Lowell Tops Newburyport

Lowell Nine 2014

Lowell Nine 2014

On Father’s Day this past Sunday the Lowell Base Ball Nine defeated the 2013 EBBA champions Newburyport Clamdiggers 14-3 and 14-6. In a new custom we have passed over description of Lowell games to Brent “Squints” Jones….

Title: The Day I almost died playing Vintage

It was Father’s Day 2013 that I was introduced to “Vintage Base Ball”. Father’s Day 2014 I was on the field. Today was an absolutely gorgeous day for base ball. As I watched Wiz warm up I was taken back to the excitement of little league seeing the brilliant whiteness of a new baseball that has yet to be put into play. I could tell, this was going to be a great day.

It was a great day for the Lowell Base Ball Eight…er, nine. Lowell has yet to field a full nine players for either of our first two starts. Today’s opponent, last year’s league champs, the Newburyport Clamidggers. It would be tough to play this powerhouse with a full squad, much less eight guys. Thank goodness Jeremiah showed up and saved the day. He played a great right field and there is no way Lowell could have competed with only two outfielders.

Jeremiah Paternak

Jeremiah Paternak

I was also thankful that there were no mules or tractors to contend with today, though the ground was still soft from its recent plowing.

I was in center field today and had made it through most of the day with no major mishaps. We had won the first game and were in the midst of a fierce battle for the second. We had the lead and did not want to relinquish it. The heart of Newburyport’s lineup was coming up this inning and we needed to make sure we held strong. Wiz had been working them over allowing very few well struck balls. But something happened in the 5th inning. . .

Wiz released the pitch and the striker unloaded. The ball was racing like a jet towards right-center field. There would be no catching this ball on the fly. However, as I tracked the ball I had a sense that there was a great possibility that this ball would land on solid ground and take a nice big bound before heading into the tumultuous soil of the garden that has caused me much sorrow in weeks past.

My mind recalled that disastrous day where twice the ground won battles over my will to contend for fly balls. I knew the soil was soft. I knew there was a chance that I would run full speed into that dirt and lose my footing.
But its as if God made me to chase down balls that are flying through the air. This desire was too strong. I HAD TO CATCH THIS BALL.

So, I ran. I ran as fast as I could possibly run. If the ball would just bounce where I expected I should only need to take one step into the soft soil then arrive at exactly the right time.

So, I ran. The trajectory was perfect. My tracking, impeccable. I reached the ball just as I had planned. I was at maximum speed and I lunged as far as I could. Mid-dive the ball landed perfectly into my left hand. Time stood still for that moment. I could hear someone excitedly yell “HE GOT IT!” It was a proud moment. While flying through the air, ball in hand I began preparing myself to hold up my trophy catch.

But something terrible happened. My seemingly timeless suspension in air came to an abrupt end. All of the sudden my shoulder dug deep into the soil. My body slammed down on my left arm. My head bounced on the ground. The ball drove into my ribcage, and that was when I felt it…roll out of my hand.

WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This was my catch. This was going to redeem Plow Day. This was planned perfectly. The ball couldn’t roll out. It couldn’t. But it did. I couldn’t move to look up. I simply heard Jeremiah say something to which I replied with a gasp “Just throw the ball in.”

My brain was hurting. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t move. I just laid there, in the dirt, dying. I climbed up to my knees with my face still buried in the dirt. I looked up and saw the striker standing on second. On the ground were my hat and my glasses. I had no idea they had fallen off of my head.

I picked up myself and my stuff and began to make my way back to centerfield. My team was coming out to make sure I was ok. Sure my ribs are probably bruised and I have a mild concussion, but my pride hurt more. I waved them back to their positions and fought to catch my breath. The crowd cheerfully applauded excited that they did not witness a death at this family affair. Once again, the garden had beaten me.

We won the game!

Hip Hip Huzzah!

