K.C. at the Bat

The 2019 Lancaster Barnstormers season is mercifully coming to an end this weekend. Nothing went right this year. I know. As a season ticket holder, I was at a lot of their games. It was often frustrating, and I decided to take out my frustration by poking a little fun at the awful season. So, the other night I went to the stadium wearing a paper bag over my head, like the Unknown Comic used to do on the Gong Show, or the New Orleans AIN’TS.

I hoped that nobody would take offense. The people in Lancaster have a great sense of humor, and I hoped that they would get the joke. Luckily, they did. Jack, one of the Barnstormers employees at the gate, even took my picture (above). Then, when I got to my seat, one of the ushers came over to me, and I asked him if he wanted me to take it off. “No, of course not,” he said. “You’re much better looking with a bag over your head.” Did I mention that Lancasterians have a great sense of humor.

During the second inning the Stormers ask you to take a selfie and send it to Instagram at #whatmakesyousmile. I don’t know how that hashtag stuff works, or I would have taken a selfie.  They show these pictures during the 8th inning, and there I was in the center of the big scoreboard screen. Somebody else had taken my picture and sent it. Like I said, Lancasterians have a sense of humor. I love it here, and I especially love the Barnstormer fans.

Butch Hobson, the former manager of the team was sitting in the front row getting a good view of his son, first baseman K.C. Hobson, who walked his first three times at the plate. Butch now manages the Chicago Dogs. When he got up to go to the refreshment stand, I yelled at him, “The Chicago Dogs suck eggs.” He instinctively balled his fist and turned towards me. He quickly realized I was joking, unclenched his fist, and shook my hand.  “Come back to Lancaster, Butch.  We love you here.”

Watching the game, it reminded me of the old poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, Casey at the Bat. It was the final game of a 4-game homestand against the Long Island Ducks, and the Ducks had won the first three games easily. So, as things were going wrong again in the fourth game, I wrote a little parody of Mr. Thayer’s poem. To my surprise, the 1888 poem didn’t require a lot of changing to make it apropos for this year’s Stormers.

K.C. at the Bat

(With thanks and apologies to the original by Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

K.C. at the Bat - 02

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Lancaster nine that day:

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

Then Martinez ripped one up the middle, and Mercedes got on too.

A cheer rose from the Stormer fans, because they knew their team was due.


The Ducks had managed in this series to take the first three games.

They were kicking Stormer butt, not bothering to take names.

But now our team would have a chance to end the homestand on a high,

All we needed was a batter who could launch one to the sky.


Torrence tried to bunt the runners, but the ball found a glove in flight,

Sandford hit a fly to center that would have gone over the wall in right.

Then the roar of the crowd bounced off the walls and recoiled upon the flat,

For K.C., mighty K.C., was advancing to the bat.


The Stormers only had one walk-off homer the entire baseball year,

But K.C. was the one who hit it, and the crowd knew when to cheer.

Two men on, and two men out, K.C. strode confidently to the plate.

His father, Butch, was in the stands and a homer would be just great.


This place would go wild, if he could do it again, a walk-off homer to turn us loose.

The Ducks have been kicking our asses all week, and it’s time to cook their goose.

Old Butch would be proud, and maybe so glad that he came by “The Clip” tonight,

He might even come back to manage again and he could put things right.


The first pitch was a ball, it was clearly just a tiny bit inside.

K.C. fouled off the next one over on the first base side.

The next pitch was a ball, a call we saw but never heard.

Then K.C. fouled off another, this time just wide of third.


The next pitch came in and the umpire stood still. It was ball number three.

The count was full. The runners would be off as quickly as can be.

“Please give him the heat,” I yelled, knowing he’d blast it a mile.

But the pitcher threw him a curve ball and then began to smile.


Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere Ducks are quacking, though I’d rather they were cooking.

For there is no joy in Lancaster, today. Mighty K.C. struck out looking.


Go Stormers in 2020.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,



Here’s the original Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer:


The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.


Skeeter Beater

Barnstormers vs SkeetersLB Champs


Usually, the York Revolution plays the Somerset Patriots in the Championship Series for the Atlantic Baseball League. A funny thing happened in the division playoffs though. With both playoff divisions needing a 5th game to decide the best-of-five series, the underdogs won. So, the Revolution and the Patriots had to send their victory champagne back to the pantry. The Championship Series would be a best-of-five series between The Lancaster Barnstormers and The Sugar Land Skeeters.

It wasn’t easy in their Divisional series against the Somerset Patriots, who were up 2 games to 1 and leading the 4th game 3-0 with the Barnstormers just 6 outs away from elimination. A pinch hit grand slam by second-baseman Yasuke Kajimoto in the top of the 8th inning put the Barnstormers in the lead and the Patriots in shock. The Stormers held on to win that game and the next day they were still riding high. They were ahead 10-1 in the deciding game going into the bottom of the 9th inning. Then the Somerset Patriots showed them why they usually go to the Championship Series and scared the hell out of them. They scored 5 runs and had two men on base before Lancaster finally got the out that sent them into the Championship Series against the also unlikely Skeeters.

