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A Most Prolific Season It Was...

Hat's Off! Franklin "Chopper" Davis avoids a collision at first base at the M.A.C. Grounds.

Since the Club was reinvigorated in 2017, the M.A.C. has certainly lived up to it's alias, "Mountain Tourists" - a name it garnered from scribes back in the late 1890's when it was customary for the team to travel in Julius Fleischmann's luxurious Pullman rail car. Indeed, 2023 was a year with plenty of travel (using faster and more dull means of transport). Finishing with a record of 17 wins and 9 defeats, it was the most games played in a season by the M.A.C. since the original team folded in the mid-nineteen aughts.

As we look back on a prolific year, we're reminded that it's all for the love of the game and the pleasure we bring to the cranks who come out to watch. We have garnered such a following that even when heading on long excursions in far off places, we manage to see some familiar faces in the crowd. This really does our hearts good and we want you all to know how much it means to see that what we bring to the diamond is worth a road trip just to watch.

We and the hundreds of other clubs in this baseball sub-culture are bringing a brand of the National Pastime forward into new generations at a time when MLB teams can sign players for more than the Gross Domestic Product of a few third world countries. So, thank you all for coming along for the ride and we hope you enjoy a look back on some of the more memorable moments of our '23 campaign (and as you may or may not recall, some that we'd just assume forget)... April Showers Bring May Sours Our season was to begin on April 30 with a return to the fabled Doubleday Field in Cooperstown for the fist time since we played the Bovina Dairymen there in 2010 in a triple-bill with the Roxbury Nine. The game was to be held in conjunction with the Society of American Baseball Research Fred Ivor-Campbell Nineteenth Century Committee's Annual Meeting. This is perhaps the largest assemblage of pre-1900 baseball aficionados on the planet, some of whom have never seen a live re-creation of what they read or write about in their research of the early game. However, the baseball Gods did not enable this exhibition of 1895 rules baseball to occur as the spring rains saturated the historic grounds overnight, making the event a proverbial wash out.

Our home opener on May 21 welcomed the Providence Grays to the M.A.C. Grounds in Fleischmanns for the first time ever. The Grays are 25 year veterans of the vintage game and one of a few Clubs left in the eastern vintage circuit proficient at overhand pitching - a construct that started in 1884, the year that the Grays won the first "World Series" with a 3-0 win over the New York Metropolitans.

Chopper Davis takes a throw down from the catcher trying to keep Johnny Carlevale of the Grays from swiping a base.

The first match played by 1895 rules was botched when the sloppy defense of the M.A.C. allowed ten Grays to cross home plate in the top of the third inning. Despite a late innings rally, the M.A.C. never recovered and lost 13-10. In the second match of 1864 rules, a similar story unfolded and the M.A.C. was bested by punchy Grays bats that belted in 13 runs to the M.A.C.'s 9.

Game notes: Charlie Dryer, semi-retired and founding member of the Grays, made a special appearance and managed to pull five handmade baseballs imported from Minnesota into the Bushkill (much to the chagrin of the M.A.C.'s captain). One of those balls was found in an eddy two weeks later when another player swatted one into the drink and we went to find it. The ball was put back into circulation, waterlogged but still playable.

Providence Grays fly the state flag of Rhode Island in Fleischmanns after a sweep of the double-header at the M.A.C. home opener.

Carlos "The Kid" Santiago readies to strike in 1895 rules match in Fleischmanns with the Rising Sun Base Ball Club.

Sun Rising Another first coming for a strong team in the vintage circuit came on the tenth of June, when the Rising Sun Base Ball Club rolled into town. Originally founded in 1866, the team is fashioned after one of the earliest base ball teams started in Maryland after the Civil War. The first meeting between the Clubs was at the Gettysburg Nineteenth Century Base Ball Festival in 2022 where the Rising Sun bested the M.A.C. in a come-from-behind win en route to becoming the tournament runner up. This visit to the M.A.C. Grounds was their first crack at the 1895 game and they fared very well in a hotly contested match. As with any overhand match in the nineteenth century, pitching is key. The M.A.C. plated eleven of their eighteen runs on a barrage of hits in the fourth and fifth innings, completing the nine inning affair with a final of 18 runs to RSBBC's 14...a very respectable score for a team who had never been exposed to the '95 game.

Greg "Banker" Rodenbaugh (in his farewell tour before retirement) holds Archie Biruk close to the first bag. Note the most finely restored home on Wagner Ave in the background.

