Portland, ME – On a day that any self-respecting Chamber of Commerce member would have spent would have been out snapping pictures to advertise the beauty that is the Fore River Fields in spring, Haffenreffer Field played home yesterday to a quasi-annual Waynflete tradition called the “Seniors vs. Faculty Softball Game.” Furthering another tradition, the score will be formally recorded as the Faculty winning by “a lot to a little.” For aficionados of the game, there were a number of confusing aspects to this most recent tilt, not least of which is that the core of the faculty team has aged to the extent that referring to the collective group as something other than “Seniors” borders on fake news. Although some of you missed the fun and the beauty, below is a report of the events to remind those of us of what (might have) happened, and the rest of you may well be left wishing you had been there as well. There is always next year.
Faculty team tri-captains Mimi Olins, David Vaughan, and Wendy Curtis added to the confusion of the day when they chose to deploy their team in unusual positions. Math Teacher and confirmed char-broiler, Tom Campbell, and star first baseman/power-hitter, Bobby Reinhard were assigned to burn the meat . . . I mean tend the grill . . . while star chef and professional baker Barak Olins was assigned “Assistant Chef” duties. Julia May, who received rave reviews for her athletic and energetic warm-ups performance at Shortstop was moved to the outfield, joining star centerfielder Geoff Wagg. David Neilan, formerly a collegiate baseball infielder, became a pitcher, and star second-base person Curtis relegated herself to puppy baby-sitter after the first inning. At least her new puppy, “Milo,” seemed happy with this turn of events. Meanwhile, the class of 2017 contributed to the unusual feel of the game by deploying a defense that included no left fielder, one left-center fielder and seven right-fielders, at least one of whom eschewed the use of a glove, because she had a char-broiled hotdog in her hand. About eight more Seniors were arrayed in foul territory, on the hill behind the Visitors dugout, apparently confused by the difference between “observation” and “participation. “
Despite all this confusion, a game-of-sorts did ensue. In the top of the first inning, pitcher nee infielder Neilan tossed only three pitches, getting out of the inning due to a brilliant force-then-tag double play turned at second base by former first base person Lowell Libby. With the play, the Faculty team quickly instituted the expectation that “all ties (and relatively close calls) go to the old folks.” Sadly, despite student appeals, the replay machine was not in working order, with Ross Burdick out of state and Page Lennig having already completed a month’s worth of technological trouble shooting on Friday during Senior Project presentations. In the bottom of the first, the Faculty further established that while the Seniors have probably learned readin’ and writin’, less education about things such as catching batted balls has occurred in their time at the ‘Flete. Having jumped to a 2-0 lead, the Faculty began the process of making “just enough” defensive plays to hold the lead. Young Shortstop Steve Withers (NB: Steve doesn’t deserve to be lumped into all these “old” jokes) missed a “sinking” line drive–which he claimed didn’t sink–but redeemed himself completely with several running and/or leaping grabs. Even he had to tip his cap, however, to the spectacular play turned in by short-fielder Peter Hamblin, who moved at least three whole steps to his left in an attempt to field a very high pop-up, before it bounced of the top of his glove. He then tumbled to the ground, and yet still managed to keep his body under the ball, completing the catch and putout. Fox Sports is reporting that Hamblin has filed a letter of concern with the field maintenance team, claiming that they had allowed a small oil slick to develop near the spot of the catch. “I didn’t realize how slippery that area of the field was until I fell there again the next inning, ” Doc noted. Just prior to the second play to which Hamblin was alluding, he had legged out a sure triple into a close play at first. Theater technician Chris Fitze helped shine a spotlight on the next play by dribbling a slow roller to shortstop. ’17’s third-base person, PD Silk, cut off the ball, and recognizing that the play had developed very slowly, fired to first to snuff out Fitze. Several Seniors thereupon realized that Hamblin was still attempting to cover the lengthy 60 feet towards second, and they called for the ball to be thrown there. It was at this very millisecond that Hamblin’s tender wheels hit the alleged oil slick and he began a ponderous tumble, not unlike a large tree felled in the Maine woods, towards second base. Landing on his knees, he quickly realized that he was still six feet from a safe arrival. After two scrambling crawls towards the bag, he came fully to rest in the same exact spot on the field he had previously creased with his catch, arm out-stretched, and still three feet from his goal. The tag was applied, and one of the first ever 5-3-6 double plays was recorded.
Covering all the rest of the important news: the ambulance that Heather Isherwood and Anne Hagstrom had insisted be hidden behind the field house was never called. Left field line coverer Tom Campbell, who never touched the ball on defense, went to the hospital immediately after the game, although only to visit his college roommate, who had survived open-heart surgery on Thursday. Neilan, who was sporting an Orthopedics Associates t-shirt, saying “hey, if they have to cut it off my broken body, they might be kinder if I have clearly been advertising for them,” was on his way home mumbling something about an Epsom salts bath. Catcher/outfielder Lydia Maier was headed out for a “float,” which she insisted would cure whatever ailed her, and Julia May limped into the sunset. Asked to sum up the experience, Libby opined, “I think it all went remarkably well.”