Monday, July 26, 2010
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The Bombers play the great majority of their games at Smith Field, a 14-acre park, in Brighton (a neighborhood of Boston.) It contains 3 softball diamonds, two Little League fields, a street hockey rink, two basketball courts, and a play area - slides, swings, etc. - for children. I thought it might be nice, after all of the seasons I've played there, to actually find out who the heck Smith was.
My weekday team, The Swingers, plays at M Street. The field we play on is named after Bucky Feeney and Sam Moran, two people instrumental in the origination and success of the M Street Softball League. That’s pretty cool. If I could have a field named after ME, I’d consider it the greatest honor ever for playing this game. Mark Senna, the current commissioner of the league, and a player/manager for a couple of decades, had the great idea to dedicate those fields after those two men, and he went about getting it accomplished. Mark is a good man with a well-founded reverence for those who came before him. Someday, perhaps a part of that park will be dedicated to him.
The Flames, my former weekday team, play at Clemente Field in The Fens. That one is named after the great Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder, Roberto Clemente. Aside from his fantastic playing career, he was a humanitarian of note. He died in an airplane crash while en route to delivering food to starving people.
I play some of my Sunday games at Cleveland Circle. I assume it was named after the U. S. President, Grover Cleveland.
But, who was Smith?
Well, he was William Francis Smith. He was a marine private, killed in Soissions, France, in World War One. And that's all I can find out about the man.
I started my search for information by asking the people at the Boston Parks And Recreation Commission, the folks responsible for the upkeep of Smith Playground, if they knew anything about the man for whom the playground was named.
(We always call it 'Smith Field', but the official name is 'William Francis Smith Playground'.)
Here was my e-mail letter to them:
I've played softball [at Smith] for the past 16 years on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Do you have any information about the man for whom the park was named? I sometimes blog about our softball leagues and I would like to include such info. I'll be sure to give a real nice shout-out to the Parks Department, if you can supply me with anything whatsoever. I tried to find out by Googling all of the obvious things ("William Smith", "Smith Playground", etc.) but could find nothing definitive. Thank you, very much!
Brian McLaughlin, of the Parks Department, was speedy in his reply. After doing a bit of research, he sent me the following:
Thank you for your inquiry about Smith Playground.
The Boston Parks and Recreation Commission minutes of their meeting on May 16, 1921, record the following:
"A communication was read from the City Council asking this Board to name the North Brighton Playground, William Francis Smith Playground, in honor of William Francis Smith, who was killed in Soissions, France, on July 20, 1918, and it was voted that the name of the North Brighton Playground be and is hereafter to be known as the William Francis Smith Playground."
Brian McLaughlin, Executive Secretary
Boston Parks and Recreation Commission
I'm grateful for that information, but it was a dead end after that. I have entered all known relevant information (his name, where he died, the world war, etc.), in Google, and all I could come up with was a list of deaths. I found out he was a Marine private, but no further elucidation.
It's a shame. He has this big green space named after him, as memorial for whatever he did, but it would be nice if his deeds - whatever they were - also lived on in some way. I'll assume heroism on his part, since he apparently died in the line of duty on a battlefield, and I'll say a small prayer for Mr. Smith this Sunday as I once again enjoy a morning on his field.
Did I say "enjoy"? Well, I did enjoy it, but not completely.
BOMBERS – 14 Brighton All-Stars – 4
Brighton All-Stars – 14 BOMBERS – 9
We were in first place for 90 minutes.
The Moe Howard Club did us the favor of taking their first game against the Titans, so we stood at 12 and 1, in first, with the Titans at 11 and 2. When we dropped the second game, we once again had the same record as the Titans, who had won their second game. And, since the Titans hold the tiebreaker against us, we were back in second place again.
We now have one more week in the regular season, and we need the Titans to lose one of their two remaining games while we win both of ours.
We blew our best chance yesterday. It was an upset for Moe’s to split with the Titans. If we had taken care of business…
Oh, well. On paper, it was an upset for the All-Stars to split with us, too. They came into the day at 5 and 7. They’re better than that, though. Are they better than us? No, I don’t think so. I think we'd beat them over the course of any series. They’re better than their record indicates, however, and I would prefer not having to play them again come the playoffs. Let somebody else have that headache.
The first game was fine. Big Jay Atton pitched nicely, notching his eighth victory of the season. Third baseman Manny Dominguez and right fielder Fast Freddie Goodman, batting from the 6 and 7 spots in the line-up, both went a perfect 3 for 3. Catcher Joey Baszkiewicz broke out of his recent slump with a couple of hits and three runs batted in. Charlie Conners continued to rack up the RBIs, garnering another three on a bases-clearing double. Danny Espinosa had three hits. Leadoff hitter Pat Atton, Big Jay Atton, outfielder Tom Resor, and some dope named Sullivan playing first base, contributed two hits apiece. The defense was particularly good, with the infield turning three double plays. We pretty much cruised to our 12th consecutive victory - a club record - and took over first place.
Then the roof caved in during the second game. Big Jay gave up nine runs in the first two innings, by far the roughest two innings he’s tossed for us this season. The All-Stars benefited throughout the game from miscues by our defense – a flubbed grounder here, an ill-advised throw there. On offense, we ran into outs twice rather than playing it safe. Still, we were only down 11 – 9 after four innings, and with 12 straight wins behind us, we weren’t feeling pessimistic about our ability to pull it out.
But, as you already know, we didn’t get the job done. The All-Stars scored again in the fifth, and we wasted a couple of nice innings of relief work from Josh Lebron (1 run, 0 earned) when we didn’t score over the final three innings.
The big games, in defeat, were had by Tom Resor (triple, home run, 4 RBI) and Emilio Zirpolo (3 for 3, following his 1 for 10 over the previous three games.) Fast Freddie Goodman and Danny Espinosa continued hitting, both ending up with 5-hit days. Charlie Conners had a double and a triple, good for another two RBI and an astounding 29 RBI in total for the 8 games he’s played for us this year. Not enough to overcome the poor start, though, and we finish the day in second place.
The good news is that our single victory clinched second place for the season. We can finish no lower than that, no matter what happens next week.
The Titans play the Reds at 9am next week, at Cleveland Circle, and we have our final two on the same field, following theirs, at noontime. I always get to the field early, but next week I’ll be there very early, three hours before our gametime. I’m going to head down and watch the Titans, while rooting for the Reds to take one. If they don’t, our two games become meaningless to us.
(They’ll still mean something to other teams, so we won’t just tank them, of course. But it would be more fun to actually be playing with a chance at first place.)
Since this is my blog, I always tell you about my day. I finished 3 for 5, two runs scored and an RBI. Playing first base in the first game, I made no errors. I raised my season average to .500, which is really nice for an old fart. Even nicer would be to win that championship I’ve always wanted, and I still feel pretty good about our chances.
(In case you were wondering, the Swingers – M Street Softball League – did not play this week. We now have three games remaining and need to win only one to clinch the last playoff spot in our division. We next play on Tuesday at 7:30. Wish us luck!)
As always, thanks for putting up with the softball talk. I’ll actually have something NEW, and non-softball, tomorrow.
Soon, with more better stuff.