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Past Their Prime, But They Still Shine

Thirty aging ballplayers spent Labor Day morning playing baseball in the annual Old Man's Ball Game, proving to their adoring fans that they still have it.

The old gang was there.

Ron "the Junkman" Garbett, "Too Tall" Terry Toth, Bill "the Hammer" Hamrick, Bill "the Ox" Oxley, Doug "Long Ball" Comerford, Steve "the Fruz" Frusolone, Tony "the Hitman" Tichy, Steve "Watts" Hupp, Ed "Peachy" Pietschmann, Erik "Ustabe" Young, Jim "Stone Cold" Brew, Joe "the Wrecker" Ecker, "Cowboy" Troy Whalen, Bill "the Shoe" Shufreider, Ed "Wheels" Phillips, "Semi-Slim" Jim Allen, Jim "the Heckler" Weldon and many others.

The action began early on. "The Hitman" Tichy started on the mound for the Third Base team with protest from the third base side about illegally using a first baseman’s glove and his all white Grayslake Central uniform blinding the hitters. But he was throwing strikes and quickly secured two outs before giving up what looked like a harmless single. Two stolen bases later, the runner scored on a 59-foot curveball.

John "Zimmy" Zimmerman took the bump for the Third Basesters and faced the stacked lineup of the home team. The leadoff hitter for the First Basers walked but was eliminated on a line drive double play to the third baseman by the tall, rangy "Shoe" Shufreider.

After an error by a stumbling, tumbling second baseman on a blooper, "Slim" Jim Allen walked. The table was set for "Cowboy" Troy Whalen who laced a single to right to drive in a run. "Too Tall" Terry Toth ripped a fastball straight up the middle of the field to score the go ahead run before "the Fruz" sent a rocket that was intercepted by the left fielder to end the inning.

Ed "Peachy" Pietschmann came up and a teammate yelled, "C’mon Eddie! Get that enormous (slang word for posterior) into one. Peachy drove one to the left side of the mound that the pitcher Tichy snagged with a diving catch, rolled over and while sitting on the infield, threw Peachy out at first on a close play.

Zimmy worked a quick 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second. Mike Marcus of the First Basers came to bat and struggled to make contact with Tichy’s tantalizing slow curves.

A loyal teammate yelled support, "Way to wait on that one! It’s a little slower than a 16" softball so beware of that." Bill Oxley batted and took two quick strikes before Tichy bounced one in.

"Hey Martina, throw the ball!" yelled a First Base heckler.

With two outs and a man on first in the bottom of the 3rd, "the Hitman" Tichy strode to the plate. Catcher Long Ball Comerford yelled to his first baseman, "I can’t see around Tichy’s sculpted frame so let me know if the runner goes." Tichy lined the next pitch to left field for a RBI double.

In the bottom of the 4th, "the Junkman" Garbett took the hill and proceeded to baffle and befuddle the Third Baseters with a dazzling array of slow curves, knuckleballs and assorted change-ups. He may have thrown a few fastballs but they were apparently of insufficient velocity to register on the radar gun.

The Third Baseters pushed across another run in the bottom of the 5th against new pitcher Shoe Shufreider. Fruz walked and scored on a hot single by catcher Wrecker Ecker.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Third Baseters lit up Shoe for 4 runs. The Hitman Tichy pushed one across with a sacrifice fly. After a vicious ducksnort to right field by Hammer Hamrick, a two out throwing error by the third baseman sent two more runners scurrying across the plate.

Ed "the Hook" Tatera was calling the game and peppered the air with constant reminders of proper fundamentals. He frequently pointed out mental mistakes especially to those who dared to criticize his calls. The banter was friendly and mostly G-rated between the two benches and the umpire. It was difficult to keep a straight face all morning. The players’ wives and kids enjoyed a cool, breezy morning of baseball.

Scoring 4 runs in the top of the 7th, 2 in the top of the 8th and 2 more in the top of the 9th, the First Base team came back to defeat the Third Basers 9-7.

With handshakes, backslaps, quips and smiles the players posed for pictures and headed to Emil's and The Vine for the always welcome cold refreshments and deep fried appetizers to restore essential lost nutrients and to gain back the precious pounds lost in the pursuit of a little white ball with red stitching.

Diane September 08, 2011 at 03:00 PM
What a FUN event! Thanks to all the "Geezers" for entertaining us as usual! Thanks Mike for the nice story too!
Ron Garbett September 09, 2011 at 03:12 AM
What do you mean "insufficent velocity" I throw at least 40-45 mph" just enough to change speeds. Man my arm still hurts.
Mike Stickler September 09, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I should also point out that Ron "the Junkman" Garbett threw a scoreless inning and that no one really got a good rip at any of his pitches that danced like a fresh worm on a hook. The Junkman's pitches moved so much I heard that Long Ball Comerford was getting dizzy behind the plate just trying to glove them!

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