Updated: Apr 1, 2021
One of the best parts about playing vintage baseball is the parks we get to play in. Each one is different, and almost all have their own quirk, as I imagine the old-timers must have had to deal with. Especially in rural areas, ballfields were often a few recently hayed acres or the year’s fallow field. In keeping with tradition, the fields of Delaware County are much as they would have been years ago: each with their own personality.
Roxbury’s Kirkside Park boasts perhaps the most idyllic ball-field around. Stone-lined streams snake under wooden bridges, strategically placed trees provide a perfect shade-sun mix, and the manicured turf is unrivaled in any park in Delaware County. But it is the home run tree in right-center field that makes Kirkside special. The Delaware County version of the Green Monster—a forest—gives power-hitting lefties a short porch to aim for, so the Roxbury came up with a solution: right of the tree with the birdhouse is a ground-rule double; left of the tree, touch ‘em all.
In Bovina, the field fits the town: McIntosh’s Flats (generously donated for the afternoon of Bovina Day by Mollie Brannan-Spangenberg) is a hayfield. How fitting that the Bovina Dairymen’s home turf sustains cows the other 364 days per year, and is perfectly perched aside another sign of Bovina’s dairy resurgence: The Bovina Creamery. Indeed, one must walk to the game and leave their wagon aside, in keeping the impact to the field to a minimum. I can think of no more proper field for our team.
And then there is the pumpkin patch at Taste of the Catskills. Perched in left-center field, the pumpkin patch has provided the fall classic at Maple Shade Farms with its own piece of folklore. A bane to outfielders and a boon to power-hitting righties, the patch gives spectators and teams a piece of agricultural mannerism to smile at—at least while their own side is at the plate.
It was in the pumpkin patch that the Dairymen won the day on a gorgeous fall afternoon, last October 7, 2018. Playing by the rules of 1864, the Dairymen plated 28 runs—mostly in the later innings—to best their longtime rivals, the Mountain Athletic Club. Dragging the Dairymen record to 4-3 on the year were shortstop Luke Burns and third baseman Dylan Tucker, who both posted absurd lines. Burns was 7 for 8 with a triple, three doubles, six runs scored, and quite literally countless RBIs. D. Tucker was also 7 for 8, with three doubles and five runs scored. Many of the Dairymen's extra base hits came via the pumpkin patch, where outfielders watch the ball—instead of their feet—at their own peril.
Appropriately, Burns ended the game—and the season—with a one-handed catch on a line drive up the middle. Three cheers, gentlemen. It’s a pleasure to know you.
Rounding out the Dairymen onslaught in a game where the Dairymen scored 17 of their runs with two outs were Alex Taylor (3-8, 3R), Troy Tucker (4-7, 4R), Nick Frandsen (3-7, 2 2B, 3R), left fielder and pumpkin patch navigator extraordinaire Ben Denison (3-7, 3B, 2 2B), Ben Cairns (2-7, R), Marissa Fairgrieve (nee Tucker) (2-5, R), and Gary Burns (3-6, 2R).
Center fielder Troy Tucker provided perhaps the finest defensive play of the Dairymen season in the middle innings. After Tucker was unable to handle a long drive to center by MAC catcher and Vintage Base Ball Badboy Devon Bedient, “Troy-boy” Tucker regained his footing and fired home as Shoeless Dave MacClintock rounded third. The throw was the kind of one-hopper to home plate that coaches tell their little league teams about: hit the cut…unless you’ve got an arm like that. The ball arrived right on the money, and catcher Frandsen was able to put the tag on a diving MacClintock in the nick of time. This quelled a potential MAC rally and put the game firmly in Dairymen hands the rest of the way. The Dairymen would go on to prevail, 28-8.
It was also a family day: this year’s fall classic marked the first time that all three Tucker children—Dylan, Troy, and Marissa—have dressed and played together. Brothers Luke Burns and Nick Frandsen took the field with father Gary Burns, and catcher Brenden Cairns, home from college, got to watch his big brother Ben help the Dairymen to a winning record.
Thank you to all who made this season of Dairymen baseball possible. The list is too long, but a few key supporters are worth mentioning here: Susan Burns, Erica Cantwell, Mollie Brannen-Spangenberg, Tim Harlo Bray, Chuck Ciccarello, Jason Stanton, Wendy Bee, and Collin Miller. From the tip of our caps, all our thanks.
Sincerely, Nick Frandsen Captain, Bovina Dairymen