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A Brief and Painfull History of Pittsburgh NABA Tournament Play
I was shagging flies in cargo shorts after score keeping a 2005, Black Sox Eagles game. The Black Sox won by the ten run rule, and were drinking in their vacated dugout, a few of Eagles decided to stay late to hit.that was my unemployed, newly sober summer, and I figured I’d take advantage of the half hour before the lights turned off on Moore Park. I spent a lot of time that season not knowing what to do with myself aside from playing on the Ducks, and practicing.
As was the case with most games in 2005, Craig Boley, then acting league commissioner, had umpired the game. After he peeled off his umpire’s gear, he jogged out to left field, and asked me if I wanted to go to Phoenix to play on an all-star team and if I could bring fellow Ducks, Ben Hartranft, Matt Swetz and Rob Swanger.
The Burgh, that was our team name; stitched in block letters across our black jerseys which looked like the kind you might buy off a street vendor in Homestead. We played in Phoenix donning our sweltering black sweaters and posted a deceptive 1-4 record. memories of one game from the trip still linger and surface on the occasional summer night when I’m riding home from a game dehydrated and covered in the Spring View infield. A deflating 11-10 loss to a team from Utah.
Early in the game I misplayed two balls in right field that lead to two Mormon runs. When I got up to bat against Team Karl Malone, I crushed. I was 3-4 with three RBI, including the game tying and go ahead runs in the top of the eighth. One of which came off a balk, the other when I lined a hanging slider over short stop John Stockton’s head. After my error cost us the lead, I thought I hit the game winning RBI. We were up 10-9 going into the bottom of the eighth. Chris Feathers had pitched the whole game in 90 degree heat
Under an auspicious ruling the Mormons were allowed to use a bat with a 3/4barrell, the type which had been outlawed in all levels of play two years before.
The contest flirted with the three-hour time limit and when we turned a double play to end the eighth inning, we jumped, hugged and cheered our come from behind victory. I had redeemed myself and we stood at 1-2 for the tournament, still alive for the playoffs.
But the umpire and Karl Malone’s Mormons demanded we play on, and in the bottom of the ninth the kid with the illegal bat hit a game winning double and broke the Burgh’s back for the tournament. There was no going back after such a deflating loss. Team Malone, finished 4-1 in pool play.
We were beaten thoroughly in a game that evening by a team no more talented than we were.
Our lone victory came on the final day of the tournament against a California team who called themselves the Black Sox.
The next season The Burgh played in the 2006 Atlantic City Memorial Day tournament. The Ducks were represented by myself and OF/P Rob Swanger.
We did not win a game. I played an error free right field, and both Rob Swanger and I hit close to .500 for the tournament.
We had better pitching this time around, and were in the wood bat division.
The memorable game in this tournament was a 16-15 loss to Clifton, during which I went 4 for 5, but was thrown out at first base from right field.
The Burgh Trailed 10-0 in the bottom of the sixth. One of the pitchers we brought down, who is currently on the Oilers, couldn’t find the zone, the game crawled along; our black jersey’s baking us like foil around a potato on a campfire.
Rob Swanger came into pitch in the fourth and kept Clifton of the board, temporarily stifling the lineup which had put ten on the board.
We were staring a ten run mercy beating in the face, when we started hitting. Dustin Winston, who had been 1 for the tournament hit a home run and a double in the same inning. I singled twice, John Tremmel Homered. Matt Slavonic singled, Rob Swanger entered for the DH and delivered a pinch hit double to left, it was contagious we rolled that inning. The Burgh scored ten runs in the sixth to tie the game.
costly errors in the seventh lead to a 15-10 Clifton lead, but The Burgh battled back and tied it at 15. I remember a pinch hit, 2-run double by Andy Zatman.
I don’t remember how the winning run scored, but again the loss was too much to overcome and we wouldn’t win a game in the tournament.
Note: The South Oakland Ducks have the best batting average for a team in tournament play. Hartranft, Swanger, and myself combined to hit over .450 in Phoenix, and Rob and I both hit .500 in AC.
Feel like I talked about myself more than I would have liked in that post.
Pittsburgh is 1-9 in tournament play, there has never been anything on the website, we really don’t talk about it much except with each other.
Two seasons separate the current team from the league’s last tournament foray, the past bares little impact on the current group except for a core group of five tournament veterans, captain Craig Boley, Dustin Winston, Brian Strom, Kenny Rayl, and myself, Ben Gwin. This Pittsburgh team has ten new players.
The Burgh is gone, enter the Pittsburgh Blues.
The Blues are lead by a strong young pitching rotation of Duck’s ace, Nick Homa (76 K’s), Raker/Duck?) Ben Sorosky, and Pittsburgh NABA, ERA leader (1.40) John Ashcroft of the Oilers.
Where there once was that kid from the Oilers, there is now a bullpen anchored by Captain America, Mark Guthrie, along with, Strom, Winston, closer, Rankin, and Gutrie’s PCB pitcher whose name i don’t know, but he’s playing fall ball.
The Bulldogs are represented by Head Coach, Joe Graff, SS, BJ Rankin, OF/P Brian Strom, and 1B Vinny Gala.
The Ducks will send four players to Virginia; Homa, OF, C Gwin, Guthrie, and OF Garrett Moore.
The Black Sox are represented by CF Jason goldie, and player/owner 3B, Kenny Rayl.
Craig “Ultimate Warrior” Boley is the Blues captain and starting catcher, the lone Warrior on the team.
Utility player Dustin Winston, is a Python/Bulldog. He hit .750 in 2005 prompting the league’s conversion to wood bats. He also is the Pittsburgh NABA’s all time tournament home run leader. He earned the win on the mound in 2005 when we beat the Black Sox in Phoenix.
The Burgh’s nine losses are littered with winnable games.
The black, hot-box uniforms are history, replaced by the new powder blues.
A strong showing in Virginia is not assured, but the title is there for the taking.
This Labor Day Weekend it is going to bad news for everyone who plays the Blues.