Written by: GRANTLAND RICE-CAKE
First off, let’s not confuse Sunday’s big game with that of game three in Chicago back in 1932 when Babe Ruth called his shot to center field. There was no pitching excellence of the likes of game five in 1956, when Don Larsen pitched the only no hitter in World Series History. There was no walk off home run reminiscent of Kirk Gibson in game one back in the fall of ’88.
There was, however… a bunch of old guys running around a grass field pretending to be kids again. For this old baseball writer, it was GREAT!
For the past 22 years, Allan Greenberg has run the JCC Sunday Morning Softball League as well as Mr. Lowenstein ran the All American Girls Baseball league, (see” A League Of Their Own”, starring Tom Hanks), during World War II. Of course he’s benefited greatly from the helping hands of Barbara Zalesch.
This year’s Championship game feted two evenly matched rosters. Truthfully, both teams thought they were superior. At 8:45 am, the first pitch was thrown, The Chosen Runs vs The Big Boys for all the marbles, er I mean all the dreidels.
Today’s contest was officiated by Kevin & Tyrone, two of the best umpires NOT to make it the major leagues. Chosen Runs took the field first as Big Boys readied the batting lineup. It was eerily quiet. Not much chatter from the benches, you can almost hear a pin drop, or the Canadian Geese pooping on the other field. Either way, it was quiet.
Big Boys led off the top half of the first inning with timely hitting, all of them clean hits. Both teams were confident that they weren’t making any fielding errors. The Big Boys racked up 5 runs. The bottom of the first and down by a five spot would creep into the minds of lesser teams. The Chosen Runs answered with a two out rally and matched the run total on their own. The first inning in the books, all tied up at five.
In the top of the second, Big Boys pushes in 3 more runs. In the bottom, Chosen Runs squeaks in two, at the end of the second inning, Big Boys are up by a run, 8-7.
To start the third, both teams had shaken away any nervousness or tension attributed from playing in the big game, similar to that of plate umpire Tyrone brushing the flying giant sand ants from his arm.
Scoreless third inning as both teams hit the ball hard but fielding was at a premium.
Top of the fourth, Big Boys erupt with 5 more runs. Led by their shortstop Wes, who channeled Ricky Henderson circa 1985, with a bloop single, stretching it to a double, then moving to third on a grounder and racing home after an errant throw made the score 13-7.
In the bottom half of the fourth Big Boys stop the Chosen Runs from a big inning with great defense, as the game heads to the fifth it is still 13-7 for the Big Boys.
Both teams can sense the game is ending soon, bats are being squeezed a little tighter and there was some close plays on the bases. They both sneak in a run each, it’s now 14-8.
The top of the sixth, Big Boys push to put the game out of range, loading the bases with two outs, but the Chosen Runs get out of the jam without giving up any runs. In the bottom of six, Chosen Runs adds a couple more, not giving up the fight. Heading into the top of the seventh it’s now a 14-10 game.
Big Boys get a little vocal, or shall I say Big Boys pitcher John Crow starts chattering, and his voice can carry. Last chance for the Big Boys to tack on some runs to their lead, but the Chosen Runs shut them down again.
Bottom of the seventh chasing 4 runs, The Chosen Runs have to make something happen. JCC executive Scott Cohen rips one deep to right center and gets a run in. The Chosen Runs are against the wall, they have two on, trailing by 3, and get a three run blast from Bobby to tie it up. At this point momentum has swung to the Runs favor, they get a few more guys on base. One out to go and a great chance to win the game when there’s a line drive over the shortstop’s head, Big Boys left fielder Jimmy Kozlowski makes a running stretched out dive and makes the catch, inning over tied at 14.
Extra innings will decide this championship. Excitement is in the air. The Largest crowd in JCC Championship Game history (13 people, not counting the Canadian Geese), are on the edges of their seats.
Big Boys can’t seem to add to their total in the top of the eighth, Chosen Runs gets their chance. Loading the bases and with two outs, there’s a rocket ground ball that even Brooks Robinson might have missed, but Big Boys third baseman Tim gets a glove on it. But the velocity is just too strong and Chosen Runs score the winning run, 15-14.
Another year in the books, and The Chosen Runs are the 2016 JCC Champions!