Season 8 ALL-STAR GAME RECAP
Austin, Texas was the site of the BNBL's Season 8 All-Star Game. Amid COVID-19 worries, the game went ahead with a few changes. Social distancing requirements meant that all fans were seated 3 seats apart. The crowd was sparse but lively. Players also had to remain 6 feet apart at all times, making for some interesting new rules. Umpires were spaced out a good distance from the players, including the home plate umpire who stood 6 feet behind the catcher, who squatted 6 feet behind home plate. Base-runners were required to make wide turns around all the bases and were not required to actually touch the bases. Safe/Out calls were left to the umpires' discretion, which made for some mild disagreements, although in a spirit of "we're all in this together" the players and managers were actually quite cordial through all the confusion.
Jerry Adair was on fire for the South Pacific and was named ASG MVP. Adair ya to disagree!!
Fans and players alike enjoyed the zoo-like atmosphere as the concourse was rimmed with cages of lions, tigers and bears (I'm not going to say it), also gorillas, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, all manner of snakes and the most popular creature, a parrot named Crackers who kept repeating the phrase "AlyCats rule, Gorillas drool" into a microphone hooked into the Public Address System.
A pair of famous Texans sang a most interesting duet of the Star Spangled Banner - Beyonce and Willie Nelson. At the 7th inning stretch, Hillary Duff appeared and sang a nice version of "Dancing With Myself" before belting out "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".
The real action took place on the field, however, as both offenses came out swinging. The newly named NorthEast-Atlantic Division (previously named the East-MidWest) came roaring out of the gate with 2 runs in the top of the 1st. The first three batters reached base as Don Kessinger singled up the middle, Jim Northrup drove an RBI triple into the right field corner, and Richie Hebner singled home Northrup with a sharp drive just out of the reach of shortstop U.L. Washington. South Pacific starter Charlie Hough managed to get out of the inning without any more damage, but his team was in a 2-0 hole before even coming to the plate.
Al Worthington of the Meteors started for the NorthEast-Atlantic side and got out of the 1st without a run, giving up a double to Jerry Adair of the Rednecks, but nothing else.
Bob Veale, in spite of Crackers the Parrot's loud taunting (sometimes mid-pitch), faced the minimum three batters in the 2nd, giving up a single to lead-off man Bill Tuttle, but then striking out Lonny Frey and getting Kessinger to bounce into an easy double play.
The South Pacific crew got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd on a mammoth Home Run off the bat of slugger Gorman Thomas of the Gunslingers. Worthington finished the inning with 3 straight outs to keep his team leading 2-1 after 2.
In the 3rd inning, both teams scored two runs. The NorthEast-Atlantic played small ball with singles from Northrup and Hebner, a ground out by Dan Driessen, a sac fly by Choo Choo Coleman, and an RBI single by Wally Moses. The home team countered with a leadoff Ossie Bluege triple. U.L. Washington drove him in with a single. Jerry Adair got his second hit of the night, followed two batters later by an RBI single from Gus Zernial. The fans began chanting "GUS, GUS, GUS" after Zernial's line-drive to right, but it's not clear if they were chanting for the Gunslinger or the Commish. The score was 4-3 through 3 innings of play.
An inning later, the South Pacific side took the lead with 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th to make it a 6-4 game for the home team. Derrel Thomas doubled to lead off the inning. Craig Kusick grounded out, pushing Thomas to 3rd. Tom Tresh singled him home, and then scampered to 3rd on a U.L. Washington double that bounced crazily off the left-center field wall. Wally Moses made a nice defensive play tracking it down quickly to hold the speedy Washington at 3rd base. It was to no avail though, as Adair got his third hit of the day, driving in both Washington and Tresh to give SouthPacific a 2-run lead.
In the top of the 5th, the NEA tied it up with 2 runs. Richie Hebner knocked his 3rd single of the day into left field, followed by an RBI double by Dan Driessen. Coleman flew out to deep right field and Driessen tagged and moved to 3rd on the play, scoring on a Wally Moses sac fly to tie the game at 6.
The game then turned abruptly from an offensive display to a pitchers' duel, as neither team scored in the 6th, 7th, or 8th. In fact, SP pitchers' Elmer Riddle, Charlie Williams, Diego Segui, and Jose Pena recorded 4 straight innings of perfect ball from the 6th inning through the 9th.
In the bottom of the 9th, the fans came to their feet to cheer on the home side, and they were not disappointed. Tom Tresh led off with a double to the right-center field gap. Doug Strange and Craig Grebeck struck out, bringing Jerry Adair to the plate, looking for his 4th hit of the game and the chance to play hero. With a 2-2 count, Cecilio Guante of the Charlie Browns served up a hanging curve that Adair drilled into center field. Jim Northrup nearly came up with a shoe-string catch but couldn't quite get there in time. He took it on a very short hop and came up throwing. Tresh was just too fast though, and slid into home plate with the winning run for the victorious South Pacificers. In his excitement, Tresh forgot all about the social distancing, causing catcher Ernie Whitt to dive out of the way, which caused the home plate umpire to also dive away from Whitt who was diving right into his personal space. It was a humorous domino effect but everyone survived and lived to tel the tale.
The Austin crowd celebrated by giving distant air-high-fives to each other and left happy, but socially distant. Another great All-Star game. Thanks to the host team for putting up with the other owners and their shenanigans all week long.
The all-time BNBL All-Star Series is now tied up at 4 games apiece. Jerry Adair was named the game's MVP, going 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs including the game-winning walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th.
The Season 9 All-Star Game will be held in Charlestown.
For more info on the game, please contact your friendly Commish.
Good luck to all in the 2nd Half!!