Three doses of Big News came out today and I am trying to catch me breathe. I was already behind schedule when the news started rolling in- The league gets a chance to showcase itself with an exhibition Double Header (July 15TH), Austin Gisriel story is available (Virginia Living) and Chris Graham's (The New Dominion-July 15TH) will be out next week. I have put something up on these Red Letter Items but now I need to start playing catch-up on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday...
Let's start with the fact that the day after Maddux gave up 1 earned run and lost 3-1, the Padres exploded for 10 runs against the Florida Marlins...
Sunday (Covington)- The ATV-60/Bruce Alger Rebels bus ride started the days events. We pulled out of Rebel Park just after 12:30 PM and we pulled back in at 1:17 AM Monday morning. Victor did an excellent job of driving us down and back home despite being heckled by Bruce for the better part of the return trip. We made the loop in just under 13 hours and while I had seen Victor around the park before this was the 1ST time I had been able to visit with him. Just another neat fella with a great disposition that has been part of the Rebel family for years.
We arrived at Casey Field with five Rebels in tow (Nick Stanley, Kevin Dietrich, Dan Genzler, Brandon Holloway and David Burch. Rebel skipper Nolan Neiman and GM-Bruce Alger completed the official group of Rebels but we were joined by some very special fans. Mr. Burch (David Burch Sr.) was up from Louisiana to see his son David pitch, my older brother Wayne Carter (out from Indiana) and Barbara Black were among some of the folks on the bus with us.
The ride down gave Bruce and myself to compare notes on the season so far and Nolan and Barbara joined in before we arrived at the park. I remembered from my feature story (NVD) on the hiring of Nolan that he was an up and coming young man that has a future in baseball. The chance to share a few thoughts with him is always enlightening. Barbara is really a one of a kind lady that has a passion for baseball that is similar to the way I follow Maddux. The majority of our time talking was later in the evening as we headed back to Rebel Park. The time with my brother for the week-end was priceless as it allowed Wayne to get an understanding of the efforts of this site and the promotion.
We arrived about the same time that most of the other teams did and the VBL Board of Directors showed up soon after with a SUV full of food from the Chili's in Staunton. We took pictures of everyone and then headed over to the KFC next door to allow the players and coaches time to enjoy their meal. Wayne and I were sitting at a table when Bruce and Victor walked in to grab lunch. Bruce shared the same thought about allowing the players and the skippers the time to enjoy the meal and the honor of the game without interruption. Kudos to Chili's not only for their sponsorship but for the meal as well.
It was soon time to head back over and the clouds in the sky were looking scary. The weather only delayed the festivities once and the turn out for the game was solid. I want to note at this point that the number of people wearing "H" on their hat (Haymarket) was truly impressive!
The 60 yard dash was the first item of offical business for the evening. There are three things I noticed about the dash- (1) John Leonard was down on the finishing end with the scouts and he had his own stop watch to check the times, (2) Lawrence Nesselerodt (Waynesboro) was quick to jump in and keep the event sailing along and that (3) Aldaberto Santos looked like he was flying- he did capture the title of Fastest Player in the VBL when he won the competition!
It was on to the Home Run Derby- I was able to share the HR Derby results earlier in the blog so I will mention that Liberty University/Luray Wrangler Jeff Jefferson won the contest. The fun of the contest for me was the people I was surrounded by while it was going on. I had mentioned Jeff's Dad (Kieth) and high school coach (Mark Austin) were close by and that was just the start of the list. I was able to spend 20 minutes or so chatting with FR's Skipper Bob
Brotherton again and he is one of my favorite people in all of baseball to visit with. Woodstock Owner Stu Richardson and Bruce (NM) were both active in the conversation and John Leonard was by for a bit as well. Donn Foltz (Foltzie) was always willing to stop and crack a smile for another pic of the River Bandits skipper.
I will see if Rebecca can match up some pictures with the correct spots in the post. We posted the 240+ pics as soon as we could so they would be available for all to see. I found out later thatHaymarket Joe managed to snap off over 700 himself and as always we have welcomed him to share a few with our readers.
The game itself started pretty close to on-time dispite the one rain delay of the evening. The two best pitchers of the 1ST half started the game (Baxter from Staunton should be part of that group and he was the second pitcher from the South to see action. Travis Smink took the hill for Luray skipper Mike Bocock and the North while Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro) started for Nesselrodt and the South. Adam worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first before giving way to Mr. Lance (I have really nasty stough) Baxter. Baxter reminds me so much of a young Tommy Glavine with his combo of fastball and ability to locate his off speed pitches.
The game ended in a 5-5 tie after the South rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. At thiss point I would like to direct you to the VBL site http://www.valleyleaguebaseball.com/ if you would like to view the complete game box score as well as a complete play by play of the entire game. The VBL site did a great job of compiling the info and I wish everyone could take a look at the game highlights they produced.
The one thing that as they say won't show up in the box score was the near death experience that occured in the 6TH inning with Mickey Wiswall at the plate. I stood right behind the 3RD base duggout the entire day and was still there when Wiswall came to the dish in the 6TH inning. Wiswall turned on a pitch just a little early and it was on top of me before I could react. I would debate that it was the hardest hit ball of the entire night. With help from above, it missed my head by about a foot and then proceded to collide with the slushie stand a few feet away. The dent the ball put into that stand will be something I will remember for a long,long time. I did manage to stop the ball with my foot on the rebound and hope to run into Wiswall later in the season.
People I had the privelidge of meeting for the first time during the game-Kyle Cichy's Mom, Cory Johnson's Dad (Mr.J, if you are reading this- your words really made my day!) and Casey Albanese's father. You should find photos of all of these folks amongnst the pics we took.
One or two side notes worth mentioning- I am a big fan of the spirit that is Haymarket Joe. If you have been to any Haymarket road game, then you know Joe! He is the PA man at the Senators home games so he can't be quite as animated as he is when he is on the road. I say all the time that Joe is someone that everyteam should have- a die hard fan that remains positive in his support for the home town nine. Down in Covington, Joe was receiving his normal amount of odd looks and stares so I went over and asked him if I could join in on the next one? Joe said sure and we shared one hollar together. Just my way of showing my support for one of the VBL's biggest assets!
The second note also involves Joe or in this case a pair of Joe's. Joe was telling me that his day started out at the bus station where he picked up Senators' Joe Conforti. Conforti had to return home to the NYC area for a family matter and had boared a bus at 6:30 AM to try and get to Covington. Joe picked up Joe and they rode down to the game together- neat story if it ended there but in the top of the 7TH Conforti came up to the plate with the score tied 3-3. Tripp Swann has reached first base with a 1 out walk and Conforti launched a two run home run to give the North a 5-3 lead. Hollywood type stuff here then add in a circus catch out in left field (Ryan Gauck), another grab by Conforti and a great diving stop and throw at third base by FR's Jesse Henry and it made for a great night of VBL action! It is about time to get ready to handle the PA work down at Bulldog Field for the Covington @ Luray game. It has been 7 days since the Wranglers played at home.
Still have some more notes on Covington and then some great stuff from Woodstock & Waynesboro to come.