Veto League Baseball opening day 2009 saw a record 34 players turn out for a doubleheader at Ridgewood Field, Saturday, May 2, 2009
On Saturday, May 2, 2009 — a full week earlier than any Veto League Baseball opener — the VLB saw a record 34 players wander onto the Ridgewood Field sandlot. The following day, 26 Veto Leaguers took the field.
The record-setting weekend welcomed 10 VLB rookies, including a foursome of Smith Brothers.
Ian Smith — bearing a striking resemblance to New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon — brought brothers Christian, Brian and Jonathan to Sunday’s doubleheader setting the record for siblings to play in a single VLB contest.
The Brothers Smith said household baseball gatherings have been common throughout the years. The VLB is happy to host these family gatherings for the foreseeable future.
The giant gathering of players hints at a successful 2009 that comes with high expectations and an ambitious 60-game schedule.
Saturday, May 2: Talons 10, Meteors 6 (7)
Dennis Woods leads from second base as Steve Campbell swings at a pitch thrown by Tony Zier in VLB action on Saturday, May 3, 2009. Campbell was 5-for-5 in the season-opening doubleheader.
Employing line-change defenses, the two most-veteran VLB captains battled to a surprisingly defensive conclusion for opening day. Scott Ellefritz led his Talons over Matt Veto’s Meteors by a 10-6 score in a seven-inning contest.
A record 33 players appeared in the game. A 34th player arrived late, and did not play until Game 2.
At bats were at a premium, but the Talons still managed six players with two hits — Josh Francque, Adam Chard, Tony Zier, Jon Escajeda, Jeff Shadden and Justin Shadden (rookie) all reached safely twice.
The Meteors took a 6-3 lead with four-run fourth inning that featured a base-running dispute settled by the ever-decisive rock-paper-scissors. Veto chose the victorious rock, and rock crushes scissors, as we all know.
Yet, that simple victory could only briefly be enjoyed as the Talons rallied for seven runs in the sixth inning to solidify the win.
Saturday, May 2: Gremlins 9, Mafia 7 (7)
Rookie captains Ryan Barton of the Gremlins and Howard Zimmerle of the Mafia squared off to a 9-7 conclusion in favor of the Gremlins in seven innings.
The Mafia saw Steve Campbell complete a five-for-five day, but a four-run Gremlins sixth was too much to overcome. The big bat of 2008 MVP Bob Zerull produced the first homer 0f 2009 — a two-run shot on the Gremlins side of the scoreboard.
Sunday, May 3: Mafia 17, Shockers 11
Once considering the nickname “the Lawyers,” Zimmerle chose crime over justice in the end, and it turns out,
Adam Gustafson readies in the field in game 1 of a Veto League doubleheader Sunday, May 3, 2009. Gustafson was one of 10 players to make his VLB debut on opening weekend.
crime paid on Sunday. The Mafia (1-1) pulled out a 17-11 victory over the debut of Adam Chard’s Shockers.
The teams combined for 41 hits in the nine-inning game. Francque, Chard and Zier each had three hits for the Shockers, while Ellefritz, Zerull and Barton turned in three hits each for the Mob Squad.
Highlighting the 26-player affair was the frightening sight of Barton attempting to run 360-feet — in a row. A more slender slugger in 2009, Barton was still somewhat tired after the run.
“… …,” he said when asked about the feat moments after touching homeplate.
The home run came a batter after Zerull hit one the easy way.
“I don’t know why he didn’t just hit it over the fence,” Zerull said. “He could have just walked.”
Sunday, May 3: Goonies 25, Meteors 3 (6)
Call it a walkoff if you want.
Zerull’s third home run of the season ended a six-inning contest in favor of Josh Paul’s Goonies by 20-run rule — 25-3 over the Meteors (0-2).
Veto was 3-for-3 with two doubles, but the Meteors could not rebound after five-, seven- and six-run opening innings by the Goonies.
Anthony Reese, Zerull and Jason Nunn each had four hits for the Goonies. The same four also had four RBIs and Reese added his first homer of the season. The Goonies pounded out 27 hits in the game.