July 16, 2009
Old-Timers tip caps to Finn, Taylor
Fast Pitch elders win again at Meldrim
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Gene Barnes puts bat on ball in the third inning of the Old-Timers softball game at Meldrim Field. Barnes was making his first appearance at the game to pay tribute to the late Dick “Fingers” Finn.
A bit of sadness mixed with the usual joy and mirth Wednesday evening during the annual Cortland Fast Pitch Old-Timers softball game at Meldrim Field as those involved remembered Dick “Fingers” Finn as well as long-time player Ron “Speedy” Taylor.
Finn, the long-time local fast pitch player and coach and the co-founder, along with Mike Dexter, of the Old-Timers contest — during which he traditionally directed the “seasoned” squad — passed away last Friday at the age of 77.
“I had three reasons for getting this game started again (in 1996),” Dexter said before the game began, remembering his friend whose nickname came from his fielding skills. “The first was to get the guys back together, the second was to someday play in it, and the third was to play with one of my idols, Dick Finn. I did for three years. That first year we didn’t have enough players to have a game, so I put Dick in charge of recruiting. He was the go-to guy, and he looked forward to this game more than anything.”
Dexter, a long-time Yankee fan, noted: “I got to know Dick and his wife Lee very, very well over the last 10 or 12 years. In fact, we went to Toronto Memorial Day weekend to see his Red Sox play the Blue Jays — and I haven’t been to the new Yankee Stadium yet.” Dexter also wore a Red Sox hat Wednesday evening.
Finn’s great-grandson Nathaniel Finn, wearing an Old-Timers jersey, threw out the first pitch. Nathaniel’s father Daniel (in a Cortland Senior Bulldogs jersey), Dick’s daughter Sue Swift and his granddaughter Jessica Swift watched from the pitching circle. Red Dragon and Bulldogs jerseys honoring Dick Finn were displayed on the backstop all evening.
It was also announced that from now on the game will be known as the Dick Finn Old-Timers Classic.
Taylor, who was still an active player when he passed away in January, was honored between the first and second innings with the Dick Aylesworth Good Guy Award, his daughter Anita accepting the honor on behalf of the assembled family.
“He was a pretty good left fielder who got a good jump on the ball, had an adequate arm and enjoyed playing,” his brother Don Taylor, who was part of the Old-Timers’ squad, said of Ron Taylor. “The most fun part of his summer was being able to play. He was a good sportsman, and enjoyed going to tournaments. He went to the state tournament every year. I’m very proud he won this award. We always got along well together.”
Also remembered by those assembled was local sportsman John Partigianoni, Sr., who died Tuesday at the age of 81. He was co-owner of the Cort-Lanes bowling alleys with his son John Jr., and was the brother of umpires Jim and Sam.
Among current players, Brian Taylor of 2008 regular-season and playoff champion Beer Goggles, Don’s son and Ron’s nephew, was named the Roy Teeter MVP Award winner for the 2008 Cortland Fast Pitch League season while Mike Holl of Beer Goggles was presented with the Ray Spada Pitching Award for the second time in three years.
Also cited for their efforts in helping to keep fast pitch alive in Cortland were current players Abe Johnson and Jeff Carr.
Brian Taylor hit .606 (40-for 66) last year with 34 RBIs last season, while teammate Holl had a 14-3 regular-season record in 2008 with 119 strikeouts and only 17 bases on balls.
Previous Good Guy Award winners were Aylesworth himself in 2003, Bush in 2004, Jere Dexter in 2005, Fran Tokar in 2006, Bill Griffen in 2007 and Jim Partigianoni last year.
Carr won the initial Teeter MVP Award in 2001 as well as last year. There was no award in 2002, while Sean Babcock won in 2003, Tom Avery in 2004 and 2007 and Dennis Hopkins in 2005 and 2006. The Spada Pitching MVP Award went to Mick Lowie in 2001 and 2004, Yale Hughes in 2003 and 2006, Matt Petrella in 2005, Holl in 2007 and Denny Zach last year. There was no award in 2002.
As for the game itself, the Old-Timers”rallied” from a 9-3 deficit and pulled out a 13-12 victory over the All-Stars, thanks to some creative scorekeeping by announcer Jere Dexter, the long-time Cortland Standard sports editor and Mike’s brother, and some respectful help and understanding from the younger players. Dick Meldrim and Craig Allen umpired the contest.
The Old-Timers squad consisted of Jon Hicks, Tink Root, Gene Barnes, Dwight Lashley, Gurdon Bush, Harley Bieber, Sam Sonnachio, Dick Holl, Mike Dexter, Darrell Bush, Rocky Rodman, Don Taylor, Mick Lowie, Dick Aylesworth, Harold Foster, Dennis Howe, Denny Zach, Jim McGuinness and George Smith.
The 2008 CFPL All-Stars were:
First Team: Brian Taylor and Tom Avery from Beer Goggles (now The Tavern); Jeff Carr, Dennis Hopkins and T.J. Griffin from Dark Horse; Brandon Galutz, Ben Albright and Josh Wood of Amelia’s Ristorante (now Stone Lounge) and, from Central City Bar & Grill, Mike Lowie and Seth McMahon.
Second Team: Ron “Speedy” Taylor and Rich Stauber from Mr. B’s; Roger Karn from Dark Horse; Andrew Foster, Anthony Pitts, Mike Smith and Mike Holl from Beer Goggles; Greg Newkirk of Central City Bar & Grill and, from Amelia’s Ristorante, Abe Johnson and Sean Caughey.
Jere Dexter kept the crowd entertained and amused throughout the festivities with his memories of the Old-Timers and humorous observations.
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