Thursday afternoon, teams representing both DC Comics and Marvel Comics assembled in Central Park to settle things the way things are meant to be settled: on the softball field. Although both team play in separate leagues and the game didn’t count toward anybody’s playoff hopes, you’d find few in either dugout who regarded the contest as less than the most important game of the summer.
Despite their lead-off hitter being gunned down by DC’s legal eagles, LF Jay Kogan and 2B Joel Press, trying to stretch a single into more, the Marvel squad put together a string of hits and pushed two runs across in the first. DC responded with some small ball in the bottom of the frame, with 3B Mike Lorah (2-2, 2 runs, RBI) beating out an infield single, going first-to-third on SCF Doug Harrison’s (1-2) flare into short right center, and coming home on Kogan’s (1-1, run, RBI) sacrifice fly to left.
In the second, the Bullet defense came unglued, setting up a big inning for their downtown rivals. A few miscues set the stage: with a run in, and runners at first and third, a Marvelite placed a drive perfectly down the right field line for a three-run homer. The ensuing hitter also went opposite field, crushing a drive deep over RF Rickey Purdin. The back-to-back jacks capped a five run outburst.
The Marvel team was in good spirits with a 7-1 lead, but the Bullets have shown resilience this season. Marvel’s hitters came up scoreless for the next four innings, with DC’s defensive showing highlighted by Neil Hiremath’s (1-1) long run into deep centerfield to steal away a sure home run. One-time Marvel softball standout (but we don’t hold it against him) 1B Nel Yomtov (1-2, run) singled to open DC’s third, and he sprinted to third on the Pressman’s base hit (Joel was 2-2, with a double). P Larry Ganem (1-2, RBI) got Nel home with an RBI fielder’s choice, keeping DC within striking distance.
In the fifth, SS and team captain Adam Schlagman (1-2, run) took it upon himself to fire up his squad, with a hustling, head-first diving double to start the inning. Mike Lorah lined a single to center to score Schlagman, and singles by Jay Kogan and 3B Adam Staffaroni (1-2, run) loaded the bases with only one out. As he’s done many times this season in key spots with runners on, C “Baby boy” Larry “LP” Vollano came up huge. Smoking a drive over Marvel’s left fielder, LP cruised into third with a three-run triple, cutting Marvel’s lead to a lonely single run. LP had to hold at third on RF Pat Brosseau’s (1-2) infield single off the pitcher’s glove, and again on RF Billy Tucci’s (0-2) fielder’s choice back to the mound. With two away, LF Andrew Arnold flew out to deep left to squelch the threat.
The Bullets missed another big chance to tie the game in the sixth. It went down like this: Joel Press pounded a one-out double, and Larry Ganem followed with a perfectly placed roller down the left field line. With Joel rounding third and heading home as the tying run, Marvel’s shortstop made a terrific defensive play, running down the ball and throwing a perfect strike to the plate to prevent the run. The play would be DC’s last gasp. Marvel added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh, but they weren’t necessary as DC’s final four hitters went down in order, with Marvel’s outfield making a nice play to haul in 2B Brian Cunningham’s monster drive to left leading off the last of the seventh.
The final score, Marvel 10 – DC 6, dropping the Bullets to 8-6 on the season (still 2-3 in New York Media Softball League play)
The DC/Marvel rivalry brought out DC’s largest player turn-out of the season, with a whopping 18 person line-up on Thursday. Apologies to Neil Hiremath and Sal Cipriano for getting the one at-bat shaft.
Thanks to Billy Tucci for coming out to represent (his Sgt. Rock miniseries is currently available), and to DC’s cheering section, including injured players Jerry Cerza and Joe Campagna, and LP’s entire family. And to the crew at the bar for helping drink away the memories.
Fans can check out the Bullets in action next Thursday against WNYC at Field #2 in Central Park’s North Meadow, and again on Friday at 103rd and Amsterdam in another comic publisher grudge-match, as Archie Comics rolls into town. Both games are 5:30 starts.