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.


Yo Tengo; Yo No Tengo; Yo Tengo

This season, The Lancaster Barnstormers offered a package to their “more mature” fans, The Silverstormers. I know I didn’t qualify as a mature fan, but I did meet the age requirement, so I bought it.  In the package, you get one field-level ticket to every Tuesday night home game (the same exact seat for all 10 Tuesday home games), a “SilverStormer” T-Shirt, and morning fitness walks in the stadium if you want to take them (or even know what morning is…I don’t even get up until the crack of noon). All this costs only $35, just $3.50 per game. It’s a great deal, which is made even sweeter by the added fact that Tuesday at Clipper Magazine Stadium is Brewsday, featuring $2 beers.
As if that wasn’t enough to bring out the fans, they also had to make up a previously rained out game, so last Tuesday they were playing a doubleheader. The fans were getting two games for the price of one. Well, almost. Atlantic League doubleheaders go 7 innings each, instead of the usual 9 inning games. So, you get two quick games. Or so you would think.
And, of course, if you did think that on this occasion, you would be wrong. The first game began promptly at 6 p.m. The second game didn’t end until well after 1 in the morning. At first, you had to blame the High Point Rockers. They just wouldn’t stop hitting Lancaster pitching. They led 9-1 and it was only the 2nd inning. Then, the prayers of the Lancaster faithful were finally heard. It started to rain. Maybe this slaughter would become just another rainout. As the rain got heavier, the game was halted. People started leaving their seats to seek shelter from the storm during the rain delay.
The concourse of the stadium was now packed with both those seeking shelter and those seeking the $2 beers. I was in the latter group, and I was doing my absolute best to support as many local breweries as possible. I had gone to the game by myself, but after a half-dozen Tuesday nights of seeing the same people in the same seats, we “mature fans” had bonded as a group. So, while we waited for the game to resume, we were talking baseball, and I was getting loaded.
One guy told the story about how he witnessed a near collision in the outfield at some minor league game, because they had just acquired a Latin outfielder, who didn’t speak any English, and he kept charging for the ball even though the other guy was screaming, “I’ve got it.” The two English-speaking outfielders quickly learned that “Yo Tengo” was the Spanish equivalent, of “I’ve got it,” and they switched to yelling that on fly balls to the outfield.
Eventually the Latin player was traded for another English-speaking player. On his first day, however, he crashed into the other outfielder who was screaming, “Yo Tengo.” The new guy didn’t have any idea what that meant, and, of course, he was trying to show some hustle on his first day with his new team, so he never stopped going after the ball.
We all laughed at this and many more baseball stories for an hour and a half until the game resumed play. Then with every Lancaster fly ball, the people in our section began yelling out, “Yo Tengo.” The Rockers continued to pile up runs, but, at least, everyone in our area was now laughing and having a good time.
Finally, the lop-sided game was over. The second game would start in just a few minutes. It was very late on a Tuesday night, so almost nobody stayed for the second game. The dozen or so fans who stayed for the second game move down to the best seats in the first row. I moved to my favorite seat, right behind home plate.
It’s a good thing I did, because it turned out to be a pitcher’s duel, and the home-plate umpire in the second game needed a lot of my help. In his defense though, he didn’t have his beer goggles on, like I did, so he wasn’t seeing the ball as well as I was.
They’ve been installing a radar/GPS system in all Atlantic League ballfields that will call balls and strikes. The Homeplate umpire will wear an earpiece that will signal to him if the pitched ball is a ball or a strike. So, whenever I wanted a strike call, I would yell “BEEP.” Everybody in the area (10-people max.) knew I was drunk, and they all found it funny. Even the umpire got a laugh out of it eventually, when a ball that was fouled straight back, bounced off the 2nd level and then bounced off my head. As the ball hit me, I think I heard him laugh and say, “BEEP.”

Game Ball - Yo Tengo.png
It looked like the ball bounced smack off the top of my head, but it actually bounced behind me and then just glanced off my head before landing in the mitt of a young fan two sections to the left of me. So, I wasn’t hurt, but I milked everyone’s concern. “Yo, NO Tengo,” I laughed. “I don’t have it.” The few of us who were still there continued to joke and laugh with each other throughout the rest of the ballgame. We had a great time heckling everyone, even though The Barnstormers lost.

Then, at the end of the game, the boy (I didn’t get his name, but he had #22 on his jersey) who had caught the ball that bounced off my head, came over to give me the ball. From watching the Youtube replay the next day I was able to piece together that his parents might have encouraged him to give away his baseball treasure. (From watching the replays, I was also able to determine that the men on the grassy knoll were baseball players.)

