July 22, 2010
Two true ‘Good Guys’
Sponsors Boise, Maniccia honored by Old-Timers
Experience was honored in more ways than one Wednesday night at the annual Dick Finn Old-Timers Classic, which after a slight rain delay brought together area fastpitch softball players from years past together to meet — and, once again, beat — the Cortland Fastpitch League all-stars from last season.
The latest versions of the awards given out each year at the Meldrim Field affair — the game re-named last year in honor of Finn, a long-time local fastpitch player and coach and the co-founder, along with Mike Dexter, of the Old-Timers contest who passed away just before last year’s event — were a nod to longevity as well.
The Dick Aylesworth Good Guy Award was shared by a pair of long-time sponsors of league teams who had an intense rivalry, particularly in the 1980s and ’90s — long-time friends Skip Boise, who owns The Tavern (as well as King Sub) and began sponsoring that team in 1979, and Red Dragon owner Butch Maniccia, whose sponsorship started a year earlier.
The two Cortland Fastpitch League awards for the 2009 season were presented to long-time players, with Roger Karn winning the Roy Teeter MVP Award and Jeff Carr claiming the Ray Spada Pitching Award.
Previous winners of the Good Guy Award were Aylesworth himself in 2003, Gurdon Bush in 2004, Jere Dexter in 2005, Fran Tokar in 2006, Bill Griffen in 2007, Jim Partigianoni in 2008 and Ron “Speedy” Taylor last year.
“They were hard-fought battles,” Maniccia said of the Red Dragon/Tavern contests. “It seemed like most of the games were pretty close, usually decided by one or two runs. It’s an honor to be a sponsor and especially to be friends with most of the players, and an honor to be recognized like this.”
“It’s been fun,” Boise said. “Softball players, like most people who participate in sports, are on a level a step above, and I was fortunate to have wonderful men playing on my teams. One year (1980) The Tavern won the state fastpitch championship, which was quite an honor. And I remember the year (2000) when we were set to go at it with the Red Dragon in the playoffs and my other team, King Sub, beat both of us on its way to the championship. It’s a great honor that people think enough of us to give us this award.”
In his 18 years in the league, Karn has played for Ivan’s, Gable Inn, Bestway Lumber, King Sub, Dark Horse and, currently, Stone Lounge, as well as Pioneer League teams. While playing infield and catcher for most of his career, he has recently become a pitcher for Stone Lounge, posting a 7-0 record this season. Karn was one of the key players on last year’s Dark Horse playoff championship squad, leading the team in batting average, hits, singles, and doubles while catching and helping out with pitching duties. He is also currently the catcher for the local New York Bombers travel team.
Carr has been in the league for 16 years and has played for The Tavern, King Sub, Bestway Lumber and Dark Horse Tavern. He is a two-time winner of the Teeter MVP Award and helped Dark Horse win last year’s playoff title by pitching in the playoffs and going 4-0 after striking out 76 batters over 86 innings during the regular season. He is currently the second baseman for the Bombers.
Carr won the initial Teeter MVP Award in 2001 (for the 2000 season) as well as 2008, and Brian Taylor was the 2009 winner. 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 (for 2000) and 2004, Yale Hughes in 2003 and 2006, Matt Petrella in 2005, Mike Holl in 2007 and 2009 and Denny Zach in 2008. There was no award in 2002.
Karn, Carr and Hopkins represent Dark Horse on the all-star first team from last season. They are joined on the elite squad by Ben Albright, Brandon Galutz and Josh Wood of Stone Lounge, Mark Kinner and Avery from The Tavern, Morgan DuBois from Central City Bar & Grill and Rich Stauber from Mr. B’s.
The second team consists of Bill Weddle and T.J. Griffin from Dark Horse, Andrew Mead, Aaron Galutz and Sean Caughey from Stone Lounge, Taylor and Holl from The Tavern, Central City’s Mike Lowie and Greg Newkirk and Tom Casterline from Mr. B’s.
The first- and second-team names in bold are those players who participated in Wednesday’s contest, along with Abe Johnson from Stone Lounge, Dark Horse’s Travis Marshall and Bill Francis from Mr. B’s.
Old-Timers who were on hand for Wednesday evening’s festivities included Aylesworth, Gene Barnes, Harley Bieber, Gurdon Bush, Lum Cooper, Art Daddario, Chris Dewey, Mike Dexter, Harold Foster, John Hicks, Dennis Howe, Yale Hughes, Dwight Lashley, Mick Lowie, Jim McGuiness, Tink Root, Russ Teeter and Denny Zach.
The game itself, umpired by Dick Meldrim and Craig Allen, saw the Old-Timers eke out an 8-7 win, thanks in part to some unique scoring interpretations by announcer Jere Dexter, the former Standard sports editor, who as always entertained spectators, players and umpires alike with historic references concerning fastpitch in Cortland as well as amusing observations. Finn’s grandson Tanner Swift, from Huntsville, Ontario, threw out the first pitch. Finn’s widow Lee and their daughter Sue were also in attendance.
The contest itself was highlighted by some stellar defense on the part of the winners, most notably Teeter — who also went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI to go along with his stellar play at second base — and Dewey, who made the defensive play of the game at first base in the sixth, snagging a scorching bouncer and getting the out.
The youngsters’ Carr caught for the veterans in the last inning and, when his turn at bat came, unloaded a long home run to left and sprinted around the bases while still wearing most of the gear. And at one point, Allen stepped away from his umpiring role for a moment to hold a baserunner at second with a nice throw to third from right field after a miscue by the Old-Timers’ defense.
Special recognition was given to Meldrim and Karn for their efforts in getting the field ready after Wednesday’s first rainstorm, and to Carr and Johnson for helping keep fastpitch alive in Cortland.
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