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Shelter Islanders rally for traditional charity softball game

The Old Timers Charity Softball Game, once dubbed the “Over the Hill Game,” an Island community event for years, returned on Sunday, Oct. 31, after being canceled due to the pandemic. Even waiting another 24 hours for Mother Nature to calm down didn’t stop two teams battling it out for bragging rights and collecting money to sponsor Shelter Island Little League.

The game was played in honor of the memory of Nicholas Morehead, a community leader and passionate softball and baseball fan, who passed away in May at age 46, after a long struggle with cancer.

Two teams lined up to play at the softball diamond at Shelter Island School, the “50 is the New 30” team representing the Shelter Island Country Club (Goat Hill) vs. “On the Back 9 of Life” wearing the colors of SALT.

It was an epic (at least according to the players) seven-inning battle, with a final score of SALT defeating Goat Hill, 13-6. The game was officiated by Cliff Clark and Bob DeStefano.

According to John C. G. Brownlie, one of the organizers of the event and captain of the Back 9 squad, more than “$2,000 was raised for the Shelter Island Little League from raffle tickets, sponsors, players, and most importantly donations. Donations are still coming in, so we will update when we have a final number. If anyone wishes to contribute to this cause now, or in the future, please send your checks made out to: Shelter Island Little League P.O. Box 1879 Shelter Island, N.Y. 11964. Any and all future donations are greatly appreciated.”

The Back 9’s got off to a hot start, scoring 12 runs through the first four innings to take a commanding 12-2 lead. But the 50s mounted a late-inning rally and got the score to the final 13-6. Dan Rasmussen was the star for the 50’s, going four-for-four with a home run, two doubles, two RBI’s, and two runs scored.

Kate Rossi-Snook taking out Ted Katta at second base, breaking up the double play and sparking some laughs. (Credit: Leonardo Dougherty)

He did that while playing a fine third base left-handed, something not often seen in organized (or even disorganized) softball.

Highlights for the Back 9’s was the play of Chris Young, dubbed an “offensive machine,” by Captain Brownlie, going four-for-five with a pair of triples, a monster home run and scoring three runs. The defensive star of the team was centerfielder Brett Surerus, who was credited with several fine plays.

It was a family day, not just for the fans but on the field. Amanda Katta had multiple at-bats against her uncle, pitcher Ken Kraus.

“Three of her four at-bats were balls hit to Uncle Ken,” Mr. Brownlie reported, “who turned and fired the ball to her dad, Chuck Kraus, at first base for the putout. Talk about keeping the play all in the family. I’m not sure where Thanksgiving will be held for the Kraus family this year, but I would love to be a fly on the wall at that gathering.”

Players for both sides included Robert Brewer, Chris Young, John C.G. Brownlie, Brett Surerus, Chuck Kraus, Ken Kraus, Kate Rossi-Snook, Justin Maggio, Dan Rasmussen, Ted Kata, Tim Sheenan, Mark Keerans, Dom Restani, Amber Bach Williams and Amanda Katta.

Organizers and players want to thank the many sponsors who made the day a fun-filled success and will help youngsters next summer when they take the field for Little League games. Among the sponsors are: Keith Bavaro from SALT for providing both teams with uniforms, and Goat Hill for representing the competition. Frankie at SLICE was instrumental in providing the players and spectators with a pizza party after the game. Thanks to other sponsors that included STARs Café, Bartilucci Construction, 18 Bay, Shelter Island Pools, Ace Hardware, Shelter Island House, Rock Beverage, Katta Protective Services, Silver Lab Property Management, and South Ferry Co.