The infamous and ubiquitous ‘they’ say life is 90% maintenance, and 10% everything else. If true, that means adventure, play, and creativity all add up to ten percent of what we do in our lives. Last Saturday, Bovina had a 10% day.
The day dawned with an autumnal crackle—unusual for late July in the Catskills. The previous night’s dew still clinging to the shaded outfield was cold to the touch. Not unpleasantly so—but refreshing. Exciting. New, yet intimate.
The Dairymen filed in, decked in their usual white shirts with black suspenders, but this time they marched with a village at their sides. Wives, girlfriends, and supporters decked in vintage 1890’s Sunday best—generously provided by Kirkside Park--speckled the crowd and sparkled the players' eyes. Parasols shaded, corsets tucked, bonnets shielded, and paper fans flapped as the sounds of a town on holiday floated across Bovina’s Creamery Field. The Fire Department pulled their hand-drawn ladder wagon—circa 1915—and the chief beamed as he shook hands wearing in his grandfather’s uniform. The smell of cooking sausages played on the fans’ senses. The umpire paced, face shaded by a broad straw hat.
At last, the titans of Delaware County Vintage Base Ball would meet in the '21 campaign. The Fleischmanns Mountain Athletic Club and the Bovina Dairymen had not played this year—following a pandemic-induced, geographically contained last season that saw the two clubs play only each other—and the two had grown to miss the other's familiarity. There is a comfort in finding a fresh wrinkle buried in an old flame, and today was filled with anticipation for the old adversaries. The stage was set. The show began.
Bovina lost the coin toss and by the rules of 1895, was obliged to play as the away squad on their own turf. The Dairymen bats struck in the first, plating three runs on a double off the cow-painted bat of Troy “Teabag” Tucker. But the MAC caught Nick “Cap” Frandsen napping on the basepath to stem the bleeding. For the next few frames, the game settled into a pitcher’s duel between “Teabag” and the always-crafty Devon “Beeds” Bedient. Thanks to a hidden ball trick by veteran MAC third baseman Franklin “Chopper” Davis, the MAC held Bovina to zero runs in the fourth after Bovina loaded the bases with only one out. After four, the score sat at 3-2, Dairymen.
But a single in the fifth by John “Chico” Finn put two runners in scoring position, and another single from Alan “Pending” Scarpa plated both to put Bovina up 5-2. As the scrappy Fleischmanns squad threatened in the bottom of the fifth, catcher “Jack-of-Diamonds” Stanton caught a runner stealing—a difficult and notable feat in an 1895-era game—to squelch the rally. The Dairymen plated three more in the top of the sixth on singles from Dan “the Hands Man” Kehrer and Joey “the Kid” Yambor to pull ahead 8-2, while another spectacular defensive play kept the MAC at bay in the bottom. With two on and one out, and the MAC middle lineup on deck, third baseman Dylan “Hobbes” Tucker attempted a diving catch, failed, recovered, stepped on third, and fired to first for an inning-ending double play. One could hear the air escape from the Fleischmanns bench, and the Bovina players felt at ease enough to look to their sweethearts and wink.
In the seventh the Dairymen blew the game open: sending nine batsmen to the plate en route to five runs while chasing the MAC starting pitcher. Mike “South Beach” Brown, Alex “da Vinci” Taylor, and Justin “Jazzy” Betterley scored for Bovina to put the game well in hand.
Twisting the knife in the final innings, two Dairymen originals each put a cherry on the sundae. Left-handed slugger Luke “Burns-eye” Burns hit the first ever home run at Creamery Field in the eighth, and touching them all, his smile could be seen from Lee Hollow to the Butt End. But saving the smoothest for last, left field fixture Ben “el Gamero” Denison ended the game with an assassin’s cool. Racing in to make a catch on a pop fly, Denison came up like an Olympic spear thrower; firing a perfect one-hop to “Burns-eye, Sr.” Burns at first base to double off the careless runner. All that remained to complete the archetype was for Denison to nonchalantly flick his cigarette and walk away as the building exploded.
The final score was 14-3, Dairymen. As the victors dispersed for discreet kisses behind hand fans, the day beamed with one-in-ten gratification. It was indeed, one for the books.
GAME NOTES. Game attendance was approximately 120. “Teabag” Tucker struck out ten over seven innings; “Cap” Frandsen faced only six batters in two relief innings pitched. Ryan Nethery umpired a fine game in his first-ever match, even though he called those two low strikes on the author in the sixth.
SPECIAL THANKS to all our supporters who made the day possible. Especially, but not exclusively: Susan Burns, Wendy Buerge, Julia Burns, Marilyn Derr, Sarah Burns, Jack Burns, and Leah Rinaldi. An additional tip of the cap to the Bovina Fire Department, Kevin Brown, and Mark Rossley. Finally, to our photographers Amelia Taylor and PJ Harmer: you are the reason we can all have a warm smile looking back at the weekend. Cheers.
NEXT GAME is August 14th at the Canal Days Festival in Little Falls, NY.