The tables were turned in the 1864 contest that followed with a walloping of the M.A.C. at the hands of the Rising Sun with a score of 18 to 8. Even with the commanding victory, I'm certain the best part of the trip for the Maryland boys was the New England seafood platter and vintage bowling after the game at the Ark Bowl & BBQ. While it left them sluggish for their match the next day in Bovina, I'm sure they'll say it was well worth it!

Game notes: Rookie debut of 23 year-old Carlos "The Kid" Santiago (3B/OF/P). "The Kid" is the youngest of five boys in his family, one of which is older brother Dion who starred briefly on the M.A.C. during our Keator Cup win over Roxbury in 2009.

Rising Sun Base Ball Club is a scrappy crew of ballists from rural Maryland that harken back to an original post-Civil War team from 1866 and always come ready to play.

Another Wet One in Stamford In an effort to raise funds and bring joy to the Catskill Mountain Little League community, the last two seasons we've teamed up with the Dairymen to showcase our style of play under the lights at the Archibald Field in Stamford, NY. The field has been in decline from lack of use since Stamford Central School merged with Jefferson Central School to form a combined baseball team and they went elsewhere to play their games. The historic field seems to be too much to maintain for the school, and as a result, the only baseball happening there anymore is when we host this game....There's not even an American Legion team there anymore. Sad, but true.

The event this year brought weather that was equally as challenging to play in as last year and by gametime we weren't sure what to do, so we commenced an 1895 rules game and just like old times, we had a barn burner. Since we had already called off the umpire due to what we thought earlier would be unplayable conditions, the Dairymen's Troy "Train" Tucker stood in to umpire and did a great job.

With a five run cushion (11-6) heading into the top of the ninth inning, M.A.C. starter Devon "Beeds" Bedient had the bottom three batsman in order to face and retire. Prior to the first pitch of the inning, Beeds confidently says to the captain, Stumpy Miller, "I've got 'em where I want 'em." But true to form, the Dairymen would not go quietly into the night. They erupted with a barrage of seeing eye singles, some bloops and after an abrupt pitching change (by a nervous and jumpy manager) all the Bovina bats had plated 12 runs in all and would go on to win by a lopsided 18-11 score. It was a demoralizing loss after a very well-played eight innings by the M.A.C.

The M.A.C. would close out the month of June with a return home to face the Polecat Base Ball Club. The M.A.C. were eager to regain their form and that they did...Facing a young pitcher fresh off of the Delhi American Legion team, the M.A.C.s erupted for seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings, going on to rout the Polecats by an sixteen run margin and closing the game with a final score of 22 to 6 improving their rough-start record to 2 wins and 4 losses.

A Sun Soaking in Gettysburg

Our second visit to the Gettysburg National 19th Century Base Ball Festival in as many years started off with an 8-5 loss to the host club the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton (MD) followed by an 8-2 loss to Lewes Base Ball Club (DE). At 30 teams participating by invite only, the festival is the largest assemblage of nineteenth century baseball players in the world. And it's always oppressively humid. Game Notes: Playing third base for Lewes that day in his final season before retirement was 78 year-old Warren "Yankee" Miller. Miller credits one of his most significant baseball moments as having spent two hours discussing hitting with the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. The encounter came during Miller's last stint in semi-pro ball while playing for the Oneonta (NY) Red Sox in 1966 - a year in which he was selected to play in the New York-Penn League All Star game. Read: Warren ‘Yankee’ Miller’s noteworthy life of baseball, October 2023, Cape Gazette.

The second day at Gettysburg went much better with a 11 to 6 morning victory over the Flemington Neshanock and a 10 to 6 win over the Gettysburg Generals helping to improve the MAC record to four wins and six defeats.

Game Notes:

  • Andrew "Crutches" Krutz, a perennial backstop and left fielder for the M.A.C., lost a tooth while running to first base.

  • The site of the festival is on what was the dividing line between the Union and Confederate territory. During the Battle of Gettysburg, the area changed hands five times between the North and South.

  • Union re-enactors posed with the Clubs for a photo op after the game.

  • Beeds stole home.

A Changing of the Guard

Guards Captain, Taylor Bruck shows good form in releasing the sphere 45 feet from home.

