Teams with intimidating names like the Scranton Miners and the Mason Dixon Ruffnecks rolled up in their RVs, ready to play ball. But they did more than that. They wiped out the concession stand. Innocent people riding their bikes were nearly beaned by foul balls several times. Eventually, the bikes stayed away. Even people walking their dogs were attacked by ballplayers and their sisters, asking to know each dog's name, apparently for future reference. The dogs loved it, and the owners were very proud!
Sunflower seeds, bubblegum, jerky and Gatorade were in abundance. But now there's something new. Silly Bandz. They'e just reshapable rubber bands, but nearly every kid has 100 on each wrist, at least between games.
Of course there were several very serious injuries. One of the Canes - his name is Ben - went after a fly ball that glanced from his glove right into his eye, which swelled up like a golf ball. Kids gawked at him, and later debated whether it was a black or a white eye. Eventually, he went to the doctor and was placed on injured reserve. But he returned later to cheer on his friends, who were really impressed by that gigantic bump right by his eye.
Then there's South Jersey Elite's first baseman. He went after a foul ball and ran right into a chain link fence, face first. He immediately went down and coaches and parents rushed to him. So did the ump, who looked at the ball, still sitting inside his glove because this kid had miraculously caught the ball. "The batter is out!" Blue cried, and the first baseman hopped to his feet, rejuvenated by that simple phrase.
The only damper to an otherwise pleasant weekend was pretty much my fault. In the championship game, I noticed that the base ump was setting up almost immediately in front of the third baseman, obstructing his view of the plate. I pointed this out, and rather loudly. The team manager must have heard me because he began to complain about it directly to the ump.
"I have the right to stand wherever I want," snorted the ump.
Actually, he doesn't. I'm not sure exactly what the manager said, but it involved a tricycle and a trailer park. He was promptly ejected from the game. In fact, they stopped play until he was gone and apparently have since complained to tournament officials about this unsportsmanlike conduct.
That's pretty strange, but the strangest thing for me was during one of my grandson's at-bats. When he walked up to the plate, two cute girls right around his age ran up to cheer him on. "I just love Dat," confessed one of them. I didn't notice that last year.
Girls are now watching the boys. They may not know why, but they're doing it. When I told Dat about his admirer after his games, he acted as though he did not care. But then he asked me to point her out.
Who won? Mount Joy Elite Baseball, located near Lancaster. They deserved it, too. They shook hands with the 'Canes twice, after the game and after getting their medal.
The kids set a very good example for us.
They include David Bertolotti, Zach Besz, Jared Burcin, Harrison Fandel, Sam Kraihanzel, Dat Lambert, Alex Laudenslager, Patrick Mayer, Jacob Morgan, Kyle Picht, Justin Schmoyer, Jacob "Uni" Unangst, Jacob "Wags" Wagner and One-Eyed Ben.