Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club
MHRRC Home  Recent  Humor  Information  Boston Marathon  NYRRC Races  Other Races  By Friends
Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

They Run Bases, Don't They?

by Bob Kopac

On Saturday, August 25, 2001, the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club (MHRRC) and the Onteora Runners' Club (ORC) had a softball game and picnic at Hasbrouck Park in Kingston, overlooking the Hudson River. We had perfect weather. ORC president Debbie Briggs had prayed for good weather, promising in her prayers to be good. Now that is the difference between the ORC president and the MHRRC president. Promise to be good? There are some things I will not do for the MHRRC.

Before the game the MHRRC team was preparing by drinking beer at the pavilion. Suddenly we noticed suspicious behavior over at the baseball diamond. We caught the ORC team red-handed -- they were warming up! We knew the ORC would stoop to anything. In the weeks before the game, the contributors to the ORC e-mail chain actually had discussed PRACTICING FOR THE GAME!

However, the MHRRC was not afraid, for we had an advantage. I mean, besides the beer. Pete Sanfilippo Sr. would be the home plate umpire, and I would be the field umpire. With both umpires being MHRRC members, how could we possibly lose? We could cheat our way to victory by making bad calls! Pete has umpired baseball games for several years, but this was the first time I umpired. Pete gave last-second instructions on how to be a field umpire. I don't remember now what he told me to do. Heck, I didn't remember then what he told me to do. I think it was where to stand on the field so as not to injure myself.

The game started, and I assumed my umpire position. I had the requisite umpire equipment:

  1. Wraparound sunglasses, so the players could not see my eyes when they screamed at me about bad calls. I figured I could close my eyes and take a nap while they were venting their rage.
  2. Beer cup in my right hand. Hey, I'm MHRRC.

The MHRRC team took a commanding lead, scoring early and often. Meanwhile, the ORC was unable to score. In the third inning, one of the MHRRC players disappeared, so we fielded only 9 players. However, the ORC still was unable to score. I walked over to Debbie and promised to remove a player an inning until the ORC scored. Debbie was not amused.

I continued to learn about umpiring. I discovered that I was inadvertently blocking the view of the ORC right fielder by standing in her line of sight to the batter. Aha! Another MHRRC advantage to being the field umpire! However, I realized I must have been blocking the view of the MHRRC outfielder also.

With Wayne McDaniel's home run, and Leo Saposnick's spectacular catch in the fourth inning, the MHRRC continued its domination of the ORC. To be fair, both teams demonstrated that they were better runners than ballplayers. Ground balls were bouncing off the infielders--it looked like a game of pinball. In particular, it was good that one particular MHRRC infielder wore a cup that day. He shall remain nameless; I will not even give his initials or say he was our player-manager. The ORC made a spectacular defensive play when a hard-hit ball bounced off the third baseman and was caught on the rebound by the shortstop; the third baseman should get the Best Pinball Player Award.

Then, catastrophe struck, beginning in the sixth inning--I ran out of beer! How does one umpire without beer? Accordingly, the field started to accumulate intense negative karma. That might explain how the ORC hit back-to-back solo home runs on their way to pulling within one run.

Going into the bottom of the seventh, and final, inning, the score was 9-8, MHRRC ahead. I still did not have another beer. I tried to find Debbie Briggs to forfeit the game so we could all go party, but the ORC members said she had gone back to the pavilion to start the barbecue. Likely story! Was it coincidence that the beer keg was at the pavilion?

Two ORC members got on base, then up to the plate stepped a supposedly-ORC member who earlier had hit a home run. With all the intense negative karma, it was inevitable that he would hit a 3-run home run to end the game.

What does "supposedly-ORC member" mean? He looked more like Mark McGwire than a runner. We all know that runners do not have or want large biceps. The added weight would slow them down. That is why the Kenyans always win their races--no biceps.

What evidence do I have that the ORC employed ringers? Answer: Lori Christina, the former president of the Hudson-Mohawk Road Runners Club (HMRRC). Lori should have played for the MHRRC, since that is an anagram of HMRRC. Next year the MHRRC might field a ringer--I know someone who plays bells at a church.

Final score: ORC 11, MHRRC 9. Injuries: ORC 3, MHRRC 0. Charlie Sprauer's injury does not count; he came into the game injured and had received his injury honestly--from running.

After the game, Wayne McDaniel was making a cellphone call. The ORC members wanted to know if he was phoning the game results to the KINGSTON FREEMAN. However, Wayne probably was calling the Kingston Hospital to inquire about steroid testing for all the ORC players.

There was a mini-crisis after the game--we ran out of beer! ORC members Rachel Schabot and Dave Boles made an emergency beer run and saved the day. Debbie Briggs said, "You should thank ME for authorizing the purchase, delegating the mission, and having to almost single-handedly consume the thing when most of you pansies lit out for home - well, consume it with the help of a few intrepid ORC members, individuals I can always count on when the going gets tough in the keg department."

Commenting on the game, Dave Boles said, "I can run 20 miles. It's getting from home plate to first base that's the problem!"

What about the secret weapon of having both umpires being MHRRC members? After the game, I learned from Pete Sanfilippo that the person who hit one of the ORC home runs failed to touch home plate. Pete badly wanted to tell Jean Sylvester, the MHRRC catcher, to appeal the play, but he remained silent until the next pitch. He then told Jean after it was too late to appeal. So that was the MHRRC downfall--we had an umpire who had far more integrity than I have!