Lynn notches first win in two seasons in Father’s Day split with Portsmouth

Timely hitting, great fielding, terrific sportsmanship and true baseball heroism: Sunday’s double-header between the Portsmouth Rockinghams and the Lynn Live Oaks had all this and more.

In Game 1, the Rockinghams rode a steady offense and excellent defense to a 16-6 victory. The Rockinghams tallied runs in nearly every inning of the game. Rockingham hurler Shaheen Mohammadipour had Lynn’s strikers off balance most of the game, and when Lynn did hit the ball hard, it seemed the fleet-footed Rockingham outfielders were always exactly where they needed to be.

In Game 2, however, Lynn’s strikers started finding the gaps. In the first inning Lynn jumped to a lead and held it, due in no small part to the defensive efforts of shortstop George Birmbas, who despite two lamed ankles made several acrobatic plays to quash Rockingham rallies. After Portsmouth tied the score in the sixth, a determined Birmbas led off the sixth with a single and gamely stole second. But Lynn’s hopes sunk moments later when Birmbas, trying to advance on an out to left field, broke his wrist sliding into third.

Leaving the field for the hospital, Birmbas exhorted his Lynn teammates to “win this thing,” and in the eighth frame the Lynn bats went to work, tallying six runs and holding Portsmouth to just one. Lynn tallied six more in the ninth, then held back a six-run Portsmouth rally in the bottom of the inning for the 21-16 win.

Lynn dedicated the long-awaited win to Birmbas. A hearty HUZZAH to George, and to all the Lynn and Portsmouth players for a great afternoon of base ball.

Lynn Live Oaks Star of the Day George Birmbas recovers at Anna Jacques Hospital

Lynn Live Oaks Star of the Day George Birmbas recovers at Anna Jacques Hospital

Lynn first sacker and proud dad Brendan Coffey rejoicing in the score (or laughing at the math)

Lynn first sacker and proud dad Brendan Coffey rejoicing in the score (or laughing at the math)

Essex Sweep Granite

On Saturday the Essex Base Ball Club traveled to Fremont NH to take on the NH Granite as part of Fremont NH 250th celebration. The day was warm and the crowd was eager to learn about base ball as it was played in the 1860′s and the Essex Nine did not disappoint displaying fine hitting and solid defense in both games. The NH Granite traditionally play 1880′s so the first game was a little bit of an adjustment to 1860′s rules and the score showed as Essex easily won 19-9. In the second game the Granite began to figure it out but still could not match the experience of the Essex Nine. We would like to thank the Granite for two fine games and the Fremont NH 250th anniversary.

Essex vs. NH Granite Fremont NH

Essex vs. NH Granite Fremont NH

Sunday the Georgetown Samosets were supposed to travel to Georges Island to take on the Georgetown Samosets but unfortunately Presumpscot could not field a full nine. The day was not totally lost as members of the Samosets went out to the island to play pick up games with the cranks.

All members of the Essex Base Ball Association return to action Sunday June 15th on Fathers Day for a quadruple header beginning at 10am with the Lowell Base Ball Nine taking on the Newburyport Clamdiggers and then following the Lynn Live Oaks vs. Portsmouth Rockinghams. Bring your dad and enjoy the day. Saturday June 14th members of the EBBO will also be in Lowell at the Lowell Spinners game doing a short demo prior to the Spinners game.
fathers and son

Busy Next Weekend

The Essex Base Ball Organization will be in full swing this coming weekend June 7th and 8th. On Saturday the Essex Base Ball Club travel to Fremont NH to challenge the NH Granite as part of Fremont’s 250th anniversary festivities. Then Sunday the Georgetown Samosets travel to Georges Island in Boston Harbor to take on the Presumpscot BBC of Maine. It promises to be a great weekend of game.

Freemont NH 250th

Essex spoils Georgetowns Inaugural Games

Yesterday the Georgetown Samosets returned to action after about 147 year hiatus to take on the Essex Base Ball Club. The Georgetown boys looked great in their new uniforms but the Essex bats were too much and both games were won easily by the Essex Nine.

