Little League news
WILLIAMSPORT TOURNAMENT UPDATE: The defending District 9 champion “Townies” raised the bar on drama, experiencing both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the first two-rounds of playoff action.
Charlestown outlasted Mission Hill 10-9 in a back-and-forth barn-burner that included enough twists and turns to satisfy any chiropractor. Tyler Goldman (3 RBIs) and Raymond Baez (2 RBIs) blasted clutch doubles and Brennan Carrier whacked an RBI single to give the “Townies” a 6-2 lead after four innings. Mission Hill, however, stormed back with four runs in the top of the fifth. In the bottom half of the fifth, Charlestown got the runs back on a series of aggressive base-running maneuvers. Patrick Kelly capitalized on the newly instituted “dropped third strike” rule by alertly running to second base when the Mission Hill catcher couldn’t locate the baseball after a passed ball. Baez followed with a similar hustle play on a “dropped third strike” barely beating the throw to first on a controversial play; during the ensuing confusion Kelly scampered home to score the “Townies” tenth run. Mission Hill, once again, would not go down easy and rallied to make it a one-run game in their last at-bat before shortstop Baez snared a wicked one-hopper and completed the game-ending out. The hero of the game for Charlestown was fireballer Anthony Bolger who tossed a career-high five innings of relief to pick up the win.
Despite suffering a 6-5 setback to Savin Hill in their next game, Charlestown displayed tremendous resolve in storming back from a 6-0 late-game deficit to nearly pull off the comeback. Goldman and Mark Williamson belted RBI hits and outfielder Jacob Leavitt mortared a clutch last at-bat double to give the “Townies” hope, but it wasn’t meant to be. Give credit to a sensational Savin Hill infield who totaled four double plays in snuffing out one Charlestown rally after another.
MAYOR’S CUP TOURNEY UPDATE: In a sign that the Charlestown Little League program continues to thrive, both the 9 year-old and 10 year-old All Star teams advanced to the quarterfinal round. The 9 year-olds outlasted Savin Hill 10-9 before dismembering Cedar Grove to the tune of 16-0. Not to be outdone, the 10 year-olds toppled Parkway by a 4-1 score before blasting Cedar Grove 12-2 in a slaughter-rule runaway. Both teams will play on Saturday, July 14. For the latest up-to-date information, go to the Charlestown Little League website at www.leaguelineup.com/charlestown-l-l.
A day at the “Bunka”
It was a typical summer day circa late 1960’s and early 1970’s. A line of people, mostly kids clad in bathing suits and holding articles of clothing, extended outside the Clougherty Pool building onto the Ensign John J. Doherty Jr. Playground. Methodically, the queue progressed inside to an enclosed area where a teenage employee would direct you to place your items into a numbered wire basket; a corresponding numbered wrist band was issued which allowed you to retrieve your items when leaving the pool.
Once inside, the sparkling water of the packed pool beckoned. An oversized placard by the entranceway outlined pool protocol; diving in the shallow end and running alongside the pool were especially verboten. An elite force of well-tanned, muscular lifeguards, nattily attired in orange swim suits and reflective sunglasses, were quick with a whistle when rules were violated. Most often, the punishment involved a “time out” or “push-ups;” lifeguards Rudy Doenges and Kevin Donovan took particular pleasure in requiring me do “push-ups” knowing full well I couldn’t do one, never mind ten.
The highlight of the pool experience, in my opinion, was the diving boards of the “16-footer.” The lower boards were ordinarily packed with novice swimmers performing “belly flops,” “jackknives” and basic dives. The towering middle diving board, however, was reserved for the most fearless and experienced of swimmers. The cast iron guard rails surrounding the “16-footer” were often crowded with onlookers admiring the graceful “pikes,” “twists,” “backward summersaults” and other impressive aquatics of talented teenagers. To the delight of many, an occasional “wisenheimer” would “cannonball” the unsuspecting audience.
A refreshment area, located on the roof of the pool building, was the perfect spot to enjoy a welcoming breeze while munching on a frozen “Milky Way,” “Sno-Cone” or other “hit the spot” snack.
Special events were also held at the “Bunka” which showcased members of the Boys Club swim team, and other youth programs, in amateur competitions. Two-time gold medal Olympian Donna de Varona was the guest of honor for one such event and graciously spent time advising “Townie” swimmers on the importance of exercise, nutrition and setting goals.
When the whistles blew at dusk indicating the pool was closing, a line would quickly form to begin the basket process all over again. I lived near the “Training Field” and always took the “Nanny Goat Hill” shortcut home. After hopping over the side of the “40 Flights,” I made sure to accumulate plenty of crabapples for the inevitable ambush I would be subjected to along the pedestrian-worn path. Best of all, I couldn’t wait to do it all over again the next day