After that, the Barnstormers must have doused themselves in Deep Woods Off, because they easily repelled the Skeeters in Houston to win the first two games of the Series convincingly.  The pesky Skeeters did not go away easily in the 3rd game, though. It was back-and-forth as they played the game through a steady rain shower in Lancaster. Finally, in the bottom of the 13th inning, Gabe Jacobo hit one over the right-centerfield fence to decide the game 8-7 and the series 3-0.

It was a great season, and I was happy to be a part of it.  I threw out the first ball at one of their games back in May, and my brother and I went to a birthday party the team threw for their manager, Butch Hobson, back in August.  First Fridays are special around here and the Barnstormers won the Championship at home on the first Friday of October. Sounds like Destiny, doesn’t it.

I welcomed the hangover I had the next day, because I knew the team deserved my best celebratory effort.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


M-m-m-m-my Corona…

Butch Hobson - 01Keith Castillo - 01Reegie Corona - 01


I received an invitation in the mail to attend a little birthday party for the Manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers, Butch Hobson. R.S.V.P.

Then my brother called. What were my plans for celebrating my birthday?’

“Right now I’m planning on going to a ball game and having ice cream with Butch Hobson on his birthday, which is on the 17th, just two days before mine. Close enough.”

Then I started singing, “They say it’s your birthday…It’s my birthday, too, yeah…

“You want me to go with you?”


I called Maureen Wheeler at Clipper Magazine Stadium, explained my situation and asked if I could have my invitation “plus-oned.”

“Sure,” she said, “Bring your brother.”

The ballpark seats about 15,000, but the only time it is more than half-full are some Friday and Saturday night games when they have free fireworks. The rest of the week, they give out free T-Shirts, reduced-priced food, prizes, anything to try to attract customers. They’re very accommodating.

I was in Long Beach a few days later telling my friend Margaret about my plans.

“It sounds good,” Margaret said. “It would sound fabulous if you were only nine years old.”

I thought about that for a moment. “Margaret,” I finally replied. “I will be going there like a nine-year old. I’m going to the game with my little brother.”

BeelzeBro X (formerly Brother X) arrived on Saturday afternoon. We had a drink in The Social Butterfly Saloon (formerly my back yard). Then we went to The Alley Kat for Dinner. After a while there we just came back to my place to chill. We watched a few Harness Races on the computer, because I’m a big fan of Harness Racing, and we watched a little TV, because we’re both big fans of closed-captioning.

He got up first on Sunday. He had to go to mass.

Myself, I’ve been going to services at Saint Mattress for nearly 50 years. I stayed in bed.

When he came back two hours later, he was an expert on my neighborhood. He knew more about it than I did. I suggested we have breakfast at the Onion Café. He said that it was closed on Sunday, but that the Fractured Prune was open and they had great coffee. We went to The Fractured Prune, which was just a little past the Onion Café, which was closed.

He even knew how The Fractured Prune got its name. I’ll leave that story for him to tell someday.  It has nothing to do with fruit.

It was then time to go to the ball game. We used to go to baseball games together back when we were Cub Scout age. We even had Yankee uniforms. He wore #8 for Yogi Berra, and I wore #7 for Mickey Mantle. Magically, as soon as we handed our tickets to the usher at the Barnstormer gate we were both that age again. Only this time we could drink beer. Hey Margaret.  We could have even more fun than 9-year-olds.

The day was dedicated to helping homeless Veterans in Lancaster County. The players wore special patriotic caps during the game, which were auctioned off during the 4th inning. After the game, whoever bought a hat went onto the field to get their hat from the player.

I bought Reegie Corona’s hat. (Reegie, pronounced Ree-Gee, is how he spells his name).

I bought it for several reasons.

He’s #19, and my birthday is the 19th.

His last name is a beer, and that’s one of my favorite beverages.

He just joined the team from a Yankee farm team.  So, nobody knew him, and the bidding wasn’t very spirited.

I got his hat for $30. That’s more than I ever paid for a hat before (unless you count enlisting in the Navy). And it’s certainly more than I’ve ever paid for a Corona, but it was a steal. He scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

At the birthday party we all got presents. I got a game ball signed by Keith Castillo, a catcher who used to be a Long Island Duck. BeelzeBro X got a game ball signed by the birthday boy himself, Butch Hobson. He gave it to me as an extra birthday present. We had our ice cream and then he drove back to New York.

Suddenly, as he was driving away, I was no longer 9-years old, but, at least, I could still drink beer. I went to the Alley Kat and had a Corona.  M-m-m-m-m-my Corona….

Peace & Love, and all of the above,