BILLINGS — Earlier this summer, the Helena Senators were caught in a downward spiral.

The American Legion baseball program had lost seven consecutive conference games and little problems were starting to become bigger issues.

An error in the field could carry over into a bad at-bat. And vice-versa as the players tried to regain their confidence.

“We had a little bit of a rough spot in midseason,” said outfielder Zach Spiroff.

Even the coaches had their moments, letting their thoughts linger on mistakes instead of moving forward on to the next play.

“We were dwelling on our mistakes too much,” head coach Jon Burnett added.

Burnett knew he needed to something.

So he went shopping and bought a toilet.

Not a full-size, full-service porcelain model that belonged in a bathroom. This is much smaller and plastic, perfect for being placed in in a baseball dugout.

Large or small, the symbolism was clear.

“Any time you make a bad play, you go flush the toilet,” said Spiroff, grinning about the team’s catalyst. “It’s an odd, goofy thing we do.”

Between innings, players walk over to the toy and flush away their miscues.

Helena rebounded and found itself on the right side of the won-loss ledger again. That included winning its own Keith Sell Tournament at the beginning of July.

The Senators were 13-6 in July after Saturday morning’s 3-2 first-round win over higher-seeded Kalispell at the Class AA State Tournament at Dehler Park.

“We’ve been playing solid baseball in the month of July,” Burnett said.

And he added it’s not only the players who have benefited from the additional plumbing.

“It’s for the coaches, too,” he continued. “Dwelling on a play? Go flush it down.”

Email Joe Kusek at or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

Sports writer at the Billings Gazette

Load comments