Game Ball - Parental Guidance

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So, thank you #22 for the game ball.  I will keep it as a reminder of the fun we had on a rainy night at the ballpark.  I’ll autograph it, “Yo Tengo.” I’ve got it. I guess I should also thank Charles Weeghman, the former owner of the Chicago Cubs, who on April 29, 1916 began letting fans keeps any baseballs that landed in the stands. Before that, you were supposed to throw them back on the field.
Here’s to you, #22.
Peace and Love, and all of the above,

The Longest Day

The Atlantic Baseball League is divided into two sections, The Freedom division and the Liberty division.  Then they divide the season into two halves.  In each division, whoever wins the first half season plays against whoever wins the second half season for the division championship.  Then the two division champions face off for the Atlantic League Championship.

You can do lousy in the first half, but win the second half, or vice versa, and be in the Division Championship.  Most years this rule hurts the Lancaster Stormers, who have often had the best overall record but finished second in the Freedom Division in both halves.  This year, however, the rule helps the Stormers, because they are doing lousy in the first half, but they can still salvage their season by winning the second half.

That’s one way that the Atlantic League differs from the Major Leagues.  Another difference is money.  The minimum salary for a Major League player is $480,000 a year, with many making far more than that.  The Atlantic League players only get a few thousand dollars a month.  When Major Leaguers go on road trips, they take chartered jets to their destination.  When Minor Leaguers go on road trips, they, literally, hit the road by bus.

As I stated earlier, the Barnstormers are having a lousy first half this year.  How lousy?  They lost 4 straight home games to their archrivals, The York Revolution.  Then they had to climb on a bus for a road trip to North Carolina, where they lost three straight games to The High Point Rockers.  Then on June 21st, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, they had to take a 12-hour bus trip to Commack, NY to face the Long Island Ducks, in a doubleheader that night.  That wasn’t just the longest day of the year, for many of the Barnstormers it turned out to be the longest day of their lives.

Historically, the Stormers do not do well playing in Commack.  Their heavily left-handed batting order is tailored to hit the ball 300 feet to right field for a homerun.  In Commack, a ball that travels 300 feet to right field is a fly out.  So, they arrived in Commack, exhausted from the 7-game losing streak and the 12-hour bus ride, to play a double header in an unfavorable ballpark against the Ducks, the powerful, Liberty Division first place team.

They still had some fight left in them, though, and they clawed their way to victory in the first game.  In the second game, the Ducks took and early lead, and it looked like the Stormers were out of gas.  Then, they summoned all their strength for a big rally in the 6th inning that put them 5 runs ahead.  Then, in the Duck half of the 6th inning, the Barnstormers hit the proverbial wall.  They had nothing left, and the Ducks took advantage of it.  They scored more runs in the bottom of the 6th than their scoreboard could display, since it was only designed for the one-digit numbers from 0 to 9.  When the Barnstormers finally got up to bat they meekly went down in order.  They had no more adrenalin, no more strength, no more fight.  They just wanted to go home, but they still had two more games to play, one on Saturday night and the other on Sunday afternoon.  The lost both.

In an homage to the movie, The Big Lebowski, my friend John later said, “Sometimes you eat the Ducks, and sometimes the Ducks eat you.”

So, on Sunday evening they took a bus back to Lancaster.  Fortunately, they had a much-needed day off on Monday.  Tonight, they play the Somerset Patriots, and I hope that they are able to shake off the events of this past week and get into a winning pattern before the second half begins in July.

They play six games here at Clipper Magazine Stadium before they have to climb back on the bus for another road trip.  Maybe a little home cooking and sleeping in their own bed instead of a Motel 6 will do them a lot of good.  Like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

Sliding into Home Plate

Also remember that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

Go Stormers.  Keep calm and storm on.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,




The Trotterbury Tale

First let me say in this brief introduction,

That I’m listening to a BBC production,

Of the Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer, Geoffrey,

Who wrote in Middle English, which is all Greek to me.


This poem in High School, I surely did dread,

Because I couldn’t understand a word that he said.

But now this story gives me great inspiration,

Thanks to Burton Raffel and his fine translation.


Now I can follow this ancient old song,

And understand why it’s lasted so long

I’m enjoying the story and so I will show it,

By writing this blog in the way of a poet.


The Harness Racing Fan’s Story


Last week, three friends they had a notion,

To visit the upstate town of Goshen.

