Essex gets its revenge 147 years later

The Essex Base Ball Club and Portsmouth Rockinghams took to Leary Field in Portsmouth NH to rekindle a rivalry that dates back 147 years. A large crowd was on hand to witness the games that were sponsored by the Portsmouth Athenaeum. The two clubs were also honored to have retired police chief Lou Ferland on hand to serve as umpire and keep both the batters and hurlers on their toes with striker and pitcher warnings. The games started off neck and neck but Essex was able to prevail in both matches. Here are the descriptions of the games from the professional scribes of the Union Leader and Fosters Daily Democrat

The Essex Base Ball Association returns to Spencer Peirce Little Farm Sunday August 24th in quadruple header beginning at 10am. Game 1 and 2 will feature the Newburyport Clamdiggers vs. Lynn Live Oaks and Games 3 and 4 will see the Lowell Nine take on the Portsmouth Rockinghams

Essex BBC vs. Rockinghams rematch 147 years in the making

ports posters

When the Essex Base Ball Club and the Portsmouth Rockinghams take to the field this Saturday at 12pm at Leary Field they will be recreating a game that took place July 4th 1867. On that date the highly touted Portsmouth Rockinghams traveled to Newburyport to take on the upstart Essex Base Ball Club. In a shortened 5 inning game the Rockinghams scored a decisive 52-10 victory over the Essex boys. Will history repeat itself this Saturday, come on down and find out.
Rockingham's vs. Essex Game Ball

Essex vs. Portsmouth Rockinghams July 4th 1867 #1

Essex vs. Portsmouth Rockinghams July 4th 1867 #1

Essex vs. Portsmouth Rockinghams July 4th 1867 #2

Essex vs. Portsmouth Rockinghams July 4th 1867 #2

Newburyport takes two from the Live Oaks on Georges Island

August 10th Clamdiggers vs. Live Oaks

August 10th Clamdiggers vs. Live Oaks

August 10th Clamdiggers vs. Live Oaks

August 10th Clamdiggers vs. Live Oaks

The Newburyport Clamdiggers won two games against the Lynn Live Oaks Sunday. The games were played on George’s Island inside Ft. Warren. Hundreds of cranks touring the island looked on and helped with keeping the historical accuracy by yelling “muffin” and “well stuck” throughout the game. Game 1 score was 17-11, Game 2 score was 19-7.

The field was very unique, a flat surface that played like concrete. Matt Larrabee of the Clamdiggers was able to hit a 350 shot that bounced 50 feet in the air and one-hopped one of the cement walls in deep left field (at least 400 feet away). We also had a near triple play that saw Clamdigger Patty “Boom Boom” Wadland catch a ball on the hop, throw a runner out at home, and Charlie Ticotsky almost made a circus catch to tag the runner advancing to third. Dave Viale of Lynn pitched well in the losses, he feel victim to the fast playing surface as balls seemed to reach the outfield gaps with ease. It was the first time he faced his former team this season. Last year Dave was the winning pitcher for the Clamdiggers in the Championship game.

Essex Takes Two from Bristol


Squints View of the action

It was another gorgeous day on the farm for vintage. Today the Essex Base Ball Club had the privilege of playing a group of gentlemen from Rhode Island, the Bristol Blues. I could tell by the way they walked onto the field that this was not going to be an easy match. They donned heavy cotton uniforms, lit up a couple of smokes, and were excited about the beer truck. We, on the other hand, were short a player and missing several of our power hitters.

As the game started we borrowed a Blue at catcher and took the field. It was nice to see Rob Michaud in center for the first time this year. Though out the first half of the season, he didn’t miss a beat, catching everything that was hit to him and spraying hits all around the field.

We held them scoreless in the top of the first and were coming up to bat. Cappy apparently miscounted while calling out the batting order as he had me batting clean up. I immediately took advantage of this opportunity my first at bat. I hit a ball that was completely uncatchable…right between the pitcher and the third basement…SINGLE! Next inning…Single down the third base line. Next time up, single between the shortstop and third. This obviously isn’t a story about power hitting, but at least I didn’t foul out to the catcher…Well, at least not one of my first three at bats!

