On Monday, August 16, Veto League Baseball showcased its 24 most dedicated participants to hundreds in attendance for the annual night game, once again hosted by Modern Woodmen Park. Players, family, friends, volunteers, and attendees helped out by donating non-perishable food items, which were donated to the Quad City River Bend Food Bank. The VLB shattered their previous record by raising 890 pounds of food. The non-perishables were much needed, and within 24 hours, had already been distributed to Quad Citians in need.
As for the game, it was a typical VLB contest, as Commissioner Matt Veto’s Meteors’ high scoring offense enough to fend off a fierce Goonies team that that won 24-17. The home team Meteors found themselves trailing early by a 7-0 score. They rallied for eight runs over the next three innings to take the lead. After veteran Josh Paul’s Goonies regained the lead, the Meteors bats caught fire in the bottom of the sixth, as they scored seven times, including a line drive two-run homer by sophomore John “Ceno” Rasso.
The Goonies responded by having a huge inning of their own, batting around in the top of the 7th. Included during the rally was a behemoth shot by Bob Zerull – his 3rd homerun in three career MWP games – and an inside the park homerun by rookie Kevin Powell. The Goonies scored nine runs in that frame and allowed just one run by the Meteors over the last three innings to secure the victory.
In addition to the big game by Rasso, the Meteors were also led by two time Glove Glove recipient Scott Ellefritz’s 5-for-5, four RBI effort. The 13 year veteran cracked two extra base hits, including his second career triple.
Zerull was named Night Game MVP after collecting three hits and a game high six RBI. The Goonies’ top three hitters – Anthony Reese, Paul, and Jeff Kilgard – went a combined 10-for-15 with nine runs scored and four triples. The game marked Reese’s 171st consecutive game played.
Before the contest began, awards were given for the 2011 season. Fellow Veto Leaguers voted on trophies for Most Valuable Player, Playoff MVP, Rookie of the Year, Gold Gloves, and Sportsmanship. Veto handed out the Commissioner’s Award and Player of the Year awards while captains voted for Most Improved. Ryan Barton took both MVP trophies and Mike Holst took down the Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Infield Gold Glove prizes. Rookie Scott Raes was awarded with Outfield Gold Glove, Paul with Sportsmanship, and Veto as Most Improved.
Matt Veto, who announced his unofficial retirement midseason, was given a player autographed #9 jersey, as he was inducted as the first member into the Veto League Hall of Fame.
The showcase game marked the end of a 63-game summer that brought 101 players out to the sandlot, included 55 debuts, ages ranged from 18 to 85, and most importantly, marked the beginning of many new friendships. All these records set the bar high for the future of Veto League.