Reposted from “A Manly Pastime-A Base Ball History Blog”
By John Z.
Battle at Bethpage
Base ball, of course, has no birthplace, but vintage base ball is of, well, more recent vintage so more is know about its origins. My good friend Eric Miklich once told me that Old Bethpage Village on Long Island is the place where the on-the-field recreation of the early game began and while Eric isn’t always right, he’s never in doubt. The game continues to be played at this restored village including a four team tournament in April and a much larger two day event in early August. Saturday marked the renewal of the four team, one day tournament known as the New York – New Jersey Cup. I believe for some time the Neshanock were the only participating New Jersey club joining the New York Mutuals (the home team) plus some other New York clubs, most frequently the Gotham Club of New York. However when the Hoboken Nine starting participating, I think three years ago, it became a more geographically balanced field with the two New Jersey clubs playing each of their New York counterparts.
The Neshanock won the 2013 version, I believe, the first time, a New Jersey club took the cup home and retained it last year when the 2014 event was rained out. So Saturday saw the Neshanock and Hoboken Clubs making the journey out to Old Bethpage under sunny and warmer than usual conditions. In their first match, the Neshanock drew the Gothams who fielded a very strong team, bringing back a number of their fine players from prior years. As with last week’s Neshanock-Resolutes game it was a well played, relatively low scoring match especially given it’s still early in the season. This was, in fact, the Gothams first match of 2015.
The pitching and defense of both squads was so strong that no tallies were scored until the top of the fourth when the Gothams scored two aces. Flemington quickly cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning and after blanking the Gothams in the top of the fifth, scored three times for a 4-2 lead after five. The New York club also answered quickly tying the score at 4-4, but the Neshanocks regained the lead in the bottom of the inning and led 5-4 after six. Strong pitching and continued good defense kept the Gothams off the score board in the 7th and 8th while Flemington added three more runs for a 8-4 lead headed to the ninth. However, the Gothams are always dangerous and no one on the Neshanocks was entirely comfortable even after there were two out with one on. Two straight hits plated two runs before a ground out ended the game for a 8-6 Flemington victory. Danny “Batman” Shaw, Mark “Gaslight” Granieri and Chris “Low Ball” Lowry led the Neshanock attack with three hits apiece. Right behind this trio were Tom “Thumbs” Hoepfner, Brad “Brooklyn” Shaw and Scott “Snuffy” Hengst with two each. The Neshanock defense backed up “Brooklyn’s” strong pitching, making only two errors over the course of the match.
The Neshanock’s second contest was with the host club, the New York Mutuals who had topped the Hoboken Nine, 16-14 in the other morning match. With the two morning winners playing in the afternoon contest, it was a winner take all affair. Flemington continued to support strong pitching with good defense, but this time the Neshanock offense also got going scoring nine times in the first two innings for a 9-2 lead, adding one more in the fourth to lead 10-2 after five. In the last four innings Flemington broke things open scoring 11 times while holding the Mutuals to only two more tallies for a convincing 21-4 triumph in a successful defense of the Cup. Every Neshanock player made at least two hits with five different players getting three apiece. Included in the latter group were Dave “Illinois” Harris, Rene “Mango” Marerro and Tom “Thumbs” Hoepfner who joined “Gaslight” and “Low Ball” who repeated their feat of the morning game. Both “Mango” and “Thumbs” hit home runs in the contest. All told the Neshanock left only five runners on base, but, in this case, that’s not as positive a statistic as it might seem as five of Flemington’s nine at bats ended with a base runner making the last out.
In the other afternoon match, the Gothams defeated the Hoboken Club 21-9. It was a good day of base ball under pleasant, but a trifle warm conditions. The Neshanock are, obviously, very pleased to retain the Cup and look forward to a return visit to Old Bethpage, the beginning of August. Off to their best start in years, with a 4-1 record, next Saturday, Flemington journeys to Monmouth University for a match with some college students.