On Saturday, the Bovina Dairymen traveled to Long Island and took two games from the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, improving their record to 6-1 on the season. Brooklyn dropped to 19-5.
The day dawned not just hot, but oppressive. It was one of those days where the atmosphere smothers any movement from those who have the option to avoid it, and makes taking a deep breath seem like pouring ten pounds of sand in your shoes. As the sun rose, even the mosquitoes decided to take the day off. With heavy rain and thunderstorms predicted at 90%, every ballplayer on both teams prayed for a shower.
The first game was a seven-inning contest played by the overhand pitching rules of 1895—the Dairymen bread-and-butter. The Men from the Mountains jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the first with singles from Nick “the Stick” Frandsen, Luke “Burns-eye” Burns, and Troy “Train” Tucker. However, the Atlantics answered with three tallies of their own in the bottom of the frame off Dairymen Ace “Train” Tucker, and the several sharply hit balls off the normally unassailable Tucker only added to the Dairymen sweat.
But the Dairymen bats kept pace with the heat, and Bovina would go on to plate at least one run in every inning except the third. Three times the Dairymen led off an inning with an extra base hit—once each by L. Burns, Ben “the Gamer” Denison, and Dylan “Hobbes” Tucker—and seven of nine Dairymen would go on to score at least once. The Tucker boys would lead the charge at the plate: Troy finished the game 4-5 with four singles and four runs scored, while older brother Dylan finished 4-4 with a double and a walk. Rounding out the Dairymen offense were backstop Brenden “Bona-fide” Cairns (1-4, 1B, HBP), leadoff man Alex “AT” Taylor (2-4, BB), second baseman Gary “Bird’s-Eye” Burns (1-5), and first baseman and all-around gamer Ben “Diesel” Cairns (1-4, BB). Diesel Cairns played both games with a torn ACL. A tip of the cap to you, Sir.
However, literally pouring out the brunt of the Dairymen effort inning after inning was the Dairymen battery: Train Tucker to Bona-fide Cairns. On a day in which the rain would threaten but never come; on a day that peaked at a shoulder-sagging 93 degrees; through the effects of a night spent dancing on the town; Tucker mowed down the opposition, allowing zero runs after first inning. Tucker pitched a complete game with 11 strikeouts, and through it all, Bona-fide Cairns wore the tools of ignorance without so much as a sigh. Our hats are off to you, gentlemen.
The Dairymen took the first game by a score of 15-3 and both teams took a much-needed breather to rest in the shade. Team Mom Susan “Steadfast” Burns ran to the local market to procure fruit and water for the boys. Thanks, Mom.
Play resumed after a 20-minute “cooldown,” but this time the game would be played by the Atlantics’ specialty: the underhand-pitching rules of 1864. In a close game that featured two ties, three Dairymen three-and-outs, and a Bird’s Eye Burns run scored, it would take everything Bovina had to cross the last frame with the win. The Dairymen scored two in the first behind singles from L. Burns, T. Tucker, and Brenden Cairns. But nipping at the Dairymen heels all game, the Atlantics answered right back with two of their own. The Black-and-White went scoreless until the fourth, when a leadoff single from Brenden Cairns turned into a run on a long fly ball from D. Tucker. The entire Dairymen bench held its breath as catcher Brenden Cairns came up lame as he crossed the plate, but the gritty young man played on until the last mark was in the sweat-stained pages of the book. You, Sir, make me proud to play this game.
The Dairymen plated two more in the fifth, with L. Burns swatting a 2-RBI single to bring in G. Burns and Frandsen. With the score opening at 5-2, the Atlantics answered right back with three of their own in the top of the sixth to tie the game at five. After a scoreless top of the seventh, the top of the Dairymen order came to the plate. After AT Taylor reached on an error, Bovina Captain Frandsen swatted an RBI double to right-center field and scored on an L. Burns single that caromed off the famous Oak tree in right field. That would prove enough, as the Dairymen held on to prevail, 7-5.
Each and every one of our hats are off to a tough Brooklyn team, who played through the same Louisiana swamp heat to finish the game in style. Thanks for hosting us, gentlemen.
Final notes. Atlantics Park, located at the Smithtown Historical Society, boasts a stunningly beautiful ball-field. With a massive Oak tree guarding the right field line (half in fair play and half in foul), a group of trees deep in right-center, a small grandstand, a period-accurate backstop, and the proximity and benevolence of the Historical Society, Atlantics Field should be considered among the gold standards of northeastern Vintage Base Ball fields. In the second game, AT Taylor made a spectacular play on a caromed ball off the fair side of the Oak tree to quell a potential Atlantics rally.
Lastly, to all those who made the trip downstate, I say a heartfelt thank you. Travel games are not cheap and take time, but your participation makes this all worth it.
Next game is Bovina Day, July 20th at high noon. Overhand vs the MAC. Who is IN and who is OUT?
Captain, Bovina Dairymen