Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Good Day at the Plate

From Rick Stattler's report on today's contest with the inimitable Brooklyn Atlantics:

The Grays felt fortunate to split today's double-header with the Brooklyn Atlantics in Narragansett. The Atlantics came into the game with a 25-4 record and are by any measure one of the best teams in vintage base ball.

The first game was one of the best-played games of the year, played by the Grays' own 1884 rules in front of an enthusiastic crowd which numbered in the dozens in addition to the usual cluster of family members and retired players. Scott Olson turned in another pitching gem. After years of excellence at third base, center field, shortstop, and catcher, he has become a real star pitcher as well (next he may be tried in right field to test the full range of his talents). Brooklyn countered with some fine work by "Shakespeare" Van Zant. Heading into the ninth inning, the Grays clung to a 5-4 lead. "Tree" Ness, leading off for the Atlantics, took two strikes but then managed to work Olson for a base on balls. He made his way to third base with two outs. His son "Toothpick" Ness then bunted at the ball, blocking it with his bat in such a way that it rolled just a few feet in front of home plate. Pitcher, catcher, batter, first baseman and right fielder converged on the baseline in a confusing throng as "Tree" raced home, a desperate throw to first was made but not held, and thus the score was tied. Bunting at the ball is not a manly approach to batsmanship, of course, but this one was skillfully executed and temporarily saved the day for the Atlantics. With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, E. Bratt led off for Providence with a well-struck hit to left. A wild pitch and a passed ball brought him to third base with one out. Hoffman came to the plate for Providence and sent a stinging line drive directly at the third baseman's feet. Almost no man would have caught that ball, even with futuristic leathern gloves. The third baseman blocked the ball nicely, but it rolled softly to his left as Bratt raced home with the winning run. Final score, 6-5 Providence.

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