View from right field

Brent "Specs" Jones

Brent “Specs” Jones

Brent “Squints” Jones had this recap of his experience yesterday playing right field for the Essex Base Ball Club against the Georgetown Samosets.

It was a beautiful day to be on the field. Essex was hammering away with monster shots all day. Strikers three and four combined to hit the ball a mile. Circling the bases Essex accumulated runs at raucous pace.

Its a good thing too because Georgetown had a couple of strong innings. Yet their bats couldn’t compensate for their defensive woes. Pop ups became base hits and the clink of spikes crossing home plate sounded like change bouncing on a tile floor.

I had the pleasure of playing for Essex. My vantage point was right field. I watched as our left fielder caught everything that came his way. In center much the same. It was a beautiful display of talent. Catching a ball with your bare hands is hard. Yet these guys make it look easier that many can while wielding a mit.

In right field things were a bit sketchy. The skillset in right field is typically not as polished as those who man other positions. I am not used to being that guy. But my hands are not as acclimated to catching a ball flying several hundred feet. Though I admit that I do struggle somewhat in the field, today was a special day. Today was draft horse plough day. All day in right field there were plows being pulled by mules and Otis the tractor. They did a nice job of turning the soil prepping it for the summer crop. Nice deep grooves and inches of fresh turned topsoil…all less than 250 feet from home plate. Good thing Georgetown doesn’t hit to right field often.

Until the bottom of the ninth. There is a lefty at the plate. He turns on the perfect pitch (thanks Pat Cook). I look left. I measure the trajectory of the ball. If I stay 6 inches to the right of the mules I should have a chance to make the catch. As I back into position I hear the conversation of the two ladies handling the mules as they discuss my approach to their location.

“What is he doing?” “why is he coming over here?” What is HE DOING?”

I look to my left and I can sense the mules. I have plenty of room. The ball approaches. I reach for the ball. Suddenly my feet are in the freshly plowed area and I begin to descend. The ball hits my hand and bounces straight up. As I fall backward I can see thta the ball should land right on top of me. PERFECT…if the ground were flat. This ground is NOT flat. No, you can’t plant in flat ground. You need ruts. My body contorts. The ball begins to drop. It hits my chest right as I hit the ground. I have tried to break my fall and my body has slightly pivoted. I can’t get my hands on the ball before it rolls to the ground.

Striker safely reaches second. Dejected, I get off of my back and walk past the mules back to my spot in right. Next up to bat is a righty. But this is no ordinary righty. This righty likes to hit to right field. Last time up, he shot a bullet right to me that I was sure, I would catch on the bound. However, the ball hit the ground and shot right by me as I watched it go by without lifting my hand.

This time though. I would be ready. I mean I just survived a long fly by a mule. As long as he doesn’t repeat what just happened I should be fine. Once again Pat puts one right where the striker likes it. Its crushed to deep right center. I get my angle and take off running at full tilt. There is no change to catch it on the fly, but perhaps I can track it down and catch it on the bound if it will bounce high enough.

I turn on the jets. Its the bottom of the ninth with two hands and I am ready to go home. I will catch his ball, I am determined. I have my speed built up. I have my eye on the ball. I am ready. The ball is about to land approximately ten feet in front of me. When all of the sudden it’s as if I hit a trip wire. As if the ground jumped up and tackled me. I am face down in a pile of dirt. I had just learned a valuable lesson. One cannot gain a full head of steam on hard ground and expect to keep it when hitting freshly plowed ground. One will have a mouth of dirt and a jersey to match. You also get a bit disoriented and not able to properly find where the ball landed.

The locals say that I went down and a dust cloud came up…as well as my feet. That may explain the discomfort I felt while laying in the dirt.

Thank goodness we had an insurmountable lead…and no one else hit a ball to right!

Until next time, this has been…vantage from right field.

Why is my gum so crunchy?