbs and Jordan Rousselle.

The team has done very well collectively. They have placed well in the League and, in 2015, they played in the NBC World Series with a top 10 finish. Two former Rebels have played Major League Baseball, and more than 40 former Rebels have played professional baseball in the minor leagues. Professional recruiters are also known to show up at Rebels games.

Newton Rebels games are great summer entertainment on a long summer evening for practically anyone looking for some low-priced and high-caliber entertainment, including, of course, baseball fans. For some unfathomable reason, Newton residents are completely willing to drive all the way to Wichita to see the Wingnuts, a semi-pro baseball team that plays at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, and they pay big money ticket prices, as well as huge concession fares.

That, when they could bounce over to Klein-Scott Field at Centennial Park on the northeast side of our town, take the kids and everyone for almost nothing and watch some great young guys who have been playing college baseball and are at the top of their game. Most seasons tickets are priced $3 for adults, $2 for senior citizens and $1 for students, according to Chad Frey, Rebels spokesperson. This summer, however, because board member Kevin Pouch has been really busy, every game is sponsored. All regular season games have free admission.

And there is a "Homerun Hole" contest that could net you a few thousand dollars if you are lucky.

Brad played four years of high school ball, then had a year at Hesston College, which he loved. In fact, he loves the whole Kansas/Newton/Hesston experience a lot. And he’s growing a great mustache.

Brad grew up near Houston and he was very lucky to live right across the street from the Bayside Sports Complex. He and his brother, three years older, used to play endless games of baseball any time they wanted. Then, in high school, he really “took off” in team sports, especially baseball.

Summer of last year, Brad lived in Park City and played for the Park City Rangers, then had a year at Hesston College.

“Those recruiters suckered me into going to Hesston with scholarships and all sorts of good things.”

His roommate was from Japan, and it was a good fit. They plan to have the same arrangement again in fall.

This summer, he is living with the family of a Hesston faculty member. He feels like he has a lot of support from them and the other people around him. Then, there is his full-time job with the grounds crew at the college.

“That keeps me good and tired”, he grins. “I sleep well.”

Another huge passion for Brad is photography. That was his major field of study last year, and Bruce Plank has been his teacher at Hesston. Brad hopes to be a professional photographer some day.

“I guess my favorite subjects would be found in nature, like animals, beautiful landscapes and tiny insects,” Brad says. “I’ve thought about this a lot and instead of getting a four-year art degree, after Hesston, I want to go to an art school that emphasizes photography."

But back to baseball. The Rebels start playing June 2 with a doubleheader at the summer festival, “Harper Days,” against the Clearwater Outlaws at 1 and 3 p.m. in Harper. This is non-league play. About all you need to know about the Rebels you’ll find at their website,, including schedules, rosters, where to find the games on your radio dial and postseason information, plus a lot more.

This is not your grandma’s softball team. These guys are extremely well-trained and at the top of their games, at the college level and beyond.

So let’s get more of Newton out at the ballgame for a fun and inexpensive evening to support our Newton Rebels. Fill those bleachers at Klein-Scott field at Centennial Park and check out our newest player, pitcher Brad McBride, in the first Newton Rebels home game June 6. And God bless America.

— Diana F. Graber is a writer from Newton who profiles the interesting people she meets.