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Archive for June, 2014

18
Jun

GRANGERS SHINE IN HOME AND AWAY EVENT

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by Douglas “Moonlight” Otlewski/Special to Community Lifestyles,

Rochester and Port Huron, Michigan… The juxtaposition of vintage base ball and the summer solstice provided opportunity for a rare day-night twinbill between the Grangers and the Port Huron Welkins. The first match, a twilight affair at Van Hoosen Farm, was followed by a matinee encore two days later in Port Huron. The home and home series, the brainchild of Rochester’s scheduling sachem Scott “Chooch” Westgate, was well received by cranks in both venues.

The Rochesters began the base ball double dip on a perfect summer evening with a quartet of aces in their first at bat. With the clubs each negotiating for control, the Grangers held a slim eight to six lead with but an inning left to play. It was then the Grangermen, responding to the exhortations of their flammable field marshall, Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, used a late smash by Kelvin ‘Hawkeye” Rosonke to spur a ninth inning rally and secure a hard fought twelve to seven victory. A poem honoring Welkin Captain Jim “Chops” Fisher, who was on hand celebrating his wedding anniversary, captured in verse the warm regard the Grangers hold for their Blue-Water friends.

With the same clubs set to play in Port Huron a scant thirty-six hours later, the mettle of the players, horses and wagons was clearly on display. On that date an early morning caravan of carriages from Rochester announced its arrival at the Welkin exhibition grounds, where the Grangers and a small band of loyalists prepared for part deux of the tale of two cities.

As is their custom, the Rochesters struck fiercely from the outset, assuming an early seven to one advantage. The spectators were treated to a home run by Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert, whose mammoth clout was found lodged under a cabbage plant in a distant vegetable garden. Panegyric praise was likewise aimed at the stickwork of Henry “Frenchy” La France, who continued to strafe the mottled orb with impunity.

Stirred but not shaken, the plucky Welkins remained within striking distance when the suspendered stalwarts struck with a fusillade of ballistic fireworks. Brandishing heavy lumber from every spot in the lineup, the Rochesters commenced a base path peregrination to tally an improbable twenty-two aces in the fifth and sixth innings. Striking a blow for septuagenarians everywhere, Harlen “The General” Worden drove in four runs to punctuate the uprising. Meanwhile, the wafting aroma of freshly prepared steamboat round and brisket persuaded the Captains to agree to an early cessation of exercises.

Although the Grangers had prevailed by a margin too impolite for gentlemanly reportage, it was clear the participants had enjoyed the well-mannered exercises. When at last it was time to bid the Welkins adieu, the Rochesters could reflect on a unique base ball doubleheader, played by gentlemen whose love for the game continues to stand the test of time and distance.

Douglas ‘Moonlight” Otlewski contributed this Granger up date in the writing style used in the late 1800s. 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.

17
Jun

GRANGERS CAPTURE COLDWATER CUP

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by Douglas “Moonlight” Otlewski/Special to Community Lifestyles,

Coldwater, Michigan…The skies were high, the clouds were nigh, and the day was ripe for base ball. Such was the scene upon arrival in Coldwater, Michigan, a tiny hamlet playing host to the Rochester Grangers and the season’s pre-eminent vintage base ball tournament, the Coldwater Cannonfire Cup. The Decoration Day convocation was an invitation only affair, bringing together four of Michigan’s finest nines to compete for the coveted bronzed drinkware. Also on hand for the festivities were several Union and Confederate encampments, along with a base ball enthusiast of some repute, President Abraham Lincoln.

The Grangers’ first opponent, the formidable Saginaw Old Golds, were well turned-out in their bright yellow tunics as the ground rules were explained to the Captains. Conspicuous by his absence was Rochester mastermind Patrick “Barn Raiser” McKay, last seen tending a sick goat at Van Hoosen Farm, who nevertheless was able to issue instructions via wireless dispatch throughout the day to his waiting minions. Following orders to perfection the Grangers jumped out to a lead they would never relinquish, disposing of the Saginaw juggernaut by a six aces to two margin.

Next on the agenda were the Kent Base Ball Club from Grand Rapids, who had deftly dispatched the Walker Tavern Wheels in a morning slugfest. A matinee affair between the Grangers and Kent would thus decide the tournament championship, along with custody of the sculpted chalice. A long home run by Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert in the nightcap immediately staked the Grangers to a one run lead. The margin proved short-lived however, as the Kent farmboys retaliated with a series of smashes to uncharted corners of the esplanade, raining aces on the Rochesters with little sign of abatement. The stunning fusillade rendered the likelihood of a suitable retort problematic as the Grangers quickly found themselves on the distaff side of an eight to one deficit.

It was at this juncture the Grangers fomented a peripeteia likely to be widely recounted in local base ball lore. Flashing their trademark ginger, the Rochesters commenced hammering the mottled spheroid with purpose and ferocity, lifting spirits which had momentarily flickered. A series of blows struck by the firm of Prasatek, Prasatek and Prasatek helped pull the Grangers to within an ace with two innings left to play. A final six-run salvo featuring wallops by Keith “Boomer” Walters and Henri “Frenchy” LaFrance proved too much for the Kents to overcome, providing the final margin in the Rochesters’ hard-earned fifteen to eleven victory.

Presenting the trophy, Umpire Tom “Golden Rule” Mudd was gracious in his congratulatory remarks, calling attention to the Grangers’ fine play and gentlemanly comportment. Agreeing to return a year hence to defend the Cup the suspendered stalwarts began the trek homeward, having made new friends and memories to last a lifetime.

Douglas ‘Moonlight” Otlewski contributed this Granger up date in the writing style used in the late 1800s. 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.