2013-08-02 / News

Fort Mackinac Never Sweats Dominate in Vintage Base Ball Game, 5-1

By Noriah Williams


The Fort Mackinac Never Sweats pose for a team portrait. In the photograph are: (front, from left) William “Mad Dog” Callewaert, Clay “Lash” Fuller, Craig “Wagon Burner” Bunker, team leader Phil “Pops” Porter, Shawn “Iggy” Cowell, and Matthew “Tiger” Novakoski; (back) William “Hoot” Anderson, Zachary “Scrappy” Johnson, Tyler “T-Ball” McLean, Ryan “Biff” Stephens, guest manager John “Ratso” Hiller, Larry “Pete” Rickley, Bart “Stretch” Stupak, Todd “Mussels” Callewaert, Ken “Kennyboy” Fegan, and manager Pete “Two Bags” Pellerito. The Fort Mackinac Never Sweats pose for a team portrait. In the photograph are: (front, from left) William “Mad Dog” Callewaert, Clay “Lash” Fuller, Craig “Wagon Burner” Bunker, team leader Phil “Pops” Porter, Shawn “Iggy” Cowell, and Matthew “Tiger” Novakoski; (back) William “Hoot” Anderson, Zachary “Scrappy” Johnson, Tyler “T-Ball” McLean, Ryan “Biff” Stephens, guest manager John “Ratso” Hiller, Larry “Pete” Rickley, Bart “Stretch” Stupak, Todd “Mussels” Callewaert, Ken “Kennyboy” Fegan, and manager Pete “Two Bags” Pellerito. Compliments replaced trash talk as the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats defeated the Rochester Grangers 5-1 at the Annual Vintage Base Ball game Saturday, July 27. Playing on the ball field by the Scout Barracks behind Fort Mackinac, the two teams relived history, playing the classic game by 1860s rules.

“We play one game a year, they play 20,” said Never Sweats coach Pete “Two Bags” Pellerito. “So we put our best foot forward once a year. ”

In the vintage-style game, no gloves are allowed, and outs can be from caught balls or off one bounce. The Never Sweats’ uniforms are reproductions of the ones worn by Fort Mackinac players, made of wool with a large red letter M stitched across the chest. Other gentlemen’s rules include no toleration for spitting, swearing, or stealing bases. A new rule, no overrunning the bases, was implemented for this year’s game.

Using vintage strategies aided the Never Sweats to victory and helped break the record of even wins between the two teams, who were previously 4 and 4.


Bill Anderson (left) prepares to bat while chatting with fellow team member Todd Callewaert at the Never Sweats annual vintage base ball game Saturday, July 27. Bill Anderson (left) prepares to bat while chatting with fellow team member Todd Callewaert at the Never Sweats annual vintage base ball game Saturday, July 27.

“In this style of game, from the 1860s to 1880s, defense had a lot to do with being successful,” said Coach Pellerito. “If you could catch it on the fly, it’s an out. If you could catch it on one bounce, it’s an out. If you hit in fair territory and it goes foul, it’s a fair ball. Strong defense really helps, and that’s why we did really well today. We had timely hitting, which is also great. We brought in speedsters at the right time of the lineup, but a lot of it has a lot to do with defense.”

A mix of young players with seasoned ones was also a factor for success. The team’s newest member, Zachary “Scrappy” Johnson, participated in his first vintage game, also performing in one of several skits for the crowd.

Getting caught smoking a cigar on the field, Mr. Johnson did what many 1860s base ball players were made to do by umpires, asking the crowd playfully for forgiveness and to be allowed back into the game. The crowd cheerfully obliged.

“I had come up and seen a game before, but never been a part of it,” said Mr. Johnson. “During practices it was interesting learning the old rules. I’ve been playing modern base- ball my whole life. These new ones are very difficult at first. I was learning up until the first pitch.”

Never Sweat’s lineup included William “Mad Dog” Callewaert, Clay “Lash” Fuller, Craig “Wagon Burner” Bunker, team leader Phil “Pops” Porter, Shawn “Iggy” Cowell, and Matthew “Tiger” Novakoski, William “Hoot” Anderson, Zachary “Scrappy” Johnson, Tyler “T-Ball” McLean, Ryan “Biff” Stephens, guest manager John “Ratso” Hiller, Larry “Pete” Rickley, Bart “Stretch” Stupak, Todd “Mussels” Callewaert, Ken “Kennyboy” Fegan, and manager Pete “Two Bags” Pellerito.


Old friends reunite for the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats annual vintage base ball game Saturday, July 27. Previously, Bart “Stretch” Stupak (from left) was coached by Pete “Two Bags” Pellerito during his time at Northwestern Michigan College, who was coached by John “Ratso” Hiller while playing baseball at California State University. They are pictured with team leader Phil “Pops” Porter. Old friends reunite for the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats annual vintage base ball game Saturday, July 27. Previously, Bart “Stretch” Stupak (from left) was coached by Pete “Two Bags” Pellerito during his time at Northwestern Michigan College, who was coached by John “Ratso” Hiller while playing baseball at California State University. They are pictured with team leader Phil “Pops” Porter.

Mr. Pellerito coached Mr. Stupak during his time at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City and Mr. Hiller was a pitching coach for Mr. Pellerito during his spring training days in Lakeland, Florida.

“It’s always special when we get together,” said Mr. Pellerito.

Tallykeepers Pinky and Raspberry Pie, played by Laurie Stupak and Valerie Porter, kept tally for the game. As another vintage tradition, players politely asked the ladies, dressed in period clothing, to mark their scores after a run.

Although stealing bases and running into base players was not condoned in the gentlemen’s game, injuries proved unavoidable. Rochester Granger Scott “Chooch” Westgate has been playing with the team since 2001 and suffered his first major injury during the fourth inning: a broken finger.

The vintage game is played in nine innings, just like modern baseball. The umpire plays a large role, working to ensure proper calls are made. Umpire John “Cowpie” Soma entertained the crowd throughout the game, informing the audiences of rule differences and the history of the game.

“I umpire one game a year and it’s this one. I absolutely love it,” said Mr. Soma. “It’s a different game, so that makes it fun when you have a crowd that appreciates the game because it’s something that a lot of people have never seen before. It’s nice because you see the reactions of the crowd for certain things that are different. That’s something I enjoy seeing.”

The Never Sweats won the game-opening stone toss, choosing to take the field first, and leading during all nine innings. The cranks, a vintage term for fans, cheered throughout the plays.

John “Ratso” Hiller, manager for the Never Sweats and retired relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the 1968 World Champion team, considers the chance to play ball again a blessing.

“It’s always fun to play baseball, no matter what kind of baseball it is,” said Mr. Hiller. “My favorite aspect is that it’s played without too much competition. I’ve spent my whole life disliking the opposition. We’ve played the Grangers nine times and I’ve got to meet some nice people and make some great friends.”

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