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

Essex Sweeps in Vactionland

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On Saturday June 21st the Essex Base Ball Club traveled to South Portland Maine to participate in the 3rd annual vintage base ball game sponsored by the Maine Historical Society. In the first game the Essex Nine was matched up against the always tough Presumpscot BBC. In a back and forth game the Essex Nine was able to hold on to a 11-9 victory. In the second game the EBBC was matched up against the Dirigo BBC and in a back a forth battle the Essex Nine was able to secure a victory in the bottom of the 9th to win 10-9.

Here is Brent “Squints” Jones view from the outfield…
brent
Maine has always been one of my favorite states. So I was excited when I heard we would get to play vintage in South Portland within eyesight of the Atlantic Ocean. This was my first trip to this quaint town and it did not disappoint. Everything was beautiful and I caught myself coveting life in this peaceful space so far removed from the rat-race of Boston.

Though the atmosphere was relaxing, we had a big task at hand, beat these boys from Maine. Essex BBC has grown accustomed to this yearly expedition as the competition is always fierce. Being undefeated on the year we were looking forward to testing our skills outside the friendly confines of the farm.

Playing on an actual baseball field in the absence of our cranks took a toll on our bats. It seemed as if we were swinging with swimming noodles rather than well crafted sticks of ash. Lucky for us Goose was not affected by the scenery nor change of location. He hammered away and willed us to victory in a well fought game one.

After a two hour drive and a tough first game, the team was eager for the break between games to get a much needed energy boost. Lynchy and I, being rookies on our first road trip, were responsible for bringing fruit snacks for the team. I somehow missed the word “fruit” and showed up with Gatorade and chocolate chip granola bars. Lynchy came correct providing what proved to be a favorite among burly vintage baseball vets, a pink box of Hello Kitty fruit snacks.
lynchy
Unfortunately those snacks did not have the desired effect and game two started off with a similar feel. The game was back and forth, with both teams chipping away and scrapping for every run they could get.

We had reached the bottom of the ninth. The score was tied at 9 and I was set to lead off the inning. The bottom of our lineup had not produced today and I was no exception. I had fouled out to the catcher, hit numerous infield or shallow pop flies and had a couple of outs on the bound. I had yet to cross the plate for the day and the boys in the field had to be feeling good about their chances of taking this game to extra innings.

Being a dead pull hitter the pitcher positioned the team appropriately and turned to deliver the pitch. As he had done most of the day the initial pitch was on the outside part of the plate. I have played baseball my entire life. I know that if the ball is on the outside of the plate one is supposed to drive the ball to the opposite field. Try as I might I usually end up hitting to center or hitting a lazy grounder to second base. But its the bottom of the ninth and the game is on the line. I have to go for it. CRACK!

The ball flies to right-center. The right fielder moves to catch it on the bound. As I approach first I see the ball take a massive hop over the right fielder’s head. I time my steps to make sure I hit the inside corner and push myself toward second. I can hear the team cheering me toward third. I round the bag at second feeling as if I am running at the speed of sound. In the back of my mind is a curious thought of an heroic in the park homerun which causes my feet to go faster. I approach third.

Somehow, my feet begin to overrun me. I can feel myself losing balance. Like a toddler who is unaware that he is not yet ready to move at certain speeds my body begins to get closer to the ground. I realize that I have now begun an inadvertent head first slide. My momentum was now all I had. My body slid across the dirt. Reaching out as I came to a stop my fingertips barely touch the bag. Slightly embarrassed, and completely out of breath, I was pleased with my triple. We had at least three batters who could bring me home.

Lynchy was up. A lefty. Perfect. Just hit it to right field and we win. Apparently he did not eat enough of his own fruit snacks. He hits a grounder to short. The shortstop and I stare each other down and I remain at third. Now with men at the corners the spry switch hitting Wiz comes to the plate. He decides to hit right handed. I can only imagine its because he has more power on that side. He will hit a long fly. I will tag and score.

Wiz hits a short pop up right between the shortstop and the left fielder. It looks like trouble. The left fielder charges. I take off and then pause a few feet down the line watching as the left fielder gets closer. Oh geez. He is going to get to the ball. I sprint back to third just as the ball hits his hands. I have to hurry before he doubles me up. Just as I reach third I see the ball squirt out and three fielders frantically running corral the ball. Spinning, I once again take off for home. I now have no idea where the ball is or how close of a play this will be.

As I approach I see the catcher drop his head and I know I have made it. Essex wins the most exciting game we have had all year. If only we could have shared it with our cranks.

Where are the fruit snacks?

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