A place that bears a biblical name,

And is home to the Harness Hall of Fame.


The trip was my idea, as I am a big fan,

Brother X and friend John went along with the plan.

It was my birthday, which is why they agreed,

They’d rather watch Yankees than any old steed.


Please do not poke the driver

So we packed up the car, and were on our way soon.

We reached the museum a little past noon.




On the walls I saw pictures of drivers so mighty,

They only recognized a guy they called Whitey.


We toured every exhibit and every space,

And inside of cutouts our heads we did place.

2017 Humbletonian

Our favorite spot was a place where we could act,

Like we were driving a Trotter on the main track.


Johnny went first and just like he oughta,

He took to racing like a duck takes to water.


I mentioned Ducks, because on the previous night,

We saw The Long Island Ducks really put up a fight.

They beat my poor Stormers on a night filled with rain,

But it was still nice to see some old friends again.


Linda and Jimmy from the old Sutter crowd,

Were cheering for Ducks and rooting quite loud.

Brother X and Christine, the home team were backing.

And nephew DJ and wife Stacy were all busy quacking.

Ducks vs Stormers

Now back to my story about our Goshen trip.

It was my turn in the sulky but with my bum hip

I needed some help to climb in with my pain.

If truth be told, I needed a crane.

20170819_151125Then, finally, I got it right,

But to get me out, it took all night.

I didn’t care; I was having my fun,

And in the picture, it looks like I won.


At the end of the day, we were ready to eat,

My friend Sally told me a place that couldn’t be beat.

So, we took her advice, and it couldn’t be finer,

We all enjoyed the food at the Goshen Diner.


Goshen DinerBefore we left I took a picture of the track,

And we agreed that someday we’d all go back.

But there is one sad note about this town.

Two days later this old barn burned down.



But when they saw the flames and smoke,

This sleepy little town really awoke.

The people came from everywhere

To save the horses that were there.

Goshen Fire

An historic barn is now gone,

But, thankfully, the horses all live on,

Thanks to the people with courage true.

Oh, Land of Goshen, how I love you.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,



Watching The Wheels


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.

IMG_1904_3Vanitti 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,







Who Let the Dogs Out?

68 is not old

Here’s something that probably none of you know, and probably none of you care to know, but I’m going to tell you anyway, because that’s the way I roll.  The area of a racetrack that takes the most pounding is the area closest to the rail, because the shortest trip to the finish line is the trip that skims along the rail.  Calvin Burrell won a few Kentucky Derbies by taking his horse on a path that skimmed the rail the entire mile and a quarter.  If you watched those Derbies, you knew that.  What you didn’t know is that racetracks take special precautions to prevent excessive wear and tear on the inside portion of the racetrack during morning workouts.  They put traffic cones on the track to keep horses away from the rail.   When Racing Form clockers report the times of these workouts, they let the racing fans know that the horse was not allowed to skim the rail because “the dogs were out.”  That means, there were traffic cones on the track to prevent the horses from getting too close to the precious rail area.  I have no idea if the Baha men knew this terminology when they wrote their one hit, “Who let the dogs out,” but I’m just passing this information along to my readers to keep them well informed.

 On my birthday last week, Jose Canseco made a guest appearance at Clipper Magazine Stadium in a home run hitting contest against five local amateurs.  Since the five local guys were not major league caliber they put the dogs out.  Traffic cones were placed in the outfield and any ball hit past the cones was considered a home run.  Spoiler alert!  Jose won the contest easily.  Almost every one of his shots went further than the cones, but he only hit a few balls that actually cleared the walls and went out of the park.  Here I should note that it was a humid evening and the ball was just not travelling well.  Jose won the contest, but he was upset that he didn’t show off his power, and man oh man does he have power.  I was only 50 feet away from him, and he looked more like the dinosaur in centerfield than he looked like the other participants.  He was Huge.  I don’t think that he is still doing steroids, but he obviously spends more time in the gym than the library.  So, when the contest was over, he still wanted to hit.  Naturally, they let him.  He just kept hitting until he had whacked enough balls into the stratosphere to make himself happy.

Jose Canseco

They also had the local Women’s Roller Derby stars from the Dutchland Rollers skating around the stadium and I got a picture with my favorite, Vanitti.  


So, that was a good start to my birthday celebration, but it got better.  It was $2 beer night from 6:30 until 8 o’clock.  My activity tracker showed a lot of activity that night between 6:30 and 8, as I raced back and forth from my seat to the beer concession numerous times.

