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Somewhere in the Midwest. . .

Taking advantage of a lull before the onset of the fall harvesting season, Rochester’s vintage ambassadors lately embarked on a base ball pilgrimage to ballistic outposts throughout the territory. A memorable ride on an express stagecoach brought the Grangers to Huntington, Indiana, where they gave a tutorial to the locals on the fundamentals of the game. On a perfect day befitting a tintype postcard, Hoosier hospitality ruled as the suspendered stalwarts were treated to a double header of base ball, as well as a picnic lunch.

A two-day sojourn to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, was next on the itinerary, where the Grangers competed in the World Tournament of Historic Base Ball. The event featured top-flight competition amongst twelve of the finest nines east of the Mississippi, as well as a keen opportunity to hobnob with celebrity Village residents. Among those was inventor Thomas Edison, who demonstrated a new method to create light in a tiny globe he called an “incandescent bulb.” Flinty field marshal Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay seemed clearly taken with the amusement, but noted its probable limited use given modern society’s easy access to candles. At a nearby bicycle shop, Kelvin “Hawkeye” Rosonke encountered a brotherly duo discussing an improbable plan to build a new-fangled flying machine called the “aeroplane.”

Back on the road, the Grangers concluded their month-long peripeteia with a match in Royal Oak, Michigan, against their old friends, the Wahoos. The exercise grounds, located adjacent to Old Woodward Avenue, permitted access for those inclined to observe a multitude of experimental gas-combustion chariots in a parade called the “Dream Cruise.” The juxtaposition of the roaring, noxious highway machinery stood in contrast to the sights and sounds of the bucolic game, thereby distinguishing the inherent appeal of the respective pursuits.

Concluding their junket with a sumptuous smorgasbord put on by the locals, the Grangers took a moment to reflect on the universal appeal of the Nation’s newest pastime. A postlude salute to their hosts of their a capella tome, “For the Love of the Game,” punctuated the afternoon festivities, prompting commendation from music aficionados and toe-tappers alike. As the boys of summer loaded up the buckboards, all agreed it was time to come home.

1
Aug

Grangers Conquer Mackinac Island

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John Hiller & MoonlightMackinac 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.

16
May

Grangers Tally a Hit in Season Opener

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After a long winter of discontent vintage base ball has returned to center stage at Van Hoosen Farm. Assuming the role of live-action museum pieces themselves, the Rochester Grangers and Royal Oak Wahoos recently had occasion to demonstrate the nations’ newest pastime according to prevailing nineteenth century rules and sensibilities.

On an unseasonably chilly afternoon the Grangers took the field in their traditional black and ivory zibeline, an iconic look long regarded as the acme of vintage sartorial splendor. Keen to complete his game day rounds at the Farm’s adjacent milking stall, flinty firebrand Patrick “Barnbraiser” McKay was confident in pronouncing both cows and players fit for duty, taking care to inspect the condition of each in equal measure. On hand to greet the suspendered stalwarts were a hardy conglomerate of cranks, including youngsters Maxim Olijnyk and Chase “Bear” Walters, the latter who came to cheer on his father from his mobile seat of repose.

After a sluggish start in which Grangers bats appeared to be encased in ice exhumed from a previous inter-glacial epoch, the hometowners came to life. Long hits by Dave “Nails” Mallmann, Don “Scrap Iron” Kowalski and the Brothers Prasatek plated a sextet of aces in the fourth inning, opening the calf-barn door to a hickory salvo seldom seen at the stony-walled confines. Meanwhile Granger hurler Pat “Tumbleweed” Mayette kept the visitors off balance, at one point nabbing a surprised Wahoo baserunner who had wandered a bit too far from first sack. Notwithstanding the unbalanced ledger on the tallykeeper’s board, both nines were commended for the fine ginger and gentlemanly comportment displayed throughout the match.

With their ballistic exercises completed, the Rochesters then saluted their guests with song and sustenance, hosting a postprandial calf-barn soiree that included a scrumptious smorgasbord of mutton, mustard greens and pulpatoon. As daylight waned and the participants slowly made their way to their homesteads, the townsfolk savored the advent of spring and the return of base ball.

Douglas ‘Moonlight” Otlewski contributed this Granger up date in the writing style used in the late 1800s. As always, we thank our sponsor, Chadd’s Pizza. The Grangers invite the public to attend their next match at Van Hoosen Farm on June 19 at 1:00 p.m., against the Lumber City Club of Flint. For further information on the entire schedule please call the Museum at (248) 656-4663 or circumnavigate the new-fangled web at www.rochestergrangers.org.