A return home to the cooler breezes of the Catskills was welcome when we hosted the Kingston (Washington) Guard for the first time while improving our record to 6 and 6. The Guard is in the midst of a comeback since disbanding like many other teams in the wake of Hurricane Irene in 2011. The team draws its name from the 120th NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment also known as the "Washington Guard" who joined with the Army of the Potomac to protect the Nation's capitol during the Civil War.

Game notes: Short on players, the Guards recruited Kevin Blau of New Orleans, LA who was in town visiting family in Halcottsville. In a degree of separation from an original M.A.C., Kevin is a ticket salesman for the present day New Orleans Pelicans NBA franchise who took their name from a former minor league baseball team in the Big Easy....a team on which Fleischmanns own Jay Kirke played for after his career in the Majors and did so well that he was inducted into the New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.

Doin' It for Doc

For 26 years and counting, Old Bethpage Village Restoration in Bethpage, NY - the birthplace of vintage baseball - plays host to the Doc Adams Old Time Base Ball Festival. The fest is named in honor of early baseball pioneer, Daniel "Doc" Adams, MD former Knickerbocker Base Ball Club President, creator of the shortstop position, and author of The Laws of Base Ball in 1857. This is one of the few festivals in our circuit that offers teams several different eras of play and thus the M.A.C. returned for the first time since 2019 to play the Atlantic Base Ball Club in 1864 (underhand pitching) and the Providence Grays in 1884 (overhand pitching).

For the first time in many meetings over the years, the M.A.C. prevailed with a 14-5 win in a time-limited game with the Atlantics. It is common in our games to allow more than nine players to bat and therefore a lineup that takes longer to turn over (with several more batsman than a team's best nine players) can sometimes be to a team's detriment. That was the case here for the overstaffed Atlantics. We're fortunate to earn a "W" from the ABBC anyway we can!

DUCK!! Providence Grays's perennial backstop, Tony McClellan takes an errant pitch as Andrew "Crutches" Krutz gets out of harm's way.

Redemption was in store from the home opener losses we suffered at the hands of the Grays. In an abbreviated contest, the M.A.C.s downed the Grays 11-5 before an appearance by former MLBer Art Shamsky - a key contributor to the Miracle Mets pennant winners in 1969.

Miracle Met, Art Shamsky #24 stands in with teams participating in the Doc Adams Old Time Base Ball Fest on August 4, 2023 in Bethpage, NY.

Doin' The Pidgeon

Saugerties Base Ball Club joined the M.A.C. at home for an 1864 twin bill.

The newest edition to the local vintage baseball circuit, the Saugerties Base Ball Club ascended from the Hudson Valley to the M.A.C. Grounds for a twin bill of 1864 rules games. The strongest connection to the early game for this club is the famous pitcher Frank Pidgeon of the Excelsior Base Ball Club. Pidgeon resided for much of his life in Saugerties and his original home is now the location of the town's historical society. The team is a fledgling group eager to compete among the tough east coast circuit. It's a tough group to break into and like any new club, they've taken their licks in their first season. This afternoon matinee of ball in Fleischmanns was no different and the M.A.C. would triumph handily over the newbies improving their record to 10 wins and 6 defeats. Rest assured, the Saugerties club will be back at it in 2024 with all smiles waiting for their next match.

New England Barnstorm

Since the second revival of the M.A.C., it has been a goal to join a New England club for a match at George's Island in Boston Harbor.

With an expansive green in the center of the historic Fort Warren (used as a camp for POWs during the Civil War), there is no other place quite as unique to host vintage baseball. Whether its taking a ferry boat ride to the game or the feeling you get when walking through the tunnel into the courtyard of the fort (similar to the feeling of walking out into a baseball stadium), it never fails to impress and inspire... Due to a limited ferry schedule, we could only muster two 1864 games, but the M.A.C. emerged with two more wins to edge the season series with the Grays at 3 games to 2.

Game notes: Many thanks to Kevin Kennedy (Boston Union Base Ball Club), Andrews Landsman (Delhi Polecats) and Bill Foley (New Hampshire Granite) for helping us to make a solid nine.

The second stop on the barnstorm was historic Weathersfield Cove - a whaling community in the 1600's where ships would sail up the Connecticut River for mooring. On the site of an old state penitentiary long since razed and set aback from the water's edge, the Connecticut Base Ball Club of Hartford holds court on an expansive green. And that is just what they did...By the swift and crafty pitching of Brett "Gooch" Barry, the M.A.C. bats were stymied and shutout. In all of nine innings, the M.A.C. could not plate just one run. Following a triple play to end the game, the Hartfords emerged victorious continuing their most prolific and successful season since coming onto the scene in 2017. The Cove would be a wonderful place to spend a weekend of festival ball and we sincerely hope the Hartfords could oblige us that privilege some day.

