The Joy of a 70+ Pitching Duel in the John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League

Submitted by Pat Fynes, League President, John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League

De Benedictis Baseball League Banner in Blue and Red

On the first day of summer, 6/21/23, the JADBL 70+ League hosted a game in the Northeast section of Philly. The 70 Division plays 7-inning games, but it took nine innings for this one to be decided. The Dodgers battery of Mike Tenaglia pitching and Matt Axel catching faced off against the MBI battery of Randy Fleck on the bump and John Entwistle behind the plate. The average age of the four was 70.5, and each played the entire game.

MBI was leading 5-1 after four, but the Dodgers struck for three in the fifth inning to close the gap to 5-4. In the final inning, MBI clung to a one-run lead, but a leadoff triple by Ray Connolly contributed greatly to eliminating the deficit, and the game went to extra innings. Neither team scored in the eighth, but the visiting MBI team plated one in the ninth to take the 6-5 lead. But the top of the order was batting for the Dodgers, and they produced two runs for the 7-6 win. With men on first and third, Barry Squires roped a line drive to third that went off the fielder’s glove for the walk-off hit.

There was a construction crew working on the street adjacent to the field. Productivity was low as they stopped frequently to watch our game. You could see they wanted to put down the shovel for the bat, but they all appeared to be under the required septuagenarian cutoff.

For the Dodgers, managed by Jack Galante, Kappenstein, Connolly, Tenaglia, Squires, and Axel each had two hits. For MBI, Casey, Blatt, Pappaterra, and Fleck had multiple hits. Note that both pitchers not only pitched the entire game but also contributed to the offense.

I went golfing with the opposing Coach after the game. I expected some jocular trash talk about his victory, but he never brought it up. He is a great example of the type of Manager every league needs.

We have reached the age where we believe a happy hour is a nap and the available number of playing days diminishes with each sunset. We are the Nation’s leading carriers of AidsHearing Aids, Band-Aids, Rolaids, Walking Aids, Medical Aids, Government Aids, and Monetary Aids to our children. At our age, bat speed slows, reflexes dim, and more than a stride has been lost going down the line to first. We are members of the boys of late autumn, hanging on to the last leaves on the tree of our youth. How hard it must be to surrender, to never again put on spikes and smell the freshly-mown grass.

2019 MSBL Honor Roll Inductee Pat Fynes

The day of retirement inexorably approaches, and we will miss participating in the last out being recorded, the running to the pitcher’s mound, the tumbling and pummeling, shouting and shrieking, reveling in the totality of triumph. We will miss the playing time, but we will always have the memories.

When I see these guys playing through pulled muscles, running on replaced knees, and throwing with sore shoulders, I know the value of enabling the camaraderie that occurs every time they step on the field. The time and effort to form the 70 Division and to keep it going is worth it. Today’s game was a perfect example as everyone was happy to be a participant, win or lose. Simply put, it was a fun game, with no one knowing the winner until the final minute.

On a side note, I am often asked the meaning behind the team name, MBI. A close friend of mine, Billy Cameron, passed away on 10-3-10. He loved baseball and played the game in a special way, always striving to win but always friendly to not only his teammates but to the opposing players as well. He would complement the opponent on a good play as much as his own players.

MBI stands for “My Baller Icon”. Baller is a slang term used to refer to a person who plays the game well. An Icon is a symbol that represents something, and in this case, a symbol representing the way the game should be played. Thus “My Baller Icon” is Billy Cameron, a great player whose approach to the game we should emulate.

Why “My Baller Icon”? The letters can be re-arranged to form the words “Billy Cameron”.