Grangers Top Fort Mackinac Never Sweats in Gentlemen's Game

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By Kerri Jo Molitor

At left: Doug "Moonlight" Otlewski (left) of the Rochester Grangers and John "Ratso" Hiller of the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats use a bat to determine which team will be first at bat. The hand-over-hand method is won by Mr. Otlewski, although Mr. Hiller tries to include his fingertips to win the play option. The crowd enjoyed his efforts, although the umpire ruled against him. Teammate "Kenny Boy" Fegan looks on.
After nine grueling innings of well-played vintage base ball, the Rochester Grangers walked away the victors, beating the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats 11-3 on their home field behind Fort Mackinac. About 320 people attended the game Saturday, July 18.

The difference between this game and modern baseball games was easy to see, as the game wasn't about winning, but instead about having fun. This particular game was also about educating the fans about the game, the precursor to modern baseball. Well used to playing together, the players teased and joked with one another throughout the game.

Base ball cards with biogra- phy information were handed out to fans, who approached the players on the bench to ask for autographs.

In between innings of the vintage base ball game between the Rochester Grangers and the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats Saturday, July 18, Granger Doug "Moonlight" Otlewski recites a poem, "Ode to Pops," in honor of Never Sweats Manager Phil "Pops" Porter.
Umpire John "Cowpie" Soma started the game with an introduction for "cranks," or fans, watching the game. Throughout the game, he also explained why the players did particular things, all in keeping with vintage base ball rules. A couple of Never Sweats players were caught breaking the rules of the gentleman's game, but after a profuse apology to the fans while on their knees, or even flat on their stomachs, they were allowed to continue the contest.

There were a few injuries, specifically the dislocated finger of Rochester Grangers player Anthony "Goodfella" Prasatek. Any vintage base ball player is tough, as proved by Mr. Prasatek when he said "I'll just pop it back in."

He dislocated his ring finger while trying to catch a ball, a common injury because the game is played without gloves. Many of the players have had broken fingers in the past. After Mr. Prasatek's finger was taped up, he went on to score a run for his team.

Preparing to take their spots on the same base ball field Fort Mackinac soldiers once used in the late 1800s, the Never Sweats, in dark shirts and light pants, challenge the Rochester Grangers, in white shirts and suspenders. More than 300 vintage base ball fans watch as John "Cowpie" Soma introduces team members Saturday, July 18.
An umpire, Bob "Pappy" Rug, said he is neutral when it comes to making decisions, but he is glad the Grangers won. Mr. Rug is from Rochester and said the vintage base ball league is not only a great organization, but also a great bunch of guys. He said he enjoys the camaraderie and the friendliness of all of the players, evident at the game Saturday.

Two fans from Rochester, Karen McKay and Becky Soma, both cheered for their husbands in the game. Mrs. Mc- Kay's husband, Patrick "Barnraiser" McKay, is a player for the Grangers, while Mrs. Soma's husband is John Soma, the umpire interpreting the game for the fans.

Coach Pete Pellerito begs the "cranks," or fans, for forgiveness after fighting with someone from the opposing team. Fighting is against the rules in vintage base ball, which is a gentlemen's game. Umpire John "Cowpie" Soma explained to the audience that Mr. Pellerito had a history of fighting transgressions over the years, and so the "cranks" demanded that he apologize while lying on his stomach, a true sign of his remorse. The "cranks" decide if a player can return to the game, and allowed Mr. Pellerito to continue playing.
While they cheer for the Grangers, Mrs. McKay said they are also huge fans of the Never Sweats.

"We love the Mackinac Island game," she said. "We look so forward to it every year."

The Grangers play a lot of games throughout the season.

The Mackinac Island game "is the team's favorite game to to play," Mrs. Soma said. "And it is the cranks' favorite game to watch."

Phil "Pops" Porter, manager of the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats, dives to catch a ball on the bounce. It slips through his fingers. Teammate Shawn "Iggy" Cowell runs to assist. The Never Sweats ended up losing the game 11 to 3 to the Rochester Grangers.
Jim Bekkering (from left), Paul Schultz, and John Beery of the Northwind Brass Band of Traverse City provided music as base ball fans arrived at the large parade ground behind Fort Mackinac. The band also provided music during the game Saturday, July 18. Band members not pictured are Jennifer Fenton and Nathan Miller.
Watching their favorite vintage base ball game of the year, (from left) Megan McKay, Becky Soma, and Karen McKay cheer on both the Rochester Grangers and the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats Saturday, July 18. The three ladies hail from Rochester and love to travel with the Grangers to play on Mackinac Island's field behind Fort Mackinac. "This is probably the best game to watch," said Megan McKay, whose father plays for the Grangers. "It's one of the best places to be."

2009-07-25 / Top News

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