Volume 74, Number 55 | May 25 - 31 , 2005

Sports

Brewers catcher Jukie Tsai tried to get a sign about the rain

Some balk at ump’s calls, even guy reading the book

By Judith Stiles

The parents in the stands were feeling a little guilty that they were sheltered from the rain under a ledge at Pier 40 while their boys were out on the baseball field being pelted with raindrops. There was a good turnout of fans for both the Brewers and the Phillies of the Juniors Division in Greenwich Village Little League, and for a Sunday in late May, it was shocking to see everyone zipped up in thick jackets. Michael Beuerle of the Phillies wore rain gear during the pre-game warm-ups, and with his hood pulled tight and shivering, firmly declared that the rain did not bother him.

“I just love to play baseball anyway,” he said.

The difference between the Juniors and Seniors Divisions is not just the two-year spread between ages 13 and 15 years, rather it is the difference between gangly pre-pubescent boys in the younger division and wide-shouldered shaving young men in the older division. Not only does their size change, but the flow of the game improves as they get older and more experienced. For the Juniors, the game is often overshadowed by wild pitches and wild throws that lead to a lot of walking and base stealing. A few of the parents whispered that with all the wild pitches they had to sit through, the games had often became “interminable,” especially when they did not reach four and a half innings within the designated two and a half hours, making it necessary to finish the games on another day. Nevertheless, the fans had faith that since the teams had been practicing hard, they would surely settle into a more mature game before the end of the season.

John Connuck did a great job as catcher for the Phillies for the entire game, while Roddo DiStefano started as their ace pitcher. Looking like a pro with his smooth windup and serious demeanor, DiStefano made the fans in the stands sit up and take notice, all except one father who was reading a book called “Life in the Country.”

After the top of the first inning, the Brewers chalked up four runs before Zach Carson began pitching for the Brewers. It did not help that two Phillies were missing because of a school play and several injuries shrunk their roster. Although Carson did a magnificent job on the mound, wild throws and stolen bases helped the Phillies eek out five runs, putting them ahead after Ben Lavin stole second, third and then home.

“Smiling Gary” Hinson did an impeccable job as umpire along with Austin Henkel. According to the critics in the stands (mostly mothers), Hinson never made a bad call. However, they twittered among themselves that he was merciless (yet fair), when he called a balk whenever the pitcher moved his shoulder “ever so slightly.” Next, in the top of the third inning with the bases loaded, Smiling Gary boomed out, “Infield fly rule in effect!” By now even the reading parent closed his book and put it away as all the fans waited to see if DiStefano could strike out the next batter. With two strikes on him, the Brewers’ batter sliced at the third pitch, but instead of shouting, “You’re out!” Hinson called a balk, and pitcher DiStefano stood there in steely silence as he watched the batter trot to first base. Soon enough, the unflappable DiStefano struck out the next batter to end the inning with a score of 10-7 in favor of the Phillies.

All in all, it was a relatively calm, cool and collected game in the history of G.V.L.L., with barely a peep being heard from the affable managers Kent Iglehart of the Phillies and Stephen Curasco of the Brewers. Jukie Tsai did a standout job as catcher for the Brewers, and Steven Iglehart was terrific as relief pitcher for the Phillies. By the time he came in, it was so cold and wet that one of the mothers, Martha Beurle, cheekily suggested that “they get a hair dryer to dry the ball and warm the pitcher’s hands.” The game ended 12-7 in favor of the Phillies, with everyone glad to be done with the cold rain as they bolted from Pier 40, hoping that the next time they return, it might actually be a lazy hazy hot day of baseball.

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