 

0318121416aRochester, Michigan . . .The sweet sound of hickory meeting horsehide has begun to reverberate from Van Hoosen Farm, signaling the arrival of another vintage base ball campaign.  The Rochester Grangers, our local practitioners of the nation’s game, have lately resumed their ballistic enterprises according to gentlemanly rules in vogue before professionals ruled the day.

After last season’s sterling performance, the Grangers have responded to the clarion call of their hypertrophied yet babblative field marshal, Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, who has posted a schedule of training maneuvers.  Laying aside their farm implements, the Rochesters hope to shake off the torpor occasioned by the quietude of winter, reacquainting their dormant muscles with the demands of the game.  To that end, nimble- footed Scott “Chooch” Westgate, in an effort to promote team speed and flexibility has again offered his popular clogging workshop.  Others, under the tutelage of Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert, have taken to roping cattle to stay in top condition.

In addition to the home schedule, caravans are planned to base ball outposts such as Mackinac Island, Bay City and Columbus, Ohio.  The home itinerary features an opener against Royal Oak on May 15, and will include a twilight tilt on June 23 against the Port Huron Welkins:

May 15           Royal Oak Wahoos, 1:00 p.m.

May 28           Heritage Days Exhibition at Halbach Field, 1:00 p.m.

June 19          Flint Lumber City BBC, Father’s Day Game, 1:00 p.m.

June 23          Port Huron Welkins, 6:30 p.m.

July 31            Bay City Independents, 1:00 p.m.

 With the season fast approaching, the Grangers invite the townsfolk to Van Hoosen Farm to come see base ball the way it was meant to be played, for fresh air and exercise, according to the rules and customs of 1864.

 

 As always, we thank our sponsor, Chadd’s Pizza

 

29
Sep

Ninth Annual Granger Golf Outing A Success!

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Grangers at 2015 Ohio Cup

Grangers at 2015 Ohio Cup

Ray Township, Michigan . . .After being held hostage for two years in a lead lined hermetically sealed storage vault at the well-defended Straub Compound, the Rochester Grangers coveted Chili Open Golf Trophy was liberated this Sunday past. Riding the hot hand of newly christened Don “En Fuego” Kowalski, Team Moonlight interrupted the reign of Team Six-Shooter with a seven under par, three shot victory at scenic Wolcott Mills Golf and Country Club.

 
Claiming second place (with too many Johnsons to name) was Team Cueball at four under par. Third place went to Team Six-Shooter, with the General and his minions finishing fourth.

High stakes parimutuel betting was rumored to have taken place, but on the advice of counsel could not be confirmed by the participants.

Proving he could do more than hit line drives at the stony-walled confines, winning Co-Captain “Frenchy LaFrance” delivered a sterling acceptance speech and celebrated his impending German deportation by jumping in the pond adjacent to the eighteenth hole.

Congratulations are in order to all sixteen players who attended on another perfect fall day, as well as to Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert who arranged the venue but stayed home to trim his bushes.   The newly remodeled trophy, which most players in the field have never seen, will now be on display at the Museum.

11
Sep

Grangers Bid Vintage Season Adieu

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Henri "Frenchy" LaFrance and his wife Mary.

Henri “Frenchy” LaFrance and his wife Mary.

It was a bittersweet moment when the curtain fell on a long-running base ball act, the Rochester Grangers, who concluded play at Van Hoosen Farm with a match against the La-De-Dahs of Greenfield Village. Keen to reprise their recent success at the World Tournament of Vintage Base Ball, the Grangers welcomed one of the largest crowds of the season. With spectators conspicuously lining the baselines and the split rail fence, shade and a bird’s eye view were in short supply.

Correctly auguring the coin toss, the Grangers eschewed popular convention and elected to strike first. The benefits proved immediate as the Rochesters tallied a pair of aces to take an early lead. The Dearborns were quick to retaliate however, knotting the score with a doublet of their own. As the match progressed it was apparent that scoring chances would be at a premium as propulsion of the mottled orb became increasingly difficult.  

With the Grangers clinging to a four to three lead in the eighth inning, Scott “Chooch” Westgate employed a daring baserunning strategy predicated on the art of surprise. Known more for his prodigious power than speed, the aforementioned Mr. Westgate proceeded on consecutive pitches to steal second and third base. The unscheduled walkabout unsettled the visitor’s hurler as well as the Grangers’ histrionic high commander Patrick “Barn Raiser” McKay, who was tempted to calm his nerves with a sip from his private medicinal recipe. The stealthy advance appeared well-considered when Mike “Cue Ball” Johnson followed with a liner to the longfield, providing a supplemental tally in a game the Rochesters would win by a final five to three accounting.

