Every June, high school baseball and softball teams descend on Battle Creek for the state semifinals and finals. It’s two great days of high school sports, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to shoot at least one team for the past several years. This year I had two teams in the semifinals: Saline and Divine Child. Saline played first.
The Hornets jumped out to an early lead, but it slipped away, and they ended up losing 4-3.
After winning its district, Chelsea baseball came back home to play in a regional at its own stadium. First up was Carleton Airport.
Chelsea put up five runs, but Airport managed to narrow it to an uncomfortably slim 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the seventh — the Jets’ last chance — Airport had a man on with two outs. The batter hit the ball hard enough to left field that practically everyone thought it was going to be a walk-off home run…and it almost was. But it fell mere feet short of the fence, and the left fielder caught it for the game’s final out.
In the regional final, Chelsea faced Trenton.
The Bulldogs had a slow start to the game and found themselves down 2-0 after two innings. But they scored six runs in the third and never looked back, eventually winning 12-6. They might have been slightly happy.
The team enjoyed celebrating its regional championship.
The win was even better at home.
After accepting the trophy, the team decided to help first-year head coach Adam Taylor cool off.
It’s hard to see him in there, but trust me: he’s there.
On Saturday, Dexter’s Union Base Ball Club welcomed the Royal Oak Wahoos to Dexter for Union’s first home match. No, not its first home match of the season. Its first EVER. I traveled over to Dexter’s historic Gordon Hall to get a few photos of the notable occasion.
The Union captain addressed the spectators — called “cranks” — before the game.
Under the 1860s rules these vintage clubs follow, the home team is determined not by geography but by a bat toss. Whoever gets his hand on the top of the bat gets the choice.
With all the preliminaries out of the way, the game got underway. Since the game took place on the front lawn of Gordon Hall, the field had a beautiful backdrop.
After each inning, the umpire wrote the inning’s tally on the scoreboard.
The field at Gordon Hall has many, many quirks, one of which is a small drainage pond off the first base line. Naturally, in the middle of the game a foul ball plunged into the pond.
Play resumed with another ball, and eventually a clever crank managed to fish the ball out of the pond.
Here’s a good look at the cranks’ view.
When a player scored a run, he walked over to the tallykeeper and rang a bell.
After the game, the captains again addressed the cranks.
The Wahoos offered three cheers to Union…
…and Union offered three cheers to the Wahoos.
The teams then gathered around the scoreboard to commemorate Union’s first home match.
Finally, we took a few team photos in front of Gordon Hall.
With Union now up and running, both Chelsea and Dexter have vintage base ball clubs. The games are fun to watch; if you can, I’d encourage you to get out to a game this summer! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
Chelsea baseball faced Saline.
Chelsea baseball faced Dexter.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you’ve seen this pitcher before…
Back in modern baseball, Dexter faced Chelsea.
The Chelsea Monitor Base Ball Club was a real baseball team that played back in the mid-19th century, when baseball was called base ball, nobody wore gloves and hits could be fielded on one bounce for an out. The club was recently resurrected by a determined group of local citizens, and after a short break of more than a century, the MBBC played base ball once again when the Royal Oak Wahoos came to town.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the post title, the very helpful game program explains:
“Should a ballist [player] lack effort, implore him to “Show a little ginger!”
Also, before I get to the photos, let me add that vintage base ball is wonderfully entertaining. You can find the club’s schedule on its website; if you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend going to a game.
And now, on to the photos.
Hank the friendly English bulldog enjoyed his afternoon at the game.
The Chelsea JV baseball team eked out an exciting seventh-inning win over Monroe.
After the ceremony for Akel Marshall, Chelsea played some baseball.
Prior to this season, longtime Chelsea baseball assistant coach Akel Marshall decided to end his coaching career after 31 years. To honor his years of service to the baseball program, former players and coaches came back to the stadium for a ceremony at the beginning of the Chelsea Baseball Invitational.
JV baseball coach Brian Sayers painted Marshall’s jersey number behind home plate:
Marshall has never been one to seek or enjoy the spotlight, but as he stood with CHS baseball players past and present, the smile on his face said he didn’t mind the attention this time.
Among other gifts, Marshall received a framed jersey…
…and a painting of him in action coaching third base during the 2010 season.
Longtime head coach and close friend Wayne Welton delivered an emotional speech.
Marshall threw out the ceremonial first pitch to kick off the invitational, now named the Akel Marshall Baseball Invitational.
As a permanent tribute to Marshall’s 31 years of coaching, the staff unveiled a 6 banner on the fence in left center field. It’s shown here as senior Patrick Roberts stands on second base during the first game of the day.