The day dawned innocent, with a fog clinging to the valleys and the sun slowly burning through to the stream beds below. In the fields, farmers took advantage of the year's last stretch of hay weather, and the lush green of the Catskill Mountains began to give way to a twinge of autumn. Reds and oranges and yellows peeked from the tips of maple trees. A crisp excitement was in the air as the boys of summer gathered for their first contest in more than a month.
But all fairy tales must come to the crux of the story wherein lies a wolf, sorceress, or greedy king. Today would be no different.
Playing the sorcerer on this day would be Winston Marquez, a new addition to the Mountain Athletic Club. Recently of Venezuela, Marquez pitched in the minor leagues in his teens and early twenties and by a stroke of magic—good or evil, depending on one’s perspective—a stint working in the United States landed him with family in Fleischmanns. As everyone knows, baseball has a gravity of its own, and before long, Marquez and his bewitching left arm found themselves into a Mountain Athletic Club Uniform to face the Dairymen. A murmur ran through the boys in black and white: who was this man, his family chattering in Spanish as he gracefully warmed his pitching arm?
The teams prepared for the match in their usual fashion, but all eyes remained anxiously aware of the activities of the newcomer; the Dairymen eager to hack their way through whatever thicket he might conjure. So restless did he make the Bovinians, that they were obliged to encourage a little pep in the step of the little leaguer nonchalantly walking to the field to receive an award. One could almost hear Bovina's John "Chico" Finn imitating Tug McGraw, chomping a cigar and winking, whispering--not so softly--something like “A Pee Wee trophy don’t make you no Mariano, kid. How about a little hustle.”
At last, the contest began and Marquez calmly bared his teeth, striking out the first three Dairymen in order. But the Dairymen had brought an answer, and on the pitcher’s plate for the day would be their knight in black and white: Troy “Teabag” Tucker. Dealing smoke from his own left arm, Tucker would keep the Dairymen in the game with a valiant effort through 7+ innings of work.
As the two southpaws dueled, the strikeouts mounted. Like unintroduced characters in an old western they fell as the heroes smote the mere mortals from their perch atop the mound. Solid defense in the second kept the Dairymen off the board, as Ben “el Gamero” Denison attempted to snatch home on a ground ball back to the pitcher, but was gunned down at the plate with a perfect throw to end the inning. An unearned run in the third gave Fleischmanns the lead, 1-0, which they would carry to the sixth.
As the sun tracked a cloudless sky, curses and sweat seeped from both benches. The two lefties—surely the source of at least some of their beguilement—exchanged a smile and some playful banter at the havoc they wrought. But the moment was short-lived, and back to work the Buzzsaw Boys went. Alas, it would be the Dairymen who blinked first.
In the bottom of the sixth, Tucker walked two and struck out the next two. After a single loaded the bases, two Dairymen errors and two MAC base hits allowed six runs to cross the plate in what would prove to be a mortal wound. Only a timely outfield assist from Dan “the Hands Man” Kehrer to catch a runner at the plate would stem the bleeding.
But like all the good guys of tales past, the Dairymen refused to yield until the end! Three runs in the seventh on the back of an “El Gamero” triple and a “Teabag” single allowed the Dairymen to crawl to 7-4. Another Gamero single in the eighth brought Alex “AT” Taylor around to score, and the Dairymen within a single tally. But exhausted, Teabag would load the bases in the eighth and reliever Nick “Roughcut” Frandsen would give the two right back to leave the score at 10-5 entering the last frame.
With their dying gasp, the Dairymen plated just one in the ninth as Justin “Jugo” Betterley scored on a Gary “Burns-eye” Burns double. The heroes fell to the dirt. The villains raised their arms in triumph; this would be no fairy tale day for Bovina. The final score was 10-6, in favor of Fleischmanns, dropping the Dairymen to 12-3 on the year.
MANY THANKS to the fans who came to watch the game and to Jack “Rabbit” Stanton for catching the game through a knee injury.
NEXT GAME is October 2nd in Bovina: the Cowtown Scramble will feature teams from Bovina, Fleischmanns, Delhi, and Brooklyn. Games begin at 11am at 1pm. Admission is free. The Bovina Fire Department chili cookout will follow the ballgames at 5pm and go until sold out.
GAME NOTES. Marquez struck out 19 batters over eight innings, two of whom reached base on a dropped third strike. Tucker struck out 12 over 7+. El Gamero finished the day 3-4 with a triple, all off Marquez. Game attendance was approximately 35. You can find the minor league stats for Marquez at https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=marque001win.