The Nation's Pastime ...
In League 1, walkup Greg Berry guided an unclaimed pre-registered
team (Oak Forest Owls) to a divisional tie with another first-time
attendee, Ralph Gleaton (Some O's). The Owls shutout of the O's
broke the tie for that league's crown. Over in League 2, old-timer,
Jared Scarborough built his Stellar Jays well enough to defeat
newcomer John Weber's Quicksilver Stallions 6-5 in 11 innings.
That affair was enough to take the nod.
Meanwhile, in League 3, Mike Hazel (another newcomer) compiled
a 2-1 record, just as was the case for walk-up Roland LeBlane.
The Heroes 12-2 drubbing of LeBlane's Short End squad made the
tiebreaking difference. And in League 4, Bruce Young took a couple
of quick victories before falling 4-3 to Coscia's Monarchs in
his third game. This put Carl and Bruce at identical 2-1 records,
which would normally mean that Carl's head-to-head victory would
be the deciding factor. However, Brian Smith's Mmmm Good team,
was still in a heated battle against John Leggat's winless Aces
& Gloves team. Interestingly, both of these teams were walk-up
registration teams created by Carl (as his 'reward' for winning
last year's tournament). If Brian should win, there would be
a three-way tie; should he lose, Carl's in the playoffs. Mr.
Coscia did a fine job of biting his tongue to keep from attempting
to manage John's team for him, and in the end an error prolonged
the ninth inning and allowed Mmmm Good's Mickey Mantle to homer
keeping John's Aces winless, leaving League 4 in a three-way
tie for first. It boiled down to least runs allowed, and Bruce's
Emerald City Wizards won on that front.
The fifth league was dominated by Mike Destro's powerful sticks
known as the Philadelphia Steaks. They slugged their way to a
perfect 3-0 record over some formidable opposition, including
veteran Chris Palermo's Rippers and fellow long-time SSB player
(and former GM) Harry Flawd's walk-up Swat Daddies team. Harry
had to run the Paydirt tournament shortly after this event
started, so it was assured that he wouldn't be able to advance.
But with Mike's Steaks, that wasn't a problem, though the assistance
and pitching in to play were greatly appreciated (along with
teaching the game to some players). Similar dominance was shown
by Erick Young's vintage 19th-century team of multi-purpose players,
Do All. This walk-up registration team also finished at 3-0 to
sweep League 6.
Six of our playoff teams were set. Per this year's rules,
those six teams were each granted two days of rest for their
pitching staffs and injured players. Then all teams who finished
tied for their divisional crown, but lost due to the tiebreaker,
were thrown into a hat. From this list, John Weber's name was
plucked as Wild Card team #1. At that point, all other 2-1 teams
were added to the hat and the final Wild Card manager was drawn--Ralph
Gleaton. These teams were each granted one extra day of rest.
In the quarterfinals, Greg Berry's Owls, behind Lefty Grove,
somehow out-slugged Mike Destro's Steaks squad to move into the
semi-finals. Maybe the Steaks pitcher, Mel Harder, had something
to do with that. For his heroic 3-1 efforts, Mike came in sixth.
Greg's opponent would be the victor in the Stellar Jays (SP:Joe
Wood)/Do All (SP: Charlie Buffington) showdown. There was little
question about that game, as Jared's Jays whipped Erick's old-timers
7-1 to advance. Thus, Erick also ended at 3-1 for a fifth place
finish. On the other side of the brackets, Hazel's Heroes sent
Babe Ruth to the mound against Kevin Brown of John Weber's Stallions.
In a hard-fought game, the Heroes triumphed 4-3, leaving the
Stallions at 2-2 for the tournament. And in the last matchup,
Bruce Young pitched Steve Carlton against Ralph Gleaton's Sandy
Koufax. It was no surprise that this was a low-scoring game,
and the O's came out on top 3-2, sending Bruce away with an even
The semi-finals saw Jared Scarborough sending Greg Maddux
to the mound against the Owls' Carl Hubbel. The Owls "Billyball"
magic came to an end, as their speedsters couldn't get on base
against Maddux. On top of that, Hubbel couldn't keep the Jays
bats down and it was over in a hurry, as Jared won his second
consecutive 7-1 game. Meanwhile, Hazel's Christy Mathewson faced
off against Lefty Grove of Some O's. This was the third game
where Hazel's squad went up against Grove, so they were becoming
familiar with him. In the end, Ralph exited the tournament with
a 3-1 record and a third place finish and Hazel advanced to face
Jared in the final.
After a brief moment to gather their composure, the finalists
took the field for the deciding game, each with identical 4-1
records. Oddly enough, each team was down to their third, and
final, starting pitcher. And both teams had to rely on the same
hurler--Guy Hecker of the Louisville Eclipse (1880s).
In the second inning, Hero Tris Speaker drove in the game's
first run as Jocko Milligan crossed the plate. Speaker then stole
and eventually scored to put Hazel's Hecker up 2-0. Speaker capped
another important inning by driving in two more runs, and by
the time the two Heckers reached the final inning, Hazel had
a 5-1 lead. However, Mike's Hecker had become tired. Sadly for
Hazel, there was no one better lurking in the bullpen, so Hecker
was going to have to finish the game. The first two batters reached
base for the Jays, only to have the following two batters ground
out, leaving two on and two outs, still down by four runs. Then
the rally began. Richie Ashburn walked to load the bases for
Willie Mays. His single scored a run and left the bases jammed.
Next up was Babe Ruth, whom Hecker allowed to swing. The result
was a walk, scoring another run to bring the tally to 5-3. Eventually,
the bases remained loaded, and Jared had scored yet another run
to bring the score to 5-4 when Willie McCovey approached the
plate. Coach Hazel again eschewed his bullpen and rolled away
for the tired Guy Hecker.
The result was a superb play by the defensive unit to save the
day. Final score: Heroes 5, Jays 4.