Normally, you can just sit wherever you like, because the stadium is half empty (or half full if you’re an optimist) but not on that night.  In addition to Jose Canseco, and $2 beers, they also gave away complete sets of Barnstormer bubble gum cards, and there were fireworks after the game.  The weather was nice, so the stadium was jammed with the highest attendance they ever had.  Not bad for a team in last place, 10 games out of First Place.

My seat was right in the middle of the row and the family on my right never once complained about having to get up every 15 minutes while I replenished my beer supply.  They didn’t even complain when I got drunk and started messing with them.  The more beers I had the more the guy on the end of the row looked like Danny Glover.  So I kept pointing my camera phone at him asking him to repeat Danny Glover’s signature line from the Lethal Weapon movie, “I’m too old for this shit.”  I took a picture just so you can see the resemblance.  They look very upset in the picture, but that’s just because I caught them by surprise.  They were actually very friendly and nice, and never once called for Security to restrain me.

Put the camera away

 The guy immediately on my right did his absolute best to ignore me as I got drunk and started joking loudly about everything and everyone in the area.  I kept taking pictures of the giant head that was protruding from the seat right in front of me.  I had a great seat, right behind home plate, about 6 rows back, but I was right behind the largest man in Lancaster.  I kept taking pictures of the back of his head trying to make the fellow on my right laugh.  It took a while but James finally cracked up and we joked together for the rest of the ballgame.

The team is still in last place, but there are advantages to that.  They are adding more giveaways and entertainment.  Last night they had Chad the Mad, from Venice, California, who juggled 3 running chainsaws in between innings.  They also had fireworks after the game and after that the premier of a show that will be airing on Fox this Fall called “Pitch.”  The show is about the first woman player in Major League Baseball.  I really enjoyed the commercial-free premier of the show.  I also enjoyed another $2 beer night, and the Barnstormers won big, so it was a great night.

Oh, and before the game, they let the dogs out again.  Well, it was just one dog, Percy, the Frisbee catching wonder dog, who is a fan favorite and a local legend.  Woof Woof.

Go Stormers.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,




She Flies Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease


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Brother X found a slide among our Dad’s stuff converted it into a Jpeg, and sent me a copy.  My Dad took the picture after the very last game the Giants ever played at The Polo Grounds in 1957.  The Dodgers and the Giants both moved to California the next year, and New York didn’t have a National League team until the Mets were born.

It was almost 60 years ago, but I still remember what it felt like going to ball games with my Dad and my Brother.   We went to The Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field, and Yankee Stadium.  My how time flies.  None of those stadiums are still standing, except that the Yankees did build a replacement right across the street with the same name.  The newcomer Mets even wore out a ballpark and no longer play at Shea Stadium.  They’re across the street, too, at a place called Citifield.

Now I spend a lot of time watching the Minor League Lancaster Barnstormers play.  They won the League Championship last year and first place in their division this year, so they’re a good team, even if they do sometimes resemble the early Mets.  They’re currently struggling in the playoffs, though, and need to win the next two games to advance to the Championship series.

The Barnstormers are always running promotions to help boost the attendance.  They have $1 hot dog night on Wednesdays.  Buy one get one burgers on Thursdays, and $2 beers on Fridays.  Plus, they bring in entertainment.  Recently, they had an appearance by Cannonlady.  She’s the daughter of the guy who was known as The Human Cannonball.  She travels around the country with her husband in their cannonmobile and they probably stop at a lot of ballparks and state fairs along the way.

While watching Cannonlady perform, I was reminded of that old song about the daring young man on the flying trapeze.  “He flies through the air, with the greatest of ease, the daring young man on the flying trapeze.”

Thinking about The Old Yankee Stadium, The Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field, and the Human Cannonball, and how they have all been replaced, I was reminded of someone else who notoriously flies through the air with the greatest of ease, Father Time.  The stadiums and the players keep changing, but the game keeps going on.  Such is life.

Go Stormers.

Go Mets.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


For It’s One, Two, Three Strikes…You’re In.

Two Bros at Batting Cage - 01BBrother X Winding  Up - 01B Earl Tossing First Pitch - 01A John Throwing First Pitch - 01A

I never in my life was a power hitter, so I’ve only been able to dream of hitting a baseball over the fence. With that dream in mind, though, I bought two tickets to take batting practice with the local Minor League baseball team, The Lancaster Barnstormers. I gave the second ticket to Brother X, so I would have the added power our sibling rivalry always stirs up. Plus, I’ve been practicing since January. The more I practiced, though, the more I realized that it’s never gonna happen. So I had to revise my Bucket List for my aging body. Now, I’d be satisfied if I was able to hit a baseball so hard that it might bounce and roll all the way to the wall.

