FOR MOST OF MY LIFE, summer and baseball have gone together like a bat and glove. From T-ball to Little League and all the way through college, summers revolved around the baseball schedule.

When my kids got old enough, I moved into the dugout as a coach. We played catch, fielded grounders, took batting practice, and pitched in the backyard. As a family, we gathered with friends at the park for practices, games, and cookouts on sweltering Saturday afternoons and cool weeknight evenings under the lights. Along the way, there were plenty of hits, wins, and even a few trophies, but there were probably just as many losses, strikeouts, and tears. The game is like that.

When my youngest daughter hung up her cleats after high school, I finally did too. But when the weather starts to warm up, the earth still smells of baseball to me.

Dave Chalan (Cochiti) must also sense this. In early April, we met at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, to talk about the new exhibition, Pueblo Baseball: Stitching Our Community Together, for this month’s “Soak Up Summer” cover story. With the first practice set in just a few days, Chalan had been out the night before we met until well after sunset, readying the team’s field for the upcoming season. “I’ve been playing all my life,” says the 63-year-old player-manager for the Cochiti Braves. “I just love the game.”

Santa Clara’s baseball team. Photograph courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

He gestures toward some of the recent photos in the exhibition, which tells the story of what baseball has meant in the pueblos over the past century. “I know a lot of the players in these pictures,” he says. “When they’re on the field, they take it very serious.”

The season includes an all-star game in July and a championship between the top teams in the Northern Pueblos League and Southern Pueblos League over Labor Day weekend. It’s not all about competition, though. Wives, girlfriends, grandparents, aunties, and younger children come to cheer on the teams and picnic afterward. “They’re there to support us as well,” says Chalan. “We gather as a community.” He claims this will be his final season. But he’s tried to retire before. If this ends up being his last time around the bases, I hope it’s a good season—maybe even a championship one.

No matter how you plan to spend the next three months, summer is short. So make the most of every last moment.

Read more: For two months each summer, the best artists from near and far converge on Santa Fe.