The local vintage nine closed out its ninth regular season on a recent Saturday as the Newtown Sandy Hooks vintage base ball team swept a doubleheader from the 1884 Providence Grays on a spectacular day at Fort Adams in Newport, RI. The annual event in America’s First Resort is a highlight of Newtown’s season and all hands greet the day with vigor and expectation.
Both the early 1860’s affair as well as the later 1884 main event featured riveting athleticism and field play that kept the assembled cranks awestruck and engaged.
As their name suggests, the Grays are patterned after the Old Hoss’ Redbourn’s club that won the first National League Championship in 1884, and in the vintage ranks they are know for their talent and tenacity that puts them a step above other clubs.
In game one, Jason Edwards spun a masterful pitching performance while his mates placed hit after timely hit to the far reaches of the ball yard. The battle was intense as both sides struggled for the lead. But, on numerous occasions, potential Providence rallies were snuffed out when the laser arm of Adam Wheat, the Hooks veteran backstop, cut down base runners daring to stray from a base. In the end, the Grays were no match for Newtown as the Sandy Hooks out-hit, out-fielded and outscored the Grays by a two to one margin, to win match one going away.
Session two, the more demanding 1884 rules game has always been the Grays’ bread and butter and the Sandy Hooks knew they had a steep hill to climb in order to match their previous performance. Last season, with a full compliment of stars, the Hooks upset the Grays on the Fort Adams grounds in overwhelming fashion. This year, the home side was determined to return the favor. The Hooks approached the day with minor trepidation as their depleted ranks meant a one hundred percent effort would be required by all ballists in order to meet the day’s challenge.
Pete Friedman, the dependable veteran southpaw, was called upon to hurl for Newtown, and hurl he did as he shut down the strength of the opposing lineup. At the same time, the Newtown bats took advantage of shaky Providence pitching and pummeled the opposing side with pinpoint hitting, and heroic base running that generated a commanding lead they would never relinquish. In the later innings Jamie Leath traded places with Friedman and continued the domination while Wheat, Norwich, Ortiz, Edwards, Smith, and Brian and Mike Donnelly continued to gobble-up everything that crossed their paths.
On this day, the Sandy Hooks brought their ‘A’ game and everyone in the picturesque ball grounds knew it. In the final accounting the Sandy Hooks skipped home with a decisive 13 to 7 victory.
Following the game, while watching his players excel in a full day of punishing play founding president Ray Shaw was heard to exclaim, “I am extremely proud of this talented group who interrupted their weekend to travel this long distance, and put eighteen innings of sweat and pain into a game they love in order to honor the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook, as well as the Grays and this historic site.”
Next year, 2014, be the ten-year anniversary of the Newtown Sandy Hook Vintage Base Ball Club and the team is seeking a few stouthearted men who wish to play base ball the way it was meant to be played, and keep the tradition alive. Contact one of the Sandy Hooks if you wish to enlist. Contact Zac Smith at Zsmith10@gmail.com or Jay Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.