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Good times at the Old Timers softball game

BOB DeSTEFANO

Well, you are over 35 years old and you think you are over the hill. You feel that your old fun-filled baseball games that you played as a child are part of your past. Not so fast!! If you live on Shelter Island, you still have the fun of the Old Timers softball game held every fall.

Yes, this was the game started back in 1973 by two fun community minded guys, Ben Jones and Jack Cahill. Jack backed his bar and restaurant, the old Harbor Inn, and Ben fought for The Dory. Fun was the name of the game back then and if last Sunday was any indication, it looks like things have not changed today.

Of course, they don’t have anyone like Frank Klenawicus today. People remember him dressing like a woman and he’d be a catcher behind home plate. In this high pitch game of softball, the pitcher will occasionally pitch a grapefruit instead of a ball. Too bad no batter fell for it because nothing is funnier than seeing them hit a grapefruit.

Well, it seems as time passed that things stopped for a few years. The tradition was fading but not for a couple of guys who would not let it go. Those guys were Chuck Kraus and Ed Brown. So, this past Sunday we had another Old Timers game which attracted a nice following.

I was there enjoying being a field umpire even if they don’t listen to me. I thought I made two calls very clearly stating that the runner was safe. It didn’t seem to matter what I said since they all seemed to agree that he was out and ran off the field.

Anyway, the teams this year were SALT Restaurant against The Flying Goat. On this Sunday afternoon, The Flying Goat took home the gold by defeating SALT 7 to 4. The captain of the SALT team wanted to make it clear that in the past five years, SALT is up, 3 games to 2. WOW, maybe these guys are 15 years old again.

Even though we no longer have Ben Jones and Jack Cahill around from the old days, I must admit that it is always nice to see Bev Cahill, Skip Tuttle, and Charlie Beckwith at the game. All of them are smart enough to know not to play anymore.

I personally had a great time at the game right from the first pitch thrown out by past player Father Peter DeSanctis. I was impressed by the energy put out by Kathleen Lynch on the microphone. I enjoyed her from her initial introduction of all the players to her nonstop humor while calling the game. She is more than a welcome addition to this afternoon. In case we had a minute with nothing going on, Kathy made it clear there was no such thing and had music blasting to keep us entertained.

Watching these over-the-hill players thinking they are still the same boys they were in high school is hilarious. You just can’t believe how hard they play until you see them sliding head first into the bases, running full speed for a fly ball or throwing at maximum energy for the out. A year does not go by without someone getting hurt and this year was no exception.

Fortunately, this year we had two fully trained nurses in the stands and the world’s fastest EMS squad was on the scene before you could say “Jack Rabbit.” It was off to Southampton Hospital and we hear our patient is better today.

I would like to thank Chuck and Eddie for keeping this wonderful tradition going for our amusement. I also like the cause that receives some rewards from all the work. The beneficiary is the Shelter Island Little League. While we are saying thank you, hats off to Keith and Allie, from the SALT restaurant and Joann Piccozzi from the Flying Goat for their unending support of anything that happens in this community.

The field is always in great condition and this Sunday was no exception and that is thanks to Mike Dunning and Brian Springer. Let us not forget the Shelter Island Lions Club which happened to have their own fund raiser on the same night but some of that money will always go toward supporting the Old Timers Game.

So, if you are over 35, and still able to run, you are not over the hill. You will fit in nicely with these highly competitive ball players who still think and act like they are 15 years old. See you next Columbus Day weekend on the field and fighting for a victory.

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