'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BASEBALL ALIVE AND WELL IN TORRINGTON
A few weeks ago I wrote about the defunct Torrington Twisters baseball team, which was a franchise in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the past 12 years. In the dead of winter, the new owners of the team thumbed their noses at the good people of T-town and bolted for greener pastures, moving the franchise to New Bedford, MA.
I lamented our loss of spirited amateur baseball, with the crack of genuine wooden bats echoing across the Naugatuck River from lovely old Fuessenich Park on warm starry summer nights. (Sheesh, that sentence sounds even more schmaltzy now than when I first wrote it. But I don’t care, because I really enjoyed sitting in the bleachers and watching those games. It had a kind of “Field of Dreams” feeling to it, as if the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson could appear at any moment walking in from left field. Yes, you’re right. I have to remember to take my meds.)
Soon after that column appeared in the newspaper, I received a spirited email from a fan of amateur baseball. The email politely said something like, “Hey knucklehead! Baseball is not dead in Torrington. The local American Legion team plays a terrific brand of ball. And this year they’re using genuine wooden bats!”
That email sure got my attention. Not because of “knucklehead”—I’m called that at least five times a day, ten if you count my mom—but because wooden bats were mentioned. I’m not sure why, but I just love wooden bats. Maybe it’s the sound, a deep, manly “crack” versus a high pitched, metallic “ping.” The crack simply sounds like baseball. The ping sound like you dropped a wrench on the garage floor.
Maybe I like wooden bats because if a pitcher saws off the hitter with a good fastball on the fists, he deserves to be rewarded with a weak flare to shortstop rather than what happens too often with metal bats, a single dumped into centerfield. Metal bats turn Punch-and-Judy hitters into power threats. Wooden bats separate the men from the boys.
Well, whatever the reason for my affinity for wood, I had to check it out. I am pleased to report amateur baseball is alive and well at Fuessenich. The local Legion team is called the P-38’s, and most of the ballplayers are from Torrington and Litchfield. They play 14 regular season home games during June and July. And they really know the game. By that I mean, you can tell right away these kids understand the nuances of the National Pastime; they love the sport; and they hustle their hearts out.
Also, they’re pretty talented. Granted, the skill level is not the same as the Twisters. But who would expect high school-aged guys to be at the same level as college-aged guys? It never mattered that the Twisters weren’t as skillful as, say, the New Britain Rock Cats. Just as the Rock Cats aren’t as skillful as the Boston Red Sox, and the Red Sox aren’t as skillful as I was in college in 1979. (I’m a big believer in the adage: the older I get the better I was. Another few years and I will have been a hall-of-famer.)
Anyway, as one baseball fan to another (all the non-baseball fans surely have turned to the comics page by now), if you’re having Twisters withdrawal symptoms, check out an American Legion game at Fuessenich. You’ll be glad you did.
By the way, the emailer didn’t actually call me “knucklehead.” That special term of endearment is reserved for Mom’s use.
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