Dateline: Bill Smith Stadium (AKA Fox Mill 1)
It was a beautiful Spring afternoon at Bill Smith Stadium, home to the Reston Little League National League Champion Cardinals. This reporter was informed that team manager Grossman would be out of town on a scouting trip. The Cardinals need a twelth player for the up coming Starliper tournament so Coach Grossman was making the circuit of the farm clubs. Management fell to the Assistant Manager Coach Goldstein.
Play started in the first with ‘Fence’ on the mound and the Reds vaunted offence at the plate. The first batter hit a dribbler back to the mound where ‘Fence’ scooped it up and made an easy toss to ‘Inspector Gadget’ on first. The next batter hit a sharp shot to the ‘Heart Attack Jack’ at Shortstop, who made a hard play on the ball but was not in time with the throw. The next Reds hit another hard shot to 2nd where ‘The Flood’ made stop but the runners advanced to 1st and 3rd. A wild pitch scored one and 2 walks latter bases were loaded. ‘I-Man’ the catcher called time and had a conference on the mound with ‘Fence’ and the infield.
The next batter hit a grounder to shortstop where ‘Heart Attack Jack’ scooped it up and threw it home for out 2. And with a 2-2 count on the next batter ‘Fence’ threw heat and the batter watched strike three go by for out three.
The Cardinals offense was pumped for their at bat and what an inning it was. ‘Fence’ lead off with a single to third base, He advanced to second on a steal. ‘A&W’ walked. Next, ”Inspector Gadget’ hit a power shot to the opposite field. This scored ‘Fence’. The ‘I-Man’ smashed one to right which scored ‘A&W’. ‘Heart Attack Jack smashed yet another which scored ‘Inspector Gadget’ and ‘Triple D’ hit a hard shot to second where they made the catch and caught ‘Heart Attack Jack’ trying to return to first, for the double play. ‘The Flood drew a walk and ‘The Gecko’ drove in the fourth run with a clean single down the Third Base line. After one it was Reds 1 Cards 4.
‘Fence’ took the mound again. He was still throwing heat and struck out the first. Walked the next struck out the third. Walked a few, just to make things interesting. A feeble hit toward second scored two runs, however ‘Fence’ composed himself and caught the last guy sleeping at the plate for out 3.
‘The Beater’ was the lead off batter with a clean single, ‘Burning Bush’ was walked and ‘Red Stuff’ coming off injured reserve, hit into a fielders choice removing Burning Bush’ from the field of play. ‘Fence’ and ‘A&W’ both hit shots to the Reds Shortstop who made both catches to retire the side. After 2 it was Reds 3, Cardinals 4.
This reporter expected ‘The Gecko’ to take the mound because he was warming up in the bull pen, but Manager Goldstein called the bullpen pitching coach and told him to send in ‘A&W’ a new pitcher. This stunned the fans and they were asking ‘What is he thinking?’ But Manager Goldstein just sat stoically in the dugout watching the game. On the first pitch the Reds batter popped up to ‘A&W’ who camped under it and calmly caught it for out one. The next Reds batter, with a 1-1 count popped one up in foul territory very close to the Cardinals dugout. ‘Inspector Gadget’ revved up his engines, turned on the loud speakers warning every one off, ratched his arm out and pulled in out number two. At this point ‘A&W’ was running out of steam but Manager Goldstein left him in for two more batters. ‘A&W’ walked them but this set up a classic 1-3 split of runners. At this point Manager Goldstein called to the bullpen and brought in the mid innings specialist ‘The Gecko’, And Manager Goldstein sent in signals to his Shortstop ‘Fence’ and his Catcher ‘Heart Attack Jack’ for a special play. The Gecko threw his first pitch and the runner on first broke for second. ‘Heart Attack Jack’ came up throwing but not down to second but to his Shortstop ‘Fence’ who rifled it back home where the runner on third was tagged out for out number three, The Cards’ Fans were first stunned and then erupted in cheers, while the Reds fans were just stunned.
The Cardinals bats came alive again in their half of the third. ‘Inspector Gadget’, ‘I-Man’, ‘Heart Attack Jack’, and ‘The Beater’ all got hits. This reporter would also like to note at this time that this Cardinals team was very aggressive on the base paths, stealing every change they got, which help set up the 4 runs scored this inning.
After three it was Reds 3 – Cardinals 8.
‘I-Man’ took the mound for the top of the fourth a time that this reporter was surprised to see. Normally ‘I-Man’ is reserved for the last two, but who am I to second guess the Cardinals management. I just report games. ‘I-Man’ caught the first batter sleeping for out 1, e walked the second, and the Reds, trying to get something started tried to steal on the next pitch. ‘Fence’ behind the plate fired a perfect shot down to ‘A&W’ for the tag out, number 2. And the next batter hit one back to ‘I-Man’ who made a clean toss to ‘Triple D’ for out 3.
‘Burning Bush’ lead off with a walk, ‘Red Stuff’ went down swinging. ‘Fence’ as his nick name implies Swung for the fences and had a clean double to center field scoring ‘Burning Bush’. ‘A&W’ walked, ‘Inspector Gadget got another single, and ‘I-Man’ drew a walk, but control problems by the Reds pitching staff caused three more Cardinals runs to score.
After 4, Reds 3 – Cardinals 12.
In the 5th ‘I-Man’ continued his dominance a dribbler to the mound and a toss to 1st out 1.
A fly out to ‘Inspector Gadget’ for out 2, and line out back to the mound deftly caught by ‘I-Man’ for out 3. At this point ‘I-Man’ tossed the ball up and over his shoulder as if to say, ‘Just another day at the office.’ And he strolled off the field.
The Cards’ bats were not done, ‘Triple D’ drew a walk, followed by a single by ‘The Flood’. Not to be out done by ‘Fence’, ‘The Beater’ also lived up to his name with a Smash to deep Center for a double. ‘Burning Bush’ though, ‘Hey if they can do it so can I!’ and he did with his own double to Left field. ‘Red Stuff’ smashed a single down the Third Base line. Another single by ‘Fence’ and an RBI Base on Balls by ‘A&W’ ended the inning for the Cards.
After 5, Reds 3 – Cardinals 16.
Top of the Sixth inning unlimited runs ‘I-Man’ on the mound in unknown territory and the ever dangerous Reds at the plate. Just to make things interesting ‘I-Man’ walks the first 2, Strikes out the next two, and is set up to finish off the fifth batter, but the ump called ball four and the bases were loaded. On pitch one to the sixth batter the ball his hit into no-mans territory between the mound and Third Base. ‘The Gecko’ Swiftly moves to his right to cover the base, ‘I-Man’ charges of the mound to his right to make a play on the ball. The runner is barreling in from Second, The Mighty Casey is at the plate, wait I digress. ‘I-Man’ makes the bare hand grab and with feet to go and a second left tosses it to ‘The Gecko’……..who covers the ball with his bare hand, alligator style, for out 3. The Stands erupted in cheering and applause for a very well played game by the National League representatives to the Starliper Tournament.
This reporter cornered Manager Goldstein for a brief interview,
R: ‘Why were you so aggressive on the bases?’
MG: ‘Well, its something Coach Grossman always wants to do during the beginning of a game, which is test the opposing catchers arm. Since, they never got us out at second, I kept calling for the steal.’
R: ‘What prompted you to try untested pitcher like ‘A&W’ in a live game?’
MG: ‘That’s a fair question, ‘A&W’ has worked hard all year, we started him at second and watched his arm strength grow. We moved him over to shortstop and he mad some key play there both off the bat and throw downs from the catcher. ‘A&W’ came to many of the optional Pitcher/Catcher practices where Coach Grossman and I work more on pitching and catching mechanics. We felt all that hard work should be rewarded. And as a first time outing ‘A&W’ induced two outs, one he took care of and the other ‘Inspector Gadget’ handled.’
R: ‘What’s next for this team?’
MG: ‘We work even harder getting ready for the Starliper tournament, what do you think, you mentioned it a few times already. That’s it this interview is over, go away.’
With that this reporter made some phone calls and tracked down Coach Grossman. He was still on the scouting trip.
R: ‘Have you heard about the outcome of the Reds game coach?’
CG: ‘Of course, Coach Goldstein informed me the moment it was over, and all I have to say is, I did not expect any other outcome. These boys have come a long way from spring training and they are a great team. I’m looking forward to spending the next two weeks with them.