I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round I really love to watch them roll No longer riding on the merry-go-round I just had to let it go.
-Watching The Wheels, John Lennon
Tonight is the Barnstormer’s last home game of 2016. They didn’t make the playoffs, so this is my last chance to see them play this year. Clipper Magazine Stadium will be dark until Spring.
I grew up a baseball fan, but I’ve always been a fan of Roller Derby, too. Where I grew up in South Ozone Park, NY, we even played Roller Derby in the street. We sometimes had to skate around parked cars on our “track,” and occasionally we had to skate around moving cars too, when some drivers felt like they had “dibs” on the road, and that we should be skating on the sidewalk.
I was a pretty good skater, but not nearly as good as my friend Vinny Nizza, whose nickname was Great Balls of Fire, and sparks could actually be seen coming from his skates when he skidded on a turn. That was back before anyone had shoe skates with rubber or plastic wheels. We had the old-fashioned kind of skates with metal wheels that clamped right onto your street shoes. You tightened them onto your shoes using a skate key, like the one Melanie sang about when she sang, “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates. You’ve got a brand new key.”
So, with the baseball season drawing to a close, I was looking forward to seeing the Women’s Roller Derby matches on September 10th, hoping to see my favorite Dutchland Rollers skater, #29, Vanitti, who pound-for-pound must be the best skater in Lancaster. I say that because she probably only weights about 100 pounds soaking wet, which is about half of what some of the other girls weigh. She looks more suited to be a thoroughbred jockey than a rock ‘em sock ‘em Roller Derby star.
Vanitti was in the starting line-up, so I wasn’t disappointed, but I did wind up conflicted before the night was over. Lancaster’s opponents, The Harrisburg Area Roller Derby (H.A.R.D.) had some pretty good skaters, too, and I couldn’t help but cheer for #63, Holden Grudges, whenever she put on the jammers helmet. She was awesome, not just pound-for-pound awesome, but sheer awesome.
In case you didn’t know this, a point is scored in Roller Derby whenever a jammer laps an opponent on the track. Whenever Holden Grudges put on the jammer’s helmet, three of the Dutchland team members would wait at the rear of the pack for her to come around trying to lap them, and then they would gang up on her. Actually, I should say that they would attempt to gang up on her. It reminded me of a line in a Jack Reacher novel. “There were three of them and only one of him. It wasn’t going to be a fair fight, but that was their problem.” The confrontation almost always ended with the same result – three Dutchland Rollers skaters splattered on the track and three more points on the board for Harrisburg. Actually, Holden Grudges didn’t stop with just three points. She’d skate around the track again and pass the fallen Rollers again, as they struggled to clear the cobwebs from their brains and get back on their feet. In one jam, she scored 12 points.
Fortunately for the locals, all that skating leaves a jammer winded, so they usually have to sit out a jam or two while they catch their breath, and the locals managed to score many of their points whenever #63 was taking a breather. In the end the Dutchland team emerged victorious 187 to 163. Go Rollers.
Once, when I was extolling the pleasure of watching The Lancaster Barnstormers baseball games, my nephew asked mockingly, “Yeah, but what do you do in Lancaster when it’s not baseball season?” The Barnstormer’s season is just about over, so I guess it’s time to answer that question. First, I’d like to thank the Lancaster Barnstormers for all the joy they brought me this season, especially on $2 beer nights. Enjoy the off season, guys. In the meanwhile, I’ll just sit here watching the wheels go round and round. I really love to watch them roll.
Go Vanitti. Go Holden Grudges. Go Rollers. See you in the Spring, Barnstormers.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,