Big Rec, Golden Gate Park
20 March 2016
In misty conditions, under steel-gray skies at Big Rec Park, the Bay Area Vintage Base Ball League at long last got underway. Two weekends of rainouts postponed the start of the season, and the Ballists were eager to cross the lines and take the field, despite the conditions. The outfield grass was long, bushy, and wet; yet the infield was trim and flat as the San Francisco Barbary Coast hosted the reigning champion San Francisco Pacifics. Both teams took infield, shook hands; then Carl the Sir called “play ball,” and the 2016 BAVBB season began.
Peter “Colonel” Banks took the ball into the hurler’s box for the Coast. The Colonel throws with a high, overhand release and great accuracy, but the Pacifics were in no hurry to strike at his offerings. The Pacs worked the count relentlessly, only to put the ball into play to ask questions of the Barbary Coast defense; and with their signature running game, plated three aces in the first inning.
Yet the Barbary Coast came back strong, showing they too, can pick up sticks and make hits; the Coast plated two aces in the bottom half. Eric “Jumbo” Petit is the ace of the Pacs’ staff and he showed that he has the stuff, delivering to the plate with his high, overhand release, that gives the impression to the striker that he is merely handing the ball to the Behind.
After the first, the game became a defensive battle, with conditions contributing to mistakes on both sides; yet quality shined through the dismal weather as both teams performed outstanding gingers. Notably, both teams threw out runners at the plate from the outfield, and both Behinds threw runners out while attempting to steal bases. Credit to the Pacs left sided outfielders, Matt “Ranger” Petty, and Brian “Bolt” Faudree,” for preventing balls falling into the deep grass and clover, instead returning hands to the hurler. For the Coast, Sammy “Badger” Hoffman was exceptional wherever in the outfield he played and Greg “Sparky” Castro added some ginger with a few excellent plays in left on his BAVBB debut.
Nevertheless the Coast was always playing comeback as the Pacifics never lost the lead. The Coast threatened many times, only to come up short owing to the excellent Pacifics’ fielding. While “Ranger” and “Bolt” took away long flies to the outfield by the Coasters’ sluggers, Lester “Shoestring” Lee made dangerous pop-ups in the infield look easy to field despite the rainy, windy conditions. Sage “Buttercup” Bray made a number of plays from second to thwart Coasters’ rallies, and both Behinds performed exceptionally by blocking would-be passed-balls that, owing to the long backstop, would have been guaranteed stolen bases had the Behinds not been so willing to sacrifice their bodies. Wes “Dread Pirate” Goodman-Levy and Peter “Bones” McAfee deserve much of the credit for keeping the score down from behind the dish.
As the rain accelerated during the sixth inning the teams nevertheless pushed on. The Coast placed the tying run on second but could not plate in the bottom sixth, and in the top of the seventh the Pacifics added to their lead with a two-RBI double by ex-Pelican and new Pacific, Scott “Friendly Fire” Endberg. The Coast added a run in the bottom seventh and had runners on to tie, but the Pacs finished off the game with a great play to throw out a runner at third.
The Barbary Coast will be disappointed and the Pacs will feel content with their victory, but the Cranks can only be thrilled that the quality and excitement of the Bay Area Vintage Base Ball League is back for another season.
Your Faithful Reporter,