Two Big Weekends Ahead

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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.

The Rockinghams and Oaks wow the crowd

It was all for the cranks on Sunday, July 20, as Lynn and Portsmouth split two games on a perfect summer day. Near-record numbers of base ball fans witnessed the two teams exchange the lead over and over with Portsmouth holding on to win the first game, 10-7, and Lynn rallying in the top of the ninth to take the second game, 16-14.

Freshly grown corn stalks in center-right field played a prominent role in the day’s event as well-struck fly balls from both teams sent outfielders sprinting into the crop to make catches or to dig for dropped ones. Cranks got in on the action, too, during quite a few foul balls which saw many near-collisions and spectacular diving catches.

Among many exciting plays, perhaps the one that cranks loved most came from Rockinghams’ striker Jim Leopardi, who placed a loop fly ball perfectly in the thickets of a tall bush on the third baseline. Live Oaks defense scrambled in the branches and brush to retrieve the ball but literally couldn’t find it before the Rockingams cleared the bases and Leopardi trotted home to a host of cheers.

At mid-season, Portsmouth continues to hone their edge while Lynn’s bats are louder and their defense is tougher than ever

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Squints view of the Lowell Nine vs. Lynn Live Oaks

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Squint's is dirty

Squint’s is dirty

Every time I give away a league postcard I always get some response related to “Field of Dreams”. Today, as I strolled into right field I noticed that the corn had started growing. One section was at least two feet tall, and another was a little over a foot. The two patches were separated by what I have come to call the “death soil”.

As I contemplated the upcoming 18 innings, I knew that this “Field of Dreams” had a very good chance of becoming my “Field of Nightmares”. It’s one thing to battle the death soil, but its another to try to find a small orb half buried in dirt and surrounded by vegetation.

We are playing the newly revamped Lynn Live Oaks. Their ability to amass well placed singles gradually draws in the outfield while their power hitters crush monster shots. In fact, it doesn’t matter if your outfield is in or not, their talented shortstop, Jed, will hit it over you.

It’s not often that a striker on the right side of the plate can hit with power to the opposite field. But Jed is up to bat, and he sees corn. So, he hits it my way. I am playing on the edge of the death soil and try to get under the ball without falling. I successfully stayed upright, but the ball hits about 15 feet beyond me for an easy stand up double.

A few innings later, same exact result. I am beginning to take this personally. Memories of battles past are fresh on my mind and I believe he thinks he has my number. After an absolute bomb to left field and a couple of nice hits that were not in my direction the first game comes to an end. Even though Lynn had pounded the ball, a few costly errors and timely hitting by the Sheehy brothers pulled the Lowell Base Ball Nine to a victorious game 1.

It’s game two and Lynn is off to a fine start, leading after four. The fans are clearly cheering for the Live Oaks providing an extra boost that is much needed on this muggy afternoon. As I stood in right field I noticed that the Ipswich Ale truck was heading out for the day. I thought to myself “They should really put two kegs in that truck on quadruple header days. Now we can’t get a cold brew after battling in the hot sun all day.” A deeper concern was that my Lowell brethren would be stricken with grief at the departure of that fine truck. Instead, a rage was birthed. I believe we held Lynn scoreless that inning, and then our bats came alive. That corn field became our friend for a couple of innings as we fought to put the game out of reach.

But Lynn was not done. Jed had one more blast to right field in him. I am convinced that he paid Wiz to pitch him outside just so he could hit it to right. I was not getting burned again. I played at least 20 feet into that corn patch. I was daring him to come to me. Challenge accepted. An absolute bomb was shredding its way to dead right. There is no reason that a ball softened by two games of play should travel that far. But here it came, like a missile. Everyone on the team yelled a collective “BACK BACK BACK”. So through the corn field I ran. Once again, I leapt and stretched out as far as possible to reach for the ball. As I stuck out my left hand I felt the ball hit perfectly in my hand and stick there as I hit the ground and rolled through the dirt. I raised up to throw the ball, and that is when I noticed…It had fallen out. The death soil had beaten me yet again. Jed stood on second. Luckily our lead was insurmountable. Victorious, Game 2.

Wiz how much will it cost me to have you pitch Jed inside?

Newburyport and Lowell Sweep the day

In games 1 and 2 the Newburyport Clamdiggers were able to hold off the Portsmouth Rockinghams for two victories improving their record to 4-4 and securing second place.

In games 3 and 4 the Lowell Base Ball Nine battled the much improved Lynn Live Oaks but in each game Lynn had one or two innings in which they let up five or more runs. The Oaks hammered single after single and capitalized on some Lowell errors but Lowell’s line up was to strong and Lowell won both games. Watch out EBBA the Live Oaks are coming.

We are sad to announce that the Essex game scheduled in Maine July 19th has been canceled due to lack of available fields. The Portsmouth Rockinghams and Lynn Live Oaks square off July 20th in their final set of games this season. Action kicks off at 12pm at the farm.

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3 Way Tie in the league…

The latest action in the Essex Base Ball Association on June 28th saw the Portsmouth Rockinghams and Lynn Live Oaks split their double header. In the 3rd and 4th games of the day the Lowell Nine swept the Newburyport Clamdiggers. With these games in the books the Lowell Nine stands on top of the league right now at 6-0 and the Rockinghams, Clamdiggers, and Live Oaks all sit 2-4. We are off for the 4th of July but all teams are back at it July 13th.

Lynn Live Oaks and Portsmouth Rockinghams

Lynn Live Oaks and Portsmouth Rockinghams

Newburyport Clamdiggers and Lowell Base Ball Nine

Newburyport Clamdiggers and Lowell Base Ball Nine