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…
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.
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?