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28
Aug

Grangers Close Season in Striking Style

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Rochester, Michigan . . . The largest crowd to see a base ball match this season packed the stony-walled confines of Van Hoosen Farm on a languid Sunday afternoon.  The cranks in attendance were treated to the vintage game at its finest, with the vaunted Greenfield Village La-de-dahs in town to serve as the frontispiece for the Grangers’ home finale. 

            For Elizabeth “Batty” Grant, an eight year old third grader from Longmeadow Elementary, it was a chance to wear the Grangers black and ivory zibeline, having been anointed an honorary bat-and-ball girl for the day. Dignitaries amongst the overflow assemblage were recent newlyweds Megan and Mike Hoornaert of Rochester, along with the Hitchman clan from Beverly Hills.

            Following introductions, the Dearborns brooked no delay in unfurling their lumber, launching a slew of horsehide missiles to distant corners of the esplanade.  Only the non-pareil longfielding of Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert and Keith “Boomer” Walters stanched further damage by the determined visitors, who tallied four aces before the hometowners had a chance to strike back.

            The Rochesters, stirred but not shaken by the salvo, then displayed their own dexterity with the sculpted truncheon, announcing their intentions with a galvanized response.  Pivotal blows by Kevin “Six-Shooter” Straub, Craig “Slappy” Prasatek and Jim “Peg-Leg” Saraceno contributed to a sustained uprising, lifting the Grangers to a nine to four advantage after five innings of play.  The tenor of the match thereafter much resembled a tug-of-war, with the Grangers answering each parry by the visitors with an equal and opposite force. 

            Meanwhile, studied observers of the game were keen to spot a familiar face in a La-de-dah uniform in the personage of Paul “Coot” Hunkele, a former Granger player and base ball oracle on loan from the Mt. Clemens Club.  Despite his sage familiarity with local ground rules, the Dearborns persisted in directing blows to the riparian wetlands beyond the split rail fence.  This circumstance occasioned more than one visit to the area by Henry “Frenchy” La France, who in one foray was careful to retrieve the ball from an agitated chuckwalla.

            With a truce reached by the principals for control of the waterway habitat, the Grangers returned their attention to the more practical pursuit of mashing the spheroid.   A flurry of Rochester aces in the eighth and ninth innings thereafter produced a handsome lead, much to the delight of the highly partisan multitude.  Though each club throughout the day had displayed a studious mastery of the fundamentals, it was the Grangers who emerged on the upward side of an eighteen to nine final accounting, laying claim to the season’s series between the old rivals.

            Having been awarded the game ball by Umpire David “Doc” Howarth, the suspendered stalwarts then invited boys and girls to strike and run the bases.  Afterward, the ballists and their families repaired to the Calf Barn for a repast of disarticulated pork shank and numbles prepared by the General and Mrs. Worden.  When at last the comestibles were gone, all agreed the day had provided an idyllic postscript to a season to remember.

31
Jul

Grangers Celebrate Return to Mackinac Island

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Governor Snyder signs Cue’s head!

    Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the Rochester Grangers lately made their annual summer pilgrimage to the diminutive Isle of the Turtle nestled at the confluence of Lakes Huron and Michigan. A small band of Rochester ballists and their acolytes arrived by caravan and flotilla to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this remarkable series. Led by legendary icon and ex-officio island czar Phil “Pops” Porter, the formidable Never Sweats were once again keen to defend their honor at Fort Mackinac, guardian citadel of the oldest base ball grounds in Michigan.

    After a leisurely day spent shopping, biking and dodging road apples, the Grangers and their families made their way to the exercise grounds for the twilight affair. With a view from home plate overlooking the Straits, the stunning vista provided a most congenial backdrop. As a prelude to the match, the Straits Area Band performed a new anthem by Francis Scott Key to mostly favorable reviews, although its future as a dance number would appear to be dim. On hand to throw out the first ball was Governor Rick Snyder, who, after signing the head of Mike “Cueball” Johnson and perusing the base ball card of young scion Jackson “Lightning” Otlewski, announced his readiness for the exhibition.

    On the hurl for the islanders was John “Ratso” Hiller, a barnstorming mercenary and rapscallion of some repute. Presiding over the festivities was local raconteur and man-about-town, Umpire John “Cowpie” Soma, whose contract for services allegedly stipulates payment by the word.

    The Never Sweats drew first blood with an early tally to appease the hometown cranks. After knotting the score in the third, Grangers’ strongman Bob “Anvil” Wynne launched a double to the right field kudzu, scoring a pair of Grangers. Meanwhile, ace hurler Scott “Chooch” Westgate kept the Mackinac sluggers off balance with an assortment of pitches, allowing his defense to do their best work.

    To avoid the onset of any late inning torpor occasioned by overindulgence, the Grangers had been cautioned by punctilious potentate Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay to eschew the gastronomic pleasures of Main Street fudge and other homologous confections. Taking heed, the notably nimble Rochester nine found themselves on the upward side of a five to one ledger after seven innings of play.

    Not ready to go quietly into the good night, the islander hopes were momentarily lifted by a late rally which shaved the Granger margin by half. Then, with the game on the line and daylight on the wane, the Grangers showed their pluck and ginger with a pair of aces in the ninth inning to salt away a hard fought seven to three victory.
With nightfall approaching, the ballists could see ships and stars flickering in the distance as they made their traditional trek to Mary’s Bistro for a final round of sustenance and libation. In the morning, when at last it was time to bid Mackinac adieu, the Grangers commenced a journey homeward suffused with memories of rekindled friendships and shared adventures.

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.

27
Mar

SPRING TRAINING COMES TO VAN HOOSEN FARM

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Rochester Michigan…With the tardy arrival of the annual inter-glacial thaw, procrustean task master Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay has lately posted a schedule of training maneuvers for the members of the Rochester Grangers Vintage Base Ball Club. Once again, the men in red and black are keen to lay aside their chores and farm implements to reacquaint muscles laid dormant by the ravages of the blackthorn winter.

Venerable strongmen Scott “Chooch” Westgate and Bob “Anvil” Wynne have reportedly undertaken their own off-season training regimen in hopes of avoiding a recurrence of the calamitous maladies which plagued their efforts last season. Anticipating another banner year, the lads have scheduled summer junkets to base ball outposts at Mackinac Island, Bay City and Navin Field.

Soon the familiar sound of hickory meeting horsehide will echo throughout the stoney-walled confines, signaling the return of the summer game. Exercises begin in earnest with home matches on Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 18 at Van Hoosen Farm, with the Richmond and Plymouth nines providing the opposition. As is customary, festivities begin at 1:00 p.m., with base ball, fresh air and enjoyment on display for the public, according to the rules and customs of 1864.

12
Oct

GRANGERS CELEBRATE 15TH VINTAGE SEASON

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Living history took a season’s curtain call as the Grangers concluded another summer of vintage base ball exercises at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm. Paying tribute to their ballistic accomplishments by way of libation and testimonial, the Grangers and their families lately hosted a year-end soiree celebrating signal moments of the campaign.

Maneuvers began in early April to reacclimate the intrepid ballists to the rigors of the game, and to prepare the club for their May itinerary featuring matches in Flint and their annual tutorial at the local Rochester Heritage Days. The month of June occasioned visits to Wyandotte and the site of old Tiger Stadium, where the Grangers served as frontispiece for a series of national media features on vintage base ball. A twilight match at home with the Bay City Independents preceded the first ever Granger Tournament held at Stoney Creek Metropark, where on the occasion of the summer solstice the Rochesters prevailed over a field of four visiting clubs to capture the coveted Milk Cannister.

In July the Grangers’ peregrinations took them to Port Huron, Greenfield Village and to historic Fort Mackinac, where the suspendered stalwarts distinguished themselves with a blithesome blend of nimble play and gentlemanly demeanor. August ushered in a pair of excursions to such base ball outposts as Dexter, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio, where the Rochesters showed particular ginger in an undefeated six-game skein at the Ohio Cup.

It was a year to remember for the hometown nine, who celebrated their fifteenth year of existence in on-field ceremonies honoring their original six members. Demonstrating their trademark skill and gentlemanly comportment, the Rochesters compiled a season’s record of twenty wins and three losses against some of the finest clubs in the territory, while educating fledgling enthusiasts in the finer points of the game. The Grangers thank their sponsors, Antoniou’s and the Hills Bar and Grille, who once again supplied game day comestibles to players and guests.

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano the Grangers await their springtime return to Van Hoosen Farm, when the annual interglacial thaw signals the arrival of vintage base ball. In the meanwhile, ensconced in their enforced hypothermic hibernaculum, the men who don the ivory and black stand at the ready to reprise their role in the game they love, played for fresh air and exercise according to the rules of the 1860′s.

23
Jun

GRANGERS SHINE IN TWILIGHT TILT

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The Rochester Grangers laid aside their farm implements and afternoon chores to lately entertain the Bay City Independents in an exhibition of vintage base ball. On a day whose length anticipated arrival of the summer solstice, a sizeable throng was on hand to enjoy the rare evening conflagration at Van Hoosen Farm.

Heeding the call of their flammable fieldmarshal Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, the suspendered stalwarts showed their ginger from the outset, displaying both their flair with the sculpted cudgel and knack for interpolation of the spheroid. Centrefielder Keith “Death to Flying Things” Walters, so christened by the Bay City Captain for his surehanded manner, did justice to the aptly descriptive moniker in preserving an early Granger lead.

The men who don the red and black embellished their advantage in the fifth on the strength of precision clouts by Steve “Steam Engine” Sebert and Pat “Tumbleweed” Mayotte. Stirred but not shaken, the Bay City juggernaut mounted their own pertinacious response in the sixth, tallying a half dozen aces to even the ledger at six aces apiece.

The arrival of an evening acquifier failed to dampen the cranks’ enthusiasm for the neck-and-neck affair, as bumbershoots and blankets were deployed in lieu of more hermetically sealed shelter. Summoning their collective effluvium for a final surge, the Rochester batsmen fomented a rally in the eighth inning which culminated in a bases-clearing bombination by Granger veteran Craig “Slappy” Prasatek. The mortar shot into the right field kudzu appeared to vanish into the gloaming, taking with it the plucky visitors’ chances for victory. With daylight turning to dusk, the Grangers were able to snuff out a final Bay City threat, leaving the hometown favorites on the upward side of a twelve aces to seven accounting.

Eschewing all obstreperous or mendacious conduct, the ballists took their bows. To honor the career of original Granger member Bob “Roadblock” Grace, whose impending retirement was hastened by a ravaged loin suffered late in the contest, a poem was offered by this reporter. With nightfall enveloping the grounds, all agreed it had been a blissful summer’s day at the Farm, where a fledgling group of enthusiasts gathered once again to advance the Nation’s newest pastime.

23
May

GRANGERS LIFT CURTAIN ON NEW CAMPAIGN

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Flint, Michigan

The skies were blue, the breeze was cool, and the cranks were hot for base ball. Such was the scene on a day seemingly ordered up by Abner Doubleday himself, as the Rochester Grangers opened their season on the grounds of the Lumber City Club of Flint. The home nine, a newly constituted outfit limited by experience but not enthusiasm, showed an impressive mastery of ballistic fundamentals and gentlemanly comportment. The lesson was not lost on Granger mahatma Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay , who from the outset coaxed his charges to show their ginger lest they be overthrown by their exuberant hosts.

To the delight of the local assemblage, the hometowners deftly handled the visitor’s stickwork in the early stages while striking with purpose in their turn at the striker’s line. Indeed, the Lumbermen seemed poised to improve upon a growing lead, when with the sacks full, Bob “Anvil” Wynne snatched a long fly from his longfield post and threw out a Flint base runner trying to pilfer home. The play silenced the crowd and truncated an impending sockdolager, setting the stage for a Rochester resurgence. Grangers strongmen Kevin “Six-Shooter” Straub, David “Nails” Mallman and Scott “Chooch” Westgate then visited blows to far-reaching corners of the esplanade, plating a phalanx of base men to salt away a seventeen aces to eight victory.

With little enough time to slake their thirst and water their horses, the ballists then were summoned for an encore performance. With aces scarce as the clouds above, it was defensive maneuvers that predominated in the nightcap. With the score knotted at five aces apiece in the sixth, Mike “Cueball” Johnson, having earlier suffered a gruesome digital detachment requiring attention from the infirmary wagon, reentered the lineup. His well-timed mortar shot to right delivered three aces for the Grangers, staking the visitors to a lead they were disinclined to relinquish. When perambulations had ceased, the Rochesters found themselves on the upward side of a twelve to five final accounting.

The afternoon’s festivities were capped off by the Grangers’ performance of their signature anthem “For the Love of the Game”, followed by a postprandial celebration featuring desiccated mutton, mung bean and sasparilla. As always, the men who don the ivory and black thank their season’s sponsors, Antoniou’s and the Hills Bar and Grille of Rochester Hills for their support. They invite the townsfolk to see base ball the way it was meant to be played, for fresh air and exercise by gentlemen, according to the rules of 1864.

8
Mar

SPRING TRAINING SIGNALS RETURN OF SUMMER GAME

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Rochester. . . In anticipation of the annual inter-glacial thaw, the Rochester Grangers Vintage Base Ball Club has lately posted a schedule of training exercises. Led by bumptious drillmaster Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, the barehanded practitioners stand poised to reawaken muscles grown dormant from their winter of discontent.

Owing to the restoration of the Calf Barn at Van Hoosen Farm, the adjacent exercise grounds have been quarantined for the time being to accommodate the ongoing thaumaturgy next door. In the meantime, veteran ballists Bob “Roadblock” Grace and Scott “Chooch” Westgate have undertaken a training regimen of their own at the Hills Grille and Antoniou’s, where parlors have been reserved for their weekly rules symposium. The primordial sound of hickory colliding with horsehide commences Saturday, May 18th, when the Lumber City Club of Flint comes a-calling for an afternoon pair of matches at the Rochester Museum. A week hence, Rochester’s political leaders have been summoned for an exhibition at Halbach Field for their traditional Heritage Days tutorial. A complete schedule of home matches follows and may be found at the Grangers website www.rochestergrangers.org.

Sat May 25 1:00 vs. Rochester Politicos
Sat June 8 1:00 vs. Royal Oak Wahoos
Sat June 15 6:00 vs. Bay City (twilight)
Sat June 21 Granger Cup at Stoney Creek Metropark
Sat Aug 3 1:00 vs. Mt. Clemens Regulars
Sat Aug 24 1:00 vs. La De Dahs

Plans this season include the first ever Granger Day Camp for youngsters ages 5-12, tentatively set for Thursday, June 27, at the Museum. The Camp will run from 6-9 p.m. and includes 1860′s playing tips for the budding ballists, participation in a game and dinner with the Grangers. The cost per family will be ten dollars, with registration details to follow. A twilight affair on June 15 has been scheduled against the Bay City Independents, which includes complimentary hot dogs and apple pie for the cranks. Also in the offing is the inaugural Granger Cup Tournament on June 22 at Stoney Creek Metropark, where several clubs will aim to emboss their names on the coveted Milk Cannister.

The Grangers are looking for a few good men to join them this season; enthusiasts who demonstrate the fundamentals of the game and an unabashed love for base ball are encouraged to peruse the Granger website for an application. As always, townsfolk are invited to support the gentlemen’s game as it was meant to be played, for fresh air and exercise according to rules and social customs of 1864.

3
Oct

GRANGERS SEASON WINDS TO A CLOSE

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The juxtaposition of amiable skies and first-rate base ball  made for an appealing setting this Saturday past as the Rochester Grangers took on a visiting nine fromSaginawat Van Hoosen Farm. The Old Golds, a ballistic juggernaut of considerable repute, cut an imposing collective figure as they arrived in their distinctive gray and yellow zibeline. The Grangers, perhaps a bit road weary from recent excursions that saw them play eleven matches in a fortnight, seemed galvanized by their return to the stoney-walled confines. Indeed Craig “Slappy” Prasatek and Bob “Anvil” Wynne, who had lately become increasingly familiar with the liniment wrap and mustard plaster, proved surprisingly nimble despite the infirmity of their appendages. 

 So it was a most intriguing scene when the call came from Umpire David “Doc” Howarth to commence the interpolation of hickory and horsehide. Striking first, the Rochesters brooked no delay in hammering the spheroid, launching mortar shots to rarely visited corners of the glade. Before the cranks had found their seats along the shade of the split-rail fence, the men who don the red and black had stunned the visitors with eight aces in their first turn at bat.

 The outburst brought forth little endulcorating sentiment from Granger popinjay Patrick “Barnraiser” McKay, who in his own spirited manner, entreated his charges to mind their defensive maneuvers lest the visitors mount a like-minded attack. By word and deed the Grangers appeared to heed the advice, with acrobatic catches by Keith “Boomer” Walters and Kelvin “Hawkeye” Rosonke muting chances for aSaginawuprising. So abstemious was the Granger defensive deployment thatSaginawarbitrator “Golden Rule,” on hand to offer his umpiring services for the match, was heard to express his own effulgent praise for the hometown ginger.

 When the final hand had had been retired the Grangers had claimed a victory by a fourteen to five final accounting. Both nines drew favorable commendation for the skillful exhibition, and the assemblage was then invited to partake of the sumptuous smorgasbord proffered by long-time sponsors Antoniou’s and the Hills Grille. As the waning sunshine foreshadowed the first vestiges of autumn, the Grangers performed their signature parting serenade,“For the Love of the Game.”

 A week hence the Grangers conducted a tutorial on the exercise grounds for the Dexter Union Club, a fledgling outfit anxious to learn the science of the game. Having capped off their self-appointed mission to advance the nation’s newest pastime, the Grangers now reluctantly suspend their ballistic efforts in favor of the sickle and plow. As they await the inevitable advance of winter’s chill the Grangers bid the cranks adieu. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the ballists look forward to the summoning call of spring and resumption of the game they love.