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,



50 Cent Vs a Buck Three-Eighty

Earl Walking off Mound - Labled037_37

The day finally arrived for me to throw out the first pitch at a Lancaster Barnstormers’ game. Brother X was in town for the big event, and my friends John and Jim also came in from NY to bear witness. Debbie was also there providing moral support.

Debbie was the first to arrive and we picked up John at the train station around noon. Shortly thereafter we were in my backyard hoisting the first of many beers. I didn’t want to embarrass myself when I threw out the first pitch at 7 p.m. so I alternated between beer and water all afternoon. Brother X and Jim arrived a little later and the party was underway. Then we saw the first flash of lightning and the rain started coming down. We retreated to the porch, while I tried to figure out the odds of it raining every time I invite people to Lancaster.

We sat watching the rain come down for a couple hours and then it cleared up. So, we headed for the ball field. The Barnstormer colors are red and black, but when we got to the game it looked like we were in a sea of green. It turned out that it was Donegal School night and the entire school was there with their parents all wearing green Donegal shirts.

I asked the ticket takers where I was supposed to go because I was throwing out the first ball and they directed me to Section 9, the section behind the Barnstormers dugout. We were seated in section 10, so it was a short walk. I checked in with the guy running things and he asked me my name. My name wasn’t on his list. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling disappointment or relief when he then said, “That’s okay. We’ll get you in.”

It turned out that the Donegal School had several students lined up to throw the first pitch. They introduced the first one, who was a pitcher on the high school team. The green crowd roared as he fired in a strike. Next there was a girl from the school’s girl team. She blazed a fast ball over the plate and the green crowd roared some more.

Next up was a young kid in a wheel chair from the primary school. They positioned him a few yards from the plate and he rolled a strike right over the plate. The green crowd, and everyone else in the stands rose to their feet and went crazy cheering for the young man.

Tough act to follow, but that’s what I had to do. I was next. The green crowd settled down and I could hear Brother X, Debbie, John, and Jim cheering for me. Maybe I should have put that word “cheering” in quotes, because chanting “Let’s go, rag arm,” might not necessarily qualify as a cheer, but I was loving it.

They led me to the mound and I asked if I could cheat a few yards since I was a senior citizen. They told me I could throw from anywhere I liked. I decided that since this might be the only time I would be able to stand on the rubber at a professional ball field, I would pitch from there. I didn’t care if I threw a strike.  I just didn’t want to bounce the ball, so I picked a target about two feet over the catcher’s head, gripped the ball for a fastball and let it fly. It bounced just slightly in front of the plate, just a little outside, and the catcher made a nice scoop to prevent a wild pitch. They gave me the ball as a souvenir, and I returned to my seat.

Brother X was still laughing. “You bounced it. HA HA.”

A while back he threw out the first pitch at a Long Island Ducks game and he practiced for a month beforehand. He threw a strike when he threw out the first pitch, so, he was in a position to gloat. I was just glad that I managed to get the ball to the catcher.

At least the Barnstormers crushed the Ducks in the ball game winning 11-4.

The next day Brother X called me up. “I’m calling to apologize,” he said. “I made fun of your pitching, but you’ve got to be way better than the rapper, Fifty Cent. You could probably be a buck or a buck three-eighty.” I hadn’t heard that expression in decades, a buck three-eighty. When we were kids and somebody asked us how much something cost, we would always say “a buck three-eighty” as a nonsense answer.

I didn’t know why I was being compared to a rapper, so he told me that he was watching the news and Fifty Cent threw out the first pitch at the Mets game last night and missed the plate by about 20 feet. He almost took out a cameraman in the process. My pitch was better by about 19 feet.

So, I’ve already decided to try it again next year, but next time I’m gonna aim 4 feet over the catcher’s head.

I’ll post more pictures when I get them, but until then, here’s the clip of Fifty Cent and his attempt to throw out the first pitch.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,