Mackinac Island, Michigan . . .The northern Michigan islet jewel best known for its horses, bicycles and fudge lately welcomed Rochester’s anachronistic base ball stewards, the Rochester Grangers. The Grangers were keen to return to the reputed site of the oldest base ball field in Michigan, where from home plate a striker can observe a tapestry of sailboats bobbing on a canvas of blue.
Once again led by ex-officio Mackinac vizier and local bon vivant, Phil “Pops” Porter, the Never Sweats presented a lineup featuring several local celebrities and play-for-hire rapscallions, the most notable being one John “Ratso” Hiller. The latter, an itinerant mercenary and former professional hurler for the Detroit Tigers Base Ball Club, is known both for his devastating slider and an ability to pitch on two hours sleep.
The Grangers, captained by Scott “Chooch” Westgate, hoped by striking first to mute the enthusiasm of the Never Sweats and their vocal acolytes. The highly partisan islander rooters were bolstered by a lively brass band and one hundred Boy Scouts, who governed both ingress and egress to the sold out event. John “Cowpie” Soma, a Rochester expatriate and semi-permanent resident at the Grand Hotel, was on hand to reprise his role as umpire for the event, dispensing his own brand of ballistic justice.
Once underway, the exhibition assumed the character of a bombastic conflagration, with the Grangers strikers providing most of the firepower. Home runs by strongmen Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert and Kevin “Six Shooter” Straub staked the plucky visitors to an early lead, delighting a hardy Rochester delegation who had made the journey by carriage, caravan and flotilla. Heading into the ninth inning, the Grangers had built a commanding eleven to three advantage.
It was then that the Never Sweats mounted a frenzied bouleversement, tallying four aces to raise the collective hopes of the entire archipelago. Granger defensive maneuvers served to quell the uprising, soothing the nerves of their perseverating mastermind, Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, in the process. When the aces were tallied, the suspendered stalwarts found themselves on the upward side of an eleven to seven final accounting. Drawn to a Main Street tavern by the ghosts of base ball’s Valhalla, the Grangers offered a hearty “Huzzah!” to Mackinac, as they watched ferry boats disappear into the night.
Douglas ‘Moonlight” Otlewski contributed this Granger up date in the writing style used in the late 1800s.