The inevitable march of time takes one of two directions during the Catskill Mountain autumn. For some, time slows as single leaves fall gently on warm afternoons and the beginning low-angle sunlight cascades through a forest of warm colors. These folks use words like Crisp, Invigorating, and Nostalgic as the changing season reminds them of a grandfatherly smile and a lover’s embrace against the morning chill.
For others, time suddenly becomes short and their breathing picks up as brains and hands race against the same low-angle rays. Trying desperately to fill their days with the kind of soaking, savoring, and shaping they’ve meant to get around to all summer. Their step picks up, but words like Harried and Furtive dog them, forcing their way around the edges of every bucolic snapshot their mind takes in.
Last Saturday as the Catskill Mountains groaned and stretched after a long summer, and the hills ran rosy with reds, yellows, and oranges, both types gathered for the first annual Cowtown Scramble—Bovina’s very own vintage base ball festival. Across Bovina Valley ran a current of energy—some crisp, some furtive—as four teams prepared to contest the day. Uniforms of deep blue, white, and checkers spread across two ballfields laughed and shook hands and hugged and fretted. But as the sun came out and burned off a heavy dew, one thing was certain: Bovina Valley was alive!
Game one pitted the Dairymen against the Brooklyn Atlantics on field one, in a contest by the rules of 1864—underhand pitching and catching a ball on one hop is an out. As the MAC cruised to an easy victory over an undermanned Delhi squad on field two, the classic contest between age and youth closed its last chapter of the year in spectacular fashion. The silverback Atlantics struck first, and were answered in kind by the young Dairymen artist and leadoff hitter, Alex “AT” Taylor. The teams traded tallies again in the second on singles from Nick “Roughcut” Frandsen and Dan “Hands” Kehrer.
The Atlantics plated two in the fourth, but a Luke “Burns-eye, Jr.” double clawed one back to leave the Dairymen down by one. Blanks in the fifth and sixth, and another tally by Ben “el Gamero” Denison in the seventh tied the ballgame. But the Dairymen faltered, and two errors in the eighth allowed two runners on base for a bases-clearing double by the Atlantics, leaving the score 6-4 in favor of Brooklyn. After squashing a potential Dairymen rally in the bottom of the frame with a clever use of the rules to catch an unsuspecting Joey “the Kid” Yambor off third base. A Jack “Rabbit” single tallied another in the top of the ninth, but the Dairymen rally sputtered there. The final score was Brooklyn 6, Bovina 5.
As Brooklyn filed across the creek to face the MAC in an overhand game by the rules of 1895, the Delhi team filtered back to take on the Dairymen. Needing two players to complete a full roster, Bovina’s Frandsen and Dylan “Hobbes” Tucker volunteered to play with the away squad. But Bovina—playing now by their bread and butter rules of 1895 (overhand pitching)—ran away with the game in the first and never looked back. Sending 16 batters to the plate in the first inning, Bovina plated an even ten runs. Starting on the mound for the first time in a Dairymen uniform, “the Kid” Yambor threw four innings of one-hit baseball to blank the Delhi squad. Adding doubles to the rout were Alan “Pending” Scarpa, “Iron” Mike Brown, and Justin “Juice” Betterley.
“Hobbes” Tucker scored the first Delhi runs in the sixth. After a single, a stolen base, and a sacrifice groundout, “Hobbes” waited patiently off third base for his chance. Eyeing and studying el Gamero’s pitching motion, Tucker took off for home on a pitch he was sure would be in the dirt. He guessed right, and crossed the plate in a flourish of glory to tarnish the Dairymen victory by a single tally. The final score was 14-2. On field two, the MAC cruised to another victory over the Atlantics, keeping them perfect on the day.
SPECIAL THANKS to Health on Wheels food truck for providing the fans and players some sustenance on the day; Susan Burns, Leah Rinaldi, Ariel Burns, and Sarah Burns for running the Dairymen stand; and Rich Tucker and Dennis Aitkins for umpiring.
NEXT AND LAST GAME OF THE SEASON is THIS SUNDAY, October 10th in Bovina. Noon first pitch. Admission, as always, is free. Come watch the Dairymen take on the Mountain Athletic Club in their annual Fall Classic to end the season.