The Bristol pitchers kept us off balance all day. Though we did have a few rallies, it was oftentimes due to errant fielding more than well placed sharply hit balls. Cappy did hit one fantastic line drive in the first inning of the first game. The only problem was the Bristol Blues pitcher who stood 45’ away. After unintentionally knocking the ball down with his upper thigh, he collected himself, held his leg, and limped over to the ball in plenty of time to toss it to first for the out. The 16-4 win sounds impressive, yet it definitely was not as lopsided as the score appears. This was a pitcher’s dual and Essex simply made fewer errors allowing us to hold the Blues to 4 runs.

The second game found Essex losing our aforementioned centerfielder allowing “yours truly” to cover the void left by Rob. Sandman took over for me in right, and we snagged a couple teenage cranks to swap out playing second for us. It was obvious by the end of the first game that Bristol was gaining momentum. It showed early in the first game as they hit several long balls and had the lead 4-2 going into the second. It was a back and forth game most of the way until Essex had a 3 run top of the 7th to take the lead 9-7. After both teams held in the eighth, we were up to bat in the top of the ninth. Bristol had shown they could put runs together so we needed some insurance. We only scored one run giving us a 3 run cushion going into the bottom of the ninth.

I am not sure how we got the first hand, but there was one down with the top of the order up. Striker two hit a shot to right center. With the exception of a couple of nice plays by Sandman, it had been relatively quiet on that side of the field today as all 9 of the Blues are righties. This well hit line drive caught us a bit off guard. Sandman and I raced toward each other knowing the stakes of the game was at hand. This gent had been on base a few times today and his speed could definitely move him around the bases instantly starting a rally. This was an important out. It would either be 1 hand with a speedster on second, or two hands with none on base. Sandman was getting closer. I watched the ball and the man while running full speed. I had the angle. The only way I could make the catch would be to slide toward the ball and catch it on the bound. Not having a mit changes the way you field. If I had my mit I could have easily just extended my hand on the run and let the ball hit the webbing. Yet bare handed that extra few inches of leaning while in full stride can easily throw off your balance. Yes, I would slide and hope that Sandman didn’t make the same decision. This was not the kind of play where you can call off the other fielder. It was simply, who could get there first. Luckily, at the last second he saw that I had leaned into my slide and was able to hurdle me without killing either of us. The slide allowed me to cradle the ball for the out. Two Hands. Their next striker had been hitting with power all day. The game was definitely not over. Wiz was working him, and got grounder to the left side of the field. Though it was close, we were able to get the out and win the game…10-7.

Thanks to the Bristol Blues for a fantastic double header, and thanks to the Cranks for cheering, playing, helping with close calls, and loving the game as much as we do!

Two Big Weekends Ahead

The next two weekends are jam packed for the Essex Base Ball Organization. On Saturday August 9th the Essex Base Ball Organization will participate in the annual Fiber Revival at Spencer Peirce Little Farm in Newbury. Three games take place beginning at 11am as the Essex BBC will take on the Bristol Blues or Bristol RI. Game two will feature the Bristol Blues and the Presumpscot Nine of Maine, followed by the 3rd game featuring Essex vs. Presumpscot

Sunday August 10th in league action, the league shifts to Georges Island in Boston Harbor as the Lynn Live Oaks take on the Newburyport Clamdiggers.

Saturday August 16th the league also takes the show on the road as the Lowell Base Ball Nine, playing as the Essex Base Ball club to recreate a game that took place July 4th 1867, take on the Portsmouth Rockinghams. The game is sponsored by the Portsmouth Athenaeum and will start at 12pm at Leary Field

Rockinghams take two from Clamdiggers

The Portsmouth Rockinghams played two solid games on offense and defense to beat the Clamdiggers 15-8 in game 1, and 11-6 in game 2.

