THE HARLAN'S GAME
By Dave MacFarland - July 29, 1983
Stables Hogs continued dominance over the powerhouse Harlan's Suds Mill remains
as one of the great anomalies in the field of sports today.
Playing with the courage that legends are made of, nine Spartans
disguised as Stables Hogs played what is destined to be called the greatest
softball game of all time.
rag-tag Hog lineup of has-beens and never-weres fell behind 4-0 after the first
two innings. Many fans who had
stayed from the first game started heading for their cars as any chance of an
upset seemed extremely remote. Early
Hog joking about playing with nine players as an intentional handicap to even up
the odds began to ring very hollow as Harlan's appeared headed to a 10-run romp.
in the top of the third, the magic started when the Hogs scored three runs.
By the time Harlan's came to bat in the bottom of the fifth, the Hogs
were rolling with a 9-4 lead. But
Harlan's came back, rocking Hog pitcher Dave "Moses" MacFarland for
six in the 5th and two more in the 6th to take a 12-9 lead into what appeared to
be the Hogs last inning.
the Hogs would not be denied as they ripped three runs in the top of the inning
to tie the game. All the Hog
heroics appeared to be wasted as Harlan's got their leadoff man on base in the
bottom of the 7th. But the
foolhardy runner tried to tag up on a deep fly to left. Left fielder Steve
"Areno" Centrella gunned the runner down at second as Johnny
"Pung" Rugh placed a dubious tag on the runner who had overrun the
bag. Harlan's came right back with
two outs by putting men on first and second with consecutive singles.
This set up the play of the game.
next man up smashed a hard single right up the middle.
All but two Hogs were headed to their cars.
Gary "Briggs" Brignola made a perfect hard charging play on the
ball by scooping it up then throwing an even more perfect one-hop strike to
catcher Bruce "Booze" Crowly. The
runner attempted to hook- slide around Stonewall Crowly, who had blocked
the plate with his imposing, titan frame. Crowly whirled and applied the tag with machine efficiency.
an instant you could hear the dust settle as both teams stared in dumbfounded
disbelief as the umpire gave the Harlan's runner the thumb.
The instant of silence was crushed by the Hogs explosion of what could
best be described as wild pandemonium. The
heart-broken Harlan's team must have sensed at that moment that they were
playing a team of destiny.
MVP Jack "Sturg II" Sturgeon (4 for 5) led off the 8th with a rope
down the left field line which kicked up the chalk.
Sturgeon was awarded third as the ball went out of play.
Centrella followed up with a walk to put runners at the corners.
Moses MacFarland used his Spalding Guide swing to loop a smash
over the second baseman's head. This
proved to be the game-winning RBI. Infield
up, Eggs Demiter grounded to second. Centrella
was thrown out at the plate leaving runners at the corners with one out.
Moses then scored on Rugh's sacrifice fly to end the scoring.
a move some would call "managerial genius", Demiter flip-flopped
second baseman Rugh with first baseman Stan "The Man" Clark.
This proved to be the difference as the rangy Clark figured in the
last two outs of the game. When
Clark flipped a hot grounder to Demiter for a force at second to end the game,
the Hogs marched off the field laughing and chanting "Zip Who?"
as they headed to their watering hole.
Jim "Logs" Loughran was picked up by police for weaving on and
off the road after leaving the Stables with a stomach fill of kamikazes.
He was escorted to Manager Eggs Demiter's house where he spent the night
in Demiter's dog house. He received
the dickens but no citation.