 Honorees for the day included Henri “Frenchy” La France, who announced a plan to move to Germany to pursue his dream of a career in moat maintenance and drawbridge design. Also donning the coveted RG for the day was ten-year-old Noah Murray, who impressed the assemblage with his enthusiastic turn as bat boy.

 A week hence the intrepid ballists, ignoring simmering hostilities arising out of a long-standing territorial border dispute, traveled to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the two-day Ohio Cup Tournament. Doing justice to their reputations, the Grangers won five of six matches while demonstrating their trademark civility and demeanor.

 Their season concluded, the suspendered stalwarts must now exchange the cudgel and spheroid in favor of the plow and sickle, and look forward to spring when the crack of the bat will once again herald the return of base ball to Van Hoosen Farm.

10
Aug

Grangers Prevail in Wild Finish

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The Rochester Grangers Vintage Base Ball Club lately packed up their buck boards and headed north, serving as special guestsfor a celebration honoring the YMCA of Flint. The ballistic soiree, held on the majestic grounds of old Camp Copneconic, included the Lumber City Base Ball Club of Flint who were keen to test their mettle against the visitors from Van Hoosen Farm. Pressing farm duties and injuries limited the Rochester deployment to nine players, a few of whom appeared courtesy of day passes from the local infirmary.

The match began under a sweltering sky sculpted by moving thunder clouds. With a view overlooking scenic Lake Copneconic, the exercise grounds were laid out on a narrow escarpment bordered by a buggy path and wooded canopy. The compacted boundary presented a challenge to the prompt retrieval of base balls, which were of limited supply and quality. Before the Grangers had unfurled their banner, the Lumbermen struck for a quartet of aces to establish an early lead. Midway through the match, the Rochester’s prospects appeared to be dim when the arrival of an antediluvian downpour suddenly halted play, forcing the clubs to bivouac under a makeshift canvas. The unscheduled respite seemed to revive the Granger daubers and wake their slumbering bats.

Spurred by a home run by Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert, the Grangers rallied in the seventh inning to close an eight run deficiency, only to lose ground again to the upset-minded Flintmen. Then, inspired by the valorous grit and gumption displayed by Craig “Slappy” Prasetek and Scott “Chooch” Westgate, the visitors made their advance. The Granger strongmen, eschewing treatment for injuries suitable for detailed description only in a medical journal, contributed a pair of doubles to foment a late inning comeback. Rallying for four aces in their final turn at bat, the Grangers erased a two run shortfall in the process, hanging on by a final score of nineteen to seventeen.    

Spectators and participants alike were effusive in their praise for the demonstration, including the gentlemanly demeanor of the captains, who at the behest of the umpire resolved by amicable agreement a close play at home plate.   As the Grangermen made their way homeward they were able to reflect on the memories and friendships freshly made and renewed, savoring their role as ambassadors for the nation’s newest pastime.

20
Jul

Torrid Temperatures Ignite Granger Bats

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July 20 – Fresh off a month-long sojourn to base ball hotbeds situated in Port Huron, Dearborn and Bay City, Michigan, the Rochester Grangers lately returned to the stony-walled environs of Van Hoosen Farm. Awaiting the ballists on a sultry mid-summer afternoon were an appreciative assemblage of cranks in search of baseball, shade and a breeze. Providing the opposition were the formidable Wyandotte Stars Base Ball Club.

Perhaps rekindling unused fireworks left over from the Borden Park Independence Day conflagration, the Grangers lit the fuse on a first inning hitting explosion that left the Stars seeing stars. Striking first, the Rochesters began with a parade of blows seldom seen on the exercise grounds, propelling the orb to locations of the alameda usually reachable only by cannon fire or mountain goat.Punctuating the ballistic bruising were wallops by Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert, and the firm of Keith and Keith: Keith “Boomer” Walters, and Keith “Lefty” Harper, whose home run to the gorse in center field was last seen vanishing into the riparian wetlands. So clogged was the basepath traffic at the talleykeeper’s bell that Ms. Remer and Ms. Howarth, lacking sufficient columns on their cypher sheet, resorted to a form of hieroglyphic notation not seen since the days of King Tut. When the suspendered stalwarts were finally retired an improbable sixteen aces had crossed the plate, all before the visitors had taken a turn at bat.

