On Sunday, October 15, the Neshanock closed out the 2017 base ball campaign with a visit to Fort DuPont State Park in Delaware for matches with the host Diamond State Club of Delaware and the Mohican Base Ball Club of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. First up was a match with the Diamond State Club which saw Flemington get off to a 3-1 lead in the first inning, but the Delaware team quickly matched that and led 6-3 after three innings. Both teams added three runs so that after five innings Diamond State led 9-6 in what was still a close contest. However, in the top of the sixth, Diamond State's strikers came through with some clutch two out hits driving in three runs for what proved to be an insurmountable 12-6 lead. The final score was 15-9 with Flemington's offense led by Dan "Lefty" Gallagher with three hits and the Neshanock's father and son act, Chris "Sideshow" Nunn and his father, "Jersey" Jim Nunn chipping in two apiece. Rene "Mango" Marrero also contributed two hits for Flemington including a double with the bases loaded.
After a brief respite, the second contest against the Kennett Square squad got underway. Once again, the Neshanock had a productive first inning, tallying twice, but that was the extent of Flemington's offense for the seven inning match. This was the first time, I've seen the Mohican Club and they combined well placed, strategic hitting with sound defense and pitching. Not only were the Neshanock limited to two runs, but Flemington's bats only produced five hits, two coming from "Lefty." With the two losses, the Neshanock record fell to 29-13 for the season, coming up just short of an unprecedented 30 wins. Still the 2017 team set a new club record for wins, four more than the 2016 squad with a .690 winning percentage compared to .658 a year ago. All told a very successful year highlighted by wins over the Atlantic Club of Brooklyn, the Talboy Fairplays and the Walker Tavern Wheels plus the retention once again of the New York - New Jersey cup.
Expressions of thanks have to begin with a tip of the hat to club founder and president, Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw for everything he does to put together a schedule approaching 50 games and making all the necessary arrangements. A major reason for the improved records of the past two years has been an influx of new blood, especially younger talent. The Neshanock roster now ranges from high school students to those around the scriptural three score ten. Thanks to everyone who played regardless of whether it was one match or 42. Although he's not on the roster, thanks are also due to Sam Bernstein who umpires many of the Neshanock's matches, it's a pleasure to work with Sam. As always, it's essential to thank the spouses, partners and significant others who support the team in so many ways. In addition the off the field supporters has been expanded to include parents who drive their teenage sons all over the East Coast as well as some of the players' young children who bring a new and enjoyable presence to the season. Thanks to all.
With the end of the 2017 season, A Manly Pastime reverts to its off season schedule with a goal of posting something every two weeks. I say goal because as with last year, there may be a need for some type of sabbatical between now and next season. When I took a sabbatical last year to finish my biography of Charles Ebbets, scheduled to be published in early 2018, I thought there would be no need for further breaks from blogging. However, even before I finished the Ebbets biography, I fell into the opportunity to write a book about early New Jersey base ball which will be the companion to the exhibit scheduled to open in June of 2018 at the Morven Museum in Princeton. I'm not sure if a sabbatical will be necessary this time especially since I'd like to use the blog to preview some parts of the book and the exhibit so we'll see.
Monday, October 2, 2017
On Sunday, the first day of October, nine Neshanock players, one slightly disabled club president, a rapidly aging score keeper and the always supportive group of spouses, parents, significant others and children traveled to Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park as the club continues its pursuit of an unprecedented 30 win season. The opposition was provided by a Picked Nine, consisting primarily of Gothams with a Hoboken, a Resolute and assorted muffins mixed in for good measure. Last week in Monroe Township, the second was the big inning for the Neshanock, but this time it was the third when Flemington tallied ten times for the most part with two out. The Neshanock lead expanded to 16-3 at one point, but the Picked Nine scored five in the sixth and four in the seventh in a seven inning game as Flemington held on for a 17-12 win. Three innings of the second game was played before the depleted ranks of the Picked Nine made it impossible to continue, the Nine were ahead at the time, but three innings did not qualify for an official game.
In the first game, the Flemington offense was led by Dan "Lefty" Gallagher, Dave "Illinois" Harris and Jeff "Duke" Schneider with four hits apiece. "Illinois" and "Duke" would have earned clear scores but for being put out on the bases. Danny "Lunch Time" Shaw and Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner added three hits each and everyone in the Neshanock line up had at least one hit. The defensive play of the game came in the top of the first when a runner from the Picked Nine tried to score on what would have been a sacrifice fly only to be cut down by a remarkable throw from "Lefty" which even more remarkably, Ken "Tumbles" Mandel snagged on the fly. The victory left Flemington's record at 29-11 for the season, but more importantly still one victory shy of the coveted 30 win mark. The Neshanock's final chance at reaching the big 30, will take place on Sunday, October 15th at Fort Dupont Delaware when Flemington will play two of the following fine clubs - the Diamond State of Delaware, Lewes, Delaware and Kennett Square. No matter the opposition, it will be a big challenge. Stay tuned or better still join the Neshanock as we bring down the curtain on the 2017 season.
As part of working on the book about early New Jersey base ball which will accompany the 2018 exhibit at the Morven Museum in Princeton, I've been going through multiple years of articles in the sporting papers of the day. Recently I found the below article in the September 30, 1876 issue of the New York Clipper describing an unusual game where the New Haven nine played two other nines, the Star and Gerard Clubs simultaneously. In other words, the combined team batted 18 players and also had the same number in the field. A quick search didn't provide any further information about this game, but batting more than nine is similar to vintage base ball where in respect for those who give their time everyone gets to hit. It doesn't usually reach 18, but I can remember at least one occasion when the Neshanock had a line up of that number which needless to say didn't work very well as the best hitters get less chances at the striker's line. That may explain the Star and Gerard Club's limited offensive output of three tallies, but it's hard to understand how New Haven managed to get nine runs even with restricted roles for the multiple fielders. Maybe the fielders got in each others way!
New York Clipper - September 30, 1876