Her Game is Base Ball

Following a 14-5 rout of the Bovina Dairymen behind stellar pitching from former Class A hurler, Winston "The Venezuelan Sensation" Marquez, the M.A.C. and Dairymen staged a picked nine 1895 exhibition with several young women who are the focus of an upcoming documentary film "Her Game is Hardball" about women in baseball. Acclaimed producer and documentary filmmaker, Mark Durand (This Week in Baseball with Mel Allen, ESPN Films, ESPN Classic) wanted some footage of mixed gender baseball in period accurate attire which had been common in the 1890's and early 1900's. All woman baseball teams were more prevalent in the days before softball came around and there are many women today who are making a run at playing in the big leagues. This segment of filming was a project that's been in the works since Mark's first attendance at the Fleischmanns Yeast 150th Anniversary in June 2019.

We thank Elise Berger (Champlain Valley Union H.S. Shelburne, VT), Alexia Jorge (Saint Elizabeth University), Gabrielle Augustine (Nat'l Baseball HOF, Leatherstocking Adult Baseball League), Samantha Agredo (Millenium H.S. - Manhattan, NY), Isabell Scandurra (Albany High School) for making the trip out and will save a spot on our roster for you anytime you're in town. Watch the slide show!

Hi-Ho the Dairy-O

Our return to the Time and The Valleys Museum was rained out...So, on we went to the 3rd Annual Cowtown Scramble hosted by the Delaware County Vintage Base Ball Association and Livestock Foundation. As a co-organizer of this event, we eternally grateful to have some of the finest grounds to play upon in our own back yard and it does our hearts well to share our slice of heaven with the rest of our base ball brethren. The M.A.C. dusted the Monmouth Furnace in our first match. It was our first meeting since a match with them in 2019 at Brewery Ommegang. Game notes: First game for Margaretville resident, Butch Wojurtski.

In the second match of the day, the Atlantics lit up the M.A.C. for 16 runs while holding the M.A.C. to just two tallies.

The Atlantics would finish the festival with a 3-1 record and when considering their strength of schedule, it was determined that they "earned the churn"...the inaugural Cream of the Crop Award - an antique butter churn.... A fitting tribute for a ballfield created next to a creamery on an old dairy farm in a town named in honor of cows.

In the second day of the fest, the M.A.C. played the lone overhand match of the weekend for the second year in a row and bested the Westfield Wheelmen 14-5 in eight innings. Game Notes: Fill-in Suzanne Bange from Dolgeville garnered 4 RBI from the eight-spot and local softball coach and native Bovinian, Brent Trimbell stood in to play right field for the M.A.C.

And in our final match of the weekend, we joined the Saugerties Base Ball Club again notching another win. We look forward to returning to this premier event and hope to improve on it for many years to come.

L-R Saugerties Base Ball Club, Bovina Dairymen, Delhi Polecats, Fleischmanns Mountain Athletic Club at the 3rd Annual Cowtown Scramble, 2023 in Bovina Center, N.Y.

Back Where It All Began

Last stop on the Tourists schedule was a match with the Delhi Polecats at the Crawford Field in Hamden, N.Y. - the town most famous for the first time that money was offered for a baseball game in July of 1825. The Polecats obliged us in 1895 play on a chilly autumn day. By the time the fat lady sang, we'd capped off our seventeenth victory of the '23 campaign. DelCo photographer and filmmaker, Jessica Vecchione came out and captured some excellent photos of the ball game.

Game notes:

  • First game for Port Jervis resident, Josh Cohen.

  • For the first time and perhaps the last, James "Two-Bag" Davis started on the hill for the Polecats dueling against his father and six-year veteran pitcher and third baseman of the M.A.C., Franklin "Chopper" Davis. Chopper and James have been a fixture in the M.A.C. revival and we've got to watch James grow up and join the Club. In fact, he was the first M.A.C. to hit a home run at Crawford Field as a fifteen year-old in 2021. We expect great things for this young man as he opts to join the Polecats and we wish Chopper the best in his retirement from the M.A.C. to focus on his business as a professional logging contractor.


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