Game 1 was all Clamdiggers until the bottom of the 5th. The Rockinghams unloaded with a 10-run inning full of well-placed daisy cutters and line drives in the gap. They took the lead that inning and never gave it back with fine defense and tremendous pitching.

Game 2 was another close battle, with the Rockinghams centerfielder, Alex Nauffts, making fantastic one-handed plays on the run to rob a few Clamdiggers of “cornfield” home runs. Fans and players alike had to do a double-take at the centerfielder – you could have sworn he had some sort of oven mitt on his left hand! The game was also very well pitched, holding the Clamdiggers to 6 single-run innings.

Alex Nauffts

Alex Nauffts

Pat “Boom Boom” Wadland imitates the Babe and calls his shot….for Nana!

Although Sunday clearly belonged to the Rockinghams, the highlight of the day definitely came from Pat Wadland and his Nana. Taking in her first game of the year, Nana Wadland sat close to home plate cheering on her grandson and his Clamdiggers team. Before the second game, Pat asked her what she hoped to see in the second game. She responded, “I want to see you hit a home run, Pat!” And so, in similar style to Babe Ruth calling his shot, Pat stepped up to the plate in his first at-bat of that game and hit a long blast that went deep into the centerfield corn stalks. Not knowing if the ball would be found, Pat raced around the bases faster than anyone has ever seen. Pat wasn’t just running for his Clamdigger squad, he was doing it for Nana Wadland. When he crossed home plate exhausted and barely able to stand, he took the time to point to Nana Wadland. Both had smiles ear to ear – truly a great moment for three generations of the Wadland family as Pat’s Dad also was in attendance and watching with excitement!

Nana Waldland and Patty Wadland

Nana Waldland and Patty Wadland

Lowell vs. Live Oaks in the Rain

Chris "Monkey" Sheehy

Chris “Monkey” Sheehy

From Squints….
I have always loved rain on a summer day. I have many childhood memories from summer vacation that involved playing in the rain. My friends and I would ride our bicycles, play wiffle ball, or sometimes even go swimming in these summer rain showers. Riding and sloshing through mud and puddles has always been an exhilarating experience. This past Sunday was no different. Though older and not as excited about wearing wet clothing, there is still something special about hitting a ball with a stick in the middle of a rainstorm.

Mystery surrounded the day as we all wondered “Would it get worse? Would there be lightning? Will it clear? How bad would it have to be to call the game?” Yet even in the face of uncertainty, we eagerly stepped in the box, wiped our brow, and swung as early as possible hoping to move the game along quickly hoping to get at least one game in.

Rain is a great equalizer. Power hitters were consistently struggling to get the ball out of the infield. An occasional bat would fly through the sparse crowd if not properly toweled off prior to making a big swing. Fielders were dismayed when attempting to catch a wet ball on the fly or attempting to judge the bound. One ball may hit the ground with almost no bound. Another may skip off of the ground like a perfectly thrown flat rock across a glass still pond.

Lowell fielded 10 players, though Cappy and Goose, our two corner bagging power hitters, were missing. Monkey made up for their absence by hitting a home run and touching home plate in almost every inning. Though Lynn’s offense has been impressive of late, it could not get enough going on this sloppy rainy day. Lowell won the first game 14-8, and we decided to call the second game after the fifth as Lowell had an 18-4 lead. Though we had a great time, after 14 innings we were all ready to call it a day. It was really awesome to have 10-15 cranks enjoy themselves enough to power through the day with us. A big HUZZAH to you!

Right field was slow on this day. Jed never hit one in my direction. Perhaps its because he had mercy on me. Perhaps its because I have gotten closer and closer catching one of his bombs and he knew today was my day. Perhaps its because I asked Wiz to pitch him inside today as I couldn’t imagine fighting through 4 foot corn stalks, death soil that had turned to mud, and rain spotted spectacles. Or maybe it was simply because today was my day to leave the field with the cleanest jersey. I am going with that.