2007-07-13 / Sports

Belle Harbor Yacht Club Turns Back Softball Clock

By Alan Shaw

The Belle Harbor Yacht Club Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Bay softball teams pose for the photo. The Belle Harbor Yacht Club Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Bay softball teams pose for the photo. Fort Tilden, NY- Last Friday night, thirty-six neighborhood men took to their field of dreams to relive the glory days.

Participating players brushed 15-20 years of dust off their softball equipment, stretched out whatever muscles were working, donned a team hat and took their last little league positions on the diamond.

These 40-something softball athletes became kids again, for one night. The Belle Harbor Yacht Club organized "The Softball Challenge" which was a fun filled Friday night that lasted a full 9 innings.

The evening included a short rain delay but in the end, 37 runs of excitement were scored in the ballgame. Little League legend Marty Andresen led the umpiring crew through many tough calls.

The players and teams were predetermined based on address, so the "Rockaway Beach" team played against the "Rockaway Bay" team.

Event organizers drew a straight line down the center of the peninsula; they used Newport Ave as the boundary line to determine which team that each player will represent.

Robbie O talks a good game. Robbie O talks a good game. Early predictions had the "Bay" team slightly favored due to the larger pool of players, which seemed to grow daily once everyone heard about the "Softball Challenge".

There many highlights in the game which included a two run and three run homerun show by Kenny "Longball" Collins, superb shortstop defense by Kevin "Jeter" Cregan and excellent pitching by Kevin "Trash King" McVeigh.

Rockaway Beach player Darren Franchock almost drew an ejection when he argued over the balls and strikes that were called. That's reminiscent of his men's league days on Staten Island.

The crowd's applause registered record levels when Rockaway Beach team pitcher, Mark "Vertebrae" Kuhlmann, returned to the mound from the 17-year disabled list.

A scary moment occurred in the 7th inning when Beach third basemen John McCabe went to field an easy ground ball before the ball turned "nightmarish" and hit McCabe's face. The ball took a bad hop and led to McCabe having a broken nose, blood loss and lacerations.

Kenny "Longball" Collins completes his home run trot. Kenny "Longball" Collins completes his home run trot. Although the injury was actually an improvement, McCabe was sore for several days. The "New Nose Fund" will be set up to help offset John's medical expenses.

Other highlights include: Rockaway Bay's Bill "The Train' Howley mowing down Rockaway Beach catcher Marty "Homeplate" McManus.

"Who says you can't block the plate?" mumbled McManus as he wiped away the mud from his body… Marty Andresen's impressive umpiring skills after "a day out" at the RIBS golf outing and the Jameson's Pub's post "challenge" party which lasted till 3 a.m.

Rob Schmitt handed John Moran the game ball with an apology. Craig Carey went 6 for 6 on the day but it wasn't for his hitting. It was the fact he wouldn't let anyone else get in the game.

Another highlight was Rockaway Bay player Kevin "The Secret Weapon" Maroney's bases loaded bloop hit to give the team the lead for good. Kenny Collins, Craig Carey, Troy Bradwisch and John "JT" Twoney all made some spectacular plays in the outfield.

The Bay team was actually planning the next softball challenge in the 7th inning down by 4 runs before they made their comeback. But Rockaway Bay would come back to win 20-17 over Rockaway Beach.

The BHYC "Softball Challenge" organizers would like to thank the sponsors; Budweiser, Red Bull, Ben- Gay, the Coors Light girls, Advil, the players' wives, Peninsula Hospital, Marty & the staff at the Rockaway Little League, Jameson's Pub and Ludwig's Catering for their support and understanding.

The next challenge will take place in the summer of 2008.

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