BRISTOL — As the first game of a tripleheader kicked off Sunday morning, masked players stepped onto Muzzy Field to play baseball the 1864 way in a pandemic, no cussing or spitting allowed.
The third-annual John P. Martin Series of Northeast Historic Baseball brought players from nine different states together in as socially-distanced a way as possible, with precautions taken against the spread of covid-19.
Teams and fans were both asked to donate to Compassionate Care ALS as part of their participation in the one-day event, in honor of the late sports videographer John P. Martin.
Martin, who covered Boston teams for the New England Sports Network for almost two decades, lost his two-year battle with ALS in 2018.
Connecticut Bulldogs Historic Baseball Team President Chuck Ciccarello organized the series to raise money for ALS research and treatment in his friend’s honor. Martin passed away the day of the inaugural event, which has continued in his memory.
Martin’s wife Adrienne came to Bristol from her home in Massachusetts for Sunday’s games.
“It’s really nice they do this,” she said outside the stadium. “It’s the first time I’ve been here.”
Compassionate Care ALS is not only a leader in fighting the illness through patient care and research, but the organization helped the Martins through their family’s battle as well.
“What CCALS did for us — we couldn’t really have navigated this journey ALS puts one on without their help,” Adrienne said. “What they do is miraculous.”
Before the first pitch, the Ed Elmore Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Baseball Studies was presented to Dr. Brian Travers, captain of the Providence Grays, by Ed Elmore himself, a proponent of vintage baseball rules and founder of the Brooklyn Atlantics.
“Because of Brian specifically, a lot of research has been proliferated throughout those New England states that wanted to start vintage baseball teams,” Ciccarello said. “Even my team, the Connecticut Bulldogs, was started through Brian’s guidance.”
The award is an extraordinary one, he noted, and likely won’t be given out again for at least a few years.
Standing to the side of the dugout were videographers and sports journalists Jason “Coachie” DeCarolis and Joseph Meusel, filming “The Sports Men Show” which airs on Nutmeg Television Friday evenings.
“To see Muzzy Field right here in Bristol being used for vintage baseball, it brings back memories of the Bristol Red Sox and my childhood,” DeCarolis sasid. “When my aunts came here in the seventies you had Jim Rice and Bob Stanley playing.”
Muzzy Field is more than 100 years old, making it ideal l for a series of historic baseball, the pair noted.
“This is a great venue for this event,” Meusel added. “Everybody’s having a good time.”
People of all ages participated as players, commentators, and umpires.
Mike Neville couldn’t get out on the field due to a recent leg injury, but the 21-year-old was still sitting in the box, assisting with commentary.
“He’s mixed in with a lot of wonderful men through this, who have become real role models to him,” said Neville’s mother Lisa, a nurse who supported the athletes’ adherence to safety guidelines.
Jeff “Pine-tar” Kornhaas of Danbury played in the series for a third year, sporting his classic uniform and pitching technique.
He brought extra hand sanitizer and masks for fellow ball players.
“We’re doing what we can,” Kornhaas said. “Wearing masks and keeping our distance.”
The showcase even brought out Marjorie Adams, great-granddaughter of Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, regarded by many historians as one of baseball’s founding fathers.
A series guest of honor, Adams was seated front and center in the dugout.
“Vintage baseball is more gentlemanly,” she said. “They’re all here today for one reason — a love of the game.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org