Last Saturday was the big day. Brother X was in town, and my Long Beach friends John and Margaret were also here. In addition to the Batting Practice tickets, I also had three tickets to throw out the first pitch at the ballgame that night, so John, Brother X, and I were all scheduled to pitch later that night. That’s one of the advantages of a small town. I doubt you would be able to slip somebody a few bucks and take batting practice with the Yankees, or throw out the first pitch at Citifield.

We arrived at the stadium at 2:30 and joined the others who had tickets for batting practice. They were all young children accompanied by their parents. We were told that the parents would be allowed to sit in the dugout if they signed a waiver. I turned to John and Margaret, “Mom, Dad…would you like to sit in the dugout?”

So, they signed the waiver, and we all got on the field. Only Brother X and I had tickets to bat, but John was allowed to shag fly balls in the outfield. I have to admit that I missed as many as I hit, and I didn’t drive the ones I did hit too far. I did get one good foul ball on the third base side that did roll to the wall, though. So, Mission Accomplished. Brother X, sandbagger that he is, was driving the ball all over the field, and was even calling his shots. “Here’s one for John,” he would say and then hit the ball in John’s direction. John was happily loping around catching everything we hit. The three of us were in our glory.

A few hours, and a few beers later, we were back at the park to throw out the first pitch. Brother X threw a strike. Last year, when I threw out the first pitch, I bounced one in the dirt. So, I aimed for a spot about 10 feet over the catcher’s head and heaved the ball with all my might. My throw was a little wide of the strike zone, but it reached the catcher on a fly. So, I was happy. John then threw a duplicate of the pitch I had thrown. None of us bounced it in the dirt. Go team go.

I didn’t knock any balls over the wall in batting practice, and I didn’t throw a strike on my first pitch, but it still turned out to be an absolutely perfect day, and The Barnstormers topped it off with a 7-4 come-from-behind victory. So, I think I can check off all the baseball items on my bucket list, and next year I’ll have to come up with a different way to entertain my big city friends when they come to my small town. I was thinking that next year I might hire a few Amish guys and we could have buggy races around my block. Wouldn’t that be cool? You can’t do that in New York, except maybe in Central Park.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


The Play is the thing

Chantal Sutherland - 21

I bought so many tickets to 2015 Lancaster Barnstormers games that I get to throw out the first pitch at one of their games and take batting practice with the team at another. I love the way that Lancaster makes me feel like a big fish in a small pond. This is a great opportunity for me. The only problem is that I suck at both pitching and hitting. Plus, I will probably be standing in front of a few thousand Barnstormer fans, and some friends, and I want to do well, but I don’t have any experience. I only played Cub Scout Softball as a kid. I never actually played hardball. So, I need a lot of practice.


It’s winter, and there is snow outside. So, I set up a little infield in my kitchen, and I pitch into a spring-loaded net in the laundry room that sometimes bounces the ball right back to me. They don’t all bounce right back to me, though, and sometimes even when they do, I miss them. So, I keep a big bag of tennis balls on “the pitcher’s mound” and I keep pitching until all the tennis balls are gone. Then I go around looking for them. Rarely do I find them all, so I wind up buying more every so often.


In an unsolicited testimonial, I have to say that those Penn brand tennis balls are worth the extra cost. They bounce well. The ones from the Dollar store, don’t bounce worth a damn. They always scoot under my glove. I no longer have the cat like reflexes of my youth, so I now require tennis balls with the most bounce.


I also bought a Hit-a-way thingee to let me practice my batting, but that has to be set-up outdoors, so I can’t use it until spring. I managed to jury rig a set-up that lets me swing at a stuffed sock hanging from the ceiling, though. I’ll hit that thing about 100 times a day – 50 right handed, and 50 left handed. It probably sounds like I’m beating a rug to death. I wonder what the neighbors above me think. I’ll be glad when spring gets here and I can take this “batting cage” outside. I figure that not having to worry about accidentally letting go of a bat and sending it through the television screen should really open up my swing a good bit.


The rotating of my hips while swinging the bat, is actually helping my arthritic hip regain a little more range of motion. It dawned on me, while pitching in a “virtual close game,” that playing is actually the best thing I can do to achieve better health.


I recently read a book called Play by Stewart Brown, M.D. He stressed the crucial importance of playing for both children and adults. It’s good to know that I am finally ahead of my times in something.


Peace and Love, and all of the above,


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,