April 7, 2012
The Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn
BROOKLYN ATLANTICS BBC: In Defense of Their Title, and Base Ball Tradition.
They take on all comers and play in excess of fifty games a season. The team travels extensively up and down the Atlantic states and beyond, playing vintage base ball at a highly skilled level. If challenged by your town's club, odds are they will come, and with defensive mastery and without apology, beat them. It's that simple. Over their last five seasons they have amassed a 213-42-1 record. And all done without smiling.
They..., are the defending Mid Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League Champions. Established in 1997, they are the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn. The team plays it's home games on the Smithtown Historical Society Grounds; in Smithtown, Long Island. If you go out there to take in a game, you won't be sorry. On a personal level, they are among the most affable group of men you will ever meet. And that goes for all the club members I have encountered so far. But with that said, let's talk Base Ball.
Atlantic's shortstop - "The Dream" - attends to the scoreboard.
Last weekend, the Atlantics opened up the local 2012 Vintage Base Ball season by hosting a three team round-robin featuring the visiting Fleminton Neshanock Base Ball Club and the Gothams Base Ball Club of New York. The ABBC split their two contests played on April 7th. In the first game, they defeated the Flemington Neshanock team rather soundly. However, their second contest of the day versus the Gothams didn't go exactly as well as they had planned. A much improved New York Gothams team handed the Atlantic Club their first defeat of the season. And I'm sure the members of the ABBC are not all too pleased about it.
As I wrote in my previous posting:
Much of the Atlantics' success is predicated on defense. When speaking with "BROOKLYN" from the Neshanock Club, he extolled the ABBC's yearly efforts and excellence with their hands. Likewise with the Gothams. WICKETS; a member of the New York club; echoed those same sentiments regarding the Atlantics' defensive prowess. And in speaking with TREE from the Atlantics, he resoundingly agreed. I sensed he knew it well.
And me? I witnessed it first hand. SHAKESPEARE intercepted an absolute rocket struck down his way at third base, then calmly threw to first where Atlantics' first baseman; FLASH: was there with very sure hands to complete the play. And his are very sure hands to say the least. As I spent the majority of the day along the first base side, and in staying within the context of the style of play and adherence to authenticity, FLASH's play at first base, dare I say was brilliant. Then there was a ball tracked down by TOOTHPICK at the farthest edge of play, struck by SCRATCH of the Gothams Club to straight away center field. So, watching this caliber of defense makes it easier to envision how they've won back-to-back titles over the last two seasons.
I first met the Atlantics in 2009, when they came to the Old Stone House in Brooklyn. I came away from that first encounter understanding a thing or two about what they do, and how much they enjoy doing it. But after spending this past Saturday with them, I think I've come to understand what really makes these gentlemen tick.
Behind calm, coolness, and a collected exterior, hides an authentic 19th century seriousness invested into their craft. While maintaining a gentleman's disposition the whole while, they almost dare you to mistake their kindness as their weakness. In conversing with the Atlantics during the course of the day, it might have been Hammy, or Tree, who generally described the team as a band of rebels. Regardless of which gentleman said it, they both concurred with the assessment. In fact, a Gotham Club member shared some scuttlebutt with me about how the Atlantic Club wasn't invited to a particular Northern tournament because they were too good.
There's a lot more to these guys than meets the eye. All the member clubs are more than just weekend warriors running around in old fashioned threads for hobby's sake. I overheard the dugout say how the ABBC president will be re-addressing issues regarding uniform violations. And I know the ABBC takes their Defense, and their winning tradition very seriously. And that's what really drives these guys.
It must have taken an uncompromising passion to turn a local NYC game of Base Ball into a National Pastime like athletic, and socially inclined men did 160 some-odd years ago. And understanding the modern ABBC to be as meticulous about replicating the era as they are, I can't help but think I'm looking at the bare handed bravado of a century and a half ago right in the face. Because I think what they do, they do that well. The Atlantics, and all the member clubs, provide a fascinating look into the origins of the game I love.
This is George; aka "Wild Horse" - He played catcher during Saturday's games.
He holds in his hand the fruits of his labor. While he didn't fabricate this particular ball,
he hand crafts the vintage era base balls they use today.
Pictured above are long time team veterans;
Hammy (left) who pitched against the Gothams; and first baseman, Flash.
Kevin, or "Flash" (right) is a legacy. His father played on a vintage team, which inevitably led to Flash's desire to play. He's been with the Atlantics since 2003, and like I said, plays a stellar first base. Toothpick, the Atlantic's center fielder, has been with the team since 2001. That's around the time guys like Hammy and Shakespeare joined the team.
Toothpick at the bat.
*August 5, 2012
The Atlantics will play at MCU Park in Coney Island prior to the Brooklyn Cyclones game, versus the Essex Base Ball Club.
*August 25, 2012
The Atlantics will visit the New York Gothams on Governors Island, NYC.