 Recognizing the distended numerical disparity thrust upon their visiting brethren, the Grangers took care to attend to the sensibilities of their guests. Heeding the admonitions of their fiery fieldmarshal Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, the Rochesters took note of the irradiated conditions by permitting liberal use of pinch runners for those claiming heat stroke. With little of the outcome left to chance or peradventure, hurler Pat “Tumbleweed” Mayette was able to limit the Wyandotte scoring chances, leaving the Grangers on the upward side of a final accounting judged by this reporter too impolite for publication.  

Following an on-field serenade, the thirsty cranks and combatants were treated to a blithesome postprandial feast of mustard greens, sausage pie and sasparilla, courtesy of Chadd’s Pizza and the Rochester Tap Room. The Grangers invite the townsfolk to attend the next chapter in the season anthology, which will unfold on Sunday, August 23 at 1:00, when the Sylvania Black Swamp Frogs come to town.

9
Jun

Vintage Game Returns to Rochester

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On a dazzling, sun-swept afternoon at Van Hoosen Farm, the Rochester Grangers celebrated their return to vintage base ball. At home to entertain the Lumber City Base Ball Club of Flint, the suspendered stalwarts were keen to reprise their role as ambassadors for the nation’s newest pastime. Looking fit in their ivory and black habiliments, the Grangers conducted their warmups under the watchful eye of procrustean plenipotentiary Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, who promptly pronounced his charges ready for field exercises. Presiding over the opening festivities were Umpire Bob “Anvil” Wynne and Tallykeeper Debra “Seamstress” Remer, along with local schoolmarm and base ball acolyte Connie Boswell, who added her imprimatur to the goings-on.

Showing few signs of lingering malaise occasioned by the blackthorn winter, the Grangermen were eager to test their mettle against their northerly situated brethren. In their first turn at bat the hometowners took the initiative, propelling the mottled orb to seldom visited corners of the esplanade. Among the blows was a deposit by Henri “Frenchy” La France to the distant riparian wetlands, where after a brief stoppage of play, custody of the spheroid was wrestled from a disquieted ground squirrel.

In the fifth inning the Grangers resumed their ongoing bombination, with extra base wallops by Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert, Kevin “Six-Shooter” Straub and David “Nails” Mallmann drawing commendation from the handsome throng. When the circumabulance quieted, the Rochesters had taken a commanding nine to two lead. Summoning a reserve of ginger, the Lumber Men did justice to their reputations by staging an impressive late inning rally. In response, the Grangers appended their own postscript to the ballistic narrative, pushing across a trio of aces in the eighth inning to leave the Rochesters on the upward side of a twelve to seven final accounting.

Capping off a satisfying ending to a nearly perfect day of base ball, the clubs retired to a post-prandial feast of poached gobstopper and guinea fowl fricassee. Presenting their guests with commemorative pins and an a capella serenade, the Grangers had delivered a grandiloquent opening to the season, and a welcome tutorial on the fundamentals of the game.The townsfolk are next invited to see base ball the way it was meant to be played, for fresh air and exercise, on Sunday, July 19, at 1:00 at the Rochester Museum.

25
Mar

Grangers Resume Base Ball Exercises

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In anticipation of the long awaited inter-glacial thaw, a schedule of training maneuvers for the Rochester Grangers Vintage Base Ball Club has lately been posted. Under the tutelage of Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, the intrepid ballists hope to shake off the torpor occasioned by a long winter of discontent. In an effort this season to bolster a lineup amply punctuated by quinquagenarians, the Procrustean Potentate has announced open tryouts for those candidates with a keen batting eye and a flexible planting schedule.

The season’s itinerary commences with a May 25 sojourn to Coldwater, Michigan, where the Grangers will defend possession of the coveted Coldwater Cup. The home slate at Van Hoosen Farm will feature a formidable visiting sextet:

June 6­              Flint Lumber City BBC

June 11            Port Huron Welkins

July 19             Wyandotte Stars

August 1         Bay City Independents

August 23       Sylvania Black Swamp Frogs

August 30       Greenfield Village Lah-De-Dahs

For spectators with a nyctalopian bent, the June 11 match will showcase a seven o’clock twilight contest to take full advantage of the approaching summer solstice. As is their custom, the Grangers will offer postprandial refreshments at most home events, as well as the chance for youngsters to hit and run the bases. In addition to the Coldwater conflagration, road matches include a return appearance at the Greenfield Village World Tournament of Base Ball, along with a junket to the Ohio Cup tournament in Columbus, Ohio.