2005-07-30 / Sports

Play Ball!

Painful Defeat for Never Sweats All in Good Fun
By Jessica Delaney

Above photo: Striker to the line: “The Kid” Knaffle steps up to home base to take another crack at the ball. Mr. Knaffle was the youngest member of either team, but comported himself admirably, according to other ballists. 

Above photo: Striker to the line: “The Kid” Knaffle steps up to home base to take another crack at the ball. Mr. Knaffle was the youngest member of either team, but comported himself admirably, according to other ballists.

It was a sad day on the Scout Barracks field when the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats lost a hard fought contest to the Rochester Grangers. The contest took place at the Scout Barracks pitch Saturday, July 23.

The game was played according to 1860s base ball rules, along with antique uniforms, score keepers, vocabulary, and music. This was the third meeting between the Never Sweats and the Grangers. The first contest took place after the Grangers taught the game to the Never Sweats. Not surprisingly, the Never Sweats lost to their mentors, but in the following year had a comeback and defeated the older team. But at the third meeting, the Never Sweats lost, nine to five.

Lower photo: Umpire John Soma keeps a close eye on the action at the base. Mr. Soma put his foot down on “Pillar” Lytle’s delay of the game. While Mr. Lytle was busy chatting with several pretty cranks, ballists were getting restless. Mr. Lytle was forced to apologize to ballists and cranks, which he did with a cheerful smile.
Lower photo: Umpire John Soma keeps a close eye on the action at the base. Mr. Soma put his foot down on “Pillar” Lytle’s delay of the game. While Mr. Lytle was busy chatting with several pretty cranks, ballists were getting restless. Mr. Lytle was forced to apologize to ballists and cranks, which he did with a cheerful smile. The game started out well-matched, with the Grangers scoring one run in the first inning. The Never Sweats showed a bit of ginger when “Pops” Porter scored on a hit by “Mussels” Callewaert. Mr. Porter put on a burst of speed and managed to steal the third sack and round into home base to grab the first ace for the Never Sweats, tying the game. Unfortunately, by the end of the second inning, the Grangers had stepped up, scoring six more aces and bringing the total score to seven to one going into the third inning.

Mixing entertainment with exercise, the Rochester Grangers took a break after the fifth inning to regale cranks with their own rendition of the song, “For the Love of the Game.” 
Mixing entertainment with exercise, the Rochester Grangers took a break after the fifth inning to regale cranks with their own rendition of the song, “For the Love of the Game.” “Piller” Lytle for the Grangers clearly thought that game had been won in the second inning and enjoyed speaking with children and women gathered on the grass. When he was called to the line in the second inning, he was enjoying the company of several cranks, resulting in a delay of game. With much razzing from the cranks, he finally made his way to the line, after apologizing to gathered fans and fellow ballists.

The game was paused once again owing to the Grangers, when Umpire John Soma had to step out to correct more ungentlemanly conduct. “Cueball” Johnson had headed to the line in inappropriate dress.

“Your sleeves are rolled up in an ungentlemanly manner,” exclaimed Mr. Soma. “A gentleman would never roll his sleeves up in front of cranks such as these!”

Mr. Johnson apologized to the cranks and the game resumed.

Things were not looking good for the Never Sweats as they headed into the fourth inning with a tally of nine to one in the Granger’s favor. Hip, hip, huzzah as the Never Sweats showed a definitive show of strength and began a rally to come back.

Right outfield scout “Boy Wonder” Lynn amazed the crowd with a big top worthy circus catch, showing the spirit of the Never Sweats team, but a high hit in the fourth managed to get past him and it looked like the Grangers were in for another run when “The Kid” Knaffle leapt over the ropes, recovered the ball, and threw it back into the field. “The Marketeer” Putman managed to grab the ball after a brief relay by “Pops” Porter, and slammed his hand down just before the slide into home, saving the Never Sweats from a near disastrous score.

The Never Sweats really began to show their ginger in the second half of the game, prior to a brief interruption when “The Kid” Knaffle brought disgrace upon the family name. After a beautifully hit daisy cutter, “The Kid” advanced to first sack, and sent “Bubba” Chambers on to second. But while at first, Mr. Knaffle was approached by team manager Mr. Porter, who offered him a cigar for his good play. Though Mr. Knaffle was not overly pleased with the gift, throwing it on the ground and putting his hands in the air, it was a little too late. Mr. Soma came over and demanded that Mr. Knaffle apologize to the cranks, as well as pay a fine equaling one day’s wage - about 25 cents. Mr. Knaffle knelt down to apologize, and the cranks responded with cheerful razzing.

The game truly began to speed up at that point. Congressman “Stretch” Stupak drew many huzzahs from the cranks when he worked himself into a pickle, and then dove around the behind to take another much-needed ace for the Never Sweats.

At the end of the fifth the score was nine to three in favor of the Grangers, when the Grangers’ very own “Moonlight” Otlewski stood up with a poem to recite to the cranks. “Ratso” Hiller complained that taking time out to read a poem was “like bunting with an eight-run lead!”

Mr. Otlewski, however, ignored the jab in a most gentlemanly manner, and proceeded to read his “Ode to Cueball,” a member of the Granger team whose bald head was curiously decorated with black pen.

“While you look ferocious, the point of this poem,” he recited proudly, “Is your kindness to children in signing your dome.”

The game resumed, with a little more show from the Never Sweats. “The Marketeer” Putman started off the sixth inning with a strong daisy cutter. Showing his ginger, Mr. Putman managed to weasel a double out of his hit, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Never Sweats, who were only able to score another two runs, bringing the final score to nine to five in favor of the Grangers.

There were no hard feelings after the game, however, as the Grangers applauded and thanked their hosts, and the Never Sweats responded in kind with three “hip, hip, huzzahs!” Mr. Soma reminded fans that in vintage base ball, the game was played for entertainment and exercise, and that the final score didn’t matter. Perhaps the Grangers best summed up the spirit of the game in a song they sang during the game.

“Hip, hip, huzzah to Mackinac

We’re mighty glad we came

For the mighty game of base ball

And the love of the game.”

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