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Softball memories

Throughout the brief history of this column, many sports have been covered.

We offer opinions, report on local past and present athletes, follow second and third generations of county legends and basically try to meet weekly deadlines so my readership can see I’m still breathing.

There have been multiple articles on lacrosse, and I’m still not sure if the ball used is blown up or stuffed.

This week, I will talk about a sport that I actually know something about, softball. If you read the article in its entirety you will learn a fact that I’m sure that you thought was impossible, and you may question its accuracy.

Back in the ’70s, we would play in multiple leagues in Adams, North Adams and Bennington and then try to find weekend tournaments to enter. If you were not playing at least five nights a week, you were not trying, or you had no life. Fast pitch, slo pitch, modified pitch – it did not matter, what time is the game?

Anyone who played in those days has plenty of memories and, I’m sure, plenty of stories.

Here are a few of mine:

George Bigelow of Adams was one of the best pitchers ever for more than 30 years in New England and New York state, and he was in demand. I was asked if I wanted to be a member of a team in a fast pitch league in Albany, and I asked what position I would play.

My ego took a hit when I was told, “We only need someone to give George a ride to the games, you can coach first if you want.”

For a Springfield fall tournament, we recruited Kevin Collins, who was in the Mets minor league system as a third baseman. We gave him a fake name, and much to our surprise, he simply could not make contact with an arc pitch. He went 0-12 in the three-day event and had trouble getting the ball out of the infield.

The 1964 Springfield Tech grad, who also attended North Adams State College, spent six years in the majors splitting his time between the Mets, Tigers and Expos.

Ironically, he had more success hitting Hall of Famer Juan Marichal than he did against a beer belly balloon pitcher. Collins torched Marichal for three doubles in an NBC Game of the Week in 1969.

I recall when a teammate, whose wife had just about had it with softball, told his bride he was going out to get the Sunday papers and a coffee. He reported to Blunt Park in Springfield and played right field.

We were in the losers’ bracket of a double elimination gala, and we kept avoiding our second loss. During our third game, the umpire called time because there was a lady in a station wagon trying to run over our right fielder while removing her rings and firing them at him.

It was a good thing our third baseman was a divorce lawyer and needed the work. After the game, with the help of a metal detector, the jewelry was found.

For the grand finale (and I have the clipping from the Springfield Union in the Beacon vault to prove it):

There was a no-hitter pitched in 1963 in Slo Pitch softball. Rosco Murray of Vignault Pols, a team sponsored by State Rep. Dave Vignault, shut out Springfield Safe Deposit 3-0.

Only one batter reached base, by way of an error, during the seven-inning contest. I’ve been at Slo Pitch softball games where 15 home runs were hit and many games had to be shortened because of high-scoring outputs. A no-hitter should be in Ripleys.

To find the local angle, the final out was recorded on a diving catch by Tom Nolan at shortstop. Nolan would later play baseball at AIC with Pittsfield native Paul Procopio.

Murray and Nolan would go on to work together for Hampden County as correctional officers until their recent retirements.

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Posted by on July 18, 2013. Filed under Berkshire Sports Guy,Columns,Opinion,Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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