Old-fashioned baseball, where you can still hear the players talking

For sports fans starved for high-quality baseball in this summer of the coronavirus, there is now a nearby option. 

Thursday, June 25, marked the debut of the Great Falls Gators in the Connecticut Twilight League. The team was formed by Willy Yahn, a graduate of Housatonic Valley Regional High School and a Baltimore Orioles prospect. 

I am a product of the Housatonic baseball program, where Yahn is rightly spoken of with a kind of reverence uncharacteristic of brash high school athletes. I went to the game, at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, to see how baseball had changed in the pandemic.

Around 50 mask-wearing fans were scattered among the empty seats. Soon after the game started I noticed an acoustic difference. In the quiet stadium, the players could be heard calling out to one another on the field, or howling with displeasure after a bad call. A few rows behind me, a play-by-play announcer called the game for a livestream. 

Balls and strikes were called from second base, as the home plate umpire (normally positioned behind the catcher), peered down at the strike zone from behind the pitcher’s mound. 

The players, it seemed, had not yet internalized this new reality. It did not take long for infield dirt to blanket home plate, and the catcher turned around to ask for help that was not there, before grudgingly dusting off the plate with his palm. 

The outfield seats were roped off, as were the seats on the third base side of the stadium, so spectators watched from the first base side. I sat behind home plate, finding it impossible to pass up the opportunity to kick back in the most sought-after seats in the park at no charge.

The Gators’ opponent, the Terryville Black Sox, scored three runs in the first inning, but their bats fell silent after that. 

The Gators only managed one hit until the bottom of the fourth inning, when third baseman Caleb Shpur, of the Housatonic Class of 2019, belted a solo home run into the left field bleachers to give the Gators their first run. The ball rattled around in the empty seats. Shpur’s home run was the last time the team’s offense registered a pulse, as they were held scoreless in the next two innings. 

Yahn, having flown out to centerfield and grounded out to shortstop, struck out after a long at bat to end the sixth inning. As the Gators prepared to take the field, the umpire sauntered over to their dugout. It was nearing 5:30 p.m. and another game was due to begin. Left fielder Matt Perotti pleaded with the umpire. 

“That clock is three minutes fast,” he exclaimed, pointing to the scoreboard. But it was no use. The umpire declared the game finished after six innings.

The Gators will play their second game of the season on June 30 at Glastonbury High School.

Latest News

Thru hikers linked by life on the Appalachian Trail

Riley Moriarty

Provided

Of thousands who attempt to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, only one in four make it.

The AT, completed in 1937, runs over roughly 2,200 miles, from Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park of Maine.

Keep ReadingShow less
17th Annual New England Clambake: a community feast for a cause

The clambake returns to SWSA's Satre Hill July 27 to support the Jane Lloyd Fund.

Provided

The 17th Annual Traditional New England Clambake, sponsored by NBT Bank and benefiting the Jane Lloyd Fund, is set for Saturday, July 27, transforming the Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s Satre Hill into a cornucopia of mouthwatering food, live music, and community spirit.

The Jane Lloyd Fund, now in its 19th year, is administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and helps families battling cancer with day-to-day living expenses. Tanya Tedder, who serves on the fund’s small advisory board, was instrumental in the forming of the organization. After Jane Lloyd passed away in 2005 after an eight-year battle with cancer, the family asked Tedder to help start the foundation. “I was struggling myself with some loss,” said Tedder. “You know, you get in that spot, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Someone once said to me, ‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and thrilled to jump into a mission that was so meaningful for the community.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Getting to know our green neighbors

Cover of "The Light Eaters" by Zoe Schlanger.

Provided

This installment of The Ungardener was to be about soil health but I will save that topic as I am compelled to tell you about a book I finished exactly three minutes before writing this sentence. It is called “The Light Eaters.” Written by Zoe Schlanger, a journalist by background, the book relays both the cutting edge of plant science and the outdated norms that surround this science. I promise that, in reading this book, you will be fascinated by what scientists are discovering about plants which extends far beyond the notions of plant communication and commerce — the wood wide web — that soaked into our consciousnesses several years ago. You might even find, as I did, some evidence for the empathetic, heart-expanding sentiment one feels in nature.

A staff writer for the Atlantic who left her full-time job to write this book, Schlanger has travelled around the world to bring us stories from scientists and researchers that evidence sophisticated plant behavior. These findings suggest a kind of plant ‘agency’ and perhaps even a consciousness; controversial notions that some in the scientific community have not been willing or able to distill into the prevailing human-centric conceptions of intelligence.

Keep ReadingShow less