On Saturday, all three Delaware County teams—the Fleischmanns Mountain Athletic Club, Bovina Dairymen, and Delhi Vintage Base Ball Association—gathered together for the first time. The Delaware County Historical Association, which usually hosts a Civil War reenactment, instead hosted a round robin of baseball played by the rules of 1864.
The edges of the field still hosting farm equipment tucked out of the way, the day dawned with a heavy summer smell—leftover moisture clinging in the air from the wettest July in living memory. The game would be a throwback for the Dairymen and MAC, who began their careers playing in the County’s hayfields, and have both since built home fields that would be the envy of any town ballteam. But last Saturday the three teams filtered past the pet cemetery’s Lilac field to a freshly cut patch, nestled between the historic Frisbee House and the local lumber yard. Thick hay stalks chopped at five inches crunched beneath spikes and shoes and the hum of the crowd.
Striking early and often, the Dairymen (playing here the Union Army of 1864—experienced, provisioned, high morale, and all too ready ready for a frontal assault) would club their way to two wins on the day in front of the vocally pro-Delhi crowd. In game one, Bovina kept an early lid on a scrappy Delhi squad—allowing only a single run through five innings. Home runs in the first frame by Troy “Teabag” Tucker and Nick “Roughcut” Frandsen put Bovina up by four, and the Dairymen never looked back. Two more in the third on the strength of an Alan “Pending” Scarpa double; and four more in the fifth put Bovina up 11-1 after five.
Delhi (playing the Confederates in this story—newly formed, long haired, bare-footed, and hopelessly outgunned) battled back with four in the sixth, but their Gettysburg would come in the bottom of the frame in the form of five tallies from the backside of the Dairymen order. Singles from John “Chico” Finn, Justin “Jazzy” Betterley, and Gary “Burnsie” Burns put the suspendered squad back up 16-5. Slipping doubles through an eyehole, “Iron” Mike Brown and Alex “AT” Taylor sealed the day for the Dairymen. Using their superior experience to keep a heel on the Delhi squad, Bovina stemmed and sealed and squashed. Aggressive baserunning from Joey “the Kid” Yambor (who got himself into and out of a pickle for the second game in a row), a hidden ball trick from “Pending” Scarpa (bringing him even on the year), and yet another three-hit game from Jack “Of All Trades” Stanton (he was also Valedictorian in high school, c’mon) sent the Dairymen to a 20-12 victory, and Delhi into Reconstruction.
But game two featured a hot and bothered Delhi squad itching for their first win on the season, and indeed, of their existence. Formed just this spring, Delhi has been swatted around by the more experienced Bovina and Fleischmanns teams in all their outings this year. But fate—and momentum—would smile on them in game two, as they built on a five-run ninth against the Dairymen to catch the Mountain Athletic Club flat-footed. Delhi hit the gas and never let up en route to their first win ever, by a score of 17-8. Congratulations, fellas.
Game three saw the MAC take on the Dairymen in a classic Frenemy situation. The two squads have played at least a thousand games against each other over the years, learning and playing tricks on each other since the misty times of baseball lore. Unfortunately for the MAC, they would trick themselves into an early hole they couldn’t dig out of. Committing six errors over the first three innings is never a good look, but neither is giving up a big inning after your opponent spots you six outs, and steam poured from both benches as dehydration and frustration and a few other “tions” (pronounced “shuns”) got the better of some team elders who shall not be named.
But cooler heads prevailed and the game marched on as the top of the Dairymen order put up some silly lines. Jack “Hammer” Stanton stayed hot at the plate, going 4-6 with a home run and two doubles. “Teabag” Tucker also hit a dinger and a double, and latecomer Dan “the Hands Man” Kehrer collected four hits while scoring three runs and dating my sister and having the easiest smile of all time. Turns out he also does it all. But the tail end of the order held up theirs as well, as “Jazzy-J” Betterley and “Burnsie” both collected their first extra base hits of the year and the Dairymen careened their way to a 22-16 victory.
NEXT GAME is THIS SATURDAY, July 31st at Noon in Bovina, versus the MAC.
GAME NOTES. For the first time in his Dairymen career, “Chico” Finn failed to register a productive out. “Roughcut” Frandsen and “el Gamero” Denison are in the market for new nicknames. Game attendance was approximately 85. Hotdogs eaten was approximately 100. Special